27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions havebeen lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speakerand Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undesignedcitizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe -
That hunger, illiteracy, abjectpovertyand 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 Malcolm Fraser, Mr Howson, Mr Brown, Sir John Cramer, Mr Drury, Mr England, Mr Erwin, Dr Gun, Mr Reid and Mr Turner.
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:
Your petitioners therfore respectfully pray that your honourable House will (i) make immediately a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State governments for public education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the States after 1975.
And your petitioners, as in dutybound, will ever pray. by Mr McMahon.
To the Honourable the Speaker and 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:
The followingconditions at the Orange Grove Primary School give further evidence of the needs in the State education system.
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your honourable House will (i) make immediately a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State Governments for public education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the Slates after 1975.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Daly.
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 assembly hall.
Lack of weather shed.
Lack of covered walk way to toilets.
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your honourable House will (i) make immediately 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 1975.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by MrDobie.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively sheweth -
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to ensure that State education be given a higher priority in the allocation of Federal funds and that emergency action be taken to solve the present acute shortage of teachers in the secondary teaching service.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Brown.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That we, the undersigned, believe that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in its radio and television programmes, presents a coverage of public affairs which is well-balanced, of high quality, and of valuable service to the Australian community. We further believe that any attempt to alter the situation by denigrating either the quality of the programmes, or the impartiality of the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff involved in such programmes, is unwarranted and inherently undemocratic.
Thusyour petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will bear in mind the views expressed in our petition, and shun any attempt to restrict the already limited independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. by Mr Brown.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned employees in Parliament House Canberra respectfully sheweth:
That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resulting in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.
That the fragmentation of staff at West Block and other offices in the City due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relationships.
That although the present patchwork extension system results in better accommodation tor some sections of the working population in the House it hasworsened the accommodation in other areas by shutting out light and ventilation.
That the older sections of the House, besides being cramped, are affected by extremes of heat and cold and quite out of keeping with modern office working conditions.
That the House lacks proper records storage facilities, and other facilities, especially related to staff comfort, a requirement highly desirable in view of Parliament’s extended working hours.
That the present extensions, as with past extensions, have been costly to the taxpayer and economically short-sighted and will merelyrelieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of lime due to the inevitable growth of the business of the Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that an early decision will be taken by the Government to build the new and permanent Parliament House which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to house the Parliament and which will, at the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned people of the City of Hamilton, in Victoria, and surrounding district humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe -
That hunger, illiteracy, abject povery 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 must humbly pray that -
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Mouse of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -
Pre-school and after-school education facilities are in urgent need within the Australian community. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join the work force.
In advanced countries pre-school and afterschool education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will lake immediate steps to providethe necessary finance to enable State education departments and local government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. byDr Klugman.
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, therefore,most humbly pray that:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will every 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 sheweth:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will restore to the Australian people true religious freedom, which can exist only when Church and State are legally separated both in form and substance.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray. by Mr Sherry.
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 every pray. by Mr Uren.
– Mr Speaker. I wish to inform the House that the Minister for External Territories, Mr Peacock, left Australia yesterday to attend the South Pacific Conference in Apia, Western Samoa. He is expected to return to Australia on 24th September. During his absence the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr N. H. Bowen, will be Acting Minister for External Territories.
– Has the Prime Minister received a telegram from the Tasmanian Premier, Mr Reece, seeking a special conference between the States and the Commonwealth? In the same telegram did the Premier draw the attention of the Prime Minister to the unemployment problems in Tasmania, particularly in the metropolitan centres of Hobart and Launceston? What action does the Government intend to initiate to resolve the problem in Tasmania which comes about mainly because of that State’s comparative geographic isolation? Finally, will he give consideration to an increase in spending by Commonwealth departments in Tasmania which currently runs at the abysmally low figure of just over 2 per cent, which in the view of many Tasmanians is grossly inadequate and which is, in fact, discriminatory?
– I have now received a telegram from the Premier of Tasmania relating to the matter raised by the honourable gentleman.
– This question is a Dorothy Dixer.
– It sounds like one and it will be treated as though it were one. I received the telegram late last night and I immediately referred it to the Treasury for examination and report to me. But I gave the answer, in truth, to a similar type of question which was asked of me yesterday. I said that I would have the matter examined. I can confirm that the examination is taking place.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It is reported that the United Nations has estimated that $ 1,200m is still needed for rehabilitation purposes in Bangladesh. This has been highlighted by the large number of petitions being presented in this Parliament each day. To date Australia’s contribution is 0.3 per cent of the amount mentioned. As millions of people are still homeless-
– Order! The preface to the honourable member’s question is far too long. He is giving information and is not attempting to ask a question. At question time questions should be based on fact. I suggest that the honourable member ask his question.
– I shall come to the point, Mr Speaker. Can the Minister indicate whether additional Government assistance is contemplated before the end of the year?
– I was proposing to seek leave of the House tomorrow to make a statement of a general character on Government aid and to table a detailed statement on all the programmes of aid to all countries which I think honourable members - and I hope the public of Australia - will find of considerable assistance in considering Australia’s aid programmes. Dealing with Bangladesh, in answer to the honourable member I think T should inform the House that our aid programme there has not been insubstantial. In addition to the very substantial aid which Australia gave when the refugees from East Pakistan were in India we have given food and medical supplies, shelter in the form of corrugated iron and 4-wheel drive trucks, to the value of $3m direct to Bangladesh. Shipment of a further gift of 40,000 metric tons of wheat worth more than $2m which is specifically wanted is being arranged today, During our parliamentary recess I was in Bangladesh and discussed the question of aid with Sheikh Mujib and Foreign Minister Samad. As honourable members will know, a shipment of wheat had arrived a week before my visit. On the day I was there 46 4-wheel drive trucks arrived from Australia. This was meeting the particular problem they had. They said that the food position would improve by November but in the meantime they needed transport. Their boats, their railways and their trucks had been destroyed and they had difficulty in distributing the food they were getting. So these 4-whcel drive vehicles were useful. In addition we have given them a Hercules aircraft which we have chartered at a cost of $250,000, to assist in the distribution of supplies to remote areas of Bangladesh. Also we have dry chartered 2 Fokker Friendship aircraft for 12 months at a cost of $400,000. At the same time we are continuing our aid in respect of providing places for the training of their students and we have made a cash distribution to the United Nations. So I do not think anyone could say that Australia’s aid has been insignificant or insubstantial. I know from personal contact with the Bangladesh leaders that our aid is deeply appreciated, intensely practical and is reaching the areas of need. There is no reason for Australia to compare its aid with the estimated total requirement of $ 1,200m or for anyone to suggest that Australia as a single country should try to match its aid against that total.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer. I remind him of his answer nearly 4 years ago on the discussions the trading banks were holding in the United States of America and Canada on the use of credit card facilities in Australia and his assurance that if the Reserve Bank of Australia received any application in respect of the introduction of credit cards it would establish guidelines and consult the Government. I ask: Did the trading banks approach the Reserve Bank for approval before their recent announcement? If so, what guidelines have been laid down?
– Naturally I cannot remember an answer I am said to have given 4 years ago. I will have a look at this matter to see whether the statement contained in the honourable gentleman’s question is correct. As to the last part of his question, I will find out the position from the Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia and let him know.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science whether he is prepared to participate in a debate organised by the Technical Teachers Association of Victoria? If not, why not?
– Late yesterday afternoon I received a telegram from the Technical Teachers Association asking the Government to provide 3 speakers and indicating - and as this was confirmed in this morning’s Press - that the Opposition would be asked to provide 3 speakers, for a debate organised by the Association. We will not be participating in the debate. The Association has already made up its mind on the matter to be debated and could not provide an impartial forum. Despite the unprecedented growth and support for education, the officers of the Technical Teachers Association have plainly made up their minds about the advice they might want to provide. However, on any forum at any time I am prepared to debate education with the Leader of the Opposition or the shadow Minister for Education, the honourable member for Fremantle, subject to mutual agreement about the chairman and conduct of the meeting. I would even be prepared to extend that challenge to the honourable member for Bendigo if the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to state, as some newspapers have, that the honourable member for Bendigo and not the honourable member for Fremantle is the shadow Minister for Education. I also understand that the Leader of the Opposition will be discussing education in his electorate on Sth October and I challenge him to a debate on that date.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he is aware that a very large proportion of applicants for service in the armed forces are rejected because of failure to meet the educational standard required. Will the Minister consider lowering the standard of the education test? I am informed of one case in which a chap volunteered, failed the education test, then joined the Country Party and later became a member of Parliament.
– I think Parliament is the one institution for which one does not have to have any qualification except the qualification of getting SO per cent of the voters to vote for you. The Services do not desire to lower the educational standard for recruitment because they have found that when they have accepted people below a certain educational standard it has been much more difficult to train them. After all, the Services today are becoming more and more technical so they have to insist on a minimum standard. Once people get into the Services they are given a considerable amount of additional education and this helps to bring them up to the required standard. I am sure that the Services would be completely opposed to any further reduction in the standard of education.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The Minister will have read reports of experiments with the use of methanol in petrol to replace lead additives. Can the Minister give the House any information regarding the alleged advantages of using methanol?
– Methanol is an alcohol that has been used for a number of years in racing cars. The suggestion that has come from Professor Bloom, of Tasmania, is a very interesting one and has yet to be evaluated. I can tell the House that the Australian Transport Advisory Council has a sub-committee known as the Committee on Motor Vehicle Emissions which is made up of Commonwealth and State representatives of environment, health, transport and national development portfolios. This Committee is to meet on 27th September in Sydney, and I have suggested to my Department that it might be advisable to invite Professor Bloom to address the Committee and to set out some of the advantages that he sees in the use of methanol as a replacement for lead as an additive in petrol. The only information I have that is clear on the subject is that it will take something like 100 times as much methanol to replace lead as an additive in petrol. After the meeting on 27th September I might be in a better position to inform the House of any advantages in using methanol.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. In view of the increasing unemployment revealed this week, is it a fact that migrants continuing to arrive lessen the job opportunities of those already unemployed? If so, will the Minister give urgent consideration to restricting migration to family re-unions and special cases until the unemployment situation is overcome?
– Taking into account the way in which the Government adjusts its immigration policy, it is not correct that in all cases the arrival of migrants lessens the employment opportunities for Australians who are unemployed. As I have said in this House before, since we have had in this country a level of unemployment which is higher than the Government would desire, instructions have been issued to posts overseas that overseas workers, as opposed to family re-union cases, are to be brought to Australia only in categories for which, on the advice of the Department of Labour and National Service, there is still a demand. In these circumstances their arrival does not, as the honourable gentleman is trying to suggest, lessen employment opportunities for Australians. I will make one further point. It is substantially agreed by economists and others that, in certain circumstances, bringing migrants to Australia actually increases the employment opportunities available for Australians. But the main part of my answer to the honourable gentleman’s question is contained in what I said earlier.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. I refer to proposals outlined in the Budget for the amelioration of the means test in respect of age pensions. Firstly, will the relevant Bill clarify the entitlement of annuitants, superannuitants and life tenants as well as others? Secondly, when will the Bill be introduced? Thirdly, what is the date from which it is intended to operate? Fourthly, if payments cannot be made immediately upon the relevant Bill coming into operation, will the increased pensions be backdated to that point of time? Finally, what is the latest date when applications will have to be lodged to attract the increased pensions from the outset, particularly by applicants not previously eligible for any pension at all?
– The honourable member has asked a number of questions. I would say first that the Bill to be introduced will indeed clarify the position, as he asked in the first part of his question. I hope that the Bill will be ready to receive the royal assent early next week and will operate from that date; this depends upon the Parliament, of course. Entitlements to increased pension by reason of the superannuation provisions contained in the Bill will also date from the date of the royal assent. However, 1 should make 2 things clear: First, because of the clerical work involved which is quite considerable, the increased pensions will probably not be payable in regard to superannuation - I speak only in regard to superannuation - until early next year. However, in regard to existing pensioners they will be backdated to the date of the royal assent. Secondly, the additional entitlement for new applicants - not for existing pensioners - will date from the date of application. As I have said, I hope that the royal assent will be able to be given to this Bill early next week.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by saying that the Minister is aware of the serious unemployment problem existing throughout Australia. I ask the Minister to give special attention to the number of workless in country districts where few opportunities exist for employment. I remind him that in New South Wales more than 18,000 unemployed exist in country districts compared with 15,000 in the metropolitan area of Sydney.
-Order! The honourable member is now giving information.
– I think that it will help the Minister, Mr Speaker.
– I suggest that the honourable member ask his question according to the Standing Orders.
– Will the Minister take immediate action to provide gainful employment in country districts in particular and thus ease the hardship existing in many homes?
– The Government is well aware of the incidence of unemployment in rural areas throughout Australia. In the context of its recognition of the problem which existed, it introduced some time ago the non-metropolitan relief programme which, as I recall the figures for the last month - the month of August - provided employment opportunities for some 14,500 persons. Beyond that point, the Government does not believe that there is a need at this stage for further action to be taken, because the impact of the measures which have already been brought down by the Government - 1 think of those taken over a 9 month-period - against the immediate impact of the stimulatory measures provided in the last Commonwealth Budget will provide an incentive which will, I believe, be the subject of a response by the community and the business sector and, in particular, by consumers during the months ahead. I will look at what the honourable gentleman has said, but it certainly is not the intention of the Government at this stage to take any action apart from that which has already been taken.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services: What arrangements are being made to get knowledge of social service entitlements into the hands of those newcomers to Australia whose knowledge of English is limited?
– As honourable members know, my Department endeavours consistently to get pensions into the hands of all people who have entitlements. Tn various ways we are endeavouring to put out publicity to help this to be done. This pamphlet, ‘Know Your Social Services’, which is in English, has been distributed by honourable members on both sides of the House to their constituents. I gratefully acknowledge this. Knowing that some of the newcomers do not always speak English fluently, my Department has taken steps to produce this pamphlet in a number of other languages. As it happens, by some coincidence I have in my hand the pamphlets which have been produced in Greek, German. Italian and Spanish. These are available for honourable members now. If any honourable members like to get in touch with my office I will see that they have for distribution to their constituents as many as they require. Pamphlets in Turkish, Yugoslav, French, Finnish and Dutch are at present in the course of preparation and will be available in a few weeks time. I will notify honourable members when they are available. A further programme for Polish, Hungarian, Czech and the Baltic languages is also contemplated.
– No Maltese?
– I thank the honourable member. I will see that Maltese is included. We are trying to provide this information on pension entitlements to as many people in Australia as possible. I continue to be rather disappointed by the fact that many people who are entitled to pensions for some reason do not apply for them. I hope that the House will continue to do what it has done and that honourable members will continue to endeavour to get pensions into the hands of all their constituents. Again I thank honourable members on both sides of the House for what they have done in the past and I hope that they will continue this work in the future, with special reference to the people who cannot speak English properly.
– I direct to the Minister for Social Services a question about the surveys of the characteristics of recipients of unemployment benefit in February last year and February this year which appear in the respective annual reports of his Department. Why does the 1971-72 report omit such important information as the 1970-71 report gave on the age groups of men and women who were unemployed for long periods, the areas in which there were concentrations of men and women unemployed for long periods and the number of children in the families of the unemployed?
– It was necessary to endeavour to compress the report into a reasonable number of pages. I think the honourable member will see that in this last report the volume of information has been extended and more is given than before. However, although this information has been omitted for reasons of space, there is no reason at all why the honourable member, if he is interested, should not obtain it. I will be very happy to see that my officers do give it to him. Again I do say to honourable members that it is necessary to keep these reports within reasonable compass, but we are trying to do our best to give as much information as possible. If the Leader of the Opposition is interested, any information which is available in my Department in this regard will be made available to him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. I refer to the suggested wood chip industry in the Gove Peninsula in which the Aborigines of the Yirrkala district could have a significant financial interest. Can the Minister advise what stage any negotiations that are taking place has reached?
– There has been an examination of a feasibility study that was publicly invited in 1968 as part of a Territory-wide investigation of wood chip timber which could form the basis for an industry to provide employment and also a financial return to the Aborigines in Arnhem Land - the principle area that has some potential for a wood chip industry. No decision on further feasibility studies has been taken or will be taken until the Aboriginal groups themselves have been consulted and until such time as they want to see such an industry proceed. Consultations about the matter in general have been held with Aboriginal groups from not only the Yirrkala area but also Melville Island, Bathurst Island and some other areas in the northern part of the Northern Territory about the general prospects. In fact, we did invite a number of Aboriginal leaders to Canberra earlier this year. They were taken to Eden and shown a wood chip industry in operation. It was explained to them how it would operate and how reafforestation programmes could be implemented in the event of a wood chip industry being developed. It was then left to them to return to their own people and discuss the prospects. They were given film to take back and show to their own village councillors. There is no intention whatsoever on the part of the Government to proceed with any wood chip industry in the Aboriginal reserve area unless the Aborigines themselves are desirous of proceeding on an equity basis with companies in exploiting the timber of the area. The matter rests solely with the Aboriginal people. I believe that in the future it could provide a source of revenue for them. It would also provide a source of employment. But it is up to them to make the final decision.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. I ask: Following relaxation of the requirements in respect to the householder mailing service, has he received requests from the Australian Provincial Press Association for a relaxation of the postal regulations concerning category A newspapers where supplementary advertising is enclosed with a newspaper and the newspaper is required to print in a conspicuous place the full title and date of publication of the newspaper in which the supplement is enclosed? Has he been advised by the country newspapers that they believe that the present householder delivery service offers unfair competition and could affect the future of those newspapers and their employees? Will he consider a relaxation of the pertinent regulations?
– 1 have received representations from the provincial newspapers concerning this matter. It must be realised that this type of mail is receiving a very substantial concession at the present time. The loss in this area of mail is approximately SI Om a year and many of the articles are being carried by the Post Office for as little as 2c an article, if they are under 4 ounces in weight. There has been a relaxation for inserts as newspaper supplements but it must be appreciated that competition is also coming from private industry for the service of delivering articles similar to those carried in the householder service. The Post Office has found it necessary to compete in this field and we are giving a good service. At the same time we are giving a great deal of consideration to the provincal Press and I think it would be unrealistic to suggest that the 60 million to 80 million articles carried in the householder service by the Post Office should in fact meet such competition that we must go out of business in the interests of the area which is losing so much money for the Post Office at the present time.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has seen reported statements by Mr Casey, the South Australian Minister for Agriculture, to the effect that brucellosis vaccination of cattle must now be totally charged to the farming community? Is it true that this action is due to withdrawal of Federal Government funds previously used for this purpose, as claimed by Mr Casey?
– Over the last 6 months there has unfortunately been a decision by the United States of America Department of Agriculture which will mean that the degree to which cattle that are affected by tubercular lesions can be admitted into the United States will be very severely restricted. As a result, the Commonwealth considered the contribution that it has made towards the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign over the last 3 years and in this Budget has provided for a very significant increase - in fact a doubling - of the amount provided. The doubling will mean that in this financial year about the same sum of money will be allocated for brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication as was provided in the last 2i years.
It is unfortunate that in some States there has not been the State participation in eradication that there has been in other
States. In Victoria and New South Wales, for example, there has traditionally been a very significant State contribution towards the eradication of brucellosis, tuberculosis and other cattle diseases because Victoria and New South Wales have recognised the consequences to the livestock industry in those States of any type of disease infection. The South Australian Government has not participated to the same degree and I am told that last year in the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign approximately 59 per cent of the funds expended was contributed by the Commonwealth and only 41 per cent was contributed by the States.
This contrasts with a very much higher percentage contribution by New South Wales and Victoria. The Commonwealth has provided a significantly increased amount of money for the eradication of both these diseases. I am most disappointed that the South Australian Government apparently finds itself unable to increase its allocation in order to provide a similar scheme for eradication to that which exists in other States and an acceleration of the programme in order to meet the needs of Australia’s export markets. The position is not as the South Australian Minister for Agriculture has alleged. The Commonwealth has increased its allocation. I trust that the South Australian Government will now find itself able to reexamine the position so that South Australia can fall into a similar category to some of the eastern seaboard States.
– My question which is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs follows upon the answer given to a question asked by the honourable member for Holt. Are the people of Bangladesh fully informed on what the Australian Government is doing for them? When I say people’ I mean the people, not only the heads of government. For instance, do trucks carry an isignia to indicate that the are from Australia? If they do, is the insignia in English or is it in a language which the people in Bangladesh understand? Does the Press give us a full coverage to show the people that we not only care about them but also want to help them?
-I do not know to what extent there is general communication on Australian aid throughout the 75 million people in Bangladesh. I know that communication has been one of the things that have greatly suffered. In reply to the specific aspects of the honourable member’s question, I am not able to answer affirmatively as to marks on trucks. I think the suggestion contained in the question is an excellent one and I will certainly investigate it. It has been found that the kangaroo emblem has been readily recognised in South East Asia when displayed instead of written information. I will explore the suggestion. One has to be very careful because in the case of aid given by some other countries 1 understand that at the wharves a third country put its own marks on goods or equipment and got some of the credit for aid given by an entirely different country. That has not occurred with Australian aid. I will follow up the suggestion in the question and see whether our aid is identified in the way that the honourable member has suggested.
– Has the Minister for Defence any information for this House relating to the Government’s policy to continue to review and improve the conditions of service in the armed forces? Does the Minister regard recent criticisms - from the national secretary of the Returned Services League, in particular - as reasonable and justifiable?
– I believe that criticism of what the Government has done to improve conditions of service for servicemen is completely unjustified. This Government has a very proud record of achievement during the last 18 months in the field of improving pay and conditions. During that period it has received 6 reports from the Kerr Committee. It has accepted and adopted all those reports. As a result of one of the reports in the major field of increased pay for both officers and men we are paying S92m more this year than was paid in the previous year. There has also been great reduction in the complexity of pay and service conditions. In addition we have accepted other reports which have considerably improved temporary rental allowance, temporary allowance for accommodation, education allowance and disturbance and removal allowance. We have also accepted new and improved standards for housing. All new houses for servicemen will be of an unproved size and improved standard and the established houses will be upgraded. It is true as the national secretary of the RSL, Mr Keys, has said that there are still some matters before the Government on which decisions have not been made. Of course this is true but those matters are there because of the initiative of the Government in bringing them forward. We were unfortunate in having to replace Mr Justice Kerr. Naturally, it has taken Mr Justice Woodward some time to pick up all the threads but he has informed me that he will report on the 2 matters on which he has to report to the Government within the next 5 or 6 weeks.
We have had before us the report of the Jess Committee on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. I stress that this Committee was set up because of the initiative taken by the Government. Already we have made some decisions in this field. Firstly, we have said that no-one will be disadvantaged by participating in the Jess scheme; that everybody will have a right of election to ensure that by participating in the new scheme he is not disadvantaged. We have said also that the legislation in relation to the new scheme will be introduced next year but, of course, it will be retrospective to 1st October this year. We have before us a number of other measures on which we expect results very soon. So far as the DFRB scheme is concerned, we are now able to make a-
– I want to come to your aid, Mr Speaker.
-Order! Is the honourable member raising a point of order?
– Yes. I submit that the Minister has completely ignored your ruling given earlier this morning relating to answers to questions without notice. The Minister is making a long statement which he will have an opportunity to do after question time.
-Order! There is no substance in the point taken by the honourable member. However, I suggest that the Minister’s answer is a little lengthy.
– I just want to say in relation to the DFRB scheme that the Government has now received the Actuary’s report on the cost of the Jess Committee’s recommendations and this should enable the Government to make a decision in the not too distant future. We have also received a report on the machinery which the Governernment should set up in order to review servicemen’s pay regularly. A decision on this matter should be made in the fairly near future. I stress that these matters are being pressed by the Government and the result, of course, is that both recruiting and reengagement figures have been running at record levels. So the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
– Can the Minister foi Foreign Affairs say whether there is ai organisation made up of Croatians, aiming at a separate government of Croatians in Yugoslavia, which for many years has had a record in several countries of terror and assassinations in pursuit of that aim? Does the Minister say there is no evidence of the existence and operation of that organisation in Australia?
– Speaking on a world wide basis, I do not think it would be profitable at question time to go into something which, as the honourable member knows, goes back deep into the history of these people. That part of the world has been called the cockpit of Europe. The honourable member is well aware of the racial hatreds which date back to the First World War, which persisted through the Second World War and the aftermath of that war, and which still exist amongst the people in that area. But coming to the position in Australia, I think my colleague the AttorneyGeneral has been misrepresented in this regard. From time to time assertions and allegations have been made by individuals. The Attorney-General has had these followed up by having police interview these people to obtain evidence in support of what they say. Some individuals have been interviewed a number of times, and by very senior police officers. On each occasion they have not been able to produce evidence to support the allegations that they were making. That was the position at the time of the delivery to me of the aide memoire by the Yugoslav Ambassador, which I received on behalf of the Australian Government. The position in respect of that aide memoire is that it did name certain individuals. It did indicate certain areas that ought to be investigated, and it sought to provide certain details of evidence.
– Why do you not answer the question?
– I am answering the question. These are the matters of inquiry and the honourable member knows very well that this inquiry has been prosecuted with resolution. There have been searches; people have been questioned; documents have been seized and they are currently being studied. They have to be translated. Tt is as a result of this inquiry into the facts that the Government will seek to arrive at the truth of the matter, and it will act only on the truth, not on this kind of assertion that constantly has been made and which time and again has been shown to be put forward falsely. I give one example: It was stated to us that training was taking place in a particular area and people were being taught the use of weapons. When carefully investigated this was found to be the operation of a perfectly harmless and normal rifle club.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report on the activities of the Australian Wool Board for the year ended 30th lune 1972. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Department of National Development for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Immigration (Education) Act 1971, I present the annual report on migrant education for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– Pursuant to section 11 of the States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act 1969, I present the annual statement on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– For the information of honourable members I present an interim statement on the operations of the home savings grant scheme for the year ended 30th June 1972. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide parliamentary authority for the execution on behalf of the Commonwealth of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States for a reconstruction scheme for the fruit growing industries and to appropriate funds for grants to the States for carrying out the scheme set out in the agreement. The agreement, which is contained in the schedule to the Bill, provides for the expenditure of S4.6m to fund amounts committed by State reconstruction authorities in respect of applications by growers for assistance for the removal of specified fruit trees.
It is an unfortunate fact that the prices Australian fruit growers are able to secure on overseas markets for fresh and canned fruit have declined markedly in recent years while costs have risen to further erode producers’ returns. At the same time, the quantity of fruit we have been able to sell overseas has also fallen. These difficulties are certain to be accentuated when the United Kingdom is fully integrated into the European Economic Community.
A vigorous promotion effort is being maintained in an effort to develop alternate markets. In spite of this those sectors of the fruit growing industry which have been supplying fresh apples and pears and canned peaches and pears to markets in Europe and especially the United Kingdom are now faced with a very severe over-production problem. It is a problem which the growers are clearly unable to handle from their own resources and one which cannot be solved in the foreseeable future by the excessive build up of stocks nor their disposal by discounted sales which would erode reasonable returns from existing and newly developed markets. The Government has therefore decided to help growers to remove fruit trees in order to assist the industry to find a solution to the over-production problem.
This, of course, is not the only measure to assist the fruit growing industries. The Government has been aware of their difficulties and has provided very substantial funds in recent years to assist them. An amount of Sl3.8m has been paid out in devaluation compensation, $2.6m has been contributed to stabilisation arrangements for apples and pears and $6.4m has been advanced to assist certain canneries. In addition a considerable proportion of the fertiliser subsidies has gone to fruitgrowing. In spite of this support, many growers and some canneries today are in severe financial difficulties. Although the failure by canneries to maintain minimum pricing arrangements in Australia and abroad has eroded market returns and contributed significantly to the present problems of the industry, there has been no real advantage to consumers. Accordingly the Government believes it is now essential to extend the rural reconstruction scheme to assist those in the horticultural area so that the industry may again become more viable.
The measures proposed in the Bill have evolved partly from recommendations made in November 1971 by the Australian Apple and Pear Board for the reconstruction of the fresh pome fruit industry and partly from recommendations made in January 1972 by the Canned Deciduous Fruits Industry Advisory Committee for a tree removal scheme for canning peaches and pears as a means of dealing with the oversupply problem in that section of the hor ticultural industry. A number of meetings were held between representatives of the Commonwealth, the States and, whenever appropriate, the industry, during the first half of 1972 to consider the proposals which had been made. One element common to both proposals was for an across the board compensation scheme for the removal of surplus fruit trees to provide a long term solution to the over-supply problem. The main beneficiaries would be those fruitgrowers whose trees had not been removed, and who would be remaining in a viable industry. Yet the compensation assistance would also enable those leaving the industry to do so with reasonable prospects of establishing themselves again and without leaving neglected orchards, unsatisfied creditors and with insurmountable debt burdens around their necks.
The Commonwealth’s view was that for such a scheme the Commonwealth, the States and the industry should each provide a proportion of the necessary funds. At a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to consider a tree pull compensation scheme it became apparent that neither the industries involved nor the States were prepared to make contributions to the funds at more than a nominal level. The Commonwealth then re-examined its position and made an offer to the Staters of a broaderbased fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme which would be an extension of the existing rural reconstruction scheme and which would be wholly financed by the Commonwealth. As an adjunct to the rural reconstruction scheme, the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme would not be confined to pome fruit and canning deciduous fruits. By agreement between the Commonwealth and the States it can be extended to other horticultural industries in a chronic surplus production situation. A stipulation was that to be included the trees or vines producing the fruit should take at least 5 years to reach full production and have a bearing life of at least 10 years. Being set in the rural reconstruction context, the assistance provided under the scheme had also to meet needs .criteria and therefore had to be restricted to growers facing financial difficulties. This offer was accepted by the States in the terms set out in the agreement contained in the Bill.
The scheme will provide assistance for tree removal to 2 categories of growers: Firstly, those farmers, predominantly horticulturalists, who are in severe financial difficulties and who wish to clear fell their orchards and leave the industry; secondly, those whose properties would become viable if some or all fruit trees were removed and the land put to other use, but who lack the resources to finance the removal of trees. The scheme is primarily designed to assist the growers of canning peach and canning pear trees and fresh apple and fresh pear trees. To this end the agreement provides that the initial objective of the Commonwealth and States is that $2.3m will be used for the removal of canning peach and canning pear trees and the remaining balance of $2. 3m will be used for the removal of fresh apple and fresh pear trees. Applications lodged with State administering authorities from the date the scheme was first announced, i.e. 14th July 1972, are being considered for assistance and further applications will be accepted up to 30tb June 1973. It will be a condition of the grant of any assistance that the relevant trees are removed before a date specified by the State authority, but in no case under this present Bill will assistance be paid in respect of trees removed after 31st October 1973. All trees to be removed will have to be inspected before removal in order for producers to be considered for assistance.
The rates of assistance to be paid to eligible growers will be determined by the State authority administering the scheme and will take into account the age, condition and variety of trees, yield per acre, market access and other circumstances of the individual case deemed relevant, including whether it is necessary for a composition of creditors to be arranged and for the rural reconstruction authority to take over the property. The maximum levels of assistance will be $500 per acre for canning peaches and canning pears and $350 per acre for fresh apples and fresh pears. It is provided, however, that the average rate of assistance in any State will not exceed $350 per acre for canning peaches and canning pears and $200 per acre for fresh apples and fresh pears. Initially funds will be provided to the States as required, but the scheme itself and the use of funds within the provisions of this Bill will be subject to an early review, at the latest by February 1973, at which time adjustments may be made in the light of experience and in conjunction with the review of the rural reconstruction scheme as a whole. This date is seen as the date on which the whole of the operation of rural reconstruction can be examined in the light of experience. This extension into the horticulture field is of new character, with the Commonwealth entering a new area, and for that reason it is felt that a review of the Bill should also be included with the general review and the possibility of variations or adjustments to the scheme. Of course, any extensions of it will be considered at the same time.
As a safeguard against replanting trees, a grower who is granted tree removal assistance under the scheme will be required to enter into a contractual arrangement under which, in return for assistance in the form of a loan, he agrees not to replant within a 5-year period such fruit trees or vines as are specified by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. Provided this undertaking has been honoured the loan will be converted into a grant at the end of the 5-year period. Horticultural producers assisted under the fruit-growing reconstruction scheme will still be eligible for the other forms of assistance provided under the existing rural reconstruction scheme.
This scheme is one of a series of measures introduced by the Government as a component of an overall policy designed to enable farmers to adjust to changing market and economic circumstances. The pressures facing the canning fruits and apple and pear industries are intense. Currency re-alignments, rising ocean freight rates and competition in overseas markets have contributed to growers’ difficulties. On top of this Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community next year will compound the problems. Removal of surplus trees is a means of effecting a rapid adjustment of supply to available demand. The Government hopes that the end result will be a healthy, vigorous and more selfreliant fruit-growing industry. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to Parliament: Construction of central zone sewerage scheme, Darwin.
The proposal is for the construction of pumping stations, gravity and rising mains, and a lime precipitation treatment scheme incorporating sludge incineration and disposal of effluent. In May 1969 the Committee, as then constituted, reported favourably on a proposed scheme for the augmentation of Darwin sewerage services which included sewage disposal both in the northern and central zones of the city, the latter terminating in a sea outfall approximately 1 i miles off-shore.
Construction of the northern zone scheme was completed in 1971 but before a contract was let for the work in the central zone, which was then estimated to cost $2. 75m, persistently strong concern was expressed publicly in Darwin that the proposed sea outfall would not in itself provide a satisfactory means of disposal. In particular, there was concern that the relatively untreated sewage disposed into deep water off-shore could cause pollution of Darwin Harbour. Having regard for this concern, the Government decided that although it considered the central zone proposal economic and reasonable in the circumstances it should be referred back to the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works for further review to give the people of Darwin further opportunity to express their views and to bring forward any additional evidence which had been obtained subsequent to the previous public hearing in 1969.
Subsequently in August 1971 the scheme as originally proposed, but updated in detail and estimated to cost S3. 2m. was referred back to the Committee. In November 1971 the Committer reported that it was not expedient to proceed with the proposal as submitted and that the means of treatment and disposal of sewage from the central zone should be reconsidered. This was done and various schemes which had been considered previously but which had been set aside on account of cost or for some other reason were further developed along with another possible alternative. In July 1972 several alternative schemes, each of which was more costly than the original scheme, were referred to the Committee with a recommendation for a scheme which provided for treatment of the sewage at Ludmilla before discharge to the sea. The method of treatment is a lime treatment method which is new in Australia. This was not submitted to the Committee before, although other methods of treatment before discharge into Ludmilla Creek were examined. This scheme, although more costly than the one originally proposed and endorsed by the Committee in 1969, removed the fear held by many people of pollution to Darwin Harbour. The Committee has now reported favourably on this scheme and recommends that it proceed to construction. The estimated cost of the work as now proposed is $4. 8m. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– The Opposition would like to be associated with this project because it recognises the great need for this facility in the Darwin region and it appreciates also the deep interest which has been exercised by the people of Darwin during the several inquiries that have taken place. Life in Darwin is not all beer and skittles. Hazardous conditions are often encountered. Climatic conditions often present problems and difficulties to people. The Opposition feels very strongly that whatever amenities can be given to the people in that region to make their life more tolerable should be given. Of course, all around Australia the people require sewerage, and we are pleased that among those who are getting it is the large number of people in the Darwin area.
The matter to which the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has referred is significant for a number of reasons. Foremost among them, I think, is the democratic process which has taken place about this matter. The involvement of the people in Darwin in this and many other matters is of very great interest. A community spirit is developing in Darwin of which the rest of Australia can be very proud and from which many parts of Australia can learn a great deal. In this issue the people of Darwin felt primarily that they were not being provided with an adequate sewerage scheme. I think the Minister has made it clear that there have been 3 inquiries into the Darwin sewerage scheme. I understand that when the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works completed its first inquiry in 1969 it had the impression that there was a fair degree of satisfaction about the proposal, but as further facts became available and were ventilated public disquiet about the matter started to develop. The other significant issue involved in all this, of course, is the developing consciousness about environmental matters in Australia, and it is good to know that in that extreme northern part there is no less sensitivity about such an issue.
The Darwin sewerage scheme, as the Minister has said, involves pumping stations, gravity and rising mains and a lime precipitation treatment scheme incorporating sludge incineration and disposal of effluent into Ludmilla Creek at a cost of $4.8m. The report that was brought down in May 1969 covered a northern zone scheme and a central zone scheme. In fact the northern zone scheme was completed. The central zone scheme was criticised principally for the deleterious effects which many people thought would result from use of the marine outfall. It was felt there would be a serious health hazard caused by pollution and that there could be long term ecological effects on Darwin Harbour and other waterways in the Darwin region.
So in August 1971 the matter was referred back to the Public Works Committee. In almost every case, the nonofficial witnesses demonstrated their concern. Many spoke on behalf of organisations. It was interesting to note the conflict which existed. I have no doubt that the experts from the Department of Works had a great deal on their side because they are very well informed people. In fact, one of the leading representatives from the
Department of Works in respect of sewerage matters holds an extremely high position in international circles.
– He is a world authority.
– Yes, Mr Jones is a world authority. He is the vice president of an international sewerage engineers organisation. Although he stood his ground, there was dissension on the part of a large number of people in the community. It was decided by the Committee that it was not expedient to proceed with the original proposal and a report was brought down in November 1971.
In 1972 the matter was referred back to the Committee and the Committee has now decided on another scheme which has been generally outlined by the Minister. It involves the treatment of central zone sewerage in a lime precipitation process plant near Ludmilla Creek although the technique of the lime precipitation process is quite historical and has been used over the centuries, it is not commonly utilised throughout Australia. Generally speaking, the scheme involves the treatment of raw sewage to remove sludge, the carbonation and discharge of effluent into Ludmilla Creek, the incineration of the sludge and the chlorination of the effluent, if necessary. The scheme which is to be implemented will be capable of serving some 40,000 people and, subsequently I think it will serve some 62,000 people. It has the capacity to connect to an area that is now - unpleasantly, I believe - discharging effluent into the Seabreeze outfall and the Frances Bay South outfall. It provides also for the future connection of Doctors Gully which at a later stage will cost about $1.4m.
The Opposition is very pleased at the approval of this proposal because the people of Darwin have made their strong feelings known on the matter. I congratulate them on finally achieving what they require in the way of an efficient treatment scheme which will retain the magnificent waterways and the ecology of the Darwin region.
– I support the motion. I congratulate the Government on the action that was taken in requesting the Public Works Committee to return to Darwin to receive further evidence. I also congratulate the
Public Works Committee on its persistence and interest in continuing to follow the arguments for and against the various sewerage schemes which were put forward and I would like to say how pleased 1 am that this scheme has finally come to fruition. When this whole matter was originally mooted, I made the statement that above all else the waters of Darwin Hai bour must be kept blue. Members of the Public Works Committee would know what 1 mean: it is a beautiful harbour. 1 will not waste the time of the House on this matter. Provision has been made for the connection of the Doctors Gully sewerage system to the overall plan and the health authorities in Darwin are pledged to watch the situation very carefully. So, I hope that the job will go ahead with expedition. Owing to the fact that further evidence had to be heard, the Committee had to return to Darwin and there has been a delay in implementing *he scheme. I hope that the scheme will now go ahead with great speed and that care will be taken to ensure that the Doctors Gully situation is taken into account and handled from a strictly health point of view and that if Doctors Gully is required to be hooked into the system, it will be done as soon as possible.
-! am happy to associate myself with this expediency motion. From the records of the Public Works Committee, I think one can say that this is the first occasion that the Committee has examined the same scheme 3 times. It first heard evidence on the scheme in Darwin and on 2 other occasions it returned to Darwin to review the evidence. This was brought about because of the controversy existing among the witnesses. They were experts and academic witnesses and it is healthy, I think for a democracy to have such a controversy among people so qualified to express their opinion. To some extent, it left the members of the Committee in a state of bewilderment in trying to decide on which expert’s evidence it should put more credence. There is no doubt that you have been in the same position yourself. Mr Speaker, during your lifetime.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) should feel proud that this up to date, modern sewerage scheme will be implemented at Darwin. I am not saying that the people of Darwin are not worthy of such a scheme but they will have a sewerage scheme that you Mr Speaker, would certainly like to have in your electorate in Bondi. I had in mind when the Committee was crossexamining the witnesses the controversy that has been aroused in the Press from time to time in regard to the pollution of the sea at Bondi and of that beautiful beach.
– I would not mind the scheme in my electorate.
– No. When the Committee was cross-examining Mr Jones, the expert Australian and world wide authority on hydraulics whom the Public Works Committee called before it, I asked him to what degree pollution existed in the waters of Bondi and the waters of the Darwin Harbour. As you undoubtedly know, Mr Speaker - I know you are concerned about it - the waters of Bondi are polluted many more times than the waters of the Darwin Harbour will be in the next 20 years.
– That is with raw sewage.
– Yes, it is raw sewage. This appalled me and I do not mind telling whoever in the Parliament wants to know where I stood on this matter. I stood firmly on the view that the sewerage should be pumped over a sandbank into Darwin harbour. Although I had to accept the majority opinion of the Committee, I am still convinced that if the treated water were pumped over the sandbank quite a distance out into the Darwin harbour - many of the experts put this view - there would be no pollution of the waters of Darwin harbour. There was a lot of resentment from lay people who said that this would not do and that it was likely to cause hepatitis. I believe that the possibility of contracting disease from the Darwin harbour, had the sewage been put over the sand bank, would have been as remote as that of my flying to the moon. However, the subsequent decision of the Committee, that the sewage be pumped into Ludmilla Swamp, seemed to satisfy public opinion. I still think that it would have been quite safe to pump it into Darwin harbour. Of course, Darwin harbour is not lashed by gales, as Bondi, which is in your electorate, Mr Speaker, and other areas along the east coast of Australia are.
– What about in February?
– The honourable member for Dawson reminds me about February. I have never been there in February. People tell me that it is not a pleasant place to visit in February. However, for the other 11 months of the year it is not lashed by gales. This would give a lay person the opinion that the Darwin harbour could be more vulnerable to pollution than the sea off Bondi is. I think that the Darwin people, whilst they are good people in many respects, like to have a bit of a bitch now and again - if I may use the vernacular - and they do not hesitate to have a bark either if they think they are not getting a fair go. They say that there is government of Australia by remote control in Canberra. But 1 oan assure the people of Darwin that they are getting more than a fair go. There are many parts of my electorate that I believe have a higher priority for a more modern sewerage scheme than they have. I would say that the Darwin people have the most modern sewerage scheme of any city in Australia commensurate with its population. So they ought to ease down a bit on their barking and bitching and think how damned lucky they are.
– This is a matter of great interest to me because, for a number of years, I was the Minister responsible for the Northern Territory. The disposal of sewage was a very great problem even in my day. I am delighted that the Public Works Committee has come up with a solution to this problem. I support the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) who said that much has been done for the people of Darwin. I agree with him, I suppose that because of the hot climate they are looking to fasten on to the people in happier climatic conditions in the south. A lot has been done for them.
I pay tribute to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). In the period he has represented the Northern Territory, particularly over the last 10 years, it is quite extraordinary how the Northern Territory has gone ahead and how many amenities have been provided there. I can recall his advocacy of television. I believe that Darwin has television today and that Alice Springs is to get it. I know that the Public Works Committee has been associated with many of these enterprises such as beef roads. Beef roads go from one end of the Territory to the other and from one side of the Territory to the other. These things have been done on the advocacy of the honourable member for the Northern Territory. He has a wide area to cover and he is very conversant with it. He has been interested in the cattle industry there. He has been an airman in the Territory. He knows it well, he knows the people and he knows their requirements. I congratulate the Public Works Committee, and also the honourable member for the Northern Territory, on this great step.
– My comments will be brief. I think that an important principle is involved here. We are dealing with the responsibility of the Commonwealth. We are not talking about the responsibility of the States as compared with that of the Commonwealth. Darwin is a Federal responsibility and the highest standards possible should be set by the Commonwealth as an example to the States. On present day costs it will take $l,700m to sewer Sydney and Melbourne alone in the next 10 years. The Sydney authorities are paying 53c in every dollar they receive on interest burden and the Melbourne authorities are paying 58c in every dollar. They need Commonwealth aid. The Commonwealth should be setting an example at least in Commonwealth Territories where it has the responsibility. If one wants to compare the standards of Darwin with those of any other area one should compare them with the standards of Canberra. There is no reason why public servants in Darwin should not receive the same conditions as public servants in Canberra receive. The conditions in Darwin are of a much lower and poorer standard.
If this proposal is a step in the right direction I will support it. But let me say that the standard have to be set high by the Commonwealth. Unless we set the standards high, in this day and age pollution will destroy many of our beaches. You know, Mr Speaker, that in your electorate of Phillip the beaches of Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama are being swamped with effluent. It is a crime that this should happen: that such an affluent society permits effluent to be washed up on its beaches. If this proposal is of a high standard it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth which should not take too many bouquets but should do its job and set its standards high.
– As a member of the Public Works Committee 1 want to be associated with this project and with its acceptance by the Parliament. I commend the other speakers on putting most of the facts before the Parliament and I do not intend to reiterate them. The Committee worked sincerely to try to find the best solution to this problem. Tt travelled to Darwin 3 times in an endeavour to see that no mistakes were made. The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) pointed out that, whilst he still feels that possibly the first proposal would have been satisfactory, there was some doubt in the minds of members of the Committee as to whether there would be some pollution of the harbour. It was because of the desire to be absolutely certain that the beautiful harbour would not be adversely affected that the Committee took further evidence, made further investigations and took every possible measure to see that there was no doubt that that harbour, which is the pride of the Darwin people and which is indeed a wonderful harbour, would not be subject to pollution. There was some doubt in my mind and in the minds of many others that the currents there would necessarily take the sewage out of the harbour to the extent that would be desirable to prevent the pollution occurring. I support very warmly the acceptance of this motion by the Parliament.
I urge the media and all organisations and people in that area who are public spirited citizens to do their utmost to give the greatest possible publicity to the visits of the Public Works Committee to Darwin and the Northern Territory. Despite the best efforts of a dedicated secretary and the desire of the Committee, on occasions people have advised the Committee later that they did not know of a visit and that they wanted to give evidence. The Committee is most anxious to hear the evidence of everyone who is desirous of giving evi dence before the Committee. So I hope that the people of Darwin, having received these benefits and other benefits through the activities of the Department of Works and the recommendations of the Public Works Committee, will play their part - I refer to the media in particular - in seeing that the dates of the hearings are made known and that they convey to the individuals and organisations that they have a right to give evidence before the Committee, so that we will not have a repetition of what has happened in the past, namely, people coming late with evidence. I commend the project. I am very happy to see that there is no chance, under these conditions, of any pollution of this wonderful harbour occurring.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment resumed from 19th September (vide page 1 607):
The execution, on behalf of the Commonwealth, of an agreement between the Commonwealth and a State substantially in accordance with the form contained in the Schedule to this Act is authorised.
At the end of clause 3 add “ , subject to tha amendment of the agreement by the omission of clause 9 of the Schedule and the insertion in place thereof of the following clauses:
That the Senate’s amendment be disagreed to, but that in place thereof the following amendment be made: ‘In the Schedule, at the end of clause 9’, add “and shall ensure that environmental factors relating to the planting have been considered”.’
– This is an historic occasion. It is probably the first time - it will be only the first of many - that governments have been brought to task with regard to and reminded of the impact of certain legislation on the environment. In introducing his motion the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) said:
The absence ot reference to the ‘environment’ in the originally proposed agreement does not mean that this important field has been ignored.
I question that statement. I wish to deal briefly with the developments that have taken place since the Australian Labor Party proposed in this place the following amendment to the motion that the Bill be read a second time:
Whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill, this House deplores the Government’s failure to prepare and publish, in consultation with the States, a national plan for -
the full use and development of Australia’s forest resources; and
the conservation of existing hardwood forests and associated flora and fauna in relation to softwood plantings.
That amendment was defeated in this House but when the Bill went to the other place a similar amendment was passed with the support of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. A further amendment was also moved at the Committee stage of the debate in the other place by the Democratic Labor Party, which reads:
At the end of clause 3 add “, subject to the amendment of the agreement by the omission of clause 9 of the Schedule and the insertion in place thereof of the following clauses:
The State shall ensure that planting during each year is carried out efficiently and in conformity with sound forestry, environmental and financial practices. 9a. The State shall ensure that natural forests shall not be cleared for planting softwoods unless the particular proposed clearing has beforehand been the subject of an environmental impact study made by an independent expert on behalf of the Australian Forestry Council and that Council after considering the report of the said study has approved the particular clearing.’ “.
That amendment was also carried in the other place with the support of the Australian Labor Party. This legislation seeks merely to ratify an agreement which has been in force for some 12 months. After further consideration of the matter, the Government decided that it would not accept the amendment passed in another place but would move a further amendment to its original proposal, which reads:
That the Senate’s amendment be disagreed to, but that in place thereof the following amendment be made: ‘In the Schedule, at the end of clause 9, add “and shall ensure that environmental factors relating to the planting have been considered”.’
We on this side of the chamber, as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has said, support the motion. We are striving for a principle. We do not want to criticise and destroy the good work which has been done by the forestry commissions. The forestry commissions probably would be as environment minded as most people. In fact, they would probably be the leaders in the environmental field. But no matter how progressive the environmental people are they have to be open to criticism and there have been mistakes made by the States. I wish to quote to the chamber a comment which was made in Melbourne on 7th September 1971 by Dr R. F. Dusman, senior ecologist of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. He said:
I don’t like to criticise foresters because they are doing a better job than most others. Yet it seems slightly mad to see them knocking over the few remaining areas of natural forest to create exotic plantations of pinus radiata and other species. Surely this is (he time to set them to work planting up the lands that have been cleared as a result of past misguided policies.
I would like to ask the following question of the Minister for National Development: What does the future hold for the natural eucalyptus forests of the Boyd Plateau? During the debate in this House on the motion for the second reading of this Bill 1 received a telegram from the Colong Committee, which represents 170 conservation societies. In that telegram the Colong Committee called for an amendment to the legislation to protect native eucalypt forests from destruction for pine plantations and the specific exclusion from the agreement of the Konangaroo State Forest on the Boyd Plateau in New South Wales. It claimed that the Plateau is an integral part of the Kanangra Boyd National Park and should not be destroyed with Commonwealth funds. I want to know what the future holds for the Boyd Plateau. What is to happen to the natura] forest on that Plateau? We know that the destruction of natural Australian eucalypt forests can affect not only other species of flora but also the natural fauna living in the area. We know that certain flora and fauna indigenous to our country will not survive in areas replanted with exotic softwood forests. The result is an upsetting of the balance of the eco-system. I believe that the hardwood and natural Australian forests should be allowed to remain. The forestry authorities are mainly interested in planting exotic softwoods. The question of overplanting also has to be taken into consideration. It may be that too much pinus radiata is being planted. My advice is that a particular type of infectious germ can affect the whole softwood forest in an area. In other words, we may be putting all of our eggs into the one basket. Perhaps we should diversify more. I believe that we should be planting more hardwood forests. But I do not believe that we should destroy the natural hardwood forests. By doing so we upset the balance of the eco-system. What we should be doing is restricting our farm acreage instead of extending it.
– Is it not true that three State Labor governments have opposed the Senate amendment?
– lt is quite possible. I am not saying that it is true.
– It is true.
– It is not true. It is quite possible that the States have adopted a chauvinist approach. As far as I am concerned, when one starts to deal with the environment one should remember that everything is connected to everything else. I can assure the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) that I do not support the policy of the Labor Government in Tasmania with regard to Lake Pedder; I do not support the Liberal Government of Victoria’s destruction of Westernport; and I do not like the conservative Government of New South Wales sanctioning the destruction of beaches by sand mining interests on the north coast of that State or the angophora forest near The Entrance on the central coast of that State. We are going to have chauvinist problems with the States, but we can by education and discussion bring the matter to a higher level. As I said, this will be just the first of many actions to be taken in this Parliament with regard to the environment. I commend the Government for at least relenting. I hope that it will take action and not just speak words. I want to hear what the Government is going to do about the Boyd Plateau. What action does it propose to take?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not wish to take a great deal of the Committee’s time in relation to the amendment moved by the Government and presented by the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz), but I do want to make a brief comment on the delay associated with this Bill, lt was for that reason that I asked the Minister for National Development a question yesterday in regard to a Commonwealth-State agreement. The greatest matter of concern for me has been the delay in the presentation of the Bill. The agreement is almost into its second year of operation. The vital factor is that if this Bill was delayed any further by the introduction of amendments to the Bill or possibly the negotiation of a new agreement, then the agreement would have to take effect from a date later than that originally intended. As I said yesterday, this would put the continuance of the existing arrangement in jeopardy. I am glad that the Government has worked out a compromise in regard to this amendment which related only to the environmental factor. It is now before this House and will then go forward to the Senate.
Other matters associated with this Bill will be discussed at a later stage. I have made representations in regard to this matter and I hope that the discussions will reach a successful conclusion. As I said, the most vital factor now is that this legislation should be passed so that it can be implemented. 1 feel that a certain amount of politics has been played and those responsible have either been naive or dishonest. 1 think and feel that they have been dishonest. I am delighted that the legislation is now before this House. 1 will continue to make representations to the Minister in regard to the details of our discussions. I repeat that the most important factor is that this legislation should be passed so that the matters related to it can be implemented.
– I would like to reply briefly to the point made by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). As the honourable member knows the question of the Boyd Plateau is a matter for the State Government as land use is a prerogative of State governments. The New South Wales Government has a Minister for the Environment. However, I will refer the honourable member’s question to my colleague the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 571), on motion by Mr Kevin Cairns:
That the Bil! be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House seeks to amend a Bill which was introduced following an election promise in 1963 by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. He proposed to make a $500 grant for savings of $1,500 over 3 years towards the purchase of a home. Subsequently, due to inflationary trends, the Commonwealth has increased the maximum allowable value of a house attracting a grant. This value has been raised, first from $14,000 to $15,000 and subsequently to $17,500. This Bill seeks again to raise the maximum value from $17,500 to $22,500. Other changes are to be made. The maximum grant payable is to be raised from $500 to $750 and the acceptable savings level is to be raised from $1,500 to $2,250 or more. The limit of savings in any one savings year to establish eligibility for a grant is to be increased from $600 to $900. A further change relates to the easing of requirements in respect of credit union savings.
I have always contended that the home savings grants scheme has not helped in any way to solve the problems of the building industry. It has not really assisted young people to acquire a home. I believe that an important principle is involved. One factor in the scheme is the combined value of the land and dwelling. Generally speaking, throughout the Commonwealth home building costs are fairly uniform, but the cost of land varies widely between the States. It is very hard to find official statistical data on land costs because this regressive Government - I use the term deliberately - until recent years has made no attempt to keep records of land costs in the States. Records have been kept only in the last few years although this Government has been in power for 23 years.
Only through an organisation such as the War Service Homes Division can one gain statistical data applicable over a long period. I was able to obtain through the research service of the Parliamentary Library costs of land in each State as related to average weekly earnings. For the purpose of the calculation an index figure of 100 was taken to represent the cost of land in 1950. By 1970 the index figure in New South Wales had risen to 1261. In Victoria it rose from 100 in 1950 to 663 in 1970. Land costs in Queensland rose from 100 in 1950 to 684 in 1970, while in South Australia the index figure rose to 767 in 1970. In Western Australia the index figure rose to 1028 in 1970 and in Tasmania it rose to 391. Clearly the costs of land have varied in each State. It is also clear that land in New South Wales is much dearer than in any other State, and is dearer in Western Australia than in all States except New South Wales.
A big factor in land costs in a State is the influence of the major cities - that is Sydney in New South Wales, Perth in Western Australia and Melbourne in Victoria. My contention is that the land component should be taken out of this proposal. It would be better to determine an amount for a dwelling and to exclude the aspect of land. I would have thought that a loan of about $15,000 as a maximum for a dwelling would have been realistic. With the cost of a dwelling and land at $22,500, in some States you could buy a luxury type home for that amount. But I am afraid that in New South Wales, particularly in Sydney, that is approximately the average cost of the land and dwelling. The average cost of a block of land in Sydney is now about $9,000 and the cost of a dwelling exceeds $12,000. I would think that the average cost of land and dwelling in Sydney would be between $21,000 and $22,000.
In the last occasion on which legislation of this type was put through this House I said to the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) - and I might say that the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) agreed with me - that people in electorates in the Sydney metropolitan area represented by a Liberal member of this Parliament would not be eligible for a loan to build a dwelling in their electorates. In other words, the cost of the dwelling and land would mean that the amount of loan was inadequate. Consequently it will be noted that the Government has increased the amount of loan, firstly, from $14,000 to $15,000 and then from $15,000 to $17,500, which is a jump of $2,500. Within a very short period the Government has had to raise the limit by a further $5,000. What does this mean? It means that there is an enormous inflationary trend. This is an admission that since the inception of this proposal there has been an increase of 58.9 per cent in housing costs.
Let us again look at the figures. When 1 refer to the war service homes proposal ! must say that these figures are more regulated and more conservative. In the private sector of building the cost of a dwelling and land is much higher than under the war service homes scheme, As I have said, there has been an increase of 58.9 per cent in housing costs. But even under the war service homes scheme the average cost of land and dwelling, according to reports of the War Service Homes Division, rose from $10,100 in 1963-64 to $16,800 in 1971-72, an increase of 66 per cent on an Australiawide basis. There was a similar pattern throughout Australia. One can see that there has been an enormous inflationary trend under this Government. What have I argued? I have consistently argued that over a long period of time this Government has not really tried to solve the problem of inflationary land prices. It has never really solved the problem of inflationary prices in regard to housing, nor has it really tried to control interest rates. With the permission of the House I shall have incorporated in Hansard a table setting out details of interest rates in Australia. If I may 1 will give some details of the increased cost of interest rates on the repayment of loans for dwellings from the time when the homes savings grant was first introduced in June 1964 until April 1972.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– An examinationof the interest rates charged by permanent building societies reveals that in 1964 the typical rate was between5½ per cent and 6 per cent. In April 1972 the ruling rate was between7½ per cent and 8 per cent. The rates charged by the Commonwealth Savings Bank varied from 4) per cent to5¼ per cent in 1964. In 1972 the rate varies between6¼ per cent and63/4 per cent. The rate charged by trading banks - this is the overdraft maximum rate - was 7 per cent in 1964. It is now73/4 per cent. The rate charged by insurance companies rose from 7½ per cent in 1964 to between7½ per cent and8½ per cent in 1972. An amount of$15,000 would probably be an average loan through Australia. Let us consider a loan granted at the permanent building society rate. It is difficult to assess a loan of $15,000 from savings banks where the interest rate on a first mortgage loan maximum of $9,000 is 6i per cent on a new dwelling and 6$ per cent for an existing dwelling. I have said that the average cost of land and dwelling in Sydney is in excess of S2 1,000. So a person has to get a second mortage loan. On a second mortgage loan from a saving bank people generally have to pay in the vicinity of Ti per cent or 8 per cent, repayable over 8 years, not spread over 25 years or 31 years which is the normal time required by savings banks. So I have taken the rates charged by permanent building societies because permanent building societies give one loan at a given rate.
Let us examine the interest burden on a loan of $15,000 taken out at 6 per cent in 1964 and repayable over 25 years. The total repayments would amount to 29,335. which include the interest and principle. In other words, the interest payments would amount to $14,335. If you took out the same loan today you would have to pay the ruling interest rate of 8 per cent and the total interest repayment would be about 20,130. In other words a person pays $5,795 more in interest charges on a loan of $15,000 taken out to-day than would be payable on a loan of $15,000 taken out in 1964.
Let us examine the position: The Government, on the one hand, gave a $500 homes savings grant - now increased to $750 - but on the other hand it took back $5,795 which represents the increased payments on interest charges. This is action taken by this Government. The first position that we are looking at is that this Government has not in any way tried to control interest rates in the private sector of housing except in one minute sector - the terminating building societies. But in comparison with the total number of houses built in Australia, the number financed by the terminating building societies is minute.
Previously 1 was dealing with interest rates charged by the Commonwealth Savings Bank and all other savings banks. Until April 1970 the rate of interest charged by a savings bank was 5$ per cent, but what happened after the credit squeeze caused by this Government? Interest rates increased by i per cent to bring them up to 6i per cent. The amount of a first mortgage loan obtainable through a savings bank is $9,000. Interest rates charged to build a private dwelling in Australia have not been reduced. The Commonwealth Government should have put pressure on to the Commonwealth Savings Bank and other savings banks long ago in the area of first mortgage loans, where it has the authority to do so. First mortgage loans should be increased to at least $12,000, but we suggest that it should be even higher. Savings banks should reduce interest rates to restore them to the level of at least April 1970, but we suggest that they should be reduced even further. The Government’s credit squeeze of April 1970 struck a heavy blow against the whole of the home building industry of Australia, from which it has never recovered. At that time the Government put pressure on the Australian home building industry.
Let us now look at the number of buildings which have been commenced. In a recent article in the ‘Sun-Herald’ the Minister for Housing proudly stated that housing commencements throughout Australia had increased by 6 per cent over the last year. What he did not say was that 1970-71 had been a slump period because of the actions of his Government. If we compare the figure for 1971-72 with that of 1969-70, we find that the increase in housing commencements throughout Australia was only 1 per cent. However, we find that during that period more than 200,000 couples were married in this country. When people are married they want a home of their own. During the last 3 years the net immigration intake into this country has been some 300.000 people. Yet we have increased our home building rate by only 1 per cent. If we look at the most populous State of New South Wales we find that the increase in home building in 1971-72 over that in 1970- 71 was 1.2 per cent, but when the 1971- 72 figure is compared with that of 1969-70, we find that the commencement rate has dropped by 5.3 per cent.
We have an unemployment situation in the building industry and associated industries in Australia. The building industry is the biggest employer of labour in Australia. If we want to generate a stimulus in the economy we should give a stimulus to the home building sector of the building industry and its associated industries, which include home appliances, curtains, carpets and so forth. It is time this Government really gave a stimulus to the economy through both the private and the public sector of the building industry. I would like to go into greater detail in relation to the public sector of the industry but, after all, this Bill deals with the private sector.
If one really examines the proposals of the Budget one finds a very negative approach to the whole social problem of housing and living in this country. I argue that if the Goverment was able to persuade, encourage or direct the Commonwealth Savings Bank and other savings banks to increase their first mortgage loans - the Government knows it has the authority to do this - more people would be brought within the area of being able to repay a loan. I repeat that the average cost of land is §9,000 and the average cost of a dwelling is $12,000, a total of $21,000. Yet we find that the first mortgage loan through the savings banks is $9,000. With savings reserves at a record level, what is really mystifying the Treasury is why people are putting their money into banks instead of spending it. The Government could direct the savings banks to make this money available to home builders. Why is it necessary to have a crisis in New South Wales? Why arc there now 40,000 people on the waiting list of the New South Wales Housing Commission alone? The number of people on the waiting list has increased from 28,000 2 years ago to 40,000 today. The reason for this is that people cannot meet the monthly payments involved in purchasing a home.
If these people wanted to obtain a loan of even $15,000 the only way they could get a first mortgage loan of that amount is through the permanent building societies, but then they would have to save at least $6,000 for a deposit. This is a very difficult task for young people today. But if they are able to save $6,000 for a deposit, what will be the repayments on this loan of $15,000? Their repayments over 25 years would be something like $115 a month. Working on the basis that that should represent 25 per cent of earnings, this would mean that the wage earner should be earning between $110 and $120 a week. However, average weekly earnings are still well below $100 a week, and I might say that 70 per cent of Australian wage earners earn less than the average weekly earnings. So how many people are prevented from purchasing a home because for economic reasons they are unable to meet the repayments involved in buying a block of land and building a dwelling? These people go to the only place they can go, and that is to the housing commissions in their respective States. And the housing commission under the greatest pressure is that in the State of New South Wales.
Many important facets of the problem have to be solved. First of all, this Government has to meet the crisis in the private home building sector of the community. It has to increase first mortgage loans through the savings banks. It has to ; educe interest rates on these loans. If a couple has to take out a second mortgage loan through a savings bank, the repayments on that loan should be made over the full period of the first mortgage loan instead of over a short repayment period of 8 years. This at least will ensure that the repayments are balanced over a longer period of time. The fact that second mortgage loans have to be paid within 8 years prices many people out of constructing their own home.
The Government also has to make a move on the question of land prices. In his statement delivered last night on urban and regional development the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) indicated that the Government will now move into the field of land acquisition. The Australian Labor Party has been saying for years that the Government, in co-operation with the States, must acquire large tracts of land which can be developed on a similar basis to that on which land was developed in Canberra prior to January 1971. In that period a block of restricted land in Canberra cost $900. At the group sales the price paid was about $1,700 and even at the unrestricted sales it was only $3,000. But now, because of the change in land ordinances, land costs have spiralled in Canberra. This Government destroys anything that is good. The previous land policy had proved itself over the past 50 years. The Government needs to move into the public acquisition of land on the fringe of all our capital cities and provincial and country towns. We must subdivide these areas and in some cases build complete communities. Where the need may not be so great we should acquire land and consequently subdivide it. We should do so in such a way as to put the telegraph wires underground, with tree planting in the streets and the subdivisions landscaped.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I ask the honourable member to come back to the Bill. He has strayed quite considerably from it.
– With due respect to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, we are talking about housing and I am now dealing with the question of private housing. If we want to solve the question of housing in the private sector we have to take the land component out of it. Do you know, Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! I will not tolerate any affront to the Chair. If the honourable member intends to argue with the Chair I will ask him to resume his seat.
– I want to give you a direction - to give you an argument.
-Order! I will not accept direction from the honourable member.
– It is not a direction but I argue that this legislation provides for a limit of $22,500 for land and dwelling.
-Order! I am waiting to hear the honourable member speak to the Bill.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am pointing out that the problem is related to land and dwellings. The only way to solve the problem of spiralling land costs is for the Government to move in and acquire land; otherwise the problem cannot be solved. I give the example that if the land component is taken out of the cost of land and dwelling - in other words if there is a leasehold land tenure - and if the Government acted as a land developer in cooperation with the States and allocated the land according to need or a ballot system or in some rare cases even under the auction system, the land component could be removed and the average price of land and dwelling in Sydney, which is $21,000, probably could be reduced to $12,000 or $13,000. By this means more people could acquire a dwelling in the private sector. They would never own the land but would pay land rent over the period they lived there. It seems to me that this is the only rational way that the private sector of housing as well as the public sector can solve its problems. This is why 1 argue that this proposal is no solution to the private housing sector.
I conclude on this point: I have always argued that this measure was and is a political gimmick and no solution to the real problem of housing. The only way to solve the real problem of housing is to move into public housing on a greater scale and into the private housing sector by taking the land component out of the price of a dwelling, by reducing the interest rates for home loans and by increasing the amount of the first mortgage loan. 1 ask the Government to take some positive action in this regard.
– One must sympathise with the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). He gets his facts and figures terribly mixed up. He was speaking about public ownership and acquisition of land. The land values in New South Wales were brought about by the advent of the Cumberland County Council. From that day onwards New South Wales has had difficulty with rising land costs because of the attitude of the then socialist government of New South Wales in introducing control of land and land zoning and planning. Once anything is put under the counter a black market is created and that is what has occurred in New South Wales. But for the Cumberland County Council coming into operation and the strengthening of the Local Government Act of 1919 to make subdivisions much better and standards higher, this wretched position would never have arisen. When a black market is created, bribery and corruption result. The Cumberland County Council - I do not include it’s executive officers - was so steeped in corruption and bribery that the then socialist government had to supersede it with the State Planning Authority. The State Government realised the wretchedness of the whole of the Cumberland County Council scheme and recognised that it had to do something. Unfortunately, and to its everlasting disgrace, the coalition of the Liberal Party and the Country Party, the present Government, took over the State Planning Authority. This has continued from time to time to increase-
Order! I must ask the honourable member to relate his remarks to the Bill.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, these remarks are in reply to the honourable member for Reid who spoke of land values. I want to show that land values have increased to the extent that they have increased because of the zoning principle in planning. I can prove that statement because it is only 4 years since planning and zoning was adopted in Victoria and, in particular, Melbourne, and land prices have escalated 3 times since then. Land is necessary for young couples who want to build and own their own homes. It is because of this zoning and because there has been a restriction on the land available that young couples cannot secure land. Thousands of blocks of land in the metropolitan areas of Sydney have a negative zoning and people are not allowed to build homes thereon. If all this land were made available young married couples would be able to build thereon and secure a home for about $12,000. This is what we should be doing. We should make available all the land which was cut up in 1890 in different parts of the western suburbs. It is beautiful land, as flat as a pancake. In some cases it has a reticulated water supply, but it has a negative zoning and the people cannot build upon it.
The honourable member for Reid spoke of interest on loans over a 25-year term, but he did not mention that loans could be available at less than 8 per cent interest. 1 think the rate on loans from the permanent building societies is 7i per cent or 7i per cent. We must remember that interest is an ingredient of our economic position. People who got loans in 1963 and 1964 were then receiving about $45 to $50 a week. But now they are in the $80 or $90 a week bracket. I wanted to reply to the honourable member for Reid. I should like to assist him. I have had huge experience in regard to this matter. As a bank manager I had the great joy and privilege of financing the construction of more than 2,000 homes from the foundation to the roof. So when I speak I do so from practical experience. I had the great joy of knowing that the people who were building their own homes saved £600 to £800 on what they would have had to pay to what we call a spec builder. 1 want now to continue the address 1 bad prepared prior to the speech of the honourable member for Reid. I welcome the Bill which is a direct result of the progressive policies on welfare that were announced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in the Budget last month. The Bill is designed to increase the maximum homes savings grant and to substantially liberalise the conditions of the grant so that more of our young people who are obtaining their own homes will benefit from this most generous scheme. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) gave a detailed explanation of the purposes of the Bill. I do not want to take up the time of the House by going over the same ground as the Minister or for that matter over the same ground as the Treasurer traversed in his Budget speech, but as the Secretary of the Government member’s housing committee and as the representative of an electorate in which there are many people eligible for the housing grant, I want to say a few words about the homes savings grant scheme in general and in particular and about the benefits that it brings to our young people who want to buy homes.
I sincerely hope that when the history of the Liberal-Country Party Government since 1949 is written in the years to come, considerable attention will be given to the wonderful record of the successive LiberalCountry Party Governments in regard to housing and ensuring that Australia has a high level of home ownership and a high rate of housing construction. Earlier this year it was my privilege to represent the Minister for Housing at a building society conference in Tasmania. At that conference it was made quite clear to me how valuable the people in the housing industry regard the homes savings grant scheme. Those people also indicated to me that the conditions of the scheme should be liberalised by increasing the basic grant above the present maximum level of $500 and by increasing the maximum value of a home for the purposes of the grant above the present level of $17,500. They supported the scheme wholeheartedly but thought that the opportunity should be taken to make it more generous and to update it to meet the needs of our young home owners in 1972 and beyond. I must confess that i was impressed by the sincerity with which they expressed their views on the homes savings grant scheme.
In addition I have had a number of representations from young people in my area in regard to the scheme. With the rising costs of land and home construction in the Sydney area, particularly in the western suburbs, many people have been ineligible for the grant because the value of their home exceeded the $17,500 maximum which presently applies. I am certain that the Minister has had approaches made to him from many other honourable members about this matter. I therefore want to congratulate him and the Government on their positive and helpful action which forms the basis of this Bill which the House is now considering. The maximum grant - and it is a grant, and a tax free grant at that - is to be increased by 50 per cent to $750. Surely no honourable member in this House would oppose this positive measure. It will be of tremendous assistance to many young home owners throughout the country.
In addition, the Government is to increase by $5,000 the maximum value of a home which can attract a homes savings grant, that is, from $17,500 to $22,500. This provision will enable many more young couples who are obtaining their own home for the first time to receive the grant, which also is increased in this Bill. Whilst I regret that rising home costs occur in our country, as no doubt they do throughout the world, I commend the Government for taking positive steps to ensure that people who are forced to pay more for their homes are not disadvantaged or precluded from the homes savings grant scheme. From what the Minister said when he introduced the Bill a few weeks ago, the limit on the amount of savings in any one year in order to qualify for a grant will be increased from $600 to $900. This is a logical step and follows the decision to increase the value of the grant.
I do not want to detain the Parliament unduly but I think we would all benefit from an understanding of the great success which underlines the operation of the homes savings grant scheme since it was introduced more than 8 years ago. According to the latest figures that are available, more than $11 Om has been made available up to the present time in the form of interest free and tax free grants to young couples in every State and Territory of Australia. Since 1964 more than 255,000 young couples, or more than half a million husbands and wives, have received these grants. In New South Wales alone more than §3 6m has been paid out to young couples in that time. I believe that this is a unique scheme which has received wide acceptance from the young people who benefit directly from it and from the many sections of the housing industry which indirectly benefit from it.
I do not think we can do too much as a Parliament to help young people acquire their own homes. It is through the home environment, through better housing and the obtaining of housing soon after marriage that we can assist families in this country to stay together. The family unit is of crucial importance to our future as a nation. It can best be preserved by maintaining a high rate of home ownership and by assisting our young married couples and their families to save for their own homes and to acquire homes as soon as possible. Home ownership is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for many of our people and it is the right of all families. We have a high rate of home ownership but we must continue to ensure that this rate is maintained and, if possible, increased. The homes savings grant scheme is just one means whereby the Government assists in this field. The Commonwealth and States housing arrangements under which the Federal Government makes available funds to the States at a low rate of interest for welfare housing works is another. For many Vietnam veterans, there is the war service homes scheme.
The homes savings grant scheme is unique. It is an incentive and a reward - and a fairly generous one at that - for saving for a home. This Bill extends the generosity and liberalises the conditions so that even more young people than now benefit from it will benefit in the future. As the Minister also indicated, the conditions relating to savings in credit unions being considered for homes savings grants also are liberalised in this Bill. This has been done with the complete approval of the leaders of the credit union movement throughout this country. I know for a fact that this is the case in the electorate of Mitchell. This is a positive step. It is a recognition of the very useful and valuable role that credit unions are playing in helping young people to acquire their own homes. The conditions will be so liberal that just about all credit union savings and lendings will be able to be taken into account under the homes savings grant scheme. The only requirement will be that not less than 20 per cent of the annual lending of a credit union to its members should be for housing loan purposes. That is fair enough. It is a move that will encourage credit unions to lend for housing and a move that will not disadvantage young people who put their savings in credit unions.
I suppose that the growth of the credit union movement in recent years has been one of the most interesting aspects of finance development in this country. Right around the country credit unions are performing a valuable service for their members in many fields, including housing. I am certain therefore that the action which has been taken in regard to credit unions in this Bill will be very welcome. This is a Budget Bill which gives legislative effect to promises that were announced in the Budget. The Parliament should waste little time in passing this Bill so that the benefits contained in it can be passed on to home buyers. I support the Bill and congratulate the Minister on its introduction; but I suggest to the Minister that there should be more publicity given to the scheme and more information about it made available to the young people because several young couples have missed out on a grant through technicalities.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I think young people should be better informed regarding qualifications for a grant. Many have failed to qualify because of technicalities. They should be encouraged to be guided by experts in the Department of Housing at least a year before they commence to build or purchase their home. The Housing Loans Insurance Corporation should be more widely publicised and should be more extensively used. This service was introduced 6 or 7 years ago. The purpose is to obviate the necessity for a second mortgage, the cost of such a mortgage and the higher rate of interest charged. These 2 services - the homes savings grant and the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation - were innovations to Australia introduced by this Government. The first, the homes savings grant scheme, originated in Australia, and because no such scheme was in force in any other part of the world there were no guidelines for the Government to follow; hence the unfortunate anomalies that have occurred. Housing loan insurance schemes were in operation in other countries, but the Government was the first to initiate such a scheme in Australia. The fee originally was 2 per cent. So on a bridging loan of, say, $5,000 the interest would be $100, which is spread over the whole period of the loan. 1 think the fee has since been reduced to1½ per cent.
The difficulty in home ownership is, as the honourable member for Reid stated, the high cost of land. But dollar for dollar, people are getting better value in the erection of new homes, and the Housing Commission of New South Wales is supplying much better homes - better erected, with better amenities, better style and better set out. The unfortunate high cost of land could be overcome in the near future only by some system that would be foreign to this Government. It is unfortunate that the New South Wales State Planning Authority, which I worked very hard to have abolished, was not abolished, because had it been abolished when I worked for its abolition we would not now have the spectacle of high land values in New South Wales.
– The Homes Savings Grant Bill is principally designed to lift eligible home valuations for those people who apply for homes savings grants from $17,500 to $22,500. It is to lift the grant to $750. I think one of the apparent facts is that this homes savings grant legislation will not do any more in the future than it has in the past towards alleviating the very serious housing situation that prevails in this country. Probably one of the most outstanding sociological problems pervading Australia today, one of the greatest areas of neglect on the part of this Government, is that the Government has allowed housing to reach such a critical stage that throughout the country young people are finding it extremely difficult to secure accommodation. It is not just young people but people generally who are affected.
We have at this time a record number of outstanding applications to the State housing authorities. Some 93,000 people - more than 40,000 in New South Wales aloneare waiting for homes from housing authorities because they cannot secure homes in the ordinary way. Only last night there was a startling announcement in the Sydney Daily Mirror’ that a report by W. D. Scott and Co. estimated that housing costs will soar by 66 per cent by 1980. A 66 per cent increase in 8 years is reliably expected by these consultants, and they go on to say that wages will go up by only 50 per cent. Building costs will rise by 7 per cent to 8 per cent in the next 12 months. I remember that when this legislation was introduced back in 1964 all kinds of predictions were made, and I think many of them have eventuated. Lots of people in the building industry say today that when the homes savings grant scheme was introduced and some people got the $500 grant, the price of land went up for all of them, whether they got it or not. I would not be surprised if the same thing does not happen now. But one thing is certain: There will be continuing rises in costs in the future as there have been in the past.
It does not matter what statistical document we pick up about housing from the research resources of our Library; it will substantiate that point of view. Since 1967 the housing price and repairs and maintenance index has gone up by 27.6 per cent. That is authoritative information from the research service of our Library. The average amounts of loans insured with the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation have gone up in the 5 years from 1965-66 to 1970-71 by 31.1 per cent. There are so many other figures that one could bring to bear, but I know that a speech incorporating a lot of figures is a hard one to listen to. The War Service Homes Division has provided a table to show that in the last 5 years in respect of New South Wales the average cost of a dwelling house and land has gone up by 34.7 per cent, in Victoria by 26.4 per cent and in Queensland by 40 per cent. These figures are almost unbelievable if people are securing comparable houses. So it goes on.
As my colleague the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) points out from time to time, we have reached the stage where people are paying more than double the amount they borrow. He indicated in his speech earlier today that the average price of house and land in Sydney is in the vicinity of $20,000. He went on to point out how a person can secure a loan of $15,000 but his first stumbling block is to find the $5,000 deposit. Not everyone can face up to that. If a person borrows $15,000 over 25 years at 7 per cent he finishes up paying total interest of $16,805. If he takes the loan at 8i per cent he pays total interest of $21,235. Surely the Government cannot be very pleased with this situation. This homes savings grant scheme is not the panacea of this problem. It is not the antidote for this large scale ailment that is sweeping the country like a malignant disease. lt is a matter of getting at interest rates and all kinds of other things as well.
The fact of the matter is that this homes savings grant legislation was originally conceived through the motive of political expediency, almost on the hoof during an election. It was born in a state of agonising anomaly, and it has been nurtured and sustained by a series of redressing expediencies and lifesaving injections. I think we are faced with a little bit more of that on this occasion. Since 1964, when this legislation was first introduced, there have been incessant complaints against the restrictive nature of the legislation. Homes savings grants were denied to widows, unmarried persons and persons over 36 years of age. Then there was the imposition of other limitations which affected many thousands of other people. In my view this limitation ran at direct variance with the principle cf encouraging people to save for a home. Many young couples fell foul of the pedantic criteria used to define approved savings and they were refused a home savings grant on such grounds.
Then the credit unions were adversely affected. Savings in credit unions at first were excluded altogether and the unrelenting hostility which the Government has directed to these bodies caused many credit union members to suffer loss of subsidy. They saved and applied for a loan but they were refused a loan and the Government has since given them no redress for their loss. There is no justice in restrospect for this Government, even though it subsequently came to recognise the folly of its ways. We had great fights in this House and in the Senate from 1964 onwards. Now, after all this pressure, the Government has decided to concede the merit of what the Opposition said at that time. But this has been done too late for thousands of people who will remember the prejudice the Government displayed against them.
Initially the scheme provided for payment of a maximum home savings grant of $500 on savings of $1,500 or more. It has always been a dubious proposition in terms of principle that a subsidy of $500 should be given to people with a capacity to save $1,500 while less or nothing is given to those who have a smaller or negative saving capacity.
– You are quite incorrect.
– The Minister for Housing says that I am incorrect. What I am putting to him is that he is prepared to give $750 to people who can save a considerable amount of money and to those who have a negative saving capacity - the people who probably need it more - he is not going to give anything at all. That is the philosophy behind this legislation. I am not going to be distracted in view of the limited time that is available to me.
In the first year of the scheme there were so many built-in booby traps and pitfalls that 35.283 applications were lodged and only 25,079 were approved. In addition, thousands of others were deterred from applying. In the second year of the scheme’s operation 12 per cent of the applications were rejected; in the next year 8 per cent were rejected; in the next year, the figure was 8.2 per cent; in the next year, 12.3 per cent were rejected; and, in the following year, 8.4 per cent of applications were rejected. A study of the 7 annual reports shows a marked consistency in the reason for this high rejection rate. Although the initial valuation limit of $14,000 was raised to $17,500, this statutory valuation limit continues to be the main reason for rejecting applications. In 1970-71 it accounted for 18.7 per cent of those applications rejected. Of course, there were thousands of others who knew they had no chance of receiving a home savings grant because of the valuation limitation.
I question the philosophy of this legislation. I believe that it is fair to say that it is a means test in reverse. There is a premium placed on affluence and a penalty placed on hardship. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech claimed that the Budget was not designed to improve the chances of the Government at the forthcoming elections. However, it is interesting that the home savings grant scheme was introduced in the Government’s policy speech prior to the 1963 elections. That was the first bit of expediency for election purposes. The limit on this value of eligible homes has now been increased 3 times and each time this has been done in an election year. The limit was increased to $15,000 in the Government’s 1966 policy speech, it was increased to $17,500 in its 1969 policy speech and, in this pre-election Budget, it is to be increased to $22,500. So it is apparent that the Government has a favourite hobby horse here.
– Election batt.
– Yes, it is election bait. The Government is exploiting the unhappy situation that young people all over the countryside are encountering. It is lifting the value of an eligible home, not when it is apparent that it should be lifted but in a period preceding an election campaign. The increase in the value of an eligible home of $5,000 proposed in this Bill is the greatest increase since the commencement of the scheme. Of course, this is the period of the Government’s greatest distress from an election point of view. It must be remembered that the increase in costs over the past 3 years meant that most home buyers were unable to qualify for a grant under the existing limit of $17,500 and the new limit will do very little to rectify the situation, as it will allow only a few more people to qualify and with the effluxion of time it will prove useless. How is this limit arrived at? Has the Minister ever been able to provide for the benefit of parliamentarians and the public at large any credo as to what it is that determines this valuation limit on a home which, after all, determines whether people will qualify for a grant or not? What indicators are used to determine the values of homes being built or purchased and, if the Government has any say in the matter, how long is this new valuation limit expected to be in force? I suppose it will be in force until it is again out of date.
I want to refer to some of the matters which give me concern. I have already mentioned the question of valuation limits. In regard to credit unions, I again remind the House that there have always been young people who chose to put their savings in a credit union who are penalised by the Government. Although there is now some element of prejudice being lifted from them, nevertheless some remains. Discrimination is still in evidence against credit unions compared with other lending authorities. I summarise my objections in this way: Firstly, I believe that the equation between the level of the grant and the savings capacity cannot be justified. Secondly, I believe that the nexus between grants should be broken and that grants should be given to all young people entering into a contract to build or buy a home. Finally, no limit should be placed on the value of the home. That is where I stand on this legislation.
While the valuation limit remains, the increased level of valuation should be given a substantial period of retrospectivity. There are many people in my electorate who have found that the valuation limit has just been lifted to incorporate the value of their homes. I think it is to date from 16th August. How ironical, agonising and distressing it must be to have entered into a contract to build or buy a home a week, a month or 3 months before the Government has suddenly seen the folly of its ways. Yet, the Government is going to go on penalising these young people. I mentioned that credit unions should be put on the same basis as savings banks and building societies. I believe that in addition, owner-builders’ homes should be considered under the scheme in terms of the actual costs rather than the valuation placed upon them.
– It is an artificial valuation. The authorities will not accept the Valuer-General’s valuation.
– That is true; I think that independent valuers are sent out to value the homes. In any case, valuers other than those from the Valuer-General’s Department undertake these valuations. Surely a young couple who are working hard should be able to receive the benefit of the extra sacrifice that they make. We are faced with the ridiculous and absurd situation where people can build a big house on cheap land and qualify for a grant under this scheme. But if they built a big house on more expensive land they could be excluded from the scheme.
There is an arbitrary provision as to where one lives. One could go out on the western plains of Sydney where the land is not so expensive and build a very substantial house, perhaps of 18 squares, and qualify under the scheme. But if one happened to live around the southern part of Sydney closer to the sea or even in the northern part of Sydney where the land values are higher one could be excluded from the scheme. A person could be just going a few miles from where he was brought up - perhaps in the Sutherland area around Port Hacking or Como or Cronulla, an area I represented for many years, where the land values are higher - and yet could be automatically excluded from the scheme because of the cost of land.
Why should the land be taken into account? If the Government wants to try to get some real equity about values, it should be concerned only with the value of a home. Preferably, in my view, the Government should lift valuation limits altogether. The 36-years age limit is another discriminatory barrier which, in my view, cannot be justified. I refer again to rejections on valuation grounds. I believe that in many cases the applicants who are rejected should be regarded as among the most worthy. They have a declared saving commitment which requires them to repay more than double the amount originally borrowed, as I have already shown. Just about everybody who borrows the average loan in Sydney now repays more than double the amount he borrowed. If somebody wants to build a nicer house, why should he be penalised? In most cases these people will build a reasonably priced home in a high land cost area located close to where they have lived all their lives.
With this present limit of S17,500, many young couples in my electorate have no chance at all. That is something like the price they have to pay for their land. Can the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) actually sit there and be oblivious to the fact that 17 miles from Sydney, in the Menai area, there is a large piece of land zoned as an area where 70,000 people are to live and where the average price is to be $20,000? If the Minister recognises that fact, is he prepared to acknowledge that among those people will be some of the most hard working, conscientious, diligent and hard saving young people in the community? Why does he uphold legislation which excludes them from the prospect of gaining any assistance at all? Even the proposed increase in the valuation limit to $22,500 will not alleviate this practical problem.
There is not much time left for me to make some of my other points, but I want to refer to the age limit barrier because I think it is one of the most unjust aspects of the scheme. Thirty-six years of age is the closing off age for eligibility under the Homes Savings Grant Act. The persons most disadvantaged by this provision are those on lower incomes who have not been able to buy a house for a number of years in their early married life. They have had to scrimp and save through their early years of married life to be able to afford a home. Many of these people are in their late thirties before they can start to seek a building loan or enter into a contract to build or buy. But there are others as well. There are such people as policemen, members of the Armed Services, Ministers of religion and school teachers. Only last week when 1 visited Service establishments in Queensland I raised this matter with a number of servicemen. They told me that they regretted the fact that the Government had not seen fit to include them in the scheme because their discharge from the Army cannot be facilitated until they are over 36 years of age. I remind the House that this legislation was always designed as an election winner. It has been brought up to date in pre-election periods. It is not designed basically to provide any proper resolution of the housing problem. Here again the Government is wheeling up expediencies. I think it should face up to more fundamental matters.
– The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) and his leader, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), obviously do not like this legislation. One can assume from what they have said today that, if they became members of a government in this country, they would cancel out the homes savings grant scheme. So, the young people of Australia can realise that if the Australian Labor Party becomes the government next year no longer will they receive this very great benefit that has been given to them by this Government. This Bill is really a splendid and very generous expansion of the homes savings grant scheme which has been administered so ably by the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns). I congratulate him.
The scheme provides a free gift lo young people under the age of 36 years. On this occasion the free gift has been increased from $500 to $750 provided they save up to $2,250 over 3 years or more. That does not mean 3 years; it means 3 years or more. To put it another way that I think young people might understand fairly well, because most of these young people ought to start to save for a home when they start working, this is a gift of $1 for every $3 they save and put into an appropriate place, lt is a big item. It is tax free. For every $3 they put in the Government will give them a free gift, free of tax, of another $1. The legislation provides for the maximum value of the home to be acquired to be increased from $17,500 to $22,500. That is a very big increase. I will say more about that later. Under certain conditions the legislation provides for credit unions to be recognised as accepted authorities with which to deposit money. I will say more about that later, too.
I want to impress upon honourable members - the Opposition seems to have lost sight of this altogether - that the whole purpose of this scheme is to encourage young people to save for their future home. It is not intended to be a complete cure for the housing problem. Its purpose is a far reaching one. It is designed to create better citizenship in the broad sense and to inspire an acceptance by young people in
Australia of their responsibilities in their future life. It encourages some personal sacrifice. I think, having lived a long time in this world, that one’s life should be made up of sacrifices for worthwhile objectives. This legislation will encourage that spirit in young people. In this day and age I know of no more worthy objective for young people. This scheme will stop young people from frittering away their lives on worthless activities and give them the desire to save. That is the first aspect of the legislation from a moral standpoint.
But there ls another aspect of it which is just as great. The legislation makes home ownership possible. The Labor Party is obviously against home ownership. Young people should aspire to the objective of family life and owning a home. This scheme preserves the sanctity of family life which is the basis, as 1 see it, of a great nation. If this is a worthwhile scheme that encourages this sort of moral spirit in young people, I do not know why the Labor Party should be crying out and objecting to it. That seems to me to be a completely false approach. Honourable members opposite are putting above the moral values of this scheme for the young people of Australia their political ideal of a complete socialist society. Let us look at the results that have been achieved. They are really pretty formidable. This scheme was started in only 1964.
The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) said that savings with credit unions should be recognised as acceptable forms of savings. I wish to point out that the Bill provides that savings with a credit union will be regarded as acceptable forms of savings if the credit union concerned is prepared to advance 20 per cent of its annual lending towards home ownership, which is a fair thing. Included in the list of approved organisations for the savings of young people are the savings banks. These banks are one of the greatest contributors to home ownership in Australia. The acceptable places for the deposit by young people of money to save for homes are financial organisations whose main objective is to provide money for home ownership and for people to acquire a home of their own. Fixed deposits with trading banks for the purpose of saving for a home are also acceptable. The necessity to purchase land can be anticipated by young people. They can buy it on terms many years ahead of when they want to acquire a home. They can buy it in anticipation of being married and wanting to get a home. The paying off of land is another acceptable form of saving for which young people can get the gift of Si for every $3 they have saved.
I think the greatest of all the acceptable organisations insofar as savings are concerned are the building societies, particularly the permanent building societies, in Australia. The stage has been reached where the permanent building societies in Australia are providing more money for home ownership than any other organisation. They pay 6£ per cent interest on deposits and one’s deposits are available at any time. I wish to point out to the young people of Australia that there is no better repository for their savings than the permanent building society movement. Not only can young people get a good return on their savings with building societies and ultimately be entitled to the gift that I have referred to but also they can be sure that if they are a shareholder in such an organisation and they want to build a home they can take advantage of the availability of its money to complete their transaction.
It is interesting to note that in the 12 months to 30th June last 41,735 people applied for and 38,674 were granted home savings grants totalling $17m. In the short period of 8 years since the inception of this wonderful scheme, 248,922 grants have been approved for a total of $108m. Let us reflect on that for one moment. The fact that there have been almost a quarter of a million approvals of applications means, because the applicants would be married couples, that half a million people have benefited from this legislation. If each of those families had one child it would mean that three-quarters of a million people in Australia have benefited from this legislation in the short period of 8 years. Yet the Australian Labor Party denigrates this scheme. It would wipe the legislation off the statute book if it were in power. I fail to understand where the Labor Party’s principles lie. There is no doubt that the Labor Party does not like the scheme, although it says by word of mouth that it approves of it, because it does not accord wholeheartedly with the idea of home ownership. The Labor Party wants to build a socialist society in this country, which would mean Government ownership and not private ownership.
I have taken the trouble to look into this matter a little further. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), the shadow Minister for Housing who would be the Minister for Housing if the Labor Party were to win the next general election, is the spokesman for the Labor Party on these matters. Therefore one can take what he says as being the authority for the Labor Party’s policies. On 22nd May of this year he was reported as saying in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that Labor, when elected, would return to the Chifley formula. In case the significance of that statement is not understood I would point out that the Chifley formula was the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in which no provision whatever was made for home ownership. It sought to encourage a rental community and not a home ownership community. The Labor Party seeks to encourage a rental community. On 22nd April 1972 the honourable member for Reid was reported in the Daily Mirror’ as saying that the home savings grant was only a bribe. Today the honourable member for Hughes said that it is only political expedience. Those are extraordinary statements.
On 28th February of this year the honourable member for Reid - the spokesman for the Labor Party on housing - said in an article written by him in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that Labor would set up a department of urban affairs to control the allocation of resources for housing. I draw attention to the use of the word ‘control’. I do not blame the Labor Party if it is socialist, which it admits it is, and does not believe in home ownership, which it apparently does not, for wanting to return to the Chifley formula. It is understandable in those circumstances that if the Labor Party were in power it would create a department to control the allocation of resources for housing. That would mean the centralisation of the whole of the affairs of housing in Canberra. It would be, I think, a pretty forlorn outlook for the young people of Australia.
The home savings grants scheme is not, as I have said, intended to be a complete housing scheme. I have mentioned what it is designed to achieve. This is not the time, as honourable members would know, to discuss the whole policy of the Government on housing. But there are many benefits to be derived in the housing field. These include the benefits to be derived under the war service homes scheme, the homes for the aged scheme, the nursing homes scheme and the housing loans insurance scheme. There is also the fact that the Government allocates large sums of money to the State governments. The old Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement has disappeared. The States are now free to apply the vast sums of money that they get as they please. After all, the States are the responsible authorities for housing. Payments to or for the States for works and housing this year will be S3,450m, which represents 34 per cent of the total Commonwealth Budget.
– How much?
– A total of $3,450m, which represents an increase of $395m this year. The honourable member for Reid made great play on the question of land costs. I want to mention something about land costs. Having had just on 50 years experience of this kind of thing. I know something about it. It is true that land costs have increased to a greater extent in New South Wales than they have increased in any other State in Australia. That being so, we ought to have a look at some of the reasons for the increase. There are 2 fundamental reasons why land prices have increased in New South Wales. We know that land prices have increased in every country in the world. They have also increased in the other States of Australia. Two factors apply in New South Wales that do not apply in all the other States of Australia. In the first place New South Wales continues the old pre-war controls up to this date. It therefore has completely destroyed the incentive for this type of investment. That position still persists in New South Wales. That is No. 1. New South Wales, I repeat, is the only State in Australia that maintains those controls.
Point No. 2 was mentioned by my colleague, the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin). Labor was in power in New South Wales for many years, until a short time ago when the Liberal Party took over there. Labor created what it called the Cumberland County Council. The Cumberland County Council immediately started to restrict and control the availability of land. A green belt was reserved around Sydney and none of the land inside that green belt was permitted to be subdivided. As a result of that an artificial shortage of land was created in New South Wales. I do not give much credit to the Liberals for not coming in with a big stick and completely altering this set-up. However, the Liberal Party tried to alter the position by creating the State Planning Authority in place of the Cumberland County Council. Honourable members opposite may blame various people for the rising prices of land in New South Wales and in particular in Sydney. I lay the blame on the New South Wales Government’s controls, the planning authorities and in some cases the stupid local councils. I know that this is perfectly true. The Opposition blames this Government. The Commonwealth Government has nothing whatever to do with the factors that increases the price of land in Australia or the actions taken to increase the price of land in Australia. The State governments are responsible for the price of land.
I know that the price of land has risen beyond a reasonable limit but it has risen only because sufficient land is not available. I tell the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) that this position is not cured by the Government’s resuming and owning land all over Australia. The position will never be cured that way. I know that if places like Canberra are created certain action has to be taken. The price of land will never be reduced unless a competitive spirit is involved and more land is released to outstrip the demand. That is the only way the price of land can be reduced. Even in Canberra the price of land is increasing. In Canberra there is not sufficient availability of land. This is because, of government controls. This is where the guilty people, the State planning authorities, fall down; they circumscribe and prevent the availability of land and thus cause prices to increase. These are the problems we have to overcome. They are very big problems. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced a scheme last night that takes the first step towards amalgamating with the States to bring about the desired effect.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) resumes his seat I feel constrained to say that there goes the voice of the speculator in this Parliament, the mouthpiece of the profiteers, or, if honourable members would like that in Latin, vox speculatorum That term reflects the whole tenor of the speech of the honourable member. Who would think after listening to him that the Opposition is supporting this Bill? Perhaps I should say that the Opposition is not opposing it. That is just one example of the misleading nature of his speech. However, I must confess that we do have a lot to say about the errors of omission in this Bill. We are pleased that the Bill does give assistance to a limited extent. We are happy about a tax free grant being available to some people. We realise that it does provide an amount of gain for a number of people in the community. We are happy that the changes will correct the disadvantages brought about by the decline in the value of money.
When speaking about the decline in the value of money in this community I am reminded of the promise made in 1949 by Mr Menzies, then Leader of the Liberal Party, when he said: ‘We will put value back into the pound’. That is the most hollow promise ever made in Australia. An example of patchwork legislation making up for that promise is the Bill which is now before the House. The maximum value of a home which will attract a grant under this Bill is increased from $17,500 to $22,500; of course that is merely taking into account the decline in the value of money. The maximum grant has risen from $500 on acceptable savings of $1,500 to $750 on acceptable savings of $2,250. Of course, again that is taking into account only the decline in the value of money. The savings limit for one year has been lifted from $600 to $900, merely taking into account the decline in the value of money. The examples go on.
The Government’s own sins are such that it has to do something to correct them with legislation of this type. In drawing attention to those factors, Mr Deputy
Speaker, I am showing you that I know what is contained in the Bill, although I am going to spend most of my time talking about the errors of omission in this legislation. If the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns), who is now seated at the table, would listen instead of talking and trying to be clever with his attempted interjections I would ask him why savings in Commonwealth bonds are not acceptable savings under this legislation. I ask, through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, whether the Minister at the table heard my question. Why are not Investments in Commonwealth bonds acceptable savings under this legislation? I understand that that is the case. I would be glad if the Minister would give an answer in his reply at the end of this second reading debate. I have received a few representations about this particular matter, but they have come only in the last couple of weeks and that is why I have not got in touch with the Minister directly. If Commonwealth bonds are not classed as acceptable savings I hope that an amendment can bc moved to make Commonwealth bonds an acceptable investment under this particular legislation.
I am glad that before coming into the chamber I received in my Canberra office an interim statement of the Secretary of the Department of Housing for the year 1971-72 in relation to the Homes Savings Grant Act. It enabled me to take a quick look at whether my own State of South Australia was benefiting on the average under this legislation. It seemed to me that this was so. Perhaps when the Minister is replying he could also take advantage of this document and tell us which States are benefiting most from this legislation, which States are lagging behind, and the reasons. The main purpose of legislation such as this should be to reduce the misery which is present in our community due to lack of adequate housing, lt is to this that we should turn our minds when considering the legislation. Housing trust waiting lists throughout Australia, I understand, at the moment contain 90,000 to 100,000 names and the situation is getting worse. Can we say that legislation such as this has had any effect on housing problems in Australia when the increase in people waiting for homes has been so marked?
This legislation is shot through with omissions to tackle the real problem which is adequately to house more people. It attacks only one half of the problem of supply-demand relationship. It docs provide more demand for that product which is in short supply, namely, land and whatever buildings are on it. It puts some more money in people’s pockets. I do not deny to those people who are benefiting under it what they are getting. It puts more money in their pockets and it creates more demand. But I believe that all the worthwhile surveys in our community on this legislation have shown that the greatest benefit has gone to the speculators. Of every $500 that has been given under this Bill 1 venture to say that at least $250 has gone in extra profit to those who happen to hold land - who happen to be investing in that commodity which is in short supply.
Another thing which this legislation has done, rather, than house more people - and we can see that it has not housed sufficient people because of the waiting lists to which I have just referred - and which is of benefit to the community is to improve the standards of housing. But this is not attacking the main problem. 1 concede that people who have benefited under this legislation are probably in better housing than they would have been without it. They may have larger and better quality homes with more rooms and better interiors. Perhaps better materials are used in those homes. But as far as we on this side of the House are concerned, if we are basing policies on greatest need then the greatest need is to house more people so as to overcome those social problems in the community which are so well exemplified in housing trust wailing lists. This legislation does precious little about that problem.
Let us look at what has happened to the supply side of this commodity - land - in recent years. A survey conducted by the Housing Industry Association from 1960 to 1970 showed that new lots in Sydney increased in price by 150 per cent; the increase in Melbourne was 57 per cent and in Brisbane 52 per cent. In almost the same period, from 1961 to 1971, the average weekly earnings increased in our community by only 80 per cent. That gives some indication of how the price of land has increased out of all proportion to average weekly earnings. Another survey held in respect of the years 1968 to 1971 showed that medium priced land increased in Sydney by 65 per cent; in Perth by 40 per cent; in Brisbane by 34 per cent; in Melbourne by 28 per cent; in Adelaide by 23 per cent and in Hobart by 51 per cent. Over the same period average weekly earnings rose by 43 per cent in Sydney; by 44 per cent in Perth; by 44 per cent in Brisbane; by 42 per cent in Melbourne; by 38 per cent in Adelaide and by 41 per cent in Hobart. That is another example of the price of land increasing out of all proportion to average weekly earnings. This has been during a period when this legislation has operated. It is totally useless as far as its effect on the price of land is concerned. All that it is doing is increasing the demand for land and of course, as I have said, having some good by-product effects at the same time.
I will remind honourable members how this is related to the Bill because as I understand it the rationale behind the Bill is to improve housing conditions in Australia and perhaps to reduce the great misery that is created by a lack of housing. Although we are Federal members I suppose there is not one member of this House who represents a metropolitan area who would not get a tremendous number of housing inquiries brought to him each week in the course of his electoral work. This gives us an idea of just how silly it is for the honourable member for Bennelong, the previous speaker in this debate, to get up and talk about this as being a State problem The States are not in a position to do anything about this problem. Leadership has to be given by the Commonwealth. If the honourable member was not present in the House last night, he may not be aware that at long last, because we are in an election year, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has grasped this fact.
In his decentralisation statement, inadequate though it was in so many areas, he at least conceded that we have to have a few growth centres throughout Australia, that we should concentrate on them and that the Commonwealth itself must take up land in these centres because it is only by this means that we are going to be able to tackle the problem of the supply of land in our community. I might add that those matters on which the Prime Minister touched last night in his paper on decentralisation were, as somebody said at the time, only a matter of rehashing what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has been saying for 10 years. Of course it is Labor Party policy to do just this - to have the Commonwealth itself set up a land development authority in order to have a control over the supply of land. I think there is no greater social problem in our community which should be tackled than this. I believe this is the only way of tackling it. I myself am at this stage unconcerned as to whether the authority should merely lease the land or indeed sell it. But if the authority is to sell the land so that there may be a revolving fund, the sale should be made only on the condition that the land can be sold again only to the authority, perhaps at an appreciated price related to the decline in the value of money in the meantime and the value of improvements which have been put on the land.
Another factor which of course must be mentioned when dealing with the problem of housing is the putting of a ceiling on the size of Melbourne and Sydney and, soon, my own city of Adelaide and other large capital cities in Australia. It is only by doing this and by creating job opportunities elsewhere outside these capital cities that we are going to be able to tackle this problem of the price of land. I must mention in this context the one heartening initiative taken in Australia in recent years, namely that which was taken by Don Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, when he announced the machinery to plan Murray Newtown in the electorate of the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles).
I am very glad that the honourable member for Angas, even though he is a Government supporter, recognises that that is an excellent initiative because once again it is only by the Commonwealth being able at this early stage to put aside land for the building of a new city and controlling the price of that land that we will in future control the price of land. We need new cities. Adelaide needs a new city far less than Sydney and Melbourne but unfortunately for Sydney and Melbourne they do not have a government which believes in this sort of planning because they are dominated by members such as the honourable member for Bennelong and the out-of-date attitudes which he expounded in the course of his speech on this Bill. I might add in this context that the Opposition has no intention at all of abandoning the excellent country towns that do exist. But the people in those country towns, if they have the facts put to them as the facts should be put to them, must realise that it is only by choosing country growth centres that we are going to get decentralisation away from the big cities.
I know that I am just about to be told by the Minister for Housing that I am straying from the provisions of the Bill so I will tell the House why my remarks are still very much related to it. This Bill deals with only one part of that supply-demand relationship in the housing situation. It will stimulate demand but if the real problem is to be tackled we have to do something about the supply of land in this community.
I summarise by saying that we do have a housing crisis in this community, that this Bill does not help it in any way, that our problem is a shortage of serviced land, that housing construction costs have increased but in no way has that increase been at the same rate as the increase in the price of land. Only when we have a Labor government which will use the proposed land authority to buy up land will this plan for new growth succeed. Indeed, the Government has indicated that it is prepared to buy up land, but until we are prepared to buy up land around our cities as well as in growth centres we will not be able to do anything about this problem of housing in the community - a problem which this present Government has had 23 years to do something about and a problem which steadily is getting worse from day to day.
Sir JOHN CRAMER (Bennelong)- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. The honourable member for Adelaide during the course of his speech said that I was not present in the House last night when the
Prime Minister made his statement on urban and regional development and that I knew nothing about the proposed authority. I was present in the House and, if the honourable member looks at Hansard over the last 15 or 20 years, he will find that I have advocated the setting up of the authority which was announced last night.
Mr HURFORD (Adelaide)- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. If the honourable member for Bennelong looks at the Hansard record tomorrow he will find that I did not say that at all. I said: ‘If he was not present in the House last night, he would not be aware’. I did not say that he was not in the House last night.
– I was somewhat disappointed that the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) saw fit to comment on some of the private activities of the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). I have reason to believe that the honourable member undertakes some of these activities himself in the city of Adelaide. If I am wrong in that I apologise, but I have been told this on other occasions. However, it is not my point to bring this before the notice of the House; I mention it in reply to his implication aimed at the honourable member for Bennelong.
I rise to speak in strong support of this most admirable Budget measure. In giving it my strongest possible support 1 am struck by the small number of speakers from the Australian Labor Party who previously had indicated a wish to debate this matter. I think this contrasts very sadly with the enthusiastic support that has come from this side of the House. The lack of speakers from the other side of the House could mean either that Labor supporters have great confidence in the capacity and capability of the few speakers who have spoken already - I have no doubt that is the case - or that honourable members opposite also support this legislation and will not rise to say so. After all, their 1971 Launceston conference endorsed and supported this Liberal-Country Party programme of assisting young home owners.
Then again, the lack of Australian Labor Party speakers could mean that in considering this further development and widening of an already successful scheme to assist and encourage people to move into the first home of their own it has become obvious that the Opposition has no manageable or acceptable alternative method in which to assist this vitally important section of the community. The facts support this contention. In point of fact, there is little of interest in the Australian Labor Party’s housing programme, apart from providing subsidies. At page 18 of the Platform, Constitution and Rules of the Australian Labor Party, as approved by the 29th Commonwealth Conference in 1971, it is stated that the Australian Labor Party will provide subsidies to institutional lenders to reduce by 2 per cent the rate of interest paid in the first 1 0 years of marriage.
On a previous occasion the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) demonstrated clearly and effectively that this proposal of the Opposition will be unworkable. Since the Minister’s denunciation it is an interesting fact that the Opposition has stopped mentioning this declared part of its socalled new housing policy, and so far in the debate today I have not heard one of its 3 speakers put it forward as a basic part of the Party’s programme. Yet on every occasion this Government has brought in progressive policies in regard to housing the Opposition has tried to denigrate them in almost every possible way open to it. We have seen this happen again with this Bill. Yet no really sensible new policy has come from the other side of the House. In fact, it is fascinating to see that at least 2 of the policies as stated in the Australian Labor Party’s official platform clearly endorse this Government’s homes savings grant scheme as being one that it would keep if and when its members sit on the treasury benches of this Parliament. Why do honourable members opposite not mention this in their speeches? They do not say that they will remove the homes savings grant scheme. As stated in clause 7 on page 18 of its platform as decided at Launceston, the Opposition will remove such anomalies, as its sees them, such as the age limit of 36.
Opposition speakers have mentioned a couple of other points. For the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) to call the scheme a bribe and for my political neighbour the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) to call it a gimmick is to go not against our scheme but to go against the platform and policy as publicly declared by their own Party. 1 believe the Government is to be congratulated without reservation on widening the scheme to include a property to the value of $22,500, increasing the size of the grant to a new maximum of $750 and, very importantly, raising the limit on the amount of savings made in any one year to $900. The reasons for these changes have been clearly spelt out by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and other speakers on this side of the House. The reasons are sound and just. They fairly continue the joint purpose of this scheme to encourage young people to save for home ownership and to give much needed subsidies. However, I repeat that not enough is said of the incentive that this scheme has given to the young people of Australia to save for their first home. I believe that the homes savings grant scheme has caused a fundamental change in the spending and saving patterns among the young people of Australia since it was introduced 8 years ago. This is a factor which many economists have not examined or considered properly in their economic analyses. I would commend this subject to these economists for serious and deep economic research at all levels in our community. 1 am particularly pleased and personally pleased with the decision of the McMahon Government to ease conditions applicable to the recognition of savings in credit unions for the purpose of this scheme. As we know, the provisions have been changed so that where a credit union can show that not less than 20 per cent of the total amount lent to its members in the most recently completed financial year has been in the form of housing loans and undertakes to maintain this 20 per cent proportion each year, savings with such a credit union will be recognised by the homes savings grant scheme in the same way as savings in banks and building societies. It should be stressed in this debate that for the purposes of the Act as it applies to credit unions, a housing loan is defined as a loan to buy land, to buy or build a house, and to pay for associated expenses. This represents a significant easing of conditions and brings the homes savings grant scheme fairly and squarely into the important and fast growing credit union movement in Australia. Because of my long-standing interest in and association with credit unions, I am particularly pleased with this aspect of the Bill before the House.
When I took part in the debate in this place on the Homes Savings Grant Bill in 1970 I said that the Government made no criticism of the credit union movement. Rather, in showing a concern to see that all forms of credit are available to the Australian community, I then stated that in this pattern the Government readily admits and welcomes the role of credit unions. I need hardly add that the decision by the Government now being considered is most certainly a very tangible reaffirmation of the Government’s high regard for the important role of credit unionism in the Australian financial scene. Since speaking in the debate in 1970 it has been my privilege to attend 2 annual meetings of the New South Wales Credit Union League Limited as the representative of the Liberal Country Party Government, and this year I was privileged to be the guest speaker of that organisation on 7th April. Few honourable members in the present Parliament would be unaware of the remarkable growth that has taken place in the Australian credit union movement. Likewise, nobody who has been associated with any financial institution for any length of time can fail to be similarly impressed. Any financial institution that can increase its assets from S6m in 1960 to $I25m 10 years later is to be studied closely and regarded highly.
– I thought you were a banker’s man.
– Tom, you made that interjection in 1970. Its future must be the concern of all whose interests are in the field of economic management and financial development. Professor Neil Runcie is such a person and I commend his fine book on the subject of credit unions to all who hear or read this speech of mine. Credit unions, because of their very self help nature - I wish on this occasion the member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) were in the House - are stable and efficient members of the Australian financial community. At present the role of the Commonwealth Government is secondary to the State governments’ as far as controlling authority is concerned. I am happy that there is an excellent relationship between the Credit Union League and the New South Wales State Liberal Government at least, and that both parties have publicly stated this fact.
As for the role of the Commonwealth Government, we come into the picture only when there is some special matter such as income tax law or provisions attaching to the Homes Savings Grant Act. Regarding the former. I believe that the New South Wales Credit Union League is continuing its fight for tax relief, but I do not intend to discuss this matter which lies beyond the ambit of the Bill before us. As far as the homes savings grant aspect is concerned, certainly the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), who also takes a keen interest in the credit union movement, and I recall the controversy that developed about the relevance of fairness of the conditions which were applied in 1970 to permit acceptance of savings with a credit union then approved for the purposes of the scheme. As I mentioned in my speech to the Credit Union League in April of this year, the fact that no credit union had formally sought to be so approved suggested that a lot more negotiation would be the order of the day between the credit union movement and the Government. Such negotiation and reconsideration by the Government is evidenced by this easing of conditions to which reference has already been made. I believe that the credit union movement is very pleased and I would like to quote Mr Dermot Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues, who was reported in the August 1972 edition of the ‘Credit Union Quest’, when speaking of credit unions, as< follows:
We are grateful that the Government has accepted our submission that the conditions in the Act should be drastically eased. The conditions now to be deleted made it impossible for any credit union in Australia to qualify. We are hopeful that every credit union will now be able to qualify within a reasonable time.
Congratulations are in order both for the dedicated and devoted leaders of the credit unions and, I may say, for the Federal Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns), who has shown a rare quality not only to come to grips with the detailed intricacies of home finance but also to understand the broad economic and social responsibilities that governments must assume in this field.
Mr Speaker, I have already said on several occasions that it remains for individual credit unions to determine whether they shall move more earnestly into housing loans, as now defined by the Act. It is a problem, now, for individual credit unions to work out for themselves. I have no doubt that many of these credit unions will follow overseas trends and move into the area of home financing to a sufficient degree to qualify. As I have mentioned in this House before, there is a diverse pattern in overseas credit leagues and I have every confidence that the Australian credit unions which decide to qualify for recognition under the homes savings grant scheme will do so responsibly and with as little disturbance as possible to their current lending patterns.
The credit union movement by its self help nature, brings with it stability and efficiency at local levels which, in turn, bring about low costs of operation and a low incidence of bad debts. However, another great philosophical advantage of the credit unions, whose underlying philosophy is the acceptance of the ethic that we are our brother’s keeper, is that each credit union has its own local control and decisionmaking process. There is strong evidence that credit unions in country areas are assuming the independent decisionmaking role that branch bank managers enjoyed many years ago. This local control, local interest and local concern is a precious element in the credit union movement, and I hope that the extension of the homes savings grant scheme to facilitate the inclusion of credit unions will not see any largescale amalgamation or centralising of authority and decision making.
I have limited my remarks on the credit union aspect of this Bill. The whole subject of credit unionism is one which deserves greater debate in this House, but then so do all financial matters. However, I would remind the credit union movement, as I did at the recent opening of the new premises for the ABC Staff Employees Credit Union, that it is no use looking to the Australian Labor Party and thinking that it is going to control qualitatively and quantitatively all other forms of available credit in Australia and leave the credit union movement alone. Members of the credit union movement should ponder the thought when the Australian Labor Party makes its rash promises about what it will do for the credit unions - and there was much of this at the opening of the premises that I have referred to - and remember that any government that is big enough to give everything is also big enough to take it away. This legislation extending the homes savings grant scheme is good. It is timely. It is a further step in the right direction. I strongly support it and the philosophy behind it.
– It ill behoves the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) to start his speech with a totally untrue statement. He said that the Labor Party was not putting up speakers on this Bill. My examination of the speakers’ list revealed that there are 6 Labor Party speakers and 6 Government speakers listed. That does not seem to me to be any great imbalance. I would also point out that it is becoming increasingly difficult for members of the Opposition to deliver speeches when they are below third or fourth on the list to speak to a Bill because the Government takes the attitude consistently that if it has not any speakers on a measure it will gag the debate. Last night, on one of the most important matters to come before this Parliament, only 2 speakers from this side of the House were allowed to speak. Applying the criterion of the honourable member, the Government had no interest whatever in grants to the States, how they were used or whether they were adequate, because the Government did not have speakers on the States Grants Bill. I think it is a fallacious argument which has no relevance whatsoever to the merits of a measure.
This Bill provides for an adjustment of the valuation of houses which qualify, to meet the changing circumstances in the cost of housing, lt does not, in fact, increase the real value of houses which qualify; it merely adjusts the qualifying amount to meet an inflationary situation in certain areas of the Commonwealth. It may well be a better proposition from the Government’s point of view and from an administrative point of view to leave out the value of land involved in the calculation. I think it would be easier on a national scale to have the value of the home itself specified in the Bill, because this sort of valuation is not difficult to get, rather than the value of a home and land because of the verywide variations which exist. There are very wide variations in the cost of homes throughout Australia. The increase in the grant from $500 to $750 hardly meets the increase in the cost of purchase of homes in some areas since the inception of the $500 grant in 1954. However, I would like to speak mainly about the difficulties which some people have in obtaining loans. The great bulk of people who save can obtain their loans without any great difficulty but there are large numbers of marginal cases. There appears to be no way in which discretion can be exercised to cover these people. The inclusion in this Bill of provisions related to credit unions will increase the number of marginal cases. What happens to a person who in good faith saves with a credit union only to find when he applies for a loan that the credit union is not then or was not for some period qualified under the terms of the Bill? This could quite easily happen and almost certainly will happen. Is the individual in that case to be punished because of the failure, as it may well be, of the credit union.
The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) has before him at the present moment a case referred by me of a new Australian gentleman who, on advice from his solicitor, signed a contract on a certain date only to find that that date was not the appropriate one. It was the anniversary of his arrival in Australia, not the anniversary of the opening of his savings account. The 2 were 10 days apart, but because of those 10 days he did not have 3 years savings and was disqualified under the Act. I had another case not so long ago of a man who was anxious to get started with his house and poured the concrete for the foundations of his house a week before the 3-year saving period was up. Because he commenced the construction of his house prior to the expiration of 3 years he also did not qualify as he did not have 3 years savings. There was a not dissimilar case of a gentleman who built a room purporting to be part of a house. He subsequently had to pull the room down and submit new plans to the local government authority and start building completely from scratch again. Yet he was held to have started construction of his house with the original room and therefore did not qualify.
From a reading of the handbook some pretty complex regulations appear which could be confusing to people not well versed in these matters. On too many occasions I feel this could lead to people not being granted loans. I would like to see a greater discretion provided in the granting of loans to persons who through no fault of their own are excluded from receiving money upon which they are relying. Quite often it is an amount of money around which they have planned the finances for their home. The $750 grant would be of more assistance if the conditions applying today were not quite so rigid.
I do not agree with the honourable member for Cook that this scheme has changed the whole savings pattern in Australia. People who want a home have to save and will save. The fact that the Government is now dictating the manner in which they will save is not necessarily either a good or bad thing. People who are able to save quite often, in order to qualify for the homes savings grant, will have to save in a way which may not fit their individual circumstances. They must save at a relatively uniform rate, and this is not always possible. If in one year their savings fall behind they lose a portion of their grant. It is possible, especially in the case of a young couple, that in the second year of this savings period the wife will have a child and not be able to work. Because the savings in that year naturally will be lower that couple will be denied a portion of the grant through no fault of their own. They may well save the amount required in the 3-year period but because the wife was not able to go to work for a considerable period in one year the amount of the grant will be reduced. In other words, that family will be fined because the wife had a baby.
There are other circumstances in which this would also apply; for example, the illness of the husband or a temporary period of unemployment of the ‘husband1 - and some of those periods of unemployment are becoming more and more extensive. This sort of unfortunate occurrence can reduce the amount of the grant made to a couple because the savings in that year did not meet the requirements. I realise that the margin has been increased in this Bill so that couples can save up to $900 in one year, but this still does not alter the fact that the present scheme is restrictive because it compels people to save in a special way. There should be a far greater flexibility, especially in the fringe areas, in cases where a person misses out on qualifying by a few days, quite often through no fault of his own. As I mentioned earlier, in one case a man was advised by his solicitor, who was obviously quite wrong, that he could sign the contract on a certain day. If one cannot take the advice of one’s solicitor one should not be paying him, I suppose. But wrong advice is sometimes given and it was unfortunate that it was given in this case because it cost this man $500. There are numerous cases of people who for various reasons have missed out.
If the value of this grant is to remain constant - and it has been deteriorating pretty rapidly over recent years - the grant must in some way be equated to the actual cost of housing. At the moment it is an amount of money which I would suggest was worth much less to young persons last year than it was in 1964. Another matter which irks a lot of people is that there are provisions in the Bill under which a home which was built by, for example, a State housing commission does not qualify for a loan. Consider the case of a home being bought by a couple from the original purchasers. Whilst the house may well have been built at a cheap rate and sold to the original purchaser at a low price because of Government assistance in its construction - and there is some doubt now whether such houses are cheaper than comparable privately built houses on resale - when the second purchaser purchases the house from the original purchaser there is no reduction in the price. The house is sold at its market price. Yet in such cases the second purchaser is not eligible for a homes savings grant in respect of that house because it is assumed that the price paid by the original purchaser was lower than would have been paid had the house not been built under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. This reacts against individuals in a manner which should not be allowed to continue. I would ask the Minister to give this matter consideration. That provision has been in the Act ever since its inception. I can assure the Minister that a person selling a housing commission home will not take $750 off the price because it was built with Government assistance. The owner gets what he can for it and that is the most natural attitude in the world for him to take.
One other point I wish to raise is the very serious situation which is developing with relation to the cost of housing and the interest charged on housing finance. The amount of $750 provided in this Bill would not meet the increase of 1 per cent in the interest rate which has occurred since the inception of the Bill. When we look at the manner in which these amounts have moved in recent years we see that valuations have gone up so that now the maximum price of a home to qualify for a grant has been increased to $22,500. The relativity between the cost of housing and the level of the grant has completely altered since the inception of this legislation. I do not want to say any more at this stage but I would suggest that if this type of assistance to people is to be continued it should be based not merely on an amount of money plucked out of the air and adjusted some time or never but on the objective of ensuring that the maximum possible number of people get the grant, and that the grant has some relation to the actual cost of housing.
– We have listened to a number of members of the Opposition today decrying the purpose of the amendments which are presently before the House to update the homes savings grant scheme. Many of them have made certain suggestions about conditions in Australia, and of course some of those suggestions have a deal of truth in them; but although they have a deal of truth in them there is no escaping the fact that Australia has the best home ownership record of any nation. Those members who have spoken suggest, correctly, that it is not easy for a young married couple to own a home in the 1970s. I would like them to point to the day when it was easy for anyone to own a home. If we want to talk about Australia as the land of milk and honey I think we are being unrealistic. I think it is appropriate to turn to the book ‘Towards a New Australia under a Labor Government’ and these comments on page 132 by the shadow Minister for Housing, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren):
We socialists have always been dreamers.
If ever there was a dreamer I see it in the man who one day hopes he might be the Minister for Housing. The facts are that it will always be a struggle for people to own a home because a home represents the biggest single thing that the average person will ever aspire to own or will ever own.
The amendments which are presently under discussion have raised the maximum value of a home which may qualify for a grant from $17,500 to $22,500 and raised the grant from $500 on acceptable savings of $1,500 to $750 on acceptable savings of $2,250. The limit on the amount of savings in any one savings year that may qualify for a grant will be raised from $600 to $900. Conditions relating to savings with credit unions will be eased. Referring to the last improvement first, I think anybody who is interested in what is being done to involve credit unions should read the speech of the Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister (Mr Dobie), who very knowledgeably covered that subject and also pointed out to the credit unions that under a Labor government there will be very little future for them.
This subject of the home savings grant scheme is one that has commanded my interest and attention since I made my maiden speech in this Parliament in 1967. It is interesting to compare some of the figures today with some of the figures of that time. At the time I made my maiden speech the Commonwealth Government had paid out some $34m to young home buyers. Today this figure has reached a total of SI 08m. Today 250,000 couples have been able, because of the Homes Savings Grant Act, to acquire their own homes perhaps a little earlier than they might normally have anticipated or who alternatively have had the burden of paying off their homes lightened. The shadow Minister for Housing in April and May this year described the homes savings grant scheme as a bribe.
– That is right.
– The Minister endorses that this is a fact. In fact it was carried in 2 newspaper articles. As the honourable member for Reid applies the description ‘a bribe’ to the scheme, I ask him whether he considers the payment of social services, child endowment, age and repatriation pensions and payments for education or other fields in which the Government is involved as simply bribes. As one who is closer to the age group that this Act assists and benefits most, I might say to the honourable member for Reid that young people have as much right to be considered and assisted by government as has any other group in our community. I am sure that at the coming election the young people of this nation will be behind this Government for what it has done and that the shadow Minister for Housing will remain a shadow. I doubt whether even his own Party will allow that shadow to haunt the House for the following 3 years in its present capacity. The honourable member for Reid is a man to whom we can attribute so many silly statements. Perhaps they have been motivated by genuineness but we need more than genuineness; we need common sense and not errors.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek from the brilliant intellectual member for Griffith a withdrawal of the word ‘silly’. I find it offensive.
– Order! There is no point of order.
– Why not?
-It is not an unparliamentary word that should be withdrawn.
– I think that the honourable member for Griffith is a very stupid and silly person.
– I think that should be withdrawn.
– 1 suggest that that comment should be withdrawn. The honourable member for Griffith referred to silly statements. The honourable member for Reid referred to a silly and stupid person. There is a world of difference between the 2 comments.
-I think that is so. I think that the honourable member for Reid should withdraw.
– If the honourable member wants to withdraw his remark, I will withdraw my statement.
– To make the honourable member for Reid happy - I am not bowing to his blackmail or suggestion of blackmail - I withdraw, but I would suggest that his statement indicated gross misunderstanding on his part. Is that better?
– I withdraw my statement.
– The cut-off point for those allowed to benefit from this Act is 36 years of age. I have often wondered - this Act was promised in the time of Sir Robert Menzies and introduced in 1964 - why the legislation specified 36 years as the age at which people would become ineligible, because a study of the marriage patterns of Australians shows that 90 per cent of the population marries before 36 years of age, but 10 per cent marries beyond that age. I wonder whether somebody at some stage set himself up in judgment and said that those who do not marry before 36 years of age should be penalised for not having married earlier. I am not saying that this is the case. When the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) concludes the debate with various comments perhaps he will say why we have a cut-off point at 36 years of age. I seek his assurance here and now in the House that he will do everything in his power to see that we do not exclude 10 per cent of the nation’s marrying population from this benefit. I do not consider it just a bribe; I consider it a worthwhile incentive.
If the homes savings grant scheme has been introduced as an incentive to young people of 23, 33 or 26 years of age to save, why should those couples who marry beyond 36 years of age and their children be disadvantaged, or more appropriately, considering the reason for the introduction of the Bill, why should the same incentive to save and to build or purchase their own home not apply to the over 36 age group.
It is a valid complaint and I hope that the Minister for Housing will do his level best to ensure that this is changed.
Another benefit of the homes savings grants scheme to the nation has been the savings that it has produced. If we multiply the amount that has been paid in grants - approximately $110m to date - by 3, which is the ratio of savings to Government contribution, we see that well over $3 00m has in the past been banked or held in credit unions or other such bodies. This money in itself has made a contribution in allowing more lending to take place than would otherwise have been possible. The honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) mentioned that the economists should look at the effects that the introduction of this legislation has had on the nation and this is one of those areas where I believe that there has been an effect. A pool of money has been maintained.
If we are now paying out at the rate of about $20m a year and this figure has recently increased from $15m or $17m it shows that this is a growing figure. Therefore, it is safe to predict that at all times there will be $150m in savings deposits banked for the purpose of qualifying people for the homes savings grant. Yet that great intellectual, the shadow Minister for Housing, suggested in articles which appeared in 2 Sydney newspapers in April and May that this whole business is simply a bribe. I would suggest that it is not a bribe. There is a lot more to this legislation than that and as far as I am concerned, while Opposition members can correctly point to the inflationary trends or to the higher cost of housing since the legislation was originally enacted, it is only fair to say that the costs of labour and materials have also increased greatly in that time.
If both sides of the House were to recognise this and to work together to ensure that, while people received a fair reward for their efforts, we do not encourage reckless spiralling of the wage and cost structure, the effort of every young Australian aspiring to acquire his or her own home would be made so much easier. We cannot stand in this chamber speaking on one Bill and follow a certain line and then follow a different line when speaking to another Bill.
The nation needs consistency and if the shadow Minister for Housing hopes to become more than a shadow Minister, consistency is something with which he will have to come to grips.
– I should like first to make some reference to a previous speaker in this debate who is now absent from the chamber. I understand that he is the Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister (Mr Dobie). He made great play and went on with a great deal of criticism about Opposition members not entering this debate. In fact, up to this time members of the Opposition have matched speakers from the other side of the House and, in fact, most members on this side of the House have spoken for longer than Government supporters, taking into consideration the amount of time that has been used of the 20 minutes available to each honourable member.
– Talk is easy.
– It is just as well the honourable member for Mallee has been knighted. The silent knight is now leaving the chamber.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I was walking to the back of the chamber. I was not leaving the chamber. I ask the honourable member for Sturt to withdraw his remark. I do not like this sort of thing. I sit in the chamber more than the honourable member for Sturt does and I am not going to be told that I am leaving the chamber.
– Order! There is no substance to the point of order.
– Of course there is not, Mr Deputy Speaker, The honourable member for Mallee has been here long enough to know that, without waiting for you to rule on it. The fact is that Opposition members have spoken in this debate for just as long as have honourable members opposite. However, that is not the matter on which I want to take issue with the honourable member for Cook. Let us cast our minds back to what occurred in this House on this very same matter in April 1970. An amendment was moved by the Australian Labor Party. The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) who is sitting at the table may remember this. I did not look up his remarks on the matter as recorded in Hansard because he probably did not know at that time he would be occupying the position he occupies today. The amendment was moved by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) on behalf the Opposition and, in part, stated:
. whilst welcoming the extended scope for grants offered by the Bill, the House is of opinion -
The Opposition was ridiculed for moving that amendment in 1970. I just want to confine my reference to what was said by the Assistant Minister assisting the Prime Minister, Mr Dobie, as recorded in Hansard of 15th April 1970. During the course of his speech he said:
Just a minute, Tom.
He was referring to Mr Uren. He continued:
Time does not permit me to develop any thesis on this subject. Nobody would deny that credit unions are big business or that they will become even bigger in the near future, but I would reject out of hand the amendment that the Opposition has put forward.
So much for the hypocrisy of the honourable member for Cook. I only wish that he were in the chamber; I would have a little more to say on the observations which he made. One gets sick and tired of sitting in this chamber-
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt will withdraw the word ‘hypocrisy’ as he applied it directly to the honourable member for Cook.
– If I am incorrect in saying a particular honourable member is hypocritical, because the amendment was opposed by all Government supporters I will say that they are all hypocrites in regard to this matter. As I read it in Hansard-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, he has not withdrawn the remark.
– Oh sit down. I will withdraw the darned thing if it is going to hurt your hide so much.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. You asked for the honourable member to withdraw his remark and he said: ‘Well, if it is hurting honourable members opposite I will say that the whole lot of them are hypocrites’. The point is that he did not withdraw the remark he made about the honourable member for Cook.
-Order! I understand that the honourable member for Sturt did withdraw.
– But only when I stood up.
-I will ask the honourable member for Sturt to withdraw. If he says that he did withdraw I will ask him to withdraw it again.
– I had withdrawn for the benefit of the woeful member for Mallee who sits here day after day.
– Withdraw that, too.
– I will withdraw that also. For God’s sake, listen to the honourable member for Mallee parroting alongside me while I am endeavouring to make a contribution in this place. I have listened to Government supporters congratulating the Minister on his fine and able efforts in regard to this Bill. The Opposition is not opposing the Bill but one would think that we were to hear Government supporters speaking on this measure.
However, I join issue on the fact that the very measure on which honourable members opposite have been saying that the Minister for Housing should be congratulated was proposed in an amendment moved by the Opposition in April 1970. Is it any wonder that I used the term that I used a while ago that seems to have in some way been offensive to the ears of honourable members on the Government side? Another thing that the honourable member for Cook said - I understand that he is a banker of some note - was that the Commonwealth had to play second fiddle to the States. What a lot of utter rubbish. The fact is that the name of the housing game is finance and who plays second fiddle to whom in this field? Do the States have the right to raise the revenue necessary to house the people within their boundaries? Are not the State governments, because of the restrictions placed upon them by the Constitution, forced to go overseas to speculators and to areas of finance that are costly even on the standard that this Government has imposed on the community? In South Australia we see such schemes as West Lakes. In an endeavour to house the people and to create new suburbs, the South Australian Government has had to go overseas to obtain finance from these speculators or burglars. One can use any term one likes to describe their financial activities, without discrediting them. Their interest rates and the whole structure of their transactions impose tremendous burdens on the young people of today. Is it any wonder that one becomes a little annoyed when one continually hears it said that the Government ought to be congratulated?
Last night’s Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ contains a headline: ‘Tougher than ever to buy a house. Cost up 66 per cent by 1980.’ And 1980 is not far away. What provisions has the Government placed before this House over the last 23 years to stop the ever-increasing spiral of costs and to arrest the tremendous burden being imposed on our children and on our children’s children? Not one piece of constructive legislation has been passed by this place to prevent the speculators from imposing their will and their demands - almost criminal as they are - upon the young people who are in search of a home today. If we have nothing to worry about, why does not any honourable member on the Government side stand in this place and say to me that the high rise development in Melbourne, 36 storeys high, to house women and children in little boxes is the desire of the people who inhabit them? 1 am quite certain that it is not their desire. They are being forced into this type of accommodation and this type of environment because the Government, in bringing forward a homes savings scheme, does not recognise and does not even commence to understand the basic necessity of arresting this tremendous burden on the young people today.
One can go through half of my electorate which are not old established areas - through such places as Campbelltown Athelstone, Tea Tree Gully and Rostrevor - and find that there is an everincreasing spiral of land costs. Do not suggest,
Mr Deputy Speaker, that I am not speaking to the Bill. The question of land is basic. It is one of the basic necessities of human life to provide shelter. I remind honourable members and the Minister for Housing of that basic fact. The Bill before the House today mentions land. While members of the Government were down in the concrete vaults of the nation hammering out the nation’s Budget in this election year a national survey was carried out. The whole of the electorate should take note of the fact that the last time the Government did anything in relation to this matter was also in an election year. Honourable members opposite wonder why we on this side of the House say that they want to put out their hands so that people will, mistakenly, believe that they are giving them a golden handshake. But the Government is doing nothing about the basic necessities to cure the ills. What has it done, even in this city of Canberra and beyond, to stop speculators from doubling their money by sitting on undeveloped land? What has been done by this Commonwealth Parliament to ensure that adequate finance is made available to the States to arrest the ever-increasing cost of land? I ask the Minister what he or his predecessors in this place have done to hold at rural values those areas of land on the fringes of every city in Australia.
The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) may bash his hand as much as he likes but it will not make any difference. Let him get up this afternoon and repudiate what I have said about this Government not wanting to make grants tothe States to stabilise land prices in the interests of the young people in this community. I feel sorry for them today when 1 consider the tremendous burden and the tremendous amount of their total earning capacity over their working lives that they have to pay in exorbitant interest rates, exorbitant land costs and exorbitant costs within the industry. The number of people operating in the home building industry throughout the cities of Australia today has decreased considerably. The attitude of get bigger or get out’ has prevailed for a number of years, and this Government has done nothing about it. I wish I had time to go through the balance sheets and the profits made by some of the organisations which are tied up in manufacturing, in brokerage companies, in land speculation, with builders, with land agents and with every aspect of the industry, and which will con from the unsuspecting younger couples their money for a quite substantial part of their working lives.
What has the Government done and what does it intend to do? I can only conclude from the debate today, from the Budget Speech and from the speech that was made in this House last night - if one can call it a speech - in relation to land costs, that it will do nothing. The Government has no thought of saying to the State governments: ‘Look, here is a grant which will permit you to have some control and some say over the development costs of adjacent city and urban areas of land’. The farmers who sat on that land for 2 generations were told that they could be offered millions of dollars for it. This is happening in South Australia today, in the electorates of Barker and Angas, because the proposed development of a new town on the Murray. It is only the State Government, with its meagre financial resources, that is prepared to hammer out a policy for South Australia that will prevent the people on this land from being offered millions of dollars overnight for a few lousy acres. Honourable members opposite have seen the headlines. Does the message not trickle down to them that offers are being made amounting to millions of dollars for 200, 300 and 400-acre parcels of land for socalled developmental purposes and that poor unfortunates will go in there and live in inadequate houses on tiny areas of land? They are the ones who have to bear the burden.
A headline in the ‘Australian’ yesterday read: ‘House; up by 66 per cent’. The article says that that does not take into considerationthe ever-increasing spiral of land costs. 1 come back to the question of land all the time because this is the thing that is important. How many speculators are there around Australia? Has the Government carried out any research on this matter? Are honourable members opposite able to say to this Parliament - as responsible individuals in the community, as socalled responsibly elected members of a governmentin office - that there are vast areas of land in Western Australia, South Australia, and Sydney where millionaires have been created overnight who have not placed one road in those areas, who have not dug one trench for sewerage services, who have not done one thing-
– Order! The honourable member is getting very wide of the mark in dealing with speculators.
– I will come back to the Bill. It makes some reference to land. If research has been done by the Department of Housing, nobody on the other side of the House has had the courage, the honesty or the integrity to include it in the measure that is now before the House. We are talking about homes savings grants. That is why I am on my feet today. That is why I am attacking the Government today. If I am wrong, let any one of a dozen honourable members say something about it. The Government knows that it has let the speculators have the land. Let me refer to areas in Western Australia on comparatively level ground. Somebody sits in an office and has an idea that the area may develop in 3, 4 or 5 years or even less. He goes out and offers the rural producer a fabulous sum for it. The farmer moves out and the speculator just sits on the land and waits for the sprawl to continue. Then he forms a company, the land changes hands and he becomes a millionaire. He has not produced anything. He has done nothing. That is the sort of person to whom we on this side of the House are opposed. We undertake to eradicate their so-called business practices in the interests of the young people. We on this side of the House express concern on that matter. We express concern for the people who have to buy a home. We express concern for the young married couples who are being forced to live in flats. They do not want to live in them. They would sooner own their own homes. They have not been given any incentive to do so by the Government.
The measure now before the House is the Homes Savings Grants Bill. It is totally inadequate. It does not scratch the surface of the problem. In the next 8 years housing costs will rise by 66 per cent. When the Government framed its Budget it knew all about this cost increase and when it framed the legislation that is now before the House it knew all about it. When the Prime
Minister (Mr McMahon) came into this House last night armed with a statement on policy - if one could call it that - on urban and regional development he knew all about this. What did we hear from the Prime Minister last night? Just a babble of words. There was not one skerrick of a plan in what he had to say. All that has happened on the question of housing as far as the young people of Australia are concerned is that there has been an increase in the cost of houses.
I have brought 2 or 3 cases to the attention of the Minister for Housing of people being denied the benefits of this legislation because a lot of work has been done on a home and the permissible value has been exceeded. This matter was also mentioned by my colleague, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). I hope that the Minister will take some note of what I have had to say. I would also point out to anybody who cares to listen that the Government’s cut-off point with regard to the benefits contained in this measure is the night that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) introduced his Budget. Therefore those poor unfortunates who are having construction problems at the moment will not derive any benefit from this so-called large increase. I hope that the Minister will consider the fact that he ought to extend the provisions of this Bill until such time as homes are completed that were commenced a few weeks, a few days or in some instances a few hours before the night of the Budget Speech. I conclude on that note. I make no apologies for yelling at and condemning the Government on this measure; it ought to be condemned forever.
– The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), in his usual gentle persuasive style, has indicated to us how thoroughly in favour of this measure he is. I had the pleasure of hearing only the last part of his speech. Prior to that I had been giving an interview for an hour on overseas aid. I found very little of what I heard the honourable member for Sturt say to be of any direct relevance to this Bill. I hardly think I need remind the House that we are discussing an increase in the homes savings grant that is available essentially to young people. I do not really think that any member of this House, despite all the fulminations of those opposite, really believes that this is not a helpful measure. At its base is the intention, identified by the Minister for Mousing (Mr Kevin Cairns) in his second reading speech, to encourage young people to save over a period of years for a home of their own when they marry by the offer of a tax-free grant to supplement their savings. That is, as honourable members opposite will know, the crux of the matter. The formula is that for every S3 they save up to certain limits people under a certain age will receive $1 from the Commonwealth. What better incentive could one ask for young people to save for a specific, constructive purpose, in both the physical and the mental sense? 1 have heard in the last year or so a number of declamatory statements from honourable members opposite concerning the alleged inefficacy, uselessness, inadequacy and so on of the legislation before the present modification. However, what they had to say, like much of what they have had to say today, is certainly quite contrary to my experience. In fact, in the last few weeks I have made a point of going round the doors of young people in new sub-divisions in my home city of Hobart to find out, primarily, how they were feeling politically and, incidentally, what they thought of the home savings grant. There is no question whatsoever as to what they think of the home savings grant. Possibly the majority - nudging that at least - of the people to whom I spoke in these identifiably new areas were in receipt of the homes savings grant. They were aware of it; they were using it; and, if I may say so, they were building houses of admirable quality - in fact remarkable quality in some cases - within the then limit of $17,500 of the homes savings grant. The elevation of that limit to $22,500 will, I am sure, produce even more striking structures, using new materials such as various improved forms of Besser blocks and that sort of thing. Concrete blocks are much more attractive now than they were once. Young people are indeed producing excellent homes of a quality which people of my age and older would certainly envy as a first home. To me this is in great contrast to the sort of things we have been bearing far and wide from the Opposition side of the House today. Of course, not all the problems are removed.
I would be interested in obtaining a little more information as to the particular kind of house that is being purchased or built with the funds saved and supplemented by this legislation and the particular kind of location on which it is built. That information is not available from the Department of Housing at the present time in the detail that I would like to see. I will explain in a moment why I would like to have more information. In the meantime, I would like your permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, and that of the House to incorporate in Hansard a small table relating to my remarks. I have consulted with the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), who has now left the chamber, and received his approval.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Corbett)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– The table indicates the number of houses, flats or home units which were purchased as standing dwellings as distinct from those being built under contract or owner built. It shows that in 1970-71, just over one-third of the homes to which the homes savings grant applied were being built under contract or by the owner. Of roughly 36,000 houses in total a little under 13,000 were in that category. The remainder were, I presume, already standing. But that is as far as the detail goes. We do not know from that the age of a dwelling, whether it was a standing structure in a relatively inner area or whether it was a fairly new house already built, speculatively or otherwise, on the outskirts of some city area. For the reason which I will now mention, I think it would be useful if we were to have this information. I say so not least in relation to the
– It is a contradiction in usage.
– It is a very decided contradiction in terms. I think the honourable member for Reid will have to get to some sort of an understanding with himself on this matter lest he fall by the wayside of his own declamatory remarks on it.
The problem remains whether we can say that this incentive to save and build or buy is going to work in conjunction with our views in relation to the growth of established cities. I ask: Are we in fact, by this means, acknowledgedly helping the people involved and doing what most people of any traditional frame of mind would believe to be an admirable thing, that is, encouraging saving and its constructive use? At the same time are we encouraging people to move to the periphery and contribute more easily to certain growth problems of development that are notable in metropolitan areas which we might in other terms have to turn around and try to solve or diminish? This matter lies in the policy area and needs firmly to be taken on board by the Minister’s Department and by any member of this House who cares to interest himself in the subject.
I cannot agree with the proposition put forward by ihe honourable member for
We have tomake sure that the situation does not worsen. To that end legislation such as we are now discussing is intro duced to make it increasingly possible for young people to act constructively towards home ownership. That is what this Bill is all about. It would be stupid to deny that rising land values constitute a problem. Land prices vary greatly from place to place in Australia. I have referred to people in Hobart who have benefited greatly from this legislation. I am aware that the price of land in Sydney is notably higher than in smaller cities such as Hobart. I think it would be reasonable, however, for honourable members opposite occasionally to concede that the law of supply and demand underlies the great speculations, about which they hold forth, notably in relation to my friend the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). The fact is that some people happen to buy land for houses. I do not think that that is totally foreign to the experience of honourable members opposite. 1 do not think their ownership of land or property would bear any further examination than that of some members on this side of the House to whom they are very happy to point, speaking as it were from a condition of assumed paupery in comparison with all these supposed millionaires on this side of the House, some of whom I can assure them live on their parliamentary salaries.
This is an extremely important matter. I think I have identified what I see to be the question which most needs answering in relation to the absorption of land and the development of city areas. One or two matters of passing interest and sometimes of great interest to the people concerned, more strictly in the financial area, are related to the detailed provisions of the Bill. I am somewhat at a loss. It may be because of my financial ineptitude. I wonder why we cannot extend our logic as expressed by the Minister, whom I have quoted, on the general philosophy of saving as being of very useful community constructiveness. 1 cannot quite see why any barriers should be made to the acquisition of the supplement by the Commonwealth through saving that does not absolutely have a speculative content. I have in mind something like a staff thrift account held by a bank employee who gains a little supplementary interest because he happens to be a bank employee and is operating effectively a savings account with a small interest loading because of his particular relationship with that banking instituiton It is not a speculative account and I cannot see why it should not be part and parcel of eligibility for homes savings grants. Taking it even further and laying myself more open to criticism, I cannot see why Commonwealth bonds should not be included. Surely the premise upon which we should make judgment is that it should be a genuine saving - in a genuine and constructive cause and not speculation, aided by further money attracted by way of windfalls from the Commonwealth.
We are referring to savings for a particular purpose. I am quite sure it is within our competence to ensure that these savings are properly used. If not properly used they should not attract a grant, or if paid it should be retrospectively cancelled, reduced or taken back. There may be all sorts of complications but I do believe that we should fulfil the spirit of saving to the ultimate that we can in any reasonable way befitting the sorts of accounts into which people place their savings. In this sense the Minister has quite admirably, I think, recognised in this scheme the functions of credit unions. Other honourable members have already referred to this aspect and 1 do no more than add my approval of the particular expansion of the savings areas for those people who would be eligible for the grant.
The amendments are extremely useful. I think they are necessary in the sense that the value of money has been reduced through inflation. I see them as assisting to maintain the high level of home ownership in Australia. I question whether we can go on indefinitely - I am not the first to refer to this matter - and continue our world record low average density of settlement, notably in our metropolitan areas. I have touched on this in another sense. It is part and parcel of all the sewerage problems and what have you that the honourable member for Reid and other honourable members waded through. It is of course reasonable to recognise that we do have a notably low average density and to sustain this average greater prices per capita will have to be paid for service lines above or below ground.
I revert to the supply and demand situation. I cannot conceive of a more basic illustration of supply and demand than in the operation of land ownership for the simple reason that the population is not yet finite as is the supply of land, to all intents and purposes. Therefore we can make an economic textbook case. At the same time, there is not a case for heavy speculation. Honourable members opposite are right to draw attention to that aspect, but they might at the same time care to draw attention to those people who burn their fingers in speculation. It is very easy to talk about people who have made quite a nice profit. I can point to some people who have in fact been sitting on investments in pieces of land for a very long time, paying rates calculated on the unimproved value of their property, varying with the particular system operative in an area, and not necessarily making very much money at all. In fact, sometimes they are not even making bank interest. There is a tendency of course for the profit to improve depending on the size of centres. In some small centres it is not nearly such a nice cop as it is in some major centres. There are other elements of this problem.
I do not defend great speculation but it is capable of control. I believe it is capable of control short of the usually unstated public fund which would have to be set aside at the present time to take over and appropriate some thousands of acres around the major centres. It is something that bears looking at but frankly I do not think it is of central significance to this particular problem at the moment. I commend the Bill to the House insofar as I have commented upon it.
– I understand that I have the opportunity to speak for 10 minutes. I appreciate that gesture. The matters that have been discussed this afternoon all add up to the fact that there is a crisis in housing. This Bill represents some attempt to give an incentive to those who are in need of housing. The point that we must emphasise is that it does not cover the whole spectrum of that great need.
Firstly, let us look at some of the problems associated with those who in the first instance felt they were entitled to a grant. These are indicated in the interim statement of the Secretary of the Department of Housing under what he calls ‘reasons for rejection’. This makes one wonder whether there could not be a better type of administration which would encourage people to obtain this benefit. We might approve of it or disapprove of it but the fact is that it is a legislative entitlement should mean that those who are entitled to it should at least get it. Looking at the reasons for rejection we find that of the applications for the year 1971-72, 21.8 per cent of those who felt they were entitled failed to obtain the grant because the value of the home was in excess of the statutory limit. So they were deprived of the grant.
Another 16.9 per cent failed to meet the 3-year residential requirement. That means that both partners were not in Australia for the required 3 years. That is the sort of statutory limitation that has been brought into this administration. A further 16 per cent failed to lodge their applications within the prescribed time. AH that means is that although they qualified in every other respect they were denied the grant on the basis that they did not lodge their application within the 12 month period. A further 14.7 per cent were rejected because their acceptable savings had not been held for the minimum period of 3 years. This means that even those who thought they were going to get some benefit - some 3,000 people - have been denied it. About 70 per cent of the applications were rejected on the basis of the reasons T have just mentioned.
We wonder what those who have been rejected must think about this scheme. If you are in public life you are asked whether you could not help them but you find that they have failed because of some minor aspect in this scheme. I think that these aspects should certainly be looked at in a much more sympathetic fashion. Those people who appear to be entitled to a grant on the basis that they purported to save and met other requirements but failed on some technicality should be given much more sympathetic consideration than these figures would indicate that they are given.
I think it is about time that we looked at the scheme in a modern light. If people are to be encouraged to buy a home the money that is available through this grant should be available at the time of purchase. This seems to be one of the factors that we now have to look at. People have actually to spend the money before they get the grant entitlement. I think it could be very easy to say that where the money has been deposited the authorised holder of that money could issue a certificate to certify that the savings had been appropriately saved. It would not be much trouble, having received that certificate, to go to the solicitor who is acting in the matter and say: ‘The contract of sale has been exchanged and signed. Will you give me a certificate to say that I am going to buy?’. Having got those 2 certificates the lending authority - the bank or whatever it may be - could then give the S750 towards the purchase of the home. It would be available straight away. There would not be some subterfuge such as a temporary loan until such time as the home savings grant is received. It would mean automatically that there would be a run down in the cost of administration because the system would be so more efficient.
A person who is able to get a certificate as to savings would be able to go to his solicitor who would be able to give him a certificate of purchase and the fact that the money would be coming from wherever the savings were held would mean that the bank or lending authority would be able to say: ‘There is another S750 to come. T will advance it to you now.’ On completion of the sale it could forward a voucher or whatever it might be and collect the money from the Government. That would be a much easier way to deal with this problem than the present situation in which people invariably buy homes but perhaps fail to qualify because the 12 month period has elapsed and they have failed to apply within a reasonable time. This is something that could readily be done.
In regard to the problem of housing people, I am a bit startled at some of the figures which appear in this interim statement. On page 5 there is an assessment of what is deemed to be the cost of land in a building contract. It states that the land costs are set out as a result of a survey and that the information is attached to table 16. This qualification is made:
In some cases the land was purchased some years prior to the date of the building contract.
When I look at table 16, particularly as it might apply to New South Wales, I find if hard to believe that in the metropolitan areas of New South Wales the average cost of land was $3,295. This is just not so, because land costs in the New South Wales metropolitan districts would be a good deal higher than that. In fact in Campbelltown at the present time which would be some 30 miles out from the main city area land costs would be at least double that figure. This is one of the problems faced by young people who cannot possibly comply with these other requirements including that which states that the cost of the house must now be below $22,500. In my elec torate there would not be one house that would be bought at that price. The New South Wales Liberal Government is fixing reserve prices on land in excess of $20,000 - that is vacant Crown L:md - because there is great need.
We work on the theory of supply and demand, so it means that the average person in these days particularly in the metropolitan area of Sydney could not possibly apply for this grant. There would not be one semi-detached cottage perhaps 30 or 40 years old that would sell at less than $24,000 or $25,000 - and it need not be in a good state of repair - in the city area of Sydney. So this scheme is completely out of touch with the problems of the young people who want to live in areas in which they are entitled to live. These areas have every facility in the sense that they are close to places of employment, close to industry, close to universities and also have good recreation or school facilities. Many people are unable to get the grant but nevertheless they still buy in these areas. In this debate this afternoon it was said: Well, of course, you know, they can go somewhere else. They can go well out of the city limits.’ ‘Decentralisation’ I think it is called. We will not knock that too quickly.
But let us have a look at what is needed if you are considering decentralisation. You need a power of money to provide all the facilities that might be available in city limits at the present time. I heard the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) say that one of the great problems in purchasing land in the city of Sydney was the Cumberland County Council scheme which he attributed to the then New South Wales Labor Government. It must startle him to realise that that .scheme was sponsored by the Local Government Association which was heavily dominated by the Liberal Party. In fact the Chairman of it was a Liberal candidate on a number of occasions. I might say that he was not successful in that respect, but he was a very successful chairman in preparing the original planning scheme for Sydney. It is completely incorrect to suggest that the planning scheme for Sydney had anything to do with Labor Party policy from the point of view of inflationary trends in land costs.
Land costs in Sydney have been increasing at a rate of $40 a week. This is one of the problems associated with people trying to save in a relatively short space of time. Interest rates have been increased by this Government with the result that overall costs of land, its development and housing development on land has reached an alltime inflationary trend. It is clear cut, is it not, that people are now finding it so difficult that they have to join Housing Commission queues which we would say would be the last resort? As has been elicited during the course of this debate the New South Wales State Housing Commission queue is 42,000 - an all time record. That is a direct indictment of any scheme under which the Government might say that it is able to help young people and that it is able to keep them out of Housing Commission queues. This is not so. lt is helping some young people, that is certain, but there are many more who are not getting any benefit at all. They have to join these queues with the rather tragic result that they wait 3, 4 or 5 years to get a home and they are then put somewhere out in the back blocks.
Another aspect of development that is worthy of some consideration in talking about reducing the cost of land is that there has to be more land. But it ought to be land that can be used and that means that you have to have, at least, water and preferably sewerage also. If one looks at the financial position of the New South Wales Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board one will find that 47 per cent of its income is going in paying interest alone. It requires a capital inflow of $1 10m a year. It is only getting $70m on the loan market. There is a short-fall of $40m. It has to make it up out of rates. It is not able to do that so it does not develop the resources of reticulation as quickly as it could. Therefore land is not developed, nor should it be as unserviced land, with the result that the land that is serviced is not plentiful. So there is an enormous demand for it and these are incredible results. Land speculators or developers can make at least a 200 per cent or even a 250 per cent profit on land which is in such short supply. There is a lot of merit in Labor Party policy to acquire land and develop services on a better cost basis. Certainly there is merit in selling it on a leasehold basis because young people would not require the initial capital outlay that is so disheartening to them. If this was done many of them could qualify for the grant on the basis that they would be able to build their home for less than $22,500. But until such time as we have the concept of co-operatives in housing, we will have real problems.
These problems can be solved if we develop co-operative societies with adequate Commonwealth finance to enable them to acquire land, develop it and build homes on it on such a basis that no real advantage would accrue to outside parties. These co-operatives could achieve this goal. It has been done before. It would be found that they could do it at half the cost at which it is being done by developers who also charge enormous rates of interest on any loans which they advance. The scheme has some attributes in that it offers to young people an incentive to save. However, if we look at the inflationary trends we find that with inflation running at 9 per cent or 10 per cent the money these people are trying to save is devalued. We find that land is so short in supply that its cost is increasing at the rate of $40 a week. This again is devaluing their savings. They are slipping further behind. If they are able to borrow $750 from a relative and commence development of their home immediately they would be much better off financially. In the 3 year period in which they would have to wait to get the $750 grant they would lose most of the benefit of the grant because in that 3 year period costs will increase out of sight. So by borrowing from a relative they would be so much further advanced in that 3 year period from the point of view of capital appreciation.
The Minister should have a look at some of the matters that have been mentioned here. He should look particularly at what would be a more efficient way of administering this scheme. We should look at the real needs of housing and put the scheme on the basis that those who apply for the grant really have a need. The age barrier should be removed, because if a family has never had a home, why should it not have that entitlement? The scheme should be put on the basis that, if a person can put up a genuine case that he is able to build a home, he should have the opportunity of receiving the grant because it is being given to so many others. But in the long run the solution has to be as is contained in Labor Party policy. The aim of the scheme has to be to supply housing needs of people. The Chifley concept of housing of 1945 was to encourage this Commonwealth Government to go into the housing field, but this Government has not done much to improve the situation. It has relied mainly on the States, but the States now are running out of money for land acquisition. They are getting into the doldrums again and the queues for houses are getting longer. The scheme might have had some chance of relieving the situation if it was applied intelligently across the board so that there was help for everybody. From the point of view that there could be some benefit, 1 think we can give at least some small credit to the Government. But let us look also at the disadvantages. Until such time as they are looked at this Government deserves castigation.
– The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) has made, with respect, a thoughtful speech in which he has approved of the scheme which is before the House. He has suggested a number of reforms and improvements which he has asked the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to examine. As I say, the honourable member made a thoughtful speech on this matter. It puts him on one side of the extraordinary division of opinion exhibited by Opposition speakers in this debate today. As I understand it, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith is on the side of those who say that, although this scheme is good in that it gives considerable benefits to people, it is not perfect. He has suggested, as have a number of his colleagues, that it could be improved. However, there are other honourable members on the Opposition side who have scoffed at the scheme, derided it and used phrases such as ‘a magic trick’, ‘an election gimmick’ and ‘a thimble and pea act’ to describe the operation of the homes savings grant scheme. This, as I see it, is quite an extraordinary division of opinion between some members of the Opposition in the attitude they take towards this scheme. 1 think the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) in particular deserves singling out in this regard because he and some of his colleagues have sought to fail back on the socialist panacea to solve the problems that they see in the areas of home ownership and the price of land and houses in Australia. They have fallen back on this socialist panacea and said: ‘Let the Government compulsorily acquire land and engage in some socialist scheme under which that land will be redistributed’. As they see it, it is a panacea to the whole situation. As one listened to the honourable member for Reid one could not help but remember some other words of his. They were not spoken words but words he has put down in a scholarly book which has only just hit - when I say ‘hit’ I mean it literally - the bookshops. The book is entitled ‘Towards a New Australia’, and in it the honourable member for Reid said:
We socialists have always been dreamers.
They were the words the honourable member used and one could not help but reflect on that expression of opinion as one listened to what he had to say today.
– You would not argue that.
– No, one could not possibly argue with the proposition that they have been dreamers when they can pluck out of the air an absurd proposition such as the one which has been put forward, namely, the compulsory acquisition of property by government and then the redistribution of it through this socialist scheme which it is thought will solve some of the problems of home ownership that we have in this country today.
Before I continue with my general remarks I would like to set the record straight in relation to a matter that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) raised in one of his less deranged speeches. Honourable members will recall that he took to task the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) for the views he expressed in the debate in 1970. I think the honourable member for Sturt doubted the bona fides of the honourable member for Cook nd said that he had changed his opinion between 1970 and the present time. He said that the honourable member for Cook had opposed the Opposition’s amendment in 1970 which sought to remove the restrictions on credit unions so far as the homes savings grant scheme is concerned. With respect, the honourable member for Sturt was utterly and completely wrong in what be said about that amendment moved in 1970, and he was unjustified in criticising the honourable member for Cook because the amendment moved by the Opposition in 1970 in relation to credit unions was in the following terms: that the clauses of the Bill relating to credit unions should be redrafted to give credit union savings complete and unconditional recognition under the Act;
The honourable member for Sturt had the impertinence to say that this is what the Government is proposing now. For the honourable member to say that the amendment moved by the Opposition in 1970 and rejected by the Government at that time is now acceptable to the Government is absolutely ridiculous and absurd. If honourable members will look at the Minister’s second reading speech they will see that there are still reasonable and necessary restrictions so far as credit unions are concerned. One restriction, if I can use that word, is that a credit union must show that not less than 20 per cent of the total amount lent to its members in the most recently completed financial year has been in the form of housing loans, and it must undertake to maintain that 20 per cent proportion in each subsequent financial year. If it complies with those requirements it will be approved for the purposes of the Homes Savings Grant Act. On the one hand, the Opposition put up an amendment that there should be complete and unconditional recognition of credit unions and, on the other hand, the Government has now proposed - it will become law - that 20 per cent of money lent by credit unions must be for housing loans. The credit unions themselves have never suggested that they should be completely and unconditionally recognised, as I understand it, and I wonder why they have never suggested it. They have never suggested it because they realise what an absurd proposition it would be.
Leaving the honourable member for Sturt lo one side, I now turn to some of the more substantive points that I would like to make in relation to this matter. It is not my intention to go over the details of the legislation because these have been gone over already on numerous occasions.
However, I want to say something about some of the principles exhibited by this legislation and exhibited in the debate that has taken place today.
I want to say something about the scheme itself. It was introduced in 1964 as an incentive to young couples to save for their own homes and was a reward for doing so. It is interesting to reflect on the extent of the operation of the scheme since 1964. During that period over $108m has been made available by the Commonwealth Government to successful applicants for homes savings grants. There have been 248,000 grants made in those enormous dimensions under the homes savings grants scheme. When one reflects on these figures, how absurd were the comments of some members of the Opposition when they said that the scheme was merely an expediency and that the Government was throwing money away as a bribe to induce people to vote for the Government when they would not otherwise have done so. How absurd to suggest, when one looks at statistics of those dimensions, that people would fall for such a trick if it were a trick. The figures show something of the extent of the operation of the scheme.
I have been pleased to notice - I read the speeches of the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) attentively and closely whenever they are issued - from some of his more recent speeches that the Government remains firmly committed to the achievement of the highest possible level of home ownership in Australia. Who, in his right mind, can deny that this scheme we are debating today is a very substantial and real contribution to achieving the highest possible level of home ownership? I believe that in the 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government since 1949 that record has been continually sustained. When one considers the activities of the Commonwealth Government in regard to war service homes and the provision of low interest finance to the State housing authorities for welfare housing construction it becomes obvious that the Government has played a very important and necessary role in the housing industry of Australia. But it should be said here that the growth of the housing industry has been achieved only by co-operation between private enterprise and governments. This bears great relevance to what 1 will have to say later about the housing policies of the Labor Party. This co-operation between private lending institutions and governments is not only a significant fact but I would suggest that also this is the only way in which it can be achieved.
This legislation is concerned with methods of housing finance. It is appropriate that one should say something about that. I am very proud to be supporting a government that has free enterprise as its very basis and which puts that free enterprise into practice by seeking this cooperation between public and private authorities. The fact that building societies, banks and other private enterprise institutions are lending record amounts for housing is an indication of what can be achieved by cooperation between government and free enterprise in regard to housing. In the last financial year these private institutions lent a record of SI, 677m for housing. This represented some 168,000 separate loans. In the previous financial year, 1970-71, these institutions approved 140,000 loans to a total value of $ 1,250m. The increase in the number of loans and the amount made available in such a short space of one year surely is an indication of the useful and valuable role that these institutions are playing in the growth of the housing industry. Yet the Labor Party proposes as a matter of policy to reduce private housing activity in Australia by a socialist style of approach to the problems of housing.
Let there be no doubt that a Labor government would cause stagnation in private enterprise housing activity. One has only to read the various speeches of the Honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), if one feels up to it, to appreciate his approach to the housing question. One very clear example of this was revealed at the Launceston Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party in June last year. At that conference, on the recommendation of the committee chaired by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and including the honourable member for Reid and Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, it was resolved that a Federal Labor government would establish a homes finance division of the Commonwealth Bank to pro vide finance at 3J per cent up to a limit of Si 5,000 for housing purposes. If this division of the Commonwealth Bank were to lend at 31 per cent, where would that leave the free enterprise banks, the building societies and the credit unions who have made and are continuing to make such a substantial contribution to the availability of housing finance and such a substantial contribution to encouraging and enabling people to acquire their own homes? Almost overnight those institutions would be knocked out of the field of housing finance and that would be despite the very valuable contribution that they have made.
Finally, I draw attention to a few comments that have been made by some members of the Opposition at various times in respect of the operation of this scheme. Honourable members will recall the very compelling and powerful speech made by the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) this afternoon - a very substantial contribution it was. He said that the Opposition would seek to abolish the homes savings grant scheme. One can understand the honourable member for Bennelong expressing that view because, as I said before, some members of the Opposition in quite a strong way have expressed almost that view today. They have spoken so strongly about the scheme, so strongly against it - they have used such language about the scheme by describing it as a magic trick and an election gimmick - that one could be excused for coming to the conclusion that the Opposition had in fact decided to abolish the scheme. But, of course, this shows the incredible state of confusion that the Opposition is in over the matter, lt is set out in the printed policy or platform of the Opposition that one of the policy objectives is, to continue the homes savings grant scheme. It refers to anomalies that it says should be rectified, but nevertheless there it is. Not only is that in the platform but also there is the other provision that the Party would establish a home finance division of the Commonwealth Bank incorporating architectural, inspection and insurance services and providing finance at 31 per cent to a limit of $15,000.
The Opposition has the impertinence to accuse us of political expediency aud using magic tricks and yet it has both of these provisions in its platform: First, that the homes savings grant scheme will continue and, secondly, that there will be this enormous amount of money available at 3) per cent interest. How can there be such an inconsistency in policy attitudes and objectives which the Opposition wants to achieve? How can it at the same time say that both of these will be its policy objectives? As I say, this is an extraordinary inconsistency in the attitude of the Opposition and it deserves to be emphasised.
One can go on to look in detail at specific attempts that the honourable member for Reid and some of his colleagues have made to dredge up, from the bottom of nowhere, a housing policy. As they have plucked these things out put them forward the Minister for Housing has drawn attention to the enormous inconsistencies between them and has drawn attention to their impracticality. As soon as he has done that they have been abandoned and we have heard no more of them. For instance, we have heard no more of the proposal made some time ago that the Opposition, if it became the government, would reduce the cost of constructing a home by between $4,000 and $6,000. This was challenged by the Minister for Housing and all we have heard about it since have been profound bursts of silence. One could go on in detail but I do not want to take up the time of the House unduly on these matters. I merely make the general proposition, which can be borne out if one looks at the facts in detail, that the Opposition has no concerted, responsible and substantial housing policy to put up to match the very real achievements that the Government has made in this area which we are discussing today.
– The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) has quite rightly drawn attention to a number of aspects of housing policy which it is our duty to examine very closely. But before I do so 1 would like to dwell for a few moments on one or two points that he made because they are of the utmost significance. The most significant point to which reference has been made this afternoon is the continued charge, repeated ad nauseam, that this scheme is a bribe. That charge has been made often this afternoon and the allegation has been attributed to members of the Opposition. The fact that they have made this charge has not been denied. One needs to examine what is involved in the charge that the scheme is a bribe. A bribe itself is sufficiently repugnant but there is nothing more repugnant than those who take the bribe. They are the ones who are guilty.. They are the ones whose character is, in a sense, impugned. It is for that reason that over the years the proposition of Danegeld has been held in such poor repute.
But what has the Opposition said? If this scheme is a bribe 250,000 young Australian couples who have received over $100m in grants under this scheme are a party to and are willing partners in the bribe. That is a very poor reflection upon hundreds of thousands of young couples who today occupy their own homes with the assistance of this scheme. Of course, the other words of opprobrium that have been used is that the scheme is a gimmick. Although that is less offensive it is worth examining the natures of the minds that make those charges against a substantia] proportion of young Australians. It shows the great good sense of young Australians that they have not believed the rubbish that has been said of them.
I wish to make one or two comments in detail about the remarks made this afternoon by members of the Opposition. Firstly, let me turn to the remarks made by the shadow Minister for Urban Affairs, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). I never know whether he has that designation or that of shadow Minister for Housing. He went over the whole ambit, the whole wide range of housing affairs when criticising the Government. We heard several gems drop from his lips. Let me repeat one. He said that this Government has not tried to reduce interest rates. That is worth examining. Let me remind him, as he deserves to be reminded, that last year in this House there was passed a Commonwealth-State housing Bill which provided welfare housing for those who were in greatest need. That Bill was designed to reduce costs of housing for those who acquire or rent homes through State housing commissions or housing trusts.
– Were the interest rates lower than when this Government came to office?
– I was just coming to that but I thank the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) for his interjection. The Bill also applied to those who sought money through the cooperative building societies. The fact is that that legislation has resulted in the greatest drop in interest rates ever experienced in Australia’s history in welfare housing. In some States the interest rate on welfare housing has dropped by up to 1.75 per cent, representing a payment of nearly $3 a week less for every week of the mortgage, for 25 or 30 years, than would otherwise have been the case. Those declines in interest rates - which are the greatest cost in housing - have occurred in every State of the Commonwealth. Let it be remembered that the very Bill which made that possible was opposed on behalf of the Australian Labor Party by the honourable gentleman who leads in debates for the Opposition on housing matters. That assistance in welfare housing has been introduced despite the opposition from the Australian Labor Party. I can understand, therefore, the reluctance of the honourable member for Reid when dealing with these matters to mention in detail the areas of welfare housing. The Opposition has such a frightful record in that field that it flees from it whenever that subject is mentioned, and so it should. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), gave us the benefit of his wisdom which has come from many years of practical experience in the field of housing. His statement that he considers there should be more advertising of what is done by the Commonwealth Government in this field is most appropriate and will be examined to see what can be done about it. There are a number of other fields-
– You have presided over the greatest housing shortage in history.
– The honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) could never raise his voice even in thelast parliament of which he was a member but I thought his voice might have broken during the 3 years when he was out of the Parliament. The Opposition makes the point, which is worth recording, that in this area no limit should be placed on the value of a home. In other words, if a person is building a castle worth $100,000 or $200,000 the grant should apply equally to him as it does to a person who is building a much more humble residence. It is appropriate, and these are the words of the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) who has on some occasions described himself as the shadow Minister for housing-
– Has he? You are not serious!
– That is right. There is intense competition in this area. His remarks are interesting because in the whole field of social policy proposed by the Australian Labor Party almost the only area in which it would impose limits in respect of welfare and needs is in some aspects of education - not even in housing. One can well ask what kind of social motivation moves the Australian Labor Party to confine its activities only to such a small area of legislation. But let me pass again to housing.
There was a misunderstanding concerning the valuation of properties when this subject was mentioned by the honourable member for Hughes. If there was a doubt as to the valuation of a property officers of the Department of Housing would examine the property. If there was an appeal against or dissatisfaction with the valuation officers from the Commonwealth Taxation Branch would be requested to check on the valuation. That is done because we are dealing here with another Commonwealth instrumentality. The Government has decided that this is the correct approach and that it is appropriate that it should be done in this way.
Other points were mentioned by other speakers. The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) wanted to know why Commonwealth bonds were not appropriate as sources of savings for the purposes of the homes savings grants. Commonwealth bonds are not judged to be appropriate source of savings for this purpose for a number of reasons. One reason is that they do not meet the general criteria laid down for cases in respect of which housing grants are appropriate. For example, it is not too easy to withdraw savings at short notice from Commonwealth bonds. It is not accepted that Commonwealth bonds themselves provide the principal source of loans for housing. A judgment has to be made in this area as it has to be made in other areas.
There is one matter to which I would invite further attention. This was the. third of 3 points mentioned by the honourable member for Corio. It concerned a person who had constructed and lived in a room which was subsequently demolished, and because it was on a certain site it was judged to have been a prior dwelling place and therefore the ultimate place of residence of the person. This prevented him from being able to obtain a housing grant. If the honourable member brings that case to my attention I will look at it. If they are, the details, I can assure him that the case will receive sympathetic consideration, as it deserves to.
The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) has indicated an interest in this field over a number of years. He has retained his interest in this field and he knows what value the housing grant has been. The honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) quite rightly pointed out a number of contradictions in the contribution by the honourable member for Reid ki his leading address this afternoon. He made it quite clear that there was a contradiction in terms of the growth criteria that the honourable member for Reid posited for Australian cities. Yet to solve housing problems the honourable member for Reid has proposed policies which would solve the problems of increasing costs by embracing a real degree of stagnation.
The honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen) mentioned a number of points concerning which I think he has some misunderstanding. He was under the impression that the time of lodgement for a grant under this Act could not extend more than 12 months beyond the date of signing a contract or the date of beginning the construction of a home. An amount of discretion is available in this area, and if the honourable member has knowledge of cases in which that discretion can be rightfully used I ask him to bring them to my attention. He was also under the impression that during the time it took to process an application for a grant it would be necessary to dissipate savings in the purchase of a home and that therefore the grant which was to be obtained could not in reality assist as part of the deposit or increase the amount of deposit available for such a home. I assure him that if the time of lodgement is as soon as possible after the signing of a contract the processing can be done within relatively few days and there is no reason for the savings of a person to be completely dissipated before a grant is obtained.
I merely make 2 other general points which deserve to be made because they apply in the total area of housing policy of which the homes savings grant policy is only part. The honourable member for Diamond Valley quite rightly drew attention to the complete lack of a housing policy in the Opposition. He pointed out that the scheme which was depicted at the Launceston conference as the gift of the Australian Labor Party to the people of Australia - the notorious 2 per cent interest subsidy policy - is now in ruins. He pointed out, quite rightly, that the scheme has been characterised as a profligate rich man’s dream, and the Opposition intends to propose it. It remains in its policy; it remains in its platform. The Opposition is wedded to its platform without any flexibility whatsoever. I challenge the Opposition to indicate whether it has any policy in the area of housing.
It was also pointed out that in the area of banking the Opposition has a policy concerning the Commonwealth Bank and loans at over 3 per cent which would do several things. If such a policy v/ere brought into operation it would prohibit 11,000 young home owners from obtaining their norma) home mortgages from the Commonwealth Bank. In the second place it would drive out of existence only a short time after that all the banks, other than the Commonwealth Savings Bank, involved in housing activities. That would prohibit 35,000-odd young home owners from obtaining their money from other than the Commonwealth banking system almost overnight. But most significantly for a party which says that it does not believe in increased taxation, to carry out that policy it would have to deposit some $300m with the Commonwealth Bank at interest rates of 1 per cent to1½ per cent. Such money is not obtained except from public funds such as taxation funds.
The Opposition’s policies in these areas have been shown to be lacking completely. It is appropriate that they should be lacking. They do not exist. After all, when the spokesman for the Opposition on urban affairs speaks about these areas, no longer does he mention housing. It is specifically excluded. One might ask why it is specifically excluded. We heard it said this afternoon several times that the honourable member for Reid calls himself a dreamer, but sometimes precise administration is appropriate to consider. Dreamers do not dream up plans that are capable of assisting people with the precision with which housing mortgages are designed to assist people. Let me read what he said in the last part of this delightfully intellectual document called Towards a new Australia’ - the new bible of the Opposition. The honourable member for Adelaide is interjecting. He is often called amongst his friends the silver-tailed radical in this House. The Opposition spokesman on urban affairs said:
We commit ourselves but to a way of approaching the problem. Unlike the present way of doing things, we are not going to concentrate on isolated bits and pieces of the cities.
It is quite clear that some of the bits and pieces of the cities that do not deserve any attention and do not deserve any precise administration or precise calculation are those bits and pieces inhabited by millions of Australian families and which in fact involve their own homes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Kevin Cairns) read a third time.
Mr CHIPP (Hotham - Minister for
Customs and Excise) (5.24) - I move:
These Tariff Proposals give effect to the Government’s decision in respect to Tariff Board reports relating to insulators; fittings and mountings, hat-racks, etc., of base metal; and ceramic tableware, etc. The Government has accepted the Board’s recommendations in each case. The changes operate from tomorrow, 21st September 1972. On insulators the Tariff Board recommended rates of 50 per cent general tariff, 40 per cent preferential tariff for insulators, other than suspension disc type or pin type, suitable for use at nominal system voltages not exceeding 88,000 volts. The Board also recommended rates of 50 per cent general, 40 per cent preferential on suspension disc type insulators having an electromechanical failing load of 147 kilo-newtons or less and on pin type insulators suitable for use at nominal system voltages not exceeding 1,000 volts. In addition the Board recommended that pin type insulators suitable for use at nominal system voltages exceeding 1,000 volts should be dutiable at 50 per cent general, 40 per cent preferential for the next 12 months and then reduce to minimum rates.
All other types of insulators will become dutiable at minimum rates of 7 per cent general, free preferential. On base metal fittings, etc. the Board recommended rates of 35 per cent general tariff, 25 per cent preferential tariff for fittings specially designed for coachwork and for hydraulic or pneumatic door closers. On other base metal fittings covered by the report, the Board has recommended duties of 25 per cent general, 15 per cent preferential. Curtain fittings and mountings will become dutiable at these rates from tomorrow but, on other fittings, the Board has recommended that the general tariff rate be 35 per cent until 30th June 1974 in order that the local industry may have time to reorganise existing manufacturing facilities.
I turn now to the Board’s report on ceramic tableware. This report covers a wide range of porcelain ware and chinaware used in the home, office and for toilet purposes. These goods are currently dutiable at rates of 30 per cent general tariff, 20 per cent preferential tariff, with a minimum of 5 cents per article applying to the cheaper lines of crockery. This 5 cents specific rate of duty is removed. Also included in the proposals are 3 administrative changes relating to ethyl alcohol, certain apparel and primage duties on certain goods put up for retail sale. For ethyl alcohol a concessional by-law item for alcohol used for industrial purposes is restored. The by-law had been omitted on 1st July 1971 in connection with the operation simplification but as there is trade in this area its re-introduction is warranted.
On knitwear the tariff structure in respect to parts for apparel and fabric shaped for making up apparel will be simplified. These goods will become classifiable under the same item as the goods of which they are a part. However, the current levels of duty applying to parts and cut shapes, except those covered bylast year’s report by the Tariff Board on shirts and knitwear, will be maintained by the use of a parts direction until such time as the Tariff Board has occasion to review the industry. Primage duties are removed from certain goods when ‘put up for retail sale’. This term is difficult to administer and the amount of duty is small. Administration will be simplified by the removal of the primage duty. Comprehensive summaries setting out the changes and the duty rates are now being distributed to honourable members. I commend the proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– I present the following reports by the Tariff Board:
Insulators; porcelain or glass insulators (Dumping and Subsidies Act);
Fittings and mountings, hat-racks, etc., of base metal; and
Ceramic tableware, etc.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– by leave - I wish to inform the House that it is being announced today from Buckingham Palace that the Queen will open the Sydney Opera House on Saturday, 20th October 1973. The announcement arises from an invitation which as Prime Minister of Australia I was most happy to convey to Her Majesty with the full support and concurrence of the Premier of New South Wales. Her Majesty’s visit will be a short one, limited to a brief stay in Canberra and then her visit to Sydney. It will follow the pattern of Royal visits for specific purposes - in this case the opening of the Opera House. The likely dates are arrival on Wednesday, 17th October, and departure on Sunday, 21st October. The opening of the Sydney Opera House will be a great national and international occasion, and it is fitting that Her Majesty will be here to perform the ceremony. I share with the Premier of New South Wales great pleasure that Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit Australia for this purpose.I am sure they will be most warmly welcomed.
Consideration resumed from 14 September (vide page 1502).
Proposed expenditure, $26,711,000.
– I take this opportunity during the debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department to give some arguments as to why Australia needs a bill of rights. I believe it needs a bill of rights because the existing safeguards in our laws are no longer sufficient to give full protection to personal civil liberties in an ever changing world which increasingly feels pressures curtailing these civil liberties. Put in another way, it can be said that Australia needs a bill of rights so that we can enlarge and extend existing areas of freedom. The events in this Parliament of the last few weeks concerning just one example - the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance - have shown how easy it is for a government to bypass the Parliament and make a law by decree that makes illegal what was previously legal and effectually destroys one unusually imaginative and attractive form of the right of peaceful assembly. Spokesmen for conservative governments in countries like England and Australia have traditionally argued that there is no need for a bill of rights. They have always maintained that the ordinary processes of the common law are good enough. In saying this, such spokesmen always forget that within the common law itself, charters of individual rights have played an important part in the development of the common law and the British Constitution, which rests on the common law and from which Australia draws so many of its values.
Examples can easily be given. The Magna Carta, the Petition of Right and the Bill of Rights have all been described at times as the pillars of the British Constitution. But it is interesting to consider why they have been regarded in this way. Perhaps it is because they possess a special sanctity because of the circumstances in which they were enacted. Perhaps it is because they reflect what is considered a fundamental value that is worth preserving. They have this force, notwithstanding that they can be repealed or altered in the United Kingdom with the same facility as any clog and goat Act. Conservative commentators have also said that these 3 documents and the spirit behind them are sufficient and that they guarantee our rights against executive encroachment. I do not agree and I suggest that it is clear today, that they are not enough.
For example, let us compare ourselves wilh some other countries that are comparable to Australia. Long ago the United States of America went much further than Britain and Australia. The law of civil liberties in the United States of America revolves around the first 10 amendments to the American Constitution which are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. The United States law of civil liberties leans heavily on the first amendment which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
It would be constructive to reflect on the description given to the Aboriginal embassy demonstration by some of the judges of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, because the words used by those judges, if they mean anything at all, mean that the embassy was an exercise of the right of peaceful assembly. There can be little doubt that if the demonstration had occurred in, say, Washington, things would not have happened there as they happened here - at least, not in 1972.
Let us again compare the Australian situation with that pertaining in the United States of America. As I have said, the primary civil liberties in the American constitutional context are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly and freedom of petition. Consider how the Austraiian Government’s pressures on the Australian Broadcasting Commission would be more easily resisted if Australia had a Bill of Rights. Consider how the sometimes excessive use of the power of privilege would be more easily resisted if Australia had a Bill of Rights. Consider how the sometimes excessive fear of our contempt rule and our sub judice rule could be more easily overcome and balanced if Australia had a Bill of Rights. The examples multiply. The excessive secrecy that the Australian Government forces on its public servants would more easily be broken down if Australia had a Bill of Rights.
There are other civil liberties in the United States of America which are guaranteed by other constitutional amendments - for example, the freedom from unreasonable searches and the freedom from seizures that are protected by the American Fourth Amendment, and the right not to testify against oneself that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. In Australia unreasonable searches and seizures are used by governments. The case a year or so ago against the publisher, Maxwell Newton, proved this. The efforts of the courts to give protection against such searches and seizures would be made much easier if Australia had a Bill of Rights. At Manuka Oval here in Canberra during the Springbok tour citizens of Canberra generally were searched before being able to watch a football match. The power of the courts to give protection against that sort of thing would have been greater if .Australia had a Bill of Rights. The right not to testify without incurring adverse comment, which will become weaker if the proposed Commonwealth Criminal Code ever becomes a reality, would be easier to protect and preserve if Australia had a Bill of Rights. The preservation of the general right to trial by jury, which has largely been lost in Australia, would have been easier to preserve if our High Court had had a proper Bill of Rights provision to interpret. Capital punishment would be easier to abolish if we had a basic entrenched statement that there should be no cruel or unusual punishments, such as exists in California.
In recent years many countries have recognised the obvious advantages to be gained by a re-assertion of fundamental rights both from a protective point of view and from an educative point of view. The United Nations Charter is an example. The latest country comparable to our own to do so was Canada. In 1960 Canada enacted a Bill of Rights for Canadians. Because of the differences between the Canadian Constitution and our own and because in particular the residual powers in the Canadian system rest with the Canadian Parliament, no constitutional amendment was necessary. Honourable members should note that the Canadian Bill of Rights was passed and became law without one dissenting voice. Therein surely lies a message. If we in Australia ever get to the stage of moving for a constitutional amendment to enact a Bill of Rights or to include one in our Constitution, I would hope that the same situation would apply here, I suggest that to argue against a Bill of Rights in such a situation would be something like arguing against the Ten Commandments.
There are problems. For example, there is probably a distinction to be drawn between personal civil liberties and the dogmatic assertion of economic rights, particularly when they apply to great corporations. The various cases that have found their way into the United States Supreme Court, particularly during the 1930s, have proved this conclusively, if proof was needed. The history of section 92 of our own Constitution has also proved the need for a distinction to be drawn. Problems can also occur when special legislation is required to confer special remedial benefits on certain deprived or prejudiced groups. However, such problems and difficulties can be overcome by careful drafting and, I am sure, by the enthusiastic acceptance by Australian courts of the new role, were it to be given to them. It has happened in the United States of America. It is happening in Canada. It can happen in Australia. It would open up another new and exciting area for law and order here in Australia.
There are several ways in which a Bill of Rights could be expressed. For example, there could be a constitutional amendment guaranteeing protection of civil liberties within the areas of the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction only. There could be a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the protection of the same civil liberties within both the area of the State parliaments and the area of the Commonwealth. There could even be an amendment which would be only a rule of construction as in the Canadian Bill of Rights, which would give way to whatever was the current legislative intent of Parliament. There could be a Commonwealth statute which would operate only in the Commonwealth Territories and which would be a standard against which delegated or subordinate legislation had to compete. I put it to the Committee that a Bill of Rights not only would enlarge greatly the area of civil liberties in Australia, give protection and open up an imaginative new area for the development of Australian constitutional jurisprudence but also would be an important re-assertion of our belief in certain basic values that would have a great effect on the education of all Australians.
– As we are dealing with the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department, I take it that it will be in order for me to speak about truth and justice. 1 want to refer to some of the remarks I made yesterday in a debate in this place when I was talking about the Australian Labor Party’s advertising agencies, who controls the funds and who owns the agencies. I want to refer also to some of the remarks that were made after I had finished my speech. In particular I want to refer to what the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford), who I am pleased to see in the chamber this evening, had to say, to what the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) had to say and to what the Premier of South Australia had to say, as reported in the Advertiser’ this morning. All 3 gentlemen have dealt fairly loosely with the truth.
The honourable member for Adelaide, talking about the Liberal Party’s advertising, said:
Your own advertising is going through foreign owned agencies.
He will remember saying that. It is recorded in Hansard at page 1552.
The honourable member for Kingston made 3 similar totally untruthful remarks in the cause of truth. When referring to firms which handle the Australian Labor Party’s advertising, he dealt in 2 or 3 paragraphs with 3 items of specific non-truth. The Premier of South Australia also had something to say along the same lines which was equally untrue. He referred, gratuitously I thought, to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), saying that the Prime Minister himself had approached the Australian Labor Party’s advertising agency. That is totally untrue. I deplore this continual repetition of untruths. Some people on the other side of the chamber believe that the more often one tells an untruth the more likely it is that it will be believed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! I would like to draw the attention of the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation to standing order 71 which reads as follows:
No member may allude to any debate or proceedings of the same session unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion.
We are discussing the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman, for bringing me back to the subject matter. 1 wish to deal with the truth of the position in regard to the Liberal Party of Australia and who handles its advertising. I think that this is appropriate to the debate.
– Name the firm.
– If the honourable member for Sturt will give me the opportunity, I will proceed to relieve him from his misery, or some of it, and tell him what is the truth. 1 hope that you, Mr Deputy Chairman, will give me the same protection under the Standing Orders as you give to other members. The Liberal Party has no Federal organisation as the Australian Labor Party has, in that it does not have a central party using a single agency with which it places all its funds. In New South
Wales the company that currently handles the Liberal Party’s advertising is a firm named Masius, Wynne-Williams (N.S.W.) Pty Ltd.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! I draw the attention of the Assistant Minister to the fact that Liberal Party or Labor Party advertising has absolutely no relevance to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department.
– There is considerable significance in the question of what is the truth and what is not the truth. The point I make is that the Attorney-General’s Department is dealing in matters of justice. I would ask you. Mr Deputy Chairman, to give me the same sort of leniency as other deputy chairmen give other people in this place.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I rise to order. It is with some degree of reluctance that I do this-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! What is your point of order?
– My point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman, is that you have, quite rightly, pointed out to the Assistant Minister that he is going beyond the subject matter before the Chair in discussing advertising agencies. His present remarks are quite irrelevant. He should speak to the subject.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Chair will decide on that.
– I aim ultimately, if I am able to do so, to deal with a matter of Commonwealth law. In particular, if I am allowed to do so, I would like to refer to the attention of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control the question of the problems caused by the foreign control of advertising agencies. Nobody can possibly dispute the fact that this is within the purview of the Attorney-General’s Department. I want to make the point that the 2 major political parties have different ways of handling their advertising. All of the Liberal Party’s advertising is handled through the State branches of the Party, contrary to the statements made by honourable members opposite. When Labor was in power in New South Wales the advertising agency which at present handles Labor’s advertising, Hansen Rubensohn-McCann Erikson-
– An overseas company.
– That is the whole point. A foreign owned company handles the Australian Labor Party’s advertising and also that of a State Labor government. That is what I am complaining about insofar as South Australia is concerned.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! I should like again to draw the attention of the Assistant Minister to the fact that his remarks are quite irrelevant to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. If you intend to continue your speech, will you please refer to these estimates.
– I propose to suggest a particular form of Commonwealth law to control this matter. With respect to you, Sir, I think it is quite unfair to eat up my time completely and not allow me to enlarge upon the point.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I think that is a reflection upon the Chair.
– I withdraw that remark.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I have just given a ruling on the way in which I see the position.
– I appreciate your help in allowing me to get on with the debate, Mr Deputy Chairman. The Liberal Party’s advertising in Victoria is handled by Hayes and Co., a firm which is entirely Australian owned.
– Which one?
– Hayes and Co. The advertising for the Liberal Party in Western Australia is handled exclusively by Haygarth and Co., which is Australian owned. The Liberal Party’s advertising in Queensland is handled by Fortune (Aust.) Pty Ltd, which is Australian owned. None of these companies handles State government business.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. I point out that the Assistant Minister appears to be deliberately defying your wise ruling, Sir. You have already called him to order. I can see no connection between his remarks and the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. You have quite courteously pointed that out to him on several occasions but he still gets back to the same sub ject. I suggest that he be asked to link his remarks to the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department.
– Order! I make a final request to the Assistant Minister to relate his remarks to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department.
– I think that is a perfectly proper request to make, Mr Deputy Chairman. If I am given time in this debate I may, as a private member, foreshadow a proposition relating to the subject of the foreign ownership of advertising agencies. Surely that must come within the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department. In South Australia, for example, this matter is handled by the South Australian AttorneyGeneral’s Department. Up until a couple of years ago none of the State government departments in South Australia had advertising agencies handling its advertising. It was all done directly. But since the Dunstan Labor Government has been in office half a dozen Government departments now have large advertising appropriations. I would like to know whether the AttorneyGeneral’s Department or the AuditorGeneral in South Australia examine the accounts of these advertising agencies and whether the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral’s Department will examine them. It is no coincidence that the same agency which represents the Australian Labor Party also represents the State Labor Government. I am concerned to think what would happen when this company, with its aggregation of the Australian Labor Party, the State Government and State government instrumentalities, gets bigger and bigger.
– I seek to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Does the honourable member for Adelaide claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). 1 am afraid I cannot recall his long and rather exalted title, but I will call him the honourable member for Boothby in my personal explanation. He stated at the beginning of his speech that I had misled the House when I said that the Liberal Party’s firm of advertising agents in South Australia had foreign ownership included in its shareholding. I am afraid I have not seen the Hansard record to note the particular interjection that was picked up to this effect, but I will have a look at it and alter lt if I am at fault. But I will state now that that firm is called Martin Kinnear Clemenger Pty Ltd. Each one of its directors is very well known to me. I have a tremendous amount of praise for its ability. It has an extremely difficult subject in the Liberal Party to cover and it does the best of a bad job. It has included among its shareholding Clemengers of Melbourne.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! 1 ask the honourable member not to debate the question.
– I am coming to the point of my personal explanation. It has included among its shareholding Clemengers of Melbourne. Clemengers has included among its shareholding overseas shareholders.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I ask the honourable member to state where he was misrepresented.
– I was misrepresented when the honourable member for Boothby suggested that I had misled the House in an interjection yesterday when I stated that the South Australian Liberal Party’s advertisers was a company which had foreign shareholding. I have now outlined to the House how what I said is perfectly correct.
Mr McLEAY (Boothby - Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation) - I seek to make a personal explanation. Mr Deputy Chairman. I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). 1 have the advantage over him in that I happen to have read the Hansard report of yesterday’s debate and have a copy of it with me. I do not know how he can claim to have been misrepresented without knowing what he said. I shall quote what he said. It appears at page 1552 of Hansard. The honourable member said:
Your own advertising is going through foreign owned agencies.
What I have been trying to do for the last 10 minutes is to demonstrate that that is totally untrue. The honourable member should withdraw and apologise. Talking about Commonwealth advertising, there is an advisory council which advises-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Do not debate the question.
– I am not debating it. I am merely demonstrating the falsity of what the honourable member for Adelaide has said and making the point that the Commonwealth Government spends its money through a section of the Department of the Treasury known as, I think, the Advisory Council on Advertising and that the advertising agencies represented there are mostly Australian owned.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The Assistant Minister is debating the question. I call the honourable member for Hunter.
– I rise in the debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department to discuss a different matter to that which has already been discussed so far. I believe it is a matter with which the Australian community has been deeply concerned for many years. Recently Battle of Britain celebrations were conducted in Australia and we were reminded of the historical words of the late Sir Winston Churchill. In referring to members of the Royal Air Force he said: ‘Never before in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few’. 1 want to apply those words to the impositions made by certain members of the legal profession through divorce costs and I hope for the benefit of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to develop that theme in the short time available to me. I wish to apply Churchill’s words to certain members of Parliament insofar as I say that never before in the field of legal conflict has so much been owed by so few to «o many.
It has been reported that today .some people are using do-it-yourself divorce kits, proving to the community that they can obtain a divorce at a total cost of about $30. I have the honour to sit in this Parliament behind the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby), one of the most eminent Queen’s Counsel in the country. He made sacrifices to come to the Parliament. When he was speaking the Minister at the table was one of the most eminent Queen’s Counsel that Sydney has produced - Mr Nigel Bowen, Q.C., the Minister for Foreign Affairs. What pains me is that we very seldom hear from eminent members of this Parliament about the exorbitant divorce costs which unfortunate Australians must pay in order to disentangle the complications of their lives. They have to continue to pay, down through the years.
Tt is well known that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) earned great credit for himself by recommending an inquiry by a Senate committee into our divorce laws. He referred to a defended divorce case in which one party to his knowledge had to pay costs of about $34,000. How ridiculous that is. Mr Justice Selby, the Chief Judge in Divorce in New South Wales, is on record as saying on 9th June that Commonwealth legal aid should be provided in some divorce cases. I think that the advice of such an outstanding jurist as Mr Justice Selby should be heeded by the Commonwealth. In the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ of 7th August a prominent person wrote:
The Queensland public at present is being denied access to the law and its remedies . . . This leads to a situation where there is one law for the rich . . . and one for the poor.
He was referring particularly to divorce. The ‘National Times’ of 28th February also referred to divorce. I am a little hesitant to quote the article concerned because it might induce more lawyer members of Parliament to leave Parliament and resume their legal careers. The ‘National Times’ said:
Defended cases cost more money and this is a good reason why so many cases are undefended. For court appearances solicitors charge $10 an hour, barristers $180 a day, and QCs start at $200 a day, ranging up to $500 a day.
That is not bad sugar. It makes you laugh, Mr Deputy Chairman. The article went on:
A defended case lasts at least one day, frequently 5 and occasionally longer.
I notice that the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Barnes) is smiling. Sammy Howard or Georgie Moore would not charge him anything like that to ride ‘Tails’. The article went on:
The complete costs for both sides, including the fees of two Ocs, junior barristers and solicitors, could reach more than $1,700 a day. Legal aid is subject to a means test.
– And on top of that they have to pay the police.
– That sometimes arises, too, but the police price is always a lot smaller than that of some trade union leaders who get mixed up in a little graft. The honourable member is going a little red. The article in the ‘National Times’ refers to a divorce case which had cost one party $34,000 before the charges were taxed. I think it is time that the Commonwealth Parliament gave a lead in this field. Most honourable members know of unfortunate divorce cases. I know of cases in which decent women whose marriages have broken up have approached a legal officer and he has said: Go away and get a bit more money and we will start.’ They have had to pawn some of their most cherished worldly possessions.
– Could you speak up and let us all in on it?
– I do not want to humiliate the honourable member for Hindmarsh. He is a pal of mine but he is sticking his neck out and asking for it. I do not want to have to deal with him.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.
– The Attorney-General administers the Commonwealth Police. Force. A recent case prompted me to think that the Commonwealth police should be used more to investigate the types of people who are migrating to Australia. I have in mind particularly the awful episode of the bombing in Sydney. Only a year or two ago an illiterate and unskilled Calabrian migrated to Australia. His name is Dominic Iorfino He was given permission to migrate to Australia with his wife and 8 children. He parted from his wife and was unable to keep the children. An article states that the Department of Immigration deservedly has a red face about the case which hit the headlines recently when lorfino was unable to support his family. It goes on to say that the publishers are willing to bet that the Iorfino family and the Department of Immigration officials dealing with the case were of a certain religious faith and that this may have involved circumvention. The article suggests that a certain religious organisation may have applied pressure. If that is so, it is not to the credit of that organisation in helping to circumvent the immigration laws.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) in the course of his very interesting remarks referred to a principle, of law, namely, that there should not be one law for the rich and another for the poor. I entirely agree with that principle. I recall making substantial losses when undertaking, with considerable willingness and enthusiasm, quite a number of legal aid briefs, quite often in the divorce and matrimonial causes jurisdictions. This is still done at least in the State sphere and I think that, although one can draw attention to exorbitant legal expenses on occasions, one should also on those same occasions draw attention to those barristers and solicitors who do an enormous amount of legal work in all the capital cities in Australia for very small fees or in many cases no fees at all. I think one should always bear that in mind.
– Who does?
– A large number of barristers and solicitors. I want to make some remarks about that same principle to which the honourable member for Hunter drew attention, namely, that there should not be one law for the rich and one for the poor. To put it in different words, the law should apply to all without favour to one section of the community or another and without exempting one section of the community or another from its operation. This is the basic principle of law. Indeed it would be hard to find a more basic principle of any judicial system than that the law should apply to all. This Government supports that principle and in the administration of the Attorney-General’s Department and the structure of courts and generally the structure of law within this Commonwealth this is a principle which is adhered to and put into practise.
– That is not questioned.
– No. I did not think that it would be questioned until I had occasion to read the Labor Party platform containing the proposals which Labor would put into practice if it formed a government. I think it is wise when we are considering this principle to look at what the alternative is, and the alternative is contained in chapter XIV of the Australian Labor Party’s platform. It reads:
It is proposed that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and Regulations be amended to provide for -
the immunity of unions from action for tort in respect of torts alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of a trade union in contemplation of furtherance of a trade dispute.
I think it is well that we should draw attention - and I see from the reaction of some members of the Opposition that they may have been surprised that such an extraordinary provision should be contained in their own platform - to that proposal. At present, the law of torts - that is, civil wrongs - applies throughout the length and breadth of the land. It applies to all people. People who are injured may go to the courts and seek some redress. Now, one exception - and it is a notable exception - is proposed to the law by the Labor Party, and that is in the case of trade unions. It is said that trade unions should not be subject to the law and that if a tort is committed by trade union members then the people responsible for it should not have to indemnify those whom they have harmed in the course of breaking the law of torts.
– What type of laws?
– The honourable member for Boothby asks what type of laws are involved, and this is very appropriate. For instance there is the law relating to assault and battery. This is covered by the law of torts with respect to damaging private property. To take the honourable member’s interjection a little further and to give an example, I ask the honourable member and other honourable members to imagine a building site where work is in progress and some trade union officials decide to visit that site - I use the word ‘visit* in the euphemistic sense - to see what is in progress on the building site. In the course of their visit they attack and beat up any other people who happen to be on the site; they destroy property which belongs to private citizens and of course trespass may be committed and property may be damaged.
This gives rise to all sorts of legal consequences, only some of which would be the rights of those who have been injured both in their persons and in their property to seek redress under the normal law of torts applying throughout the country. But of course if the proposal of the Labor Party were implemented - if it became legislation and part of the law of the land - the torts law would not apply. In other words there would be an exemption in only one case and that is the case of trade unions. What I suggest to the Committee is that this is a very flagrant proposed departure from a very basic principle of law and the administration of justice.
The second of these 2 principles to which I wish to refer is another basic principle, and that is that those people occupying judicial and semi-judicial positions should hold those positions free from the threat or the fear of a threat by the government for the time being that they might beremoved or not reappointed. In other words, that a judge who is occupying a position in any court should be free to act impartially, should be free from the threat or fear that he might be removed by a government or not reappointed if his appointment were for a short time. It is for that reason that when appointments are made, for instance to the High Court, those appointments are forlife; or, when appointments are made to the Supreme Court of Victoria, the judge is appointed until the gentleman reaches a certain age whichI think is 72 years. What is proposed by the Opposition as an alternative to this is contained again in chapter XIV, section 2 (b), of the platform. I will read the exact words. Referring to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, it reads: lt is proposed that the Act be amended to provide for -
In other words, it is proposed by the Labor Party that the people who occupy the Arbitration Commission bench and the conciliators should be appointed for a fixed term and that then their appointment should be subject to approval, one way or the other, by the government in office for the time being.
– Would the honourable member table that document?
– I will table the document, certainly.
– Give us a look at the cover of it.
– It contains your platform.
– What year was it?
– The Opposition members who are interjecting are so shocked to hear such an outrageous suggestion as this one that they now doubt that I am reading from their platform.
– Read the cover.
– I am reading from a document headed ‘Platform of the Australian Labor Party’. It was printed and published in June of this year, after the Launceston conference.
– In Melbourne. There is in this publication a photograph of a gentleman whom I believe is the leader of honourable members opposite or, at least, one of their leaders. Lest it be thought that I am putting an ungracious interpretation on this clause of the Labor Party’s platform let me read what was said on the occasion it was introduced into its platform by the gentleman who was responsible, namely the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) who is the shadow Minister for Labour and National Service, that is if a Labor government would have that portfolio, but certainly the shadow Minister for Labour. I will quote from the Melbourne Age’ of 24th June 1971, the time of the Launceston Conference, when this was inserted. He said: lt is time members of the Commission were told that if they act in ways contrary to the best interests of the working people they may not be reappointed.
In other words, they will not be impartial; they will have to do what they are told and if they do not do what a Labor government tells them to do they may not be reappointed. That is a substantial departure from the very basic principle of the administration of justice.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
– In the consideration of the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department this evening I wish to raise a matter which concerns the gentleman who sits in the Senate and holds the position of Attorney-General at this stage. Much attention has been given to the administration of his portfolio in recent days. This morning various national newspapers made headlines of the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) was so disturbed and so disgusted at the attitude of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in not facing up to realities that he had to express the opinion that the AttorneyGeneral, in suggesting that the existence of the Ustasha in Australia was a myth, was not expressing Government policy.
I wish to refer to other aspects of the Attorney-General’s administration which are not particularly of recent times but which I believe also indicate that there could be some doubt as to the right of this gentleman to expect the support of the people of Australia in continuing to administer the portfolio that he holds today. I suggest that the Attorney-General has compromised his position as Attorney-General in not ensuring that action was taken in relation to a matter to which I wish to refer principally and which was raised with me by a gentleman who lives in the electorate of Bowman. The gentleman concerned had the misfortune to invest a fair proportion of his savings in a mining exploration company. He reasonably expected a profitable return on his investment. Instead, he saw his savings disappear completely.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Bowman might reflect on the remarks that he made in regard to the Attorney-General. There is a standing order of which the honourable member should be aware which relates to a reflection upon the personal capacity of any member of this House or any member of the other place. I think the honourable member should reflect on the remarks that he made earlier about the Attorney-General.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. I accept your ruling. It was not my intention to reflect on the Attorney-General specifically but rather on the administration of his portfolio. I accept your ruling and will make sure that my remarks are kept within the limits of the consideration of the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department. I want to refer to the action I believe the Attorney-General should have taken in relation to the difficulties that have been faced by certain people who very often have invested their life savings in companies. The directors of these companies, by their actions, have left themselves open to criticism for using the investors’ funds other than for the purpose for which they were interested in the company. They have left themselves open to the suggestion that those funds have been misdirected and used in such a way that the people who have invested them have been left in a position whereby they have had no call on the actions of the company and, in many instances, no call on where their life savings have gone. 1 want to refer to the investment made by the gentleman who raised the matter with me in a company known as Nickelfields of Australia NL. This gentleman has asked me to take the first available opportunity to raise this matter in the Parliament, and I do so on this occasion because, since the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange has taken no action to investigate the affairs of this company, I believe that the AttorneyGeneral, acting in his capacity as the principal law officer of the Commonwealth, either should take action to see that the Committee does investigate the affairs of this company before its report is presented to the Senate or, alternatively, should take action himself to see that the affairs of this company are investigated. The main reason why I believe this action is important is that 2 of the directors of that company, at the time of the events to which I wish to refer, were members of the Senate. One was Senator Ian Wood, a Liberal Party senator who represents Queensland, and the other was Senator Malcolm Scott who at that time was a Liberal Party senator representing Western Australia. I will refer to this matter by reading the letter in which it was raised with me. The letter reads: 1 should like to refer to the case history of the speculative mining exploration company Nickelfields of Australia NL. This late comer in the mining boom was floated in early 1970 with a capital of $1,823,000 in fully paid 10c shares, which reached a peak of 67c in 1970. . . . Exciting reports of fabulously rich gold and mercury leases in Indonesia were released, and the company was also interested in tin dredging in north Queensland and nickel exploration in Western Australia. Yet by April 1971 the Company’s accountants conducting the share register had refused to process more transferees because of non-payment of their account. This led shortly afterwards to suspension of the Company’s shares from trading on the Stock Exchanges because share transfers had not been processed or scrip issued for some considerable time. Later in the year the Company was wound up on the petition of a creditor, and a substantial deficiency resulted.
At that stage the Senate Select Committee was considering the episodes of Tasminex, Minsec, Leopold and Queensland Mines, and so on, and one could pose the question: Why was it that the Senate Select Committee did not consider the affairs of this company? If in fact the Senate Select Committee did have some reason for not considering the affairs of this company, why did the Attorney-General not take action to refer this matter to the Committee? In the circumstances, I have been asked to pose these questions: How did this company manage to lose shareholders’ funds of $1,825,000 and incur other substantial liabilities in a period of a little more than a year, and what has happened to those funds? Why was this matter not investigated by the Senate Select Committee? What is the position of shareholders who did not receive scrip or who were unable to dispose of their scrip? Is their loss deductible for taxation purposes? What shares in fact did these 2 senators I have mentioned hold in the company? 1 believe the significance of raising this matter is to highlight the fact that many of the particulars regarding the share dealings of members of Parliament in various parts of Australia have been swept under the carpet. I am anxious to clarify the situation because I believe that these senators, because of the matter that has been raised with me, are in a position at the moment in which they need to have their names cleared. I refer to a question that was asked in the Senate on 14th September by Senator Murphy in respect of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange and the reply that was given by Senator Rae, who is presently Chairman of that Committee. I quote from the Senate Hansard of that date. Senator Rae said:
I suggest to Senator Murphy that the Committee’s report has not been delayed in any way for any purpose, but there have been some times when less interference of a political party natura might have enabled the Committee to spend more time on the preparation of its report.
The suggestion made in that answer is that there has been party political interference with the inquiry of the Senate Committee. The suggestion has been made to me that that political interference could have reflected on the integrity of members of tha Senate chamber.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I had no intention of entering this debate but I rise to participate because of some remarks passed by members of the Opposition. The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) made allegations. It is easy to make allegations.
– Mr Chairman, I rise to a point of order. My point of order is that I did not make allegations. I make this perfectly clear. All I have done is to raise, on behalf of a constitutent who asked me to do so, this matter in the Parliament in order that the Government might have the decency, through the office of the AttorneyGeneral, to clear the names of senators about whom I have not made allegations but who, in fact, actually sit on the board of directors of the company 1 mentioned.
– Order! There is no point of order.
– I maintain what I said about allegations. Nothing has been substantiated. It is easy to make allegations without backing them with argument or facts. I wish to speak on the point raised by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby). He discoursed at length and made allegations of lack of freedom of speech and so on. He suggested that a Bill of Rights in Australia would remedy all this sort of thing. He mentioned the United States of America and from his remarks I gather that he believes that the situation in Australia compares adversely with the American situation. This amazes me. I am reading a most interesting book, which is available in the Parliamentary Library. It is a biography of Senator Huey Long of Louisiana. If the honourable member thinks that the Bill of Rights is such an effective means of preserving individual rights I suggest that he read this book. I think our situation in Australia compares very favourably with that of any country. My concern is that we follow American attitudes in these sorts of things. The honourable member spoke also about the police attitude towards the antiSouth African demonstrators.
It concerns me that members of the Opposition are not concerned with the innocents - the ordinary people - who have a right to go to a football match or anything else without interference from organised demonstrations which are really sponsored by subversive groups in Australia. I know that South Africa is held in poor regard by honourable members opposite. I think it is quite unfair to criticise South Africans. Obviously honourable members opposite do not know the situation there. I do not think we have a right to criticise South Africans because they have a problem which, thank God, we do not have, because of the wisdom of our ancestors in preventing minority groups from coming to Australia. One honourable member opposite mentioned the Ustasha. I think it is a pretty poor business for this group to bring its political problems from another country to Australia. But it is a pretty one-sided operation. In view of the history of the Ustasha or the Croatian nation I suppose there is some argument on its side. The Croatian problem has continued for many years since the Balkan War of 1912 when these divisions took place. I think the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) remarked that the Balkans were the cockpit of Europe. The hot blooded people of that region take their way of life very seriously.
I recollect that in the last war the Croats had a very difficult situation. They wanted independence for their nation. My understanding is that honourable members opposite have been all for independence, but this does not work from the point of view of the Croats. The leader of the Croats in the last World War surrendered to the Allies. My recollection of this part of history was that the Croats were handed over to the Communist group and they were murdered by the thousands. Obviously this creates bitterness. But this is no excuse for them to come to Australia and bring their political problems here and involve us. But that is another aspect of the question. Freedom of speech and freedom to do everything else must take cognisance of the rights of the innocent people of Australia. No-one speaks of the innocents of Australia. Crime is rising faster than we have ever known before. The police are handicapped in finding an answer to crime by the present legal measures. This is the last opportunity I will have to speak on the Estimates, but I should like to make the point clear that the police comprise a section of people in Australia which is not treated very well by the community, I believe that we have to make every effort to build a police force better able to deal with the problems of crime and disorder in Australia. Police officers should be paid more. I always say that police and politicians are not favourably regarded by the people of Australia as regards pay and privileges. If we are to build an effective force to combat crime and to combat subversion I believe we have to build a higher standard of police force in Australia.
This Bill of Rights business is quite extraordinary. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is alleged by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) to be the foremost legal advocate in Australia. This is quite surprising. I would say that he is probably an academic advocate. He has not studied the situation. I am not a lawyer; I am a layman. A Bill of Rights sounds a wonderful prospect for law and order and so on but does it work? Does it work in America? Would the people of Australia like to see in Australia a situation the same as that in America? I would say no. Great Britain, I believe, is the land of the free where everyone has justice. Australia has adopted the British common law and I believe it gives the average person a better chance for justice than there is in any other country. Britain has not a Bill of Rights, it does not even have a Constitution. The British principle of justice has worked better than the system of any other country. We have accepted the British common law. For God’s sake do not let us go over to a system such as that of America which has proved to be wrong.
I was in America as a young man about 50 years ago and I formed the opinion there that unless one had money one did not have any rights whatsoever. But this cannot be said of Australia. Let us be proud of our legal system - our system of law and order. Do not let us depart from it. I make a plea for consideration of the innocent man in Australia. Our wretched Press builds up a great sentimental furore for somebody who has broken the law. Some frightful crimes have been committed in Australia and the sympathy of the Press is always on the side of the wrongdoer. The innocent is forgotten in all these things. Let us have the strong attitude that the innocent is an important person in Australia, and let us stick to this.
– I address myself to the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. The allocation this year is $26.71 lm, an increase in round figures of $2m over the amount allocated last year. Later I want to deal with the administrative side of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. This comes under the administration of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department while its expenditure allocation comes under the Prime Minister’s Department. One can see that it is mysterious even in terms of its administration and expenses because it has to be spread over 2 departments. But before I do refer to it 1 want to pass a few comments about the honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) who has just spoken. He mentioned that the crime rate is rising. I do not know whether that is right or wrong; there may be more criminals now because there are more people. There are 13 million people in Australia and I suppose that the growth of the population must inevitably bring a growth in the number of crimes. Criminals are like politicians and the average person - they are better educated these days. They know how to get around various points, such as questions of law in ways which probably 10 or IS years ago would not have been thought of. Probably better educated people are drifting into crime and learning the tricks of the trade. There was a time when criminals would not challenge the police or the courts but these days they are doing it.
– Speak only of your own electorate.
– No. I understand that Parramatta has one of the highest crime rates.
Most of the people in the Parramatta electorate who commit crimes give addresses within my electorate and in that way the Parramatta electorate escapes responsibility. Like the honourable member for McPherson, I am one who does not believe that the efforts of the police force should be decried. The day we cease to uphold the responsibility of the police force to enforce the law of the land for which it is responsible and weaken its administration in any way we will be doing a great, disservice to the community. No matter who we might be we like to see that uniformed man around our streets at certain times. Whilst some of them may not be physically powerful, the very impression created by a police force which is capable and efficient gives one the feeling that one has security and this is a feeling which permeates the whole community. We desire to see it remain that way.
That does not mean that we at any time condone offences that are committed by policemen. They are like any other section of society; there are good and bad policemen. I am one who does not like to see the police blamed for everything when they are carrying out the law. We as members of Parliament have a responsibility to see that we respect the fact that the police are administering the law on our behalf. Far from decrying their efforts, we should see that their efficiency is maintained and that they are treated with respect, otherwise we may well reach the stage in this country at which a force outside the police force will be called upon to keep order, as has been the case in other parts of the world where riot squads have been established, I do not want to see that happen in this country. When I have seen some ugly incidents take place, it was good to know that there were people in uniform, or even in plain clothes, prepared to fight for the average citizen. The day when our sons, daughters and wives cannot walk down the streets without feeling secure is when we really will have to worry and those who undermine the authority of the police force do a great disservice to the community.
Tonight I want to address some remarks to ASIO. I will deal with its administration. I notice that the amount allocated for 1972-73 is $4.740m whilst last year it was $4. 370m. That is a fairly substantial increase. As its name implies, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is a mysterious organisation. It was established in days gone by and under another government, but there are features of ASIO’s administration which I think require the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood). Consider the position of a public servant. If he is to be appointed to certain positions there is a file on him in ASIO. If for some reason or other there is something against a public servant on the ASIO files he is denied promotion, as well as appointments abroad and things of that nature, probably for a lifetime. Any member of this Parliament who knows persons in the public service must know that that situation exists. There is no appeal against it and as far as I know the public servant concerned is never told the reason for the ASIO report. All kinds of strange things can happen and we could well find people unjustly treated by an ASIO report. As a result they might have to forgo promotion and things of that nature for a lifetime. Therefore there should be some way in which these matters can be reviewed.
I do not want to go into this aspect in detail tonight but we could find people who, to use a popular term, have extremely
Tightest views called upon to report upon some person who is a member of a very militant branch of the Australian Labor Party. That person could be excused for thinking that the person he is investigating may have some extreme or leftist or communist views. The person involved may be a sincere churchman, but a report sent in in such circumstances to the Public Service might well result in the person concerned being denied promotion or some appointment. These are things which should be considered. At the risk of taking up the time of the House I would like to refer to an interesting thing that happened to me. I parked my car where evidently it should not have been parked when attending the Olympic Games held in Melbourne. When 1 came back to my car it was being towed away. I said to the officer: ‘What are you towing my car away for?’ He said: ‘It is where it should not be’. I said: ‘I am a member of Parliament’. He said: ‘Are you? I am a member of the security police’. I said: ‘ls that so?’ Then he proceeded to give me his name and address and his secret and silent telephone number. I rang those numbers later and checked them all. I said to him: ‘You are such a decent fellow that I will tell you my name now’. I got all this information from him without even revealing my name. He was such a decent officer that he put my car back where it should not have been parked in the first instance. If there are people as lax as that in the Organisation I would not like to see them reporting on any person in the community if their report could affect the promotion or position of that person.
Therefore I think that there is a great case to be made particularly in respect of public servants whose files are kept by the Organisation, for people to know precisely what is recorded against them and for people to have some right of appeal. It is easy to put up a case against a person when the case does not have to be answered. At least the person reported upon should know what is said against him. In some cases some people can make extremely strange judgments against others. I know that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), who is at the table, would not make these mistakes but they could be made by other people. This is such a mysterious organisation and from what I can see of what is happening in the community today, it is not effective in some respects. If reports that might have been submitted to the Attorney-General in respect of certain terrorist activities in this country were based on reports of this Organisation I think they are probably a long way off the beam. Whilst one cannot expose to the light of day everything that ASIO is doing for the sake of the defence and security of the country, at least there is a case to be made out for a review of its activities, particularly since there has been a great increase in its expenses in recent times without there being, from what I can see, no great increase in efficiency.
I am not one who believes in the development of a police state in this country. I do not like any secrecy. Whilst I respect the police force and the security service for what they are doing, let us safeguard our democracy and ensure that things which can destroy that state of affairs that the honourable member for Mcpherson mentioned, things which we all want to see safeguarded, do not creep in. I make these submissions to the Minister not to be critical but in the hope that they will be taken into consideration, particularly as they refer to ASIO because in the community today there is a concern over its activities and the fact that there may be files kept on public servants who know little about them and because of which many are suffering.
– I want to refer to some of the remarks made by honourable members who have spoken on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) spoke in favour of Australia having a Bill of Rights. The honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) has already made some remarks about this, and I agree with him that the name is an honoured one coming from way back in English history. When we hear it mentioned we have a sense of feeling that it might be a good thing to have. I do not want to enter into a full debate on what is a very large question. As the question has been raised, I think it is worth mentioning one or two things that have to be considered by anyone who wants to put constitutional guarantees into force in this country or in another country.
When our founding fathers drafted the Constitution of this country they had before them the model of the American Constitution. The American Constitution contains constitutional guarantees. Our founding fathers had to decide whether, in drafting our Constitution, we would adopt constitutional guarantees similar to those in the Bill of Rights. They made the deliberate decision to follow the English system and not the American system. I think it needs to be shown by anyone who asserts that we should now have constitutional guarantees that they are the better system, because difficulties arise in practice with this type of guarantee. In the first place we find our right- right of free speech, right of free association or whatever it may be - suddenly converted into a legal right and we have to bring a court case to put it into force. That court case may take us to the High Court. Some countries which have adopted a Bill of Rights with constitutional guarantees have found that the number of cases in the courts endeavouring to enforce constitutional rights so guaranteed have accumulated to a point where it takes a very long time for the cases to come on. In one country it takes 12 years for a case to come on. It has 80,000 cases still to be heard. This is the sort of right which it is not worth having.
There is another factor concerning the sort of right we have. I take a particular illustration. In Brisbane a couple of years ago Customs officers made an entry into someone’s house at about 9 o’clock at night searching for drugs but in circumstances in which they should not have been making the entry. There could have been a constitutional guarantee about that and that person could have brought an action to enforce a legal right. It would have taken a year or two and a lot of money and it might eventually have come on and been heard. What happened under our system? A question was directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise within 24 hours about the incident, and when it was found that the Customs people were at fault not only was the fault rectified but the Minister himself was under extreme pressure and eventually there were questions as to whether he should resign. This is a much more effective right.
– It is not mutually exclusive.
– Of course it is. If people have a guaranteed right the Minister only has to say: ‘You have your right there. I will not interfere with that right.’ People can then take action under their constitutional guarantee. This is the way in which such a system has in fact been working. It is true that some new countries have adopted a Bill of Rights. I refer particularly to those countries that do not have the same traditions and habits of thought as we have inherited. We did not create them but we inherited them, and these are the things that protect the freedom of the individual, the freedom of the Press and the freedom of association. We know what they mean. They are complex, subtle ideas and we give the remedy in the court through the writ of habeas corpus and the Minister gives effect to the remedy in the Parliament. It is the remedy that is effective. It is the habit of thought and tha understanding of these principles that are important. I suggest that those who seek to put their rights into the realm of legal guarantee should ask themselves whether they would be giving the citizens a better and higher right than they have under the current system.
There is another matter. Once we attempt to reduce an idea as subtle and as complex as the idea of freedom of the Press or freedom of speech into a few lines in a statute, we in practice find that we are subjected to the interpretation placed on that by a court and a judge. We are bound by that and we cannot remove the judge as we can remove a Minister or a member of Parliament. Once we are stuck with the interpretation of that it is there and we cannot change it. Not only that but we have subjected ourselves to an extraordinary situation. For example, under the American guarantee of the freedom of the Press and freedom of speech the person who relies on that constitutional guarantee might not be the one whom it was intended to protect. There is the instance of the pressman in America who stole property and who, when he was charged with stealing, relied as a defence on the constitutional guarantee. He said that he stole the property for publication in the Press and that therefore the Constitution protected him against prosecution for stealing.
We subject ourselves to the tyranny of words. These ideas are so subtle and complex that they are very difficult to put into a Bill of Rights. I have assisted some countries in drawing a Bill of Rights. One country was a country to which we gave independence. The honourable member for McPherson will remember this. Four pages of guarantees relating to civil rights were, written into the constitution of that country. But I think I would rather be living here under the protection of our traditions, our habits of thoughts and our rules of law than under a constitution guaranteeing those rights. Those are. only ideas that I throw forward. A full debate could be developed on them. If we value our freedoms that have been referred to we should think about whether we will necessarily increase them or improve them by writing them into the form of a constitutional guarantee.
The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) spoke of the high cost of divorce and the question of legal aid. I would only say in relation. to his speech that we should remember that a Senate inquiry on constitutional and legal affairs is proceeding and the committee of inquiry is taking evidence on the question of family law reform. One of the matters it is looking into is this question of divorce costs. We hope to get from the report of that Senate committee some useful information on the subject to which the honourable member referred in his speech.
The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) referred to a company into which he said that a person who had written to him had put some money which he had lost. He criticised the AttorneyGeneral for not in some way having taken action in respect of this matter. I am not aware of the facts of the case to which the honourable gentleman has referred, but I offer the suggestion to him that if the company is registered under the Queensland Companies Act it would be a matter for the Queensland Attorney-General if there has been a breach of the law as distinct from just a bad investment. If it is a matter which it is thought ought to be considered by the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, there is no requirement of locus standi to bring the matter before the Committee. The honourable gentleman himself could put a case to that Committee for consideration, although it appears to be engaged now in drawing up its report rather than in taking further evidence, or indeed the person who wrote to him could bring that matter before the Secretary of the Committee. I offer that suggestion to the honourable member.
The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has been having trouble with his car. I am not sure whether the story he related is a biography or fiction. The Australian security service is not concerned with breaches of State law, and if the gentleman to whom the honourable member spoke was an officer of the true Australian security service he was acting beyond the powers of his statute. The statute of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation requires it to be concerned with the security of Australia, and the security of Australia is defined in the statute as referring to espionage, sabotage and subversion.
I have difficulty in relating the matter of the honourable member’s car to these 3 topics.
But the honourable gentleman does raise a matter of substance in relation to reports on individuals. There are not a great many of these reports but it was a matter of concern, I know, during the period when I was Attorney-General as to whether there should not be some form of appeal where a person’s rights had been affected by a report. This is a very difficult subject matter. The natural leaning of a lawyer is towards giving some right of appeal in such circumstances. There are advantages and disadvantages in the public interest either way, of which I am sure the honourable member for Grayndler will be aware. There are also cases where the source of the information presents in itself a difficulty as one perhaps would be revealing a source that one would never be able to use again in the security service if one gave evidence on it, at any rate in public. It is a serious matter and I am sure the fact that the honourable member has raised it will cause it to be considered again. Certainly, the matter will be passed to my colleague in another place.
– I was interested to hear the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) who represents the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) in this place getting all emotional about how impressive it is to live under the protection of the law in this country compared to living in other countries. If this is so, all I can say is that it must be even more depressing to live in other countries, and in most cases this may well be so. Let us see just what the Attorney-General’s Department does with the large amount of money that we vote to it every year and specifically what is proposed under this Appropriation Bill. I have previously referred to a case in which a young woman, Barbara Joyce Russell, was convicted on 11th September - last Monday - in the Canberra Court of Petty Sessions for distributing a leaflet. I would argue immediately that if she had been living in the United States she could never have been charged with committing an offence. I can see the gentleman who advises the AttorneyGeneral picking up his piece of paper and his pen so that he can hand a little slip to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who is sitting at the table and who will start talking about conspiracy.
I suggest that broadly speaking, arguments as to whether people should be able to defy a particular piece of legislation should be covered by the principle of freedom of speech, especially as the person concerned did not give any leaflets to a person who was covered by that Act. In other words, she did not hand a leaflet to a person of the age of 20 who was required under our legislation to immediately register for national service. Let us look at what happened. She was convicted on that day. The following day, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory held that most of the ordinances in the Australian Capital Territory in fact were illegal and were not proper ordinances. The Government obviously believed that amongst them were some of the ordinances which dealt with the appointment of the magistrate, Mr Dobson, S.M., who presided over this case.
In the meantime, the woman concerned had been transferred to Silverwater Prison in Sydney and was to be held there for 20 days. I suggested to the Attorney-General that she was being held illegally and he agreed. I repeat that. He said: ‘That is probably so, but let her take legal action’. That is where we come back to what the Minister representing the Attorney-General in this House said earlier, namely, how well off we are in this country because we can take legal action. Here was a person who was unemployed who had to take legal action against the Attorney-General. I will deal in a minute with what happened when she did take legal action. She would be required to pay a lawyer. She would have to obtain legal representation which could cost her thousands of dollars and this Government would just employ a barrister - a senior counsel - to appear against her.
But what happened? Obviously, any reasonable Attorney-General would have taken the line that if in fact she was being illegally held in gaol he should release her. Did the Attorney-General have any doubts about this? Let us see what happened in court in Canberra in those days. On 14th September which was the Thursday - she was still being held in gaol - Mr Hogg, who is Deputy Clerk of the Australian
Capital Territory Court of Petty Sessions appeared in court and decided that he would adjourn the cases. He said that the reason for that was that there were no magistrates in Canberra at that time. If there were no magistrates on the Thursday, there were obviously no magistrates on the Monday. If anything, there were magistrates in Canberra on Thursday because honourable members will recall that, at 12.05 on Thursday morning, certain ordinances were again proclaimed. But what happened? Mr Sheils, who was one of the barristers representing one of the accused in court that day, asked whether Mr Hogg and the senior Australian Capital Territory stipendiary magistrate, Mr Dobson, had been appointed under the same ordinance. He was told by Mr Hogg that originally both clerks and magistrates had been appointed by the Attorney-General but that this had later been amended and that magistrates had later been appointed by the Governor-General. Mr Hogg said that he was appointed by the Attorney-General in 1969 and therefore his appointment was in order. However, the appointment of the magistrates was not a formal appointment.
Just to put the case quite clearly, Mr A. S. Gillespie-Jones another barrister appearing in court that day, asked Mr Hogg if he was of the opinion that there was no magistrate present in the building. Mr Hogg said he was of that opinion and yet a report states that Mr Dobson S.M. and Mr Pearson S.M. were seated in the public gallery whilst this discussion was taking place. So it is quite clear that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department did not believe that Mr Dobson was a properly appointed magistrate even on the Thursday, let alone on the Monday when this case was heard. When some of us decided that this was a ridiculous thing to happen and that we had an Attorney-General who was obviously not prepared to carry out the law but was only prepared to play politics, a barrister appeared in a Sydney court on Thursday and applied for a writ of habeas corpus in public chambers before Mr Justice Meares. And what happened? The Solicitor-General was contacted by Mr Justice Meares or vice versa and he asked for an adjournment of the case until the following morning so that the case would never come to hearing because they knew that by the following morning they would have the legislation through the Senate which would retrospectively assure the appointment of Mr Dobson, S.M., on the previous Monday.
As the barrister put it to Mr Justice Taylor the following morning, it was a specious application by the AttorneyGeneral on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to ask for an adjournment on the Thursday so that the Commonwealth could argue that the appointment of a magistrate was valid, because the Commonwealth Government never believed that the appointment of that magistrate was valid. It is obviously true that they did not believe it. Mr Hogg said so on behalf of the Attorney-General’s Department that day in court. If it was not true, he was lying because he said that there was no magistrate in court and yet there were 2 so-called magistrates, including Mr Dobson, sitting in the public gallery ot the court at that time. The Attorney-General just loves playing politics. He is obviously an incompetent and unscrupulous person to behave in this fashion. I think he behaved completely wrongly and it is a shocking way of behaving for a person who has been sworn in-
– Order! As I suggested to the honourable member for Prospect last week in relation to remarks passed about the AttorneyGeneral, I again suggest that the honourable member should withdraw the remarks that he has just made in relation to the Attorney-General and proceed with his speech in a more restrained manner.
– I am prepared to withdraw the remarks because it is quite obvious from the facts that I have given that everybody who is prepared to read this speech and examine the case will come to exactly the same conclusions. Those people will not be bound by parliamentary rules. I suggest that a person such as that is not a fit and proper person to be an Attorney-General, is not a fit and proper person to be a member of Parliament and is not a fit and proper person to be a member of the Bar-
– Order! The honourable member for Prospect knows the Standing Orders and the forms of this Parliament. Order! The honourable member for Sturt will cease interjecting. I warn the honourable member that if he continues with this behaviour I will name him. I suggest that the honourable member for Prospect knows that if a charge is to be brought against a Minister of the Crown these are ways and means of doing so.
– In summary, because my time has expired, I will put it this way: If the Attorney-General is a fit and proper person to hold that position, there is no person who is not a fit and proper person to hold it.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
– May I speak a second time? Mr Chairman, this evening-
– Order! I inform the honourable member for Bowman that I have put the question and it has been agreed to.
– You did not look this way, Mr Chairman.
– 1 looked towards the honourable member for Bowman because when he walked in the second time he had a black folder with him and I thought that he might want to speak a second time. I looked over towards the honourable member. He was not rising. I then looked around and put the question. I paused before I put the question. I have put the question and it has been agreed to by the Committee.
– No, it has not. Am I in order in speaking in this debate?
– Mr Chairman, did you put the question?
– I did put the question that the proposed expenditure for the Attorney-General’s Department be agreed to.
– The noes have it.
– I suggest to the honourable member for Kingston that this would be of no advantage. There would be a vote. That would not enable anybody else to speak in any case. The question has been put and it has been carried.
– I rise to order, Mr Chairman. I think you were very smart about it - too smart, in my opinion - and not reasonable either. Two honourable members on this side of the chamber were prepared to rise. You may have been right in refusing to let the honourable member for Bowman speak a second time before somebody else who rose had spoken a first time, but I think that a snap vote like this is a bit unreasonable. I think you have the right to think about this again.
– In regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Stirling, I point out that the question was put. As I said, there was no pressure with the question, there was no hurry with the question. I put the question and the Committee agreed to it.
– Mr Chairman, may I have your indulgence for a minute? The honourable member for Bowman had indicated - certainly to me - that he wanted to speak for only a couple of minutes in relation to a challenge issued by the honourable member for McPherson who said that the honourable member for Bowman did not submit any evidence for a statement he made. It was my impression that he wished to speak for only a couple of minutes. Would it be possible, with your indulgence, for him to speak for those several minutes?
– Mr Chairman, on a point of order I must say that I think the Government has been very lenient-
– A point of order, Mr Chairman
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.
– I suggest that honourable members opposite hear me out. We have been very lenient in putting up with some of the speeches we have had to put up with. My point of order is that the question was quite clearly put by you, Mr Chairman. I saw you look at that side; I saw you look at this side for some time. I suggest, Mr Chairman, that you should stick to your decision on this matter.
– Mr Chairman, how do you always make these mistakes?
– Order! I suggest that if the honourable member for Sturt continues to interject he will make the biggest mistake he has ever made.
– I did not say anything. When you sit down I will take a point of order, because 1 did not speak.
– I apologise to the honourable member for Sturt on this occasion and I suggest to the honourable member for Bendigo that he cease interjecting. The question has been put, and the Committee has agreed to it. In the circumstances I suggest that if the honourable member for Bowman desires to make a statement with the indulgence of the Committee he should ask for leave, on the understanding that he then covers only the point concerned. I point out to the Committee that, if the Chair grants an indulgence to the honourable member and we go back to a position where the question has not been put, that will mean that the question is before the Committee again and the debate could go on for any length of time. I make that suggestion. It is now in the hands of the Minister for Social Services who is at the table at the moment. I suggest that the honourable member for Bowman take that action on that understanding.
– He said that he would be only 2 minutes; is that so?
– Yes; and I seek leave accordingly.
– In that case, leave is granted.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Mr KEOGH (Bowman) - I thank the Committee for its indulgence. 1 wish to take the opportunity to clarify a point that was made when I believe my integrity was questioned. The honourable member for Mcpherson (Mr Barnes) suggested that I had not substantiated some of the remarks I made when I addressed the Committee on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. 1 want to make it quite clear that I raised this matter at the request of an elector. I did not make any accusations, nor do I desire to make any accusations, in regard to members of this Parliament or senators who have since retired from this Parliament. In rebuttal of the challenge made by the honourable member for McPherson, I refer to the ‘Australian’ of 5th December 1971. 1 did not base my remarks on this article. To substantiate my remarks, which were based on a letter, I refer to an article written by journalist
Warren Beeby and headed: ‘Mine rated as two-man business’. The article reads in part as follows:
An eminent Queensland geologist has downgraded the St George antimony deposit of Nickelfields of Australia NL to one-tenth or less of the reserves originally estimated by the company.
The geologist was Dr Roger G. Taylor. The liquidator handled the sale of the assets of the company for a total of $125,000 which the auctioneer, Mr Alex Overett, said was very satisfactory and was in excess of the estimated value. The shareholders, on whose behalf I spoke tonight at the request of an elector of mine, had invested$1. 8m. This newspaper article has never been challenged. Among the directors of Nickelfields were exSenator Malcolm F. Scott, formerly Chairman, Senator Ian A. Wood, Mr Jose M. Safie, Consul for El Salvador, and Brigadier J. St J. Milne. That is all I wish to say at this moment. I merely mention these facts to make it quite clear to the Committee that I raised this matter in an endeavour to give either the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) or the appropriate Senate committee an opportunity to clear what I would hope to be the good names of the gentlemen referred to.
– I believe that bears out my statement. Now he has substantiated it; he did not do so before.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure $38,877,000.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $57,510,000.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $45,137,000.
– Mr Chairman, decentralisation has suddenly become both acceptable and practicable. Sir Robert Menzies promised in his 1949 election policy speech ‘a positive decentralised national programme of rural production, to be carried out co-operatively with the States and with regional and local authorities’. Motions on decentralisation were moved in the Parliament by the Australian Labor Party in 1961, 1965, 1967 and 1971. Not one of them was allowed to come to a vote. In 1964, while Sir Robert Menzies was overseas and Sir John McEwen was Acting Prime Minister, the Premiers Conference agreed to establish a CommonwealthState Officers Committee on Decentralisation. That Committee met on only 5 occasions - on 4th and 5th March 1965, 30th November 1966, 7th February 1969 and most recently on 12th October 1971 and 27th April 1972.
The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) has told the House of the strictures which the New South Wales Department of Decentralisation and Development made on the Committee’s draft report between the last 2 meetings. A final report was finally forwarded to the Commonwealth and State Governments on 16th June last. On 22nd August the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) told me:
The publication of the report therefore depends upon whether or not the States agree and, if they do agree, on what conditions.
The Prime Minister referred to the report last night but did not release it. Apparently the States are still not co-operating with the Commonwealth in releasing their officers’ report on decentralisation. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, in its report on employment opportunities in the Australian Capital Territory, reported on 13th September 1972 that the Committee of Commonwealth-State Officials on Decentralisation was singularly unco-operative. The Prime Minister has refused to tell me which departments were represented on the Commonwealth-State Officers Committee, but his predecessor told my colleague the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) on 14th April 1970 that it consisted of representatives from each State, his own Department, the Treasury and the departments of Trade and Industry, Primary Industry, National Development and Labour and National Service.
Meantime, last December the Deputy Prime Minister convened representatives of the departments of the Interior, Shipping and Transport and Trade and Industry on a working party which he insisted should meet in secret and exclude Liberal ministries from its work. The working party reported in June to the Deputy Prime Minister but not to the Government. The Deputy Prime Minister only referred to it obliquely last night thus:
A lot of work has gone on between Commonwealth departments, such as the Department of
Trade and Industry, the Department of Shipping and Transport, the Department of the Interior, the Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Department.
Except for extracts which I incorporated in a speech last Wednesday, the report remains secret.
I shall refer to 4 recommendations by the working party. Firstly, it recommended that the Commonwealth should examine areas in its own governmental responsibilities where concessions could be made, such as telecommunications. But neither the working party nor the CommonwealthState Officials Committee included a representative of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Telephone and teleprinter charges are a major source of discouragement to corporations which seriously consider establishing premises outside capital cities. This was stressed by the Victorian Decentralisation Advisory Committee on 26th September 1967 in its report on Selection of Places Outside the Metropolis of Melbourne for Accelerated Development’ and by the Development Corporation of New South Wales on 24th March 1969 in its report on ‘Selective Decentralisation’. The Victorian Committee recommended that each of the 5 centres nominated for accelerated development ‘be recognised for charging purposes as extensions of the Melbourne metropolitan area whereby rentals would be equated and calls between these places and Melbourne charged as for local calls’.
If the Commonwealth intended to take such committees and reports seriously it would long since have added to the Officials Committee a representative of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It prefers, instead, to denigrate the proposal, even when it is raised in the Parliament by Government supporters. On 20th May 1970 the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) told his colleague from Gwydir - no* the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt):
I would believe that there is no prospect of the proposal being acceded to in Australia.
In June the Postmaster-General received a report on proposals to vary the charging arrangements applicable to telephone services. The proposal for preferential charges for decentralised industries was given the most cursory consideration. The State reports were not even acknowledged. Let me place beyond all doubt my own Party’s position on this matter. A Labor government will see that telephone and telex charges between a State capital and areas which the Commonwealth and the State agree to designate for accelerated development will not exceed the charges applicable in metropolitan areas.
A second recommendation by the working party was in these terms:
The positive co-operation and planning between Commonwealth and State authorities should also ensure that the contribution of secondary and tertiary educational facilities to decentralisation will be maximised. This is of particular relevance in terms of location of institutes of technology, colleges of advanced education, universities and the like, where these institutions play a considerable role in relation to industry.
Both the State reports highlighted the importance of tertiary education not only in generating jobs but also in reassuring new settlers that their children can secure professional qualifications without leaving home. It is the more remarkable, therefore, that the Department of Education and Science should not have been represented on either the working party or the Officials Committee. The Victorian report emphasises the importance of providing a college of advanced education in the vicinity of Wodonga. I have raised repeatedly with Ministers the possibility of a university for the Albury-Wodonga conurbation, but the present Minister is neither aware of any initiative being taken in this matter by the governments of New South Wales and Victoria nor interested in taking the initiative himself. Let me again on this matter make my Party’s position clear. A Labor federal government will itself propose universities and colleges of advanced education in chosen designated growth areas.
A third recommendation by the working party was:
Adequate connection by all major and communications modes with major markets, the major cities and export/import terminals would be necessary.
The Victorian committee had recommended that adequate air terminal facilities and air services should be provided for Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley. The Department for Civil Aviation was not represented on cither the working party or the Officials Committee. On 24th February the Minister told me that he had taken no action in the light of the Victorian recommendations.
He said that his department was aware of no proposal to upgrade the authorised landing area at Bendigo to licensed standards, to alter in any way the status conferred 2 years before the Victorian report on the aerodrome operated jointly in the Latrobe Valley by the City of Traralgon and the Shires of Morwell and Traralgon or to provide regular air services to either centre. He implied that the Victorian recommendation had not been raised with his Department by the Officials Committee, nor had the Department’s view on any other aspect of decentralisation been sought.
Three weeks ago the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) was unaware of Sir Henry Bland’s recommendation, tabled last March, that the Bureau of Transport Economics should give attention to the combined rates imposed by the New South Wales and Victorian Railways on commodities carried to and from the Riverina. Today he told me-
– You should read your correspondence.
– One almost sees some enlightenment spreading over the Minister’s usual vacuity of countenance. Today he told me he did not think it appropriate to request the Bureau to study the matter without a request from the Victorian Government. So much for CommonwealthState co-operation in the transport aspects of decentralisation.
The working party concluded:
There are many areas of Commonwealth activity which appear suitable for consideration for relocation as part of an overall decentralisation policy. First steps along these lines would demonstrate the Commonwealth involvement in a rational approach to decentralisation and regional development
Between 1967 and 1971, the number of central office staff awaiting transfer from Melbourne increased from 8,258 to 10,330. After I proposed on 29th September and 30th November 1971, in questions without notice to the Prime Minister, that some of the departments concerned should be relocated in Albury-Wodonga and not in Canberra, the right honourable gentleman quoted with approval in a written reply the view of the Public Service Board that:
From the viewpoint of Commonwealth Public Service administration, therefore, the Board would have no reason to recommend the transfer of central offices of Commonwealth Departments to Albury-Wodonga.
The Governor of Victoria said in opening his Parliament on Sth September:
The Government is prepared to join with the other State governments, or the Commonwealth, in the joint development of new cities. It believes that the Albury-Wodonga area, strategically located in the Murray Valley on the main axis between Australia’s 2 largest cities, offers excellent potential for such joint development.
Neither the Prime Minister nor the Deputy Prime Minister has made any response whatsoever.
The farmer whose property provides neither full employment nor an adequate income is as much a victim of the concentration of our population in 6 swollen capitals as the suburban householder who pays more than he can afford for an unsewered block situated in an under-serviced community and is separated from his place of work by 20 miles of overcrowded roads and inadequate public transport. Despite the apathy and procrastination of the Liberal-Country Party coalition governments in New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth decentralisation is an idea whose hour has come. We will now have new cities and centres in areas remote from our present State capitals. They will be built by a Labor government in cooperation with local government and the States. We will respond positively to initiatives which the States take on behalf of centres such as Albany and Bunbury, where there is great potential for accelerated development, and we will ourselves take the initiative in the development of Albury-Wodonga where the Constitution authorises the Commonwealth to become involved in its own right.
– I want to devote the all too brief period allowed to me to speak in the debate on the estimates of the Department of Trade and Industry to concentrating my thinking on the problem of trade with underdeveloped countries. In my electorate - and I am glad to say in many parts of Australia - are people who belong to a group called ‘Action for World Development’. These people have put a tremendous amount of time and trouble into examining ways of helping to solve this great problem. They form a unique group in that they do their homework. They have studied the problem of foreign aid in a great deal of depth. I have attended their meetings and have been impressed by the examination they have made of the subject. They do not just pass pious resolutions. They have done their homework. They are concerned, as we all ought to be concerned, about the ever-widening gap that opens all the time between the developed countries and the underdeveloped or undeveloped countries. We can pass off the problem and say that it does not concern us. I say that it docs concern us.
In the long term in every instance affluence has defeated the community. Into the ever-widening gap civilisation as we know it one day will tumble. I do not know when or how it will happen but the grim warning of history is that there has never been a situation of increasing affluence of one sector and increasing comparative poverty of another that has not resulted in the destruction of the affluent sector. The concern that is expressed by the group called ‘Action for World Development’ is shared by me, and honourable members on both sides of the chamber ought to be deeply concerned. I am the first to admit that the problem of the administration of international aid is not easy to solve. I know how difficult it is and how easy it is simply to make speeches. It is easy to give money but how hard it is to make an impact, to institute action that will really get the underdeveloped countries off the ground.
I return to the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry and say, as we have all said over the years, that trade is more important than aid. If we really want to help the people in the underdeveloped countries, the best way to do it is to trade with them. We have all said in private and in public that in the long term the really effective steps in helping the underdeveloped countries will be taken through trading with them. I will give an example. In 1966 on a visit to Bombay I inspected a factory where skim milk powder, a product at that stage in oversupply in Australia, was being processed. Milk mixing machinery, supplied by us under the Colombo Plan, was being used. The skim milk powder was being mixed with buffalo milk to make tone milk. The product was being sold to the people of Bombay who desperately needed it. After the inspection I asked the factory officials whether they had any problems. They replied: ‘We have only one problem. We have grave difficulty in getting foreign exchange to enable us to buy skim milk powder to use in the factory.’
On the afternoon of the same day I visited a cotton sheet factory and saw what I thought with my inexpert eyes looked like a very effective manufacturing process. Again I asked the factory officials whether they had any problems. They said: ‘We have only one problem, Mr Kelly. We cannot get our sheets into Australia over your 55 per cent tariff wall.’ That is a measure of the problem. If we are to help those people we will have to trade with them. That is the best way to be effective with our aid. We have passed off the matter over the years. I am not being critical of any one side of the Parliament. People say that we have to protect our people against black labour countries, although we do not now use the word ‘black’. The term ‘cheap labour’ is used. It can be said with a sneer by people who claim that we have to protect our industries against the production of cheap labour countries. If you say it with a sneer you can to some people convey some conviction.
I now turn to the problem in more detail. We have had a certain amount of discussion about the duty recently imposed on woven shirts, knitted shirts and outer garments. The Tariff Board says that- we pay to the shirt industry a subsidy of $45m a year. In other words people who buy shirts pay $45m more than they otherwise would. It works out at $2,000 for every man employed in the industry. These shirts are imported mainly from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. We sell to these countries goods worth $8 18m more than the goods we buy from them. We have frequently urged that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea should pick themselves up by the bootstraps, industrialise and do the things they are good at. They have now done that. We say: ‘Oh yes, that is very good but we cannot buy your shirts’. In the long run it will be a challenge that neither side of politics will be able to sidestep. We will just have to buy from them. Let us have a look at the significance of buying from those countries. There is a limit to the amount of shirts anybody requires. Even the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) with all his vanity would have a limit to his shirt requirements.
– What about the Minister for Labour and National Service?
– Yes, he also. The position is that we in Australia, according to the Tariff Board estimate, are paying $45m extra for our shirts. If shirts were allowed to be imported duty free we would save $45m. We could either spend this extra money on more shirts, which we probably would not do, or on other commodities. We would have an extra $45m to spend. What could we do with it? The argument always goes that employment would be lost if the shirt industry were not protected. I point out that we are subsidising each person employed in the shirt industry at the rate of $2,000 each year. Let us assume that the figures are correct. I do not think anybody would deny that an extra $45m would flow into the economy to spend in other worthwhile ways, on hospitals, schools and all the things that everybody wants. We would do that. We would buy the shirts from these underdeveloped countries. We would gain employment in other ways by spending the $45m which we are now devoting to our limited resources in a less economic way. We could achieve what we wanted to do to our own benefit, but above all we would be making an effective contribution to solving a problem that concerns us all. If we are not anxious about it we should be. It is something that should lie heavily on our conscience every day.
We know that if the Western world, not only Australia, does not effectively tackle the problem of this ever-widening gap civilisation as we know it will fall. We have an opportunity to put this into effect. Trade is more important than aid. I welcome the effective contribution made and the homework done by this group of people who are actively pursuing and are actively concerned about this problem. I think that we in Australia, and in the Western world, will have to be more concerned about the problem than we are at present. It is not a party political matter. It is a matter that lies right at the root of our profession of concern about the everwidening gap between the developed and underdeveloped countries.
– The great difference between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party has just been illustrated by the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). He would abolish the tariff on textiles and adopt the laissezfaire approach. He would close down all the-
– The honourable member for Wakefield just said he would abolish the tariff on the importation of shirts into Australia. Is that not what the honourable member said?
– You did not listen very carefully.
– You would not be even capable of listening. His statement was that because the value of the tariff is the equivalent of $45m we would be better off importing the shirts - in other words, putting out of employment thousands of people. This means nothing to the Liberal Party. It means a lot to the Labor Party. We are discussing, at present, the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry and each member has 10 minutes in which to discuss these 3 important departments. I will agree with the honourable member for Wakefield that this has degenerated into a grievance debate as far as this side of the chamber is concerned and, on the Government side, members are just trying to get a few hobby-horses across. My speech will be no exception to what has been happening.
I should have hoped that, before this, there would have been some statement on the Government’s intentions in relation to the Australian Wool Commission and its amalgamation with the Australian Wool Board. I would also have expected a statement as to what the Government intends to do concerning a time limit for the acquisition plan. What time limit will the Government impose on the new corporation, whatever it may be called? Will it put to the Parliament a timetable with respect to acquisition? Apparently, we shall have to wait until the relevant Bill comes before the House.
– It will be introduced tomorrow.
– I am pleased to hear that. One thing that concerns me is that the Government has been in power for 23 years - almost a quarter of a century - and we still have not a positive plan for the alleviation of suffering caused by national disasters, particularly drought. Already this year there are all the signs that we could be running into another series of droughts. We will be faced again with the ad hoc, unco-ordinated policies of the Federal Government with respect to drought. Wait until the crisis comes! Wait until people have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in various regions! Wait until human misery reaches the heights until action is taken with respect to drought!
I know as well as most people that there are a lot of things that cannot be done to counter droughts. In. western Queensland and other marginal areas of Australia it is extremely difficult to implement positive policies except with respect to transport, assistance with payment of rates and long term finance and special loans. But there are a lot of things that can be done in various places. In some areas of Australia water is recognised as a limiting factor with respect to the problems of production as soon as seasonal distress comes. In respect of one project alone, it has taken this Government 2 years to act. I would hope that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) would read the riot act to the Department of National Development if that Department is to blame. It has taken the department concerned 2 years to make up its mind as to what will be done with respect to a small irrigation scheme, the North Eton irrigation scheme which is based on sugar. It involves exactly the same principle as the Monduram Dam at Bundaberg. It is a matter of benefit cost analysis. If the Department gave me the relative cost benefit details I could work out the answer in a week.
– There is no need to laugh. I could work out with the aid of a computer whether such a scheme would be viable. I think that it has been worked out. Why have the farmers in that area, an area which is susceptible to drought, had their land frozen insofar as they cannot sell or develop their properties while they are waiting for this Government to make up its mind? Surely the Minister must have had a lot of requests through canegrowers organisations. I have had them. The Premier of Queensland has referred them to the Federal Government but still there is no answer. The only answer I can get from the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) is the almost parrot like answer which he gives almost every month by saying that he hopes to make a decision soon.
I have sufficient time in this debate only to give that one example but there are others. I refer to the electorate of the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). There is a crying need in the Monto area for water conservation. It does not need to be a grandiose scheme. In this area a small scheme would be of tremendous benefit for the established and proven primary industries.
The delay in taking decisions is frustrating. I can remember 3 years ago speaking in this chamber on the subject of drought at a time when wheat quotas were imposed throughout Australia and I asked this Government seriously to consider the No. 2 pool for wheat surplus and to increase storage facilities, some of which could be strategically located in drought areas. 1 suggested that the Government should plan for future seasons when we may not have enough wheat because of crop failures. This is exactly what is happening now. Let me cite the figures which I consider are the best available with respect to the wheat crop this year. For the year 1971-72 the Australian Wheat Board started with a carry-over of 127 million bushels. The new crop delivered for sale of approximately 281 million bushels gave a total of 408 million bushels. The estimated sale for the 1971-72 crop was about 360 million bushels which left a carryover of about 56 million bushels. The estimated crop this year is 255 million bushels, giving a total of 311 million bushels. The estimated sale for this season will again be about 360 million bushels. This means there will be a deficit of approximately 50 million bushels. If we had some type of reserve, which we must have in Australia, of about 40 million bushels the deficit would be about 90 million bushels. We do not have that amount of wheat.
In other words, we will lose our traditional international markets because we simply will not have enough wheat to supply those markets. This is not good policy. It does not matter what the Government says. It is not good to say that we lost those markets because of a deficit this year. It is a question of an inefficient quota system in relation to international demand. We should have more storage facilities. We should have sufficient reserves as was advocated 3 years ago by the Opposition not only with respect to wheat supplies for the international markets but also supplies for surplus feed strategically located in storages for use in times of drought.
All these things need to be looked at carefully. What I am submitting is that we could get another scries of droughts. In some areas the signs are that this could happen. What are the Government’s plans for those areas in which something can be done? I am the first to admit that there are a lot of areas in Australia in which very little positive action can be taken except in regard to policies on transport and finance, but there are other areas - I mentioned 2 of them, including one in the electorate of the honourable member for Kennedy - in which something positive could be done. But we cannot get any decision from this Government. What is going to happen? If there is a drought in the sugar areas of Mackay this year there will be a tremendous clamouring for a decision but it will be too late. A decision should have been taken at least 18 months ago on the Eton irrigation project. The dam and the reticulation system could virtually have been completed by now and the people in that area could look forward to water in the future. It is not a matter of opening up new or undeveloped areas like the Ord River or the Nogoa area. I am speaking about established and proven areas where the losses can easily be measured over past years. The cumulative value of losses in these susceptible drought areas are greater than the cost of the head works for many projects.
In the time remaining to me in this debate I want also to say that I hope the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) will give serious consideration to adopting a positive plan for accelerating the eradication of tuberculosis and brucelosis in cattle. This should be done in conjunction with a compensation plan. At this point of time when meat is in relatively short supply in relation to demand it is possible that the emphasis on these problems is not very great. But it could easily happen in the immediate future with a change in the politics of the United States Government that lobbyists could get into action with the result that serious problems could occur in Australia with respect to brucelosis and tuberculosis in cattle. We need a streamlined programme to eradicate those diseases as quickly as possible. At the same time there would have to be complementary legislation with respect to adequate compensation for producers throughout Australia who would co-operate with the Federal Government. This is a national responsibility. I have not the slightest doubt that every producer in Australia wants to get rid of brucelosis and tuberculosis.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In this debate on the estimates of the Department of Customs and Excise I take this opportunity to say a few words concerning the ever-growing and shocking problem of the use of drugs of dependence. Why should we legalise drug taking or remove penalties for drug taking? Why should we make any move that would encourage another medical or social problem, especially in view of the fact that the World Health Organisation has not cleared the use of drugs of dependence such as pot and many other more harmful drugs? People smoked cigarettes for many years before it was proved beyond doubt that the use of cigarettes was conducive to lung cancer. The advisers and officials in the field of drug detection and usage inform us that only about 10 per cent to IS per cent of the total amount of available drugs will be detected before reaching the human market. This is an alarmingly low figure. In view of this low figure, and following much discussion both nationally and internationally by those people responsible for detection, these people say that they must encourage much more education amongst the young people in the schools and colleges in an all-out endeavour to cut down on the demand.
This problem becomes much more difficult for a government to control when men like the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who is Labor’s shadow Minister for Health, state that they would recommend to a Labor government the abolition of penalties for drug taking. The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) says that if Labor is elected to office he will try to have penalties for drug takers scrapped. In 1969 a National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence was set up with the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs as chairman. This Committee, consisting of senior Department of Health and law enforcement officials from the Commonwealth and all States, was set up to co-ordinate activities in drug education and law enforcement. Since the Committee’s inception the Commonwealth has made grants of $l.5m for drug education purposes. In common with a number of other countries, Australia has greatly increased its activity in the international narcotics field. For example, the United States of America, in response to a call by President Nixon, has greatly increased its efforts to suppress drug trafficking and to treat addicts. Australia has hosted a regional conference of 14 countries of South East Asia to discuss the combating of illicit drug trafficking and it has developed close liaison with countries in South East Asia on an operational level.
Australia is active also in the United Nations sphere of drug control and recently was elected as a member of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Australian delegates have attended these plenipotentiary conferences: Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and Protocol amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. With all the information that is currently available concerning the drug problem, our main task seems to be to make every endeavour to cut down on the demand. I would like to see the National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence, which was set up in 1969, give a lead in conducting a drug alert programme. This would involve the coordination of the activities of every community service club that can be of help in publicising, defining and combating local drug abuse. The help of medical, social and law enforcement bodies, the news media, churches, schools and all other related community groups could be enlisted in the effort. The National Standing Committee could be the co-ordinating body when this action is initiated and it could seek to broaden its scope by volunteering manpower and funds for the effort as well as contacting and organising community leaders in law, medicine, religion, education and social work to form a community drug education committee. Operation ‘drug alert’ could be a programme of involvement by Federal, State and local governments. It could seek out and employ the best in local manpower and resources to mount the most effective possible campaign on drug abuse education and prevention.
Developing an effective community programme to combat drug abuse is not easy, but the consequences of doing nothing ultimately may be much more severe. This would be a programme which would require the full support of all our local communities. It makes it ever so much harder to fulfil such a programme when people like the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) say, when writing about Labor in the 1970s:
As I see it then, Labor’s aim in the 1970s must be to persuade the lower income groups that we would increase their share of the cake, the whole community that we would increase Australia’s share of the Australian cake and that we would move towards establishing a civilised (‘permissive’) society.
Perhaps we should look also to the area of education and ask: Are some of our children cramming too much? If this is found to be so, how will we combat it? The preexamination cramming complex could be pushing some of our young people towards the early taking of drugs. The relationship between drug-taking and the growth in crime has been clearly established in the United States. Any person hooked on drugs has to hook 4 others to ensure his supplies, unless he has an independent income. If we treat drug taking sympathetically, as the Australian Labor Party proposes, we will turn our cities into the dangerous jungles that so many of the great American cities have become. God knows that the growth in violence is disturbing enough. Do honourable members opposite wish to buttress the growing crime rate with a drug problem in which the drug addicts are treated tenderly but in which complete indifference is shown for the well-being of the drug addict’s victim? Have we not reached the stage where, in effect, we are finding excuses for the rapist and forgetting the rights of the raped? Let us push forward now for operation ‘drug alert’.
– I am not sure whether the source of information of the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) was the ‘Little Red Schoolbook’, but 1 think a speech about selling people drugs in a permissive society would be better left to somebody other than a publican. My purpose in rising is to speak on the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry. Over the 23 years that this Government has been in power we have seen a steady decline in the field of primary industry and in the incomes of those people associated with that industry. I refer particularly to the dairying industry. In a statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) on !6th August he spoke of the various types of assistance the Budget provides for the rural industry and he made some mention of the allocation of $20m in this Budget to set up a rural finance bank. I think it was only a few days later that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said in a television interview that the $2 Om was to be allocated to the Commonwealth Development Bank to be used for rural finances. This scotched any suggestion that the money would be used to set up a separate bank for rural finance.
The Prime Minister was asked: ‘What is this about S350m being made available for long term finance in rural industries?’ The Prime Minister replied that he knew nothing about it, that it had never been discussed. 1 think that if we compare this $20m being made available and what it might do to the depressed rural sector of the Australian economy with the SI 00m to be allocated over a 4-year period for rural reconstruction purposes, we find that within 2 years of the commencement of the operation of this scheme the money will be completely expended. In fact, Queensland, which drew $16m of the $10Om, already has appropriated $ 16.2m. The answers that have been provided by the Minister for Primary Industry to questions asked by honourable members on this subject - I refer in particular to a question asked by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy)- indicate that there is no shortage of applications for these funds. I do not deny that there is a need for this finance. One can judge this by the number of applications received. I do not believe that these people who apply for this finance are not genuinely in need of it. I believe that the great majority of them are.
In relation to farm build-up, for instance, we find that to the end of March 1972, of 355 applicants in New South Wales, 73 were accepted, 105 were rejected and 177 are still under consideration. In Queensland, of 414 applicants, 103 were accepted, 165 were rejected, and 146 are still under consideration. In Queensland 24.9 per cent of applications were accepted; in New South Wales, 20.06 per cent; in South Australia, 7.3 per cent; in Western Australia, 34.3 per cent and in Tasmania, 10.9 per cent. With respect to debt reconstruction there is not much change in the percentage figures. Of the applications received, 29.3 per cent were accepted in New South Wales; 20.7 per cent in Victoria; 31.2 per cent in Queensland; 32.6 per cent in South Australia; 30.4 per cent in Western Australia and 9.7 per cent in Tasmania. When it comes to rehabilitation the situation is somewhat better. Of a total number of 45 applications throughout Australia, 32 were accepted, 8 rejected and 3 are still under consideration. The $100m to be spent on rural reconstruction over a 4-year period will be used entirely within 2 years and the proposed additional amount of $20m seems totally inadequate.
I have the greatest sympathy for the people who administer this scheme - those who must examine the applications and make decisions. Although this is not a personal problem for them it must be something of personal concern to them that they are able to approve of only about 25 per cent of applications. Because of the shortage of funds available this percentage only of applications will be successful. There is a desperate need for a greater allocation of funds, particularly for debt reconstruction, especially if it is the Government’s intention to encourage people away from the land. Up until now people have been forced from the land, in some cases because they did not have the oppor tunities that are now available under the marginal dairy farm scheme whereby they could sell out and get something for their investment.
In a Press release of 16th August the Minister for Primary Industry said that a total of $33. 3m would be made available for butter and cheese bounties, the marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme and the processed milk products bounty. He did not say that this represented a drop of $11,382,000 on the amount that was provided last year for the butter and cheese bounties and a reduction of $1,252,000 on the amount provided last year for the processed milk products bounty. Further, the Minister said:
In addition to the budgeted amounts, the Government has given an underwriting commitment to the industry which has allowed butter and cheese factories throughout Australia to make opening pay rates of 34c per lb on a commercial butter basis.
These rates, which were settled a fortnight ago after talks with the Commonwealth Dairy Equalisation Committee, will mean that dairy farmers will enjoy the same guaranteed returns they have for many years and with the prospect of enhanced payments according to export market opportunities.
Some people within the industry do not agree with the Minister. They cannot see how, if about $12.5m less assistance is being given to the industry, their financial returns will be more unless it is to be shared by fewer people. That, of course, makes sense. If people leave the industry, production of butter and other dairy produce will decline. In its preliminary annual report for the year ending 30th June 1972 the Australian Dairy Produce Board states:
Unit returns to Australian dairy farmers at the factory door were at record levels in 1971-72.
The Board indicates that payments for milk used in the manufacture of butter and skim milk powder in Victoria averaged about 60c per lb. This payment varies in different parts of Queensland by at least 10c and as much as 15c per lb below that amount. The Board makes no reference to the lowest payments within the States. Total butter and cheese consumption dropped in Australia last year and this includes consumption of imported cheese. Whilst our exports have risen we find that there has been a continuing increase in the amount of cheese imported into Australia. The cheese that we export and that which is used for home consumption must undergo strict hygienic tests and be subjected to pasteurisation but I understand that the health authorities do not insist on this with respect to imported cheeses because it is claimed that pasturisation would detract from the taste and quality of some imported cheeses. I believe we run a risk in allowing these cheeses into Australia without these precautions. Cheese consumption dropped by 3 per cent last year in Australia, the per head consumption declining to 8.6 lb.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In the debate on the estimates of this group of departmentsI particularly want to refer to the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry. 1 shall concentrate primarily on the Trade Commissioner Service for 2 reasons: Firstly, to highlight its past record and. secondly, to point to the tremendous task which I see ahead of it in the future. With more satisfactory prices being received for most primary products the attention of the producers and the Government alike must in my opinion turn to 2 very important phases of the economy of export industry - the containment of costs on the one hand and marketing procedues on the other. I deal first with marketing. The entry of Britain into the European Economic Community will make it all the more imperative for Australia in its marketing to become quite aggressive in its efforts to find and hold new and expanded markets. The task is one for the industries and the. Government alike. The industries, of course, have their own methods of handling this side of their operations and it is not for the Government to lay down in specific detail bow they should go about it. But the Government has a policy, in cooperation with industry, to develop increased export capacity in primary and secondary industries, to instigate vigorous promotion campaigns, to provide financial assistance to give taxation incentives, to work in close co-operation with producer boards and with export industry in this work, to negotiate international commodity agreements, to build stability and profitability into our markets, to establish trade commissioner services, to establish posts throughout the world to foster Australia’s trade relations and to assist in the development of export markets.
I refer particularly to the Trade Commissioner Service and draw attention to these estimates which reveal that last year slightly more than $8m was spent through this service and that this year expenditure will be increased quite substantially to slightly more than $9m. Notwithstanding the adverse trade conditions that we have seen in world trade recently, Australia’s exports are continuing to increase and the preliminary figures for 1971-72 show that exports could well reach a figure of $4,902m. This is likely to be the highest export figure on record. A substantial amount of this success is attributable to Australia’s Trade Commissioner Service and it is as well to look at the history of this Service. It was established in the mid- 1930s to assist individual exporters to develop trade. In those early days it dealt principally with primary exports. Later on its role was widened and developed to include secondary industries. Today its objectives remain unchanged but the vastly changing trends in world trade are throwing up continuously new challenges for our trade commissioners throughout the world. One of the results of this current situation has been the development of a very high standard of professionalism in the Trade Commissioner Service and its officers enjoy a great reputation among Australian businessmen and their customers overseas. Last Monday I had the opportunity to speak at a luncheon with the Honourable J. B. Fuller, MLC, who has just returned from his sixth trade delegation to other countries. He had with him officers of his own Government, men from industry and at least one representative from the Department of Trade and Industry. He speaks most highly indeed, and he should know after 6 consecutive visits, of the reputation of Australia’s Trade Commissioner Service. I sought some information from my leader, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) about what it is intended to do with this extra $lm. In 20 years this Service has grown from 45 trade commissioners operating in 23 posts in 14 countries to 147 trade commissioners operating in 50 posts in 37 countries. It has practically trebled. Now the establishment has been reviewed in the light of
Australia’s widening trade interests. This Sim will partly assist in raising the number of trade commissioners to 165 to operate in 53 posts in 40 countries. These trade commissioners are men with quite considerable qualifications. Over half of them are recruited from industry and commerce, which must give the Service a very sound balance indeed. Over 85 per cent of Commissioners have tertiary qualifications. Most can speak one foreign language and some can speak several. Their duties, using their qualifications and specialist knowledge of the overseas markets in which they are operating, are to advise Australian exporters on methods likely to succeed in the highly and increasingly competitive world markets. The commissioners give assistance in various ways, the provision of market and commodity surveys, the servicing of trade inquiries for Australian products for export and generally to report on such things as tendering opportunities and trade openings as a whole and in particular on some specific gaps or opportunities in various markets. The Service gives advice on the latest marketing methods, promotion techniques, the appointment of agents and generally brings the buyer and seller into contact. So much for its activities in that direction. It is a necessary and useful side of its work to report back to and advise Government of trading procedures and to act in the field of international trade agreements.
I have taken a very watchful interest in the progress of the Agricultural Outlook Conferences. Two of them have been held now and I commend them for the work that they have done because they are meeting a long felt need for the provision of information and the obtaining of intelligence on the overseas situation of supply and demand so that producers have an opportunity to adjust their works to set the best from the existing markets. Surely this Trade Commissioner Service could be of inestimable value in getting to Australia some intelligence on which these Agricultural Outlook Conferences can operate I have outlined something of the growth of the Trade Commissioner Service, the way in which it has developed and its role, in order to emphasise its importance, the need for it and the value of it to all exporting industries, particularly primary industry. I have done it also to emphasise the improvement in one of the phases of industry, that is, between production at one end and the consumer at the other. It is this aspect to which government and industry must continue to devote positive attention in the future now that things are beginning to straighten out a little on the price side. I welcome the addition of this Sim to the allocation for this country’s Trade Commissioner Service.
– In speaking to this section of the estimates I shall confine my remarks principally to trade and industry, paying particular regard to the textile and clothing industries and a section of the motor car industry which are situated in my electorate of Sydney, considered to be one of the most industrialised areas in Australia. Firstly, I should like to make it perfectly clear that I strongly support the principle that every Australian secondary industry should receive the fullest protection possible from competing imports. 1 do so because our secondary and tertiary industries are the only possible means of providing employment for an expanding population and a future migrant intake. In addition, the standard of our industrial amenities, such as long service leave, compulsory annual leave, workers’ compensation and hours of work, must be preserved by protecting industry against imports from low wage countries none of which enjoy the benefits which I have mentioned.
The textile and clothing industries are quite rightly proud of the fact that they are the most decentralised industries in Australia. As a matter of fact they are a major contributing factor to the economy of many country cities and towns. One of Australia’s largest textile manufacturers, Bradmill Industries Ltd, is situated in the suburb of Camperdown in my electorate and the equipment and machinery used in its factory are modern and compare favourably with those used in any other country. It is fortunate in having efficient management and highly trained staff and its products are indeed of Al world standard. Yet it would be impossible for this Australian industry to compete with similar industries in low wage countries. In a previous speech which I made in this House some time ago I compared the working conditions, wages and so on that apply in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore and it is not my intention to cover the same ground again.
But I should like to make this point clear: It would be far better to stabilise this industry on a permanent basis by introducing a quota system for imported textiles which would restrict importation to the amounts imported 5 to 10 years ago.
Secondly, 1 wish to refer to the motor car manufacturing industry and particularly to Leyland Motors Corporation of Australia Pty Ltd formerly the British Motor Corporation, which is situated in my electorate. This company employs 5,000 people while another 8,000 are employed in tertiary industries. Seventytwo per cent of its employees are settlers from overseas. Strangely it is one of the very few motor car manufacturing companies in Australia which have the right, independent of the parent company in the United Kingdom, to export to any place in the world without consulting the parent company. This great organisation really needs long range protection, it wants to be able to make long range plans so that it can go ahead properly with its organisation. I think it will be appreciated that it is most difficult for such an organisation to lay plans on a 12 months basis or even a 2 years basis without knowing the actual protection it will receive from the Government against cars imported to compete with its own cars. It has just brought out some new cars, namely the Kimberley and the Marina. Both will shortly be 100 per cent Australian made. They are almost wholly manufactured in Australia today. What Leyland requires, as I stated before, is a long range policy to be enunciated by a Government so that it knows what it can do in the next few years.
I can recall visiting the company’s plant about 3 or 4 years ago. At that time it had a lot of money to sink into new equipment for the production of a new motor car, but it was unable to do so because it could not get any long range plans from the Government as to what the Government’s intentions were in regard to tariffs. Most people would be aware that Leyland Motors produces a light car that has very severe competition from Japanese cars. Naturally Leyland needs protection, but it needs it on a long term basis. So I ask the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter), who is at the table, to convey those thoughts to the
Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) about making some allowance for this long range policy.
I revert to the textile industry. I recall the Minister for Repatriation, when he was a backbencher, quite rightly putting up a great fight on behalf of the Wangaratta mills. I agree with his viewpoint on this matter. He stated that if the textile industries in Australia were destroyed one would naturally assume that the cheaper goods coming in from the low wage countries would remain at their present price. Nothing is further from the truth, because it is the Australian textile industries that are maintaining competition. If we destroy the Australian industry it does not mean that the price of imports from low wage countries will remain as they are at present. They will immediately jump up to what the prices were for the Australian goods before the Australian industries were destroyed.
The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) not so long ago put up aa argument for protecting Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd against unfair competition from overseas. As honourable members would be aware, it is engaged in the most decentralised industry in Australia. I believe that it should be incumbent not only on every member who believes in protection but on every member of the Country Party to speak on behalf of the textile industry and the clothing industry, because I think it will be agreed that if it were not for these industries being decentralised there would be a further flow from the country areas to the city areas of people not able to get jobs. I can see that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) is agreeing with every word I am saying in this respect.
I recall having visited Lismore not so long ago. This is the main centre in the electorate of the Deputy Prime Minister. There is a rather large clothing factory in Lismore. I believe that if that clothing factory was to close down because of imports the Minister would be very sorry because Lismore’s economy would drop rapidly. As the clothing and textile industries are the greatest decentralised industries in Australia, every member of the Country Party should speak on behalf of these 2 industries and add their weight to the case for their full protection against unfair imports from low wage countries.
– The honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) suggested that we in the Country Party should support the protection of Australian industries. I think he would agree that we have always done that. I think we have been very consistent in our approach. However, there is one angle that we have to look at in representing areas which have to pay a share of the cost of tariff protection. All we have ever asked is that those industries which are granted tariff protection be efficient in their operations. I welcome the review of tariffs which is being undertaken at the present time by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) with that object in view. So often the most effective policy is the one which is down the middle and this is the way I think it should be. So I assure the honourable member for Sydney that members of the Country Party agree with adequate protection for the industries he was talking about.
Tonight I want particularly to refer to finance for rural industries. We have heard a lot about the proposals that are to come forward. We know that $20m was allocated for this purpose in the Budget, but we have not heard yet just how that money is to be applied. I hope that information will be available to us in the very near future. It is vitally important for the progress and development of the inland areas of this country that more finance be available to our primary producers. It will be particularly advantageous now that the earning capacity in the wool industry has been increased so greatly because the wool growers will be able to service debts that they would not have been able to service prior to the rise in wool prices. While I am on that matter, I think it is worth reminding the Parliament that the recovery in wool prices was expedited very greatly through the policy of the Government in establishing the Australian Wool Commission and putting into the industry the confidence which was so sorely needed and which did not appear to be reviving without the support that the Australian Wool Commission was able to give it. When the Wool Commission had on hand well nigh one million bales of wool many people were wringing their hands and were in great fear that perhaps the Government had overstepped the mark. But the results have since proved that this courageous and definite action was what saved the wool industry. Although we have been fortunate in having, in conjunction with a recovery in prices, a greater demand for wool today, how long would that position have been in arriving if it had not been for the confidence given to the buyers of wool by the Australian Wool Commission’s determination to see that the price of wool would not fall below the minimum price that was established.
– Do you believe all this?
– The honourable member can have a go later on. What he has to say will not be worth much. The last $30m that was provided for the Australian Wool Commission was not used. That indicates that there was a battle between the wool industry generally and the Australian Wool Commission to see whether the Australian Wool Commission had the capacity really to put the floor under the wool price.
The benefit of long term loans is very great. There aTe fluctuations, and always will be, in primary industry. The benefit of long term loans is two-fold. First of all they ensure the lowest possible repayment rate. One does not have to have a very great knowledge of arithmetic to know that for every $1,000 of a loan at 6 per cent over even 10 years, which is regarded perhaps as a long term in ordinary commercial operations, the annual repayment would be $160. If repayments were extended over 30 years they would be only $94 at the same rate of interest and the cost to the borrower would be reduced very substantially - almost halved. I also make a point that has perhaps been overlooked or sometimes not accepted. It relates to the value of keeping our interest rate as low as is compatible with the operations of the proposed rural bank.
I would be failing in my duty if I did not inform this Parliament that very many people throughout a hard pressed area of this country are requesting that this interest rate be examined with the object of keeping it low. At a recent largely attended meeting in one of the most hard pressed western areas, this point was raised with me. So, while I know that we cannot have ridiculously low rates of interest, every per cent of interest that can be reduced will assist with long terms to enable the annual repayments to come within the capacity of an industry that has had great difficulty but which, I believe, is now seeing the turn around and which will recover. With this industry will recover the western towns. Unfortunately, some newspaper journalists and, indeed, many others regard these towns as having reached the limit of their growth and maintain that they will not be required. They have been written off. Recently, a lecturer at the Queensland University suggested that these towns should be abandoned for perhaps 20 years. What an absurd position to take. How long ago was it that we were being told that the wool industry had no chance of recovery? Now we hear these comments being made at a time when the western towns which service this great primary industry need encouragement. They are being given a rubbishing, which I deplore.
In the few minutes remaining to me, 1 want to refer to the problems of the wheat industry. I am pleased to note that the world price for wheat is recovering; it is increasing. Against that background, consideration should be given to increasing the amount of wheat that is encompassed by the guaranteed price. Wheat growers and primary producers generally cannot continue on the basis of receiving similar returns for their crops while costs continue to rise, while profits in other areas are increasing and while wages and salaries are increasing. It is not reasonable to expect that gross returns to primary producers should remain static and I hope that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the Government will give consideration to examining the position of the wheat growers to ensure that they too receive their share of the prosperity of this country and that they are contributing generally to the welfare of the community. As I said, they just cannot be expected to carry on, in spite of rising costs, while receiving the same return that they have received over the years.
I believe that now is a good time - the lift in wheat prices will cushion the cost to the community - to enable these people to receive a reasonable return for their investment and labour. It is particularly important that this position should be examined be cause of the very serious drought conditions that are being experienced over a large portion of the wheat growing areas of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister for Primary Industry will take into consideration the points that I have made. The only other point 1 would like to make, because I represent the major fruit growing area of Queensland, is that in the consideration of tariffs, the position with regard to fruit cartons, which involve a high cost to the fruit industry, will be given full consideration.
– I want to spend a short time discussing the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise and I refer to what I regard to be the extremely cumbersome arrangements that operate in regard to incoming passengers to Australia and the duty free goods which accompany them. It surprises me that a government could be in office for so long and see this extremely badly organised system which causes widespread inconvenience and many other deleterious effects without doing anything useful about it. As every honourable member and most people when travelling know, there is a range of goods that can be brought into Australia by travellers coming from overseas. The popular ones which are brought in include 400 cigarettes or 1 lb of cigars or 1 lb of tobacco and half a gallon of alcoholic liquor, which includes wine and beer - for example, three 26 fluid oz bottles. I am quoting from a brochure entitled ‘Australian Customs Information’ which is handed out on aeroplanes. I have had the notion for a long time that this was an unruly, unreasonable, unaccountable and an unjustifiably messed-up way of doing things.
Indeed, one of my constituents who is a business man of some considerable renown and accomplishment also had this idea and the principal reason for which I have risen tonight is to draw attention again to the need to overhaul this system and to claim some redress for my constituent. I believe that he has placed a very fair and reasonable case to the Government but this idea now looks like being poached or, if not actually poached, the idea that my constituent invented has been given to somebody else who, it appears to me, could well be a friend of the Government. There have been strong suggestions made of the extent of the friendship that could prevail between the Government and the other firm which is now benefiting by the ideas that were put forward by my constituent and the company of which he is a principal.
He asked me to mention his name. He is a Mr C. Ashton and he wrote to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) on 29th April and drew attention to the fact that this unsatisfactory system is operating. I will read some sections of his letter. It states:
As you are no doubt aware, a high proportion of airline passengers entering Australia on international flights avail themselves of the opportunity to import the full quantity of spirituous liquors, cigars and cigarettes allowable under the current regulations relating to duty free goods.
Usually these goods are purchased en-route, the two main international airports catering for this trade being Nadi (Fiji) and Singapore. Most other international airports also offer facilities for the outward bound passengers to purchase duty free goods.
Although there is no doubt this duty-free allowance is a boon to travellers, it is without benefit or favour to this country in general nor to the airlines in particular for the following reasons:
However, it is felt that this method of importing personal allowances of duty free liquor and tobacco can be modified, to the advantage of all concerned, briefly outlined as follows.
My proposal is to set up an organisation in Australia, based probably at Sydney, which would offer the incoming air traveller the facility to purchase supplies of spirituous liquors, cigars and cigarettes at duty free prices and have the articles delivered at an airport destination in Australia.
Sales would be carried out en-route by the existing cabin personnel of the various airlines, and sales representatives at various international airports.
Details of purchases by the passengers of each flight would be forwarded prior to E.T.A. and upon arrival of aircraft, delivery of goods would be made before the completion of custom’s formalities.
Stocks of goods to be supplied from a bond store in the same manner that stocks are made available forduty free sales to outgoing passengers. obvious benefits being,
Mr Ashton then went on to ask that consideration be given to his proposal. He indicated that it was his intention to apply for approval to carry on such a business in Australia. It seemed to me to be a reasonable proposition and one that should have been implemented on the initiative of the Government a long time ago.
I wrote to the Minister for Customs and Excise and, as is his custom, he wrote back quite promptly - within about a month, I think - and told me of his views on the matter. In part of his letter to me of 4th June he said:
Facilitation of passenger clearance is more vital today than ever before and assumes even greater importance with the advent of high capacity aircraft. For this reason facilitation was a major factor in considering the advantages and disadvantages of extending existing duty, free shopping facilities. Other factors taken into account included increased administrative costs and possible objections from local retailers.
While I concede the validity of several of the points raised by Mr Ashton in favour of inwards duty free shopping, I am not prepared to approve a change in policy as 1 believe that overall such a facility would seriously impede the free flow of passengers.
To my surprise, not long after that 1 discovered a substantial article in the. ‘Australian Financial Review’ written by one John Stackhouse under the heading ‘Soon you’ll be able to buy duty free as you enter Australia’. This came to my attention not long after the Minister for Customs and Excise had told me that it was not a practical idea. 1 was very surprised to read that article. I will not have time to read it out, except for a few extracts. In part it says:
Passengers arriving from overseas at Sydney Airport will soon be able to buy duty free goods as they enter Australia.
The new concession, which the Departments of Customs and Civil Aviation are working out, will be a shot in the arm for Sydney duty free concessionaires Olims Ltd, not to mention the airlines.
The article goes on at considerable length. It says:
It also means greater convenience for the passenger, who does not have to encumber himself with heavy and bulky purchases until he is on the last lap up to the Customs hall.
It goes on, significantly, to say:
Olims Consolidated Ltd reported a $4.7m loss in 1970-71 mainly because of airport trading.
Honourable members can well understand my consternation in this situation. Here is a man who is a resourceful businessman and who evolves a scheme, puts it in writing to the Minister and has it sensibly represented through his member of Parliament - through a sensible member of Parliament. It is suitably acknowledged, but the nature of the Minister’s advice is that the scheme is not practical. A short time afterwards along comes this dramatic announcement that it is being considered in regard to one of the concessionaires, a well-established friend of the Government. Naturally, I sent a telegram to the Minister for Customs and Excise as follows:
Refer to report on page 7 today’s ‘Financial Review’ headed ‘Soon you’ll be able to buy duty free as you enter Australia’. This proposal was represented to you by me 29th April 1971 on behalf of Mr C. 0. Ashton. . . . You replied 4th June 1971 saying you were not prepared to approve a change in policy etc. How can you reconcile outright rejection of Ashton’s original idea with developments as outlined in ‘Financial Review’ article? Have Olims Ltd been given privileged treatment? Believe Mr Ashton entitled to some explanation to justify changed policy.
The Minister has since written to me saying that it is not the prerogative of the Department of Customs and Excise now and that he believes the matter is one for the Department of Civil Aviation. Clearly a Customs aspect is involved. Clearly a far more comprehensive acknowledgment and reply and, I think, an apology are due to Mr Ashton. I hope that he will not be excluded from consideration when the plums are being allocated, if in fact this Government has the chance in the future to allocate any of these plums. Here is a man who had an original idea but the Government did not recognise or appreciate it for some time. Apparently the idea was canvassed amongst the concessionaires, or at least by one concessionaire, and as a result my constituent is being disadvantaged and other people are being advantaged.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This year’s figures for the expenditure of the Department of Primary Industry are down considerably on the figures for last year. This has been brought about by the drop in devaluation compensation and the lowering of the cheese subsidy. This year the proposed expenditure is about $78,646,000 as against $103,797,219 last year. It is interesting to ascertain the reasons for the considerable drop in the expenditure of this Department. However, I wish to speak about the record export earnings from the production of Australian meat during 1971-72. On examination of the huge export it is seen that over $543m worth of beef, veal, mutton, lamb and fancy and canned meats was sold overseas in the 12 months to 30th June this year. That was an increase of $131m on the newly revised 1970-71 total of $4 12m which in itself was a record.
When we examine our best customers for Australian meats we find that the United States of America was the leader in this field, it bought meat worth almost $280m from us in 1971-72 and over $260m represented purchases of beef - a total of 260,000 tons. Those of us who have been interested in the export meat trade in this country were delighted recently when the United States relinquished its quota system on Australian meat imported into that country. I hope that our primary producers will be able to take advantage of the increased trade which will be offering on the United States market. Japan was our second best customer with purchases worth some $78.0m including almost $45m worth of beef and $27. 5m worth of mutton. Japan was our biggest single customer for mutton and also for pig meats, which were worth $2.1m. This Japanese market is expanding rapidly. It is a quality market. In my electorate we have some extremely large feed lots which are providing quality cattle for this Japanese market. It is good to see that our Department of Trade and Industry and our Department of Primary Industry are doing all they possibly can to assist in this field.
The third best customers for our great meat trade was the United Kingdom which purchased beef worth $34.6m, mutton worth $7.1m, lamb worth $5. 5m as wall as fancy meats worth $10m and canned meats worth SI 4.4m. The United Kingdom was the major buyer of Australian lamb. The total United Kingdom purchases of all meats exceeded S71.7m. So the United Kingdom is still a very important market for our meats despite the fact that it is entering the European Economic Community. Experts coming back from the European Economic Community are advising us here in Australia that the Community will offer a great market for Australian meats in the future. It is estimated that by 1980 the European Economic Community will be in the market for 600,000 tons of beef, which cannot be supplied by the countries in that area. So Australia must gain a good share of that trade. I have no doubt that the leaders of our primary industries, the Department of Primary Industry and our trade agencies throughout the world are making every effort to foster and develop our trade in the European Economic Community in relation to the supply of beef. So the situation with regard to the supply of meat to overseas customers is very bright indeed.
Recently 1 asked the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) a question concerning Australia’s capacity to process the meat needed by overseas markets. 1 was informed by him that we had sufficient abattoirs and meat processing plants in Australia to cater for this increased trade, provided we had limited industrial troubles. I was very delighted to hear that news because, being interested in the industry myself, I was of the opinion that, with the huge development taking place, we might not have adequate meat works in this country to process the meat which we could sell overseas. Most of our meat works are very up to date. They have had to be brought up to date to meet the very stringent hygienic conditions imposed by the United States Department of Agriculture for the export of meat to that country. The Japanese also have demanded a very high standard of hygiene. So, although our works have been strained to the utmost financially to cope with this situation, they have done so and in the long run this will be of great advantage to Australia and to the meat industry. The meat industry is Australia’s third largest primary industry export earner. It is headed only by the wool industry, which brought in $588m last financial year, and, surprisingly, the cereal grains industry, which earned for Australia $623,247,000. The meat industry has a very bright outlook. The Australian Government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Primary Industry and the Australian Meat Board, has opened up markets all over the world and has done a grand job for this country. As our lamb production increases there is no doubt that markets will be found for the exportable surplus.
I would like to refer also to the subject of tariffs. I heard the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) speak in this chamber tonight on the problems in his electorate. I have similar problems. I would like to congratulate the Government for its action recently in increasing the tariff on cheap Asian textiles coming into this country. This has had a steadying effect and a very helpful effect on our own textile industry. More than 140,000 people are employed in the textile industry in Australia. Most of them are employed in country areas in the various States. It is a decentralised industry. Those of us who are interested in full employment are anxious to ensure that Australian labour is kept going in this industry. But the textiles industry is under very severe competition from Asian countries which pay only 20c, 30c or 50c an hour for labour. It was extremely good to see the Tariff Board make a recommendation to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) in this respect and to see him agree to the placing of increased tariffs on cheap imports. This has been most beneficial. It has stabilised the industry. In my electorate I have the huge Bradmill textile industry at Rutherford which employs 1,200 men. It is a very important economic factor for the centre of Maitland. We have to ensure that our Australian work force in the textile industry is kept fully employed. As I have said, the textile industry is a decentralised industry, a large employer of labour and makes a great economic contribution to this country.
– I desire to raise a subject which was raised this morning by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) in the form of a question that he directed to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). A problem has arisen in South Australia because certain Commonwealth moneys are no longer available to that State to the same extent as they were 12 months or perhaps 2 years ago. I refer to the grants to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis. It would appear that South Australia was very quick to introduce its eradication programme and, as a result, was able to secure from the Commonwealth S200.000 in excess of the sum granted on a SI for $1 basis. South Australia put that money to good use inasmuch as it made no charge on cattle producers for the vaccine it made available to them.
In 1972, at an Australian Agricultural Council meeting, the Commonwealth reaffirmed its policy of providing assistance on a Sl for $1 basis but said that it would discontinue making finance available to South Australia beyond the $1 for SI basis. That resulted in the South Australian Government having to cease giving free vaccine to the cattle industry. It was forced to impose a charge of about 40c to 50c a vaccination. Over the last 6 months the United States of America has become more stringent with regard to the conditions it places on the importation into that country of Australian beef, particularly cattle that have not been tested for tuberculosis. This has placed the South Australian Government in a most invidious position. Because of the restricted finance available to it, South Australia has had to give top priority to the eradication of tuberculosis. It is expected that a tuberculosis eradication programme will be effectively completed in approximately 2 years. All resources will then be directed towards the eradication of brucellosis. I think the Minister for Primary Industry will agree with me when I say that during the last year the South Australian Government has received assistance in excess of that provided on a Sl for $1 basis for the eradication of both of these cattle diseases. I think the Minister will also agree that this was made possible because South Australia responded more quickly in implementing the scheme than did some of the eastern States. I think the Minister will further recognise that this was achieved because the money not being expended by the other States was then made available to South Australia.
Because South Australia will now receive only the Sl for SI grants a very serious position has arisen. The situation has to be viewed against the background of the stringent conditions imposed by the United States with regard to the importation of Australian beef. I think the Minister should take into consideration the fact that because South Australia has had its revenue reduced by some $200,000 a charge upon the producers in that industry will have to be continued. The Minister should regard this matter from a national marketing point of view as being most serious indeed. He will concede, I am sure, that the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility, because of the marketing situation generally, to review the whole financial structure to ensure that the additional revenue that has been available to South Australia in the past is 07ce again available to it. South Australia should not suffer just because the other States are now using the whole of the revenue afforded to them by the Commonwealth Government for the eradication of those 2 diseases. Honourable members who have more knowledge than I of those 2 cattle diseases will agree that the treatment of brucellosis is complementary to the eradication of tuberculosis.
Briefly, I am on my feet tonight because the reduced Commonwealth contribution for the eradication of tuberculosis has forced South Australia to impose a charge on the producers. There could be a retardation of the programme which has been set at a very high standard in South Australia if the Minister does not agree to take up this matter with the Government. 1 think he should discuss it Wit his colleagues from South Australia, I refer particularly to the honourable member for Angas who raised the question this morning. I am not using the matter as a political football. It is too serious for that. National marketing is involved.
– You are sick.
– I am not. I do get sick and tired when I hear a lot of claptrap from honourable members opposite. I am merely paying a compliment to the honourable member for Angas for raising the matter this morning. I did not want to be blunt about this matter but I must say that my hope is that politics will not enter into it, whether in the electorate of the honourable member for Angas or in my electorate. There are no cows in my electorate, as the honourable member knows, except perhaps some 2-Iegged ones. This matter also affects the electorates of the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) and the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes). I am quite certain that those 2 gentlemen would not want to play politics in this matter. Government supporters may want to criticise the South Australian Government. That is their right. Whether they do so will be determined by them, I hope fairly. A continuing process in South Australia has been aimed towards the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis in the cattle industry in order to meet national marketing requirements and the standards of the countries to which we export meat. Tt is a sorry state of affairs when a paltry sum of $200,000 is needed to avoid stepping back the programme at considerable risk to the producers, firstly through delay in the eradication of the disease, and, secondly, through the risk that their beef will be rejected for export to the United States. As has already been said, the United States imports a great quantity of Australian beef. In addition to that there are the problems of abattoirs and so on. The 2 diseases themselves represent some danger. As I have already mentioned they can be transmitted to human beings. That point is perhaps more important than any other aspect that has been raised. My understanding of brucellosis is that it affects female cattle and in turn can be transmitted through milk and dairy products generally to people who consume those products. I think a very large percentage of the population of Australia does consume dairy products.
– lt will affect Australia’s export trade.
– That is so. It will hit the poor unfortunate fellow who is looking for a livelihood in the industry. I would be very pleased indeed if other honourable members from South Australia would support this proposal and use any influence they can bring to bear on the Minister to ensure that the additional finance is restored to South Australia. It may be felt that South Australia has got beyond its entitlement in the strict sense of the $1 for $1 basis.
I have already said that South Australia was able to put this money to extremely good use to step up the necessary programme to eradicate these diseases within the industry. I hope that the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) who is at the table, will convey this request to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) on the basis put forward tonight. There is an extremely urgent need to restore to South Australia the amount equivalent to that it has lost because of adoption of the restricting $1 for $1 basis as the other States have caught up with their own particular programmes.
– We are discussing the estimates of 3 of the great departments of the Australian Government; the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry. The departments are particularly significant in one of the world’s great exporting nations, lt is in relation to these departments and especially the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry and the effects of activities in the export areas that I want to direct my attention tonight. Commodity exports in Australia have risen very rapidly over recent years. At the present time our exports are worth well over $4,000m a year. We need to examine those commodity exports by the States and the effect of the uncertainty of the States in relation to the subject of the Australian currency. In 1971-72 my own State, Queensland, had nearly $ 1,000m worth of commodity exports in those areas. The other great exporting Slate is, of course, Western Australia, which is slightly behind Queensland. Naturally, New South Wales and Victoria in absolute totals have greater commodity exports, but proportionately Queensland and Western Australia depend more for their vital and domestic activity on their export industries than do any of the other States of the Commonwealth. So one has to look very carefully at proposals which would breed uncertainty concerning the Australian dollar or which could cause uncertainty in export areas.
We know that traditionally a nation’s currency is to be defended until the very moment that any change occurs. In Germany in the late 1960s expectations were put abroad concerning the Deutschemark and that nation had to institute an incredibly complicated list of domestic and monetary controls in order to protect its currency. That made great difficulties for West German industry. It is in that context that the proposal made some weeks ago by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) concerning revaluation needs to be clarified.
– It was an opinion, not a proposal.
– It was a very significant proposal and I will demonstrate it to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The Leader of the Opposition said on the night after he spoke on the Budget:
I think the Australian dollar is undervalued but as long as that remains it will promote inflation in Australia. But you ask me - I am convinced that the Australian dollar ought to be appreciated in value.
It is said that that is just an opinion. That is not so. Some time ago the Leader of the Opposition indicated that on any matter on which he expresses an opinion and on which there is not a declared Party policy his statements must be taken to represent the opinion of the Party. In Brisbane in August 1970 in referring to matters on which there is no officially conference declared policy he said:
The fact is that anything I say on any matter is likely to be held to represent the Party view.
So that is the situation. We cannot remain in a position of limbo. It would not be just to Australia’s export industries to allow an uncertain position to persist in those areas. What would be the effect not only of the revaluation proposed by the Leader of the Opposition but also of the uncertainty which would accompany such a proposal during the coming months? It would create such uncertainty across Australia in terms of our own currency, in terms of our own investment and especially in terms of our own export industries, as to create a disadvantage to the Australian economy which would reach right into the heart of a number of capital cities.
Every export industry in which Australia is not a complete price leader would suffer directly. The sugar industry, whether selling on a fixed or free market, would suffer. The meat industry would suffer. The mineral industries would suffer heavily. For every 1 per cent in revaluation - and they would suffer also in the uncertainty that accompanies revaluation - the mineral industries would lose $8m Copper affects my own State quite significantly. Mount Isa is vitally concerned with copper. Mount Isa contracts are written in sterling and so to the extent that there would be a revaluation, and the prospect of revaluation, $87m worth of exports would suffer proportionately. A 5 per cent revaluation would cause a loss of $4m in export income in that area alone. One can go through a number of export industries. Sugar, coal, meat, copper, wheat and even wool would be affected. Does it affect the level of domestic industry itself? It does. It affects the level of domestic industry particularly in Queensland and Western Australia and especially in the capital cities of Brisbane and Perth.
We know from experience that in Queensland when export industries are under pressure, when there is depression in rural industries and when there is depression in the countryside significant unemployment has reached right into the centre of the capital city. We know also from an attempt to carry out an input-output analysis for Western Australia, as far back as 1964 or 1965, that you cannot have uncertainty and a lack of vitality in export industries in Western Australia. The economy of Western Australia has changed very significantly in the intervening years. But those studies indicate that such uncertainty and such a depression in export industries have their own effects on unemployment in Perth.
The Leader of the Opposition has made a proposition which is more than an opinion. The statement by the honourable member for Dawson concerning this was correct. The honourable member for Dawson is only the elected member for the electorate of Dawson. He represents a far off electorate. He is not the Leader of the Opposition. He is not the honourable member for Werriwa. The honourable member for Dawson cannot say that on any Party policy on which there is not an officially declared decision his own statement must be taken to represent Party policy. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that. He has stated it often. I have indicated only one occasion on which he has made such a proposition.
So the Australian Labor Party, if it desires Australia to continue to be one of the great exporting nations of the world, if it desires that commodity exports should continue to increase as they have over recent years and if it desires employment and investment to continue in most States in Australia but certainly in the great exporting States of the Commonwealth, certainly needs to repudiate the statements of its own leader. To rely on the statement that it is merely an opinion is insufficient and is unsatisfactory. If you were to ask members of the Opposition their basic opinion on this they must agree with that. They cannot be allowed and they will not bc allowed to have this half-way house between an opinion expressed and an aim towards which they want their Party to move whilst at the same time saying: ‘Well, we do not want to go there in any case’.
I suggest that during the course of this debate the Opposition should take the opportunity - and it must do so - of clarifying its own position. If that requires other opinions to be repudiated or altered the Labor Party has to weigh the consequences of making a decision of that nature against the effects in real terms on thousands of Australians. After all, if it is proposed that a currency be altered in value at the wrong time, as has occurred in other countries - in European countries during the 1930s and in Great Britain during the 1920s - such an incorrect decision can cause thousands of men to be unemployed as happened in the United Kingdom unnecessarily when an incorrect decision was made in that country in the middle 1920s.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The subject on which I wish to speak tonight is a dangerous situation which has developed in regard to the protection of our own Australian manufacturing industries. By way of illustration I should like to quote some pertinent facts in regard to some of the manufacturing industries in my electorate. I will refer to those which I have personally inspected. Firstly, I mention Hyster Aus tralia Pty Ltd which to my knowledge is the sole manufacturer of fork lift trucks within Australia. The components from which these fork lift trucks are made are almost wholly manufactured in Australia.
I recently conducted an inspection of firm’s plant which employs a large number of people from within my electorate. To my shock I found that, due to the lack of tariff protection and the use of bylaw entry, Japanese imports were cutting this firm to ribbons. This firm had forward orders for only a small number of fork lift trucks al the time I inspected the plant and it had approximately 10 times more stock on hand than it had forward orders. They were just sitting in the store without any hope of being sold. Employees of that firm were progressively being dismissed, adding to the huge pool of unemployment which we already have. Japanese imports were killing the market. This firm has bad to dispense with its trained and skilled staff due to Japanese cut throat tactics which have been employed with the full approval of this Government.
Another firm in my electorate - and the problems of this firm were only very recently drawn to my notice - is Channells Products Pty Ltd, a manufacturing company. The problems that this firm is facing are to my mind almost insurmountable. The reason for this is the same Japanese cut throat tactics concerning imports into Australia. This firm manufactures cast iron sizzle plates. The cost of producing them is S3 per unit. This firm is prepared to sell them at the lowly mark-up on cost of 5 per cent, which gives a selling price of $3.15. The moulding is carried out by a wholly owned Australian company. The timber which is supplied comes from a wholly Australian owned company. The aluminium is cast in the firm’s own foundry by its own employees. Australian workers are being sacked by this firm because Japanese manufactured sizzle plates are allowed into this country under by-law entry. Because Japanese sizzle plates are allowed into Australia under bylaw entry they can be retailed at $2.30. This wholly owned Australian company is being sacrificed because Japanese imports are crucifying it.
Australian skilled workers are being added to the already huge pool of unem- ployed because this Government is not interested in maintaining full employment as is the Australian Labor Party. The same situation applies to spray guns manufactured by Channells Products Pty Ltd. Surely the Australian manufacturing industries and the people who work in these industries should not be sacrificed just to appease the Japanese exporters. I pose this question to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp): Where does the Government stand on this important issue? The Australian Labor Party policy is quite clear on this matter. It appears on page 1 1 of the ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’ as determined by the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party held in Launceston in 1971. lt is Labor Party policy to:
Protect Australian industries, where necessary, by tariffs, import controls, and/or subsidies in order to safeguard Australian living standards and to develop Australian resources. The use and level of, and choice between, means of protection to be determined after examination and report by an independent, fully equipped, government authority which will consider, among other things, efficiency, growth prospects, trade practices and pricing policies.
This is Labor Party policy and this is the policy which will be implemented when this Government chooses to go to the polls because we will be the next government.
Another large manufacturing industry in my electorate is Bliss Welded Products Ltd which is wholly Australian owned. That company makes presses for the heavy machinery industry and car manufacturing industry. It is being forced out of the market because, in some instances, there is no tariff protection at all and in other instances it is being forced out of the market by the Japanese interests, particularly MITT, who are prepared to allow the Australian importer and the Australian manufacturer, who is prepared to buy these products, finance on a 7-year interest free loan. How can Australian manufacturing industries compete with this type of unfair and discriminatory tactic employed by the Japanese organisation. James N. Kirby Manufacturing Pty Ltd, another large manufacturer in my electorate, is being similarly treated. The future Minister for Trade when Labor is in government, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), made these comments at a luncheon at the Southern Cross Hotel in Melbourne on 21st July 1972:
The transformation from tariffs to industry planning in Australia is essential. This is partly because industry leaders have developed a private enterprise philosophy which sees government as something to be used without obligation and partly because the Public Service philosophy is one of independence and is somewhat authoritarian.
Should any members of the Commonwealth Public Service be present, I do not say that offensively because I was a member of that Service for 34 years and I have the highest regard for it. The honourable member for Lalor continued:
The objective to be achieved is to transfer the ad hoc so-called independent position of the Tariff Board into a continuing relationship with industry which will operate with integrity and genuine knowledge.
The honourable member for Lalor further continued:
It seems to me that these arrangements must mean a change in the position of the Tariff Board and the creation of a special department for secondary industry or, if the Department of Trade can be retained, a much strengthened section to deal with the affairs of secondary industry.
When Labor is elected to office - on whichever day the Prime Minister chooses to hold the election - this is the policy which will be implemented and it will give the Australian manufacturing industry some idea of our forward planning which it needs to conduct the industry efficiently.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I would like to deal quickly with 3 points. This is the most opportune time for me to raise them. In passing, may I comment that I understand that the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who has recently returned from an interesting holiday on the north coast of Queensland and on Green Island, made some reference to me tonight.
– I rise to a point of order. I dislike taking a point of order on my friend but I point out to him that the matter he raises is a matter of current debate. However injured the honourable member for Prospect may feel about this, the reference made to him in debate must be answered during the course of that debate. I think that is a very simple point but I think it should be observed.
-I accept what the honourable member says because I intended to make the same point, Mr Speaker.
-Order! If the honourable gentleman is referring to a matter raised in a debate which is current, the honourable member will be out of order.
– I was about to make the point that I would like to read the comments of the honourable member for Ballaarat in Hansard and I will try to enter into the debate tomorrow. The debate was adjourned earlier today. 1 did not want it to be taken that I accept what has been said tonight without having had an opportunity to reply. However, at this time I will be dealing with other topics.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will not continue in the current vein.
– The first point with which I would like to deal relates to a question that has been drawn to my attention dealing with rebates paid to pensioners on telephone rentals. As most honourable members here are probably aware, pensioners are entitled to a 33 per cent reduction in telephone rentals. This should be shown on their accounts automatically, but since the processing of accounts has been computerised I understand that in a large number of instances these deductions are not shown. The rental is normally of the order of $55 per annum and pensioners are entitled to a $18.34 reduction. Many of these people are elderly and they cannot really follow the print-out from the computer. I think it is very important that the Department of Social Services and the Postmaster-General’s Department get together to make quite sure that this deduction in fact is recorded on their telephone accounts. I ask the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and the
Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) to give appropriate instructions to their respective departments.
The second point I would like to raise relates to the question of the portability of pensions for persons of pensionable age, after they cease to be resident in Australia. Honourable members will recall that in May of this year the House passed certain legislation dealing with the continuation of payments of pensions. Honourable members on this side of the House felt that certain restrictions were placed on the payment of pensions with which we did not agree. I refer in particular to the question of the portability of pensions being subject to agreements which have been reached with certain countries. Some months have now passed and no announcement has been made by the Minister for Social Services as to whether any of these agreements have been signed. I ask the Minister to take urgent steps, firstly, to bring these agreements into effect and, secondly, to alert the House and the people affected which of these countries have announced these agreements, when they will come into force and, if they have not come into force, which countries in fact do not intend to sign these agreements. I think this should be done urgently. I do not think it should be done during the final few days of an election campaign when the people are bombarded with literature and so-called factual material. I again appeal to the Minister for Social Services to get these agreements signed so that the people can take advantage of them.
Finally. I would like to deal with a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in relation to Labor’s health plans. Having made a number of erronious statements which already have been pointed out by other members of the Opposition, the Prime Minister made a statement on 5th September 1972 - about 2 weeks ago. In talking about the fact that under our scheme it will be possible for patients to send their bills direct to the Government or to the national insurance authority and to receive a refund of 85 per cent of the fees directly, in which case the patient would have to pay nothing, the Prime Minister said:
Toe bulk billing would disclose lo the Government authority the whole of the deta’ils of the doctor’s practice together with the medical details of every individual - a serious potential threat to the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship.
Let us consider what, in fact, is happening and what is proposed under this scheme. The Prime Minister says that this will be an invasion of the privacy of the doctorpatient relationship because the Government can check on the illnesses from which different people are suffering. What is happening now is that each patient has to disclose the nature of his illness on present forms and it would be far simpler to check on what a particular individual is suffering from because each individual patient has a separate file. Under our proposal, while I am not suggesting that this still will not be the position, it will be significantly more difficult because all patients’ statements as to their illnesses will be submitted together if the doctor takes advantage of the proposition we are offering of bulk billing patients. On this, as on many other occasions, the Prime Minister is completely wrong when dealing with the Labor Party’s proposals on the health scheme. I hope that honourable members will be aware of this when the election campaign commences.
– 1 have been amazed at exaggerated statements being made by members of the Opposition concerning the employment situation in Australia, particularly in view of the fact that the worst situation exists in the Labor held States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. Recent statistics have indicated that these States have shown the greatest percentage increase in unemployment. One would think that these Labor Governments would do something about this situation. It was extremely interesting to read an article in last night’s Sydney ‘Sun’. The article was headed ‘Jobs - But No Takers’ and stated:
Latest unemployment figures released by the Federal Government have employer groups baffled.
The official figures painted last month as the blackest August for employment since 1961.
But the New South Wales Employers’ Federation says many industries just cannot find labour.
The federation’s assertion is confirmed by ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’s’ classified advertising section.
On Saturday 18th September last year, the Herald’ carried 5,033 positions vacant ads.
On the corresponding Saturday this year, there were 5,321 - jobs advertised - 268 more than in 1971.
The Federation’s executive director, Mr J. Darling, said today, ‘There is a very definite shortage of manpower for skilled and semi-skilled jobs throughout New South Wales.
The official forecast is that all the school leavers will be absorbed into employment by the end of the year.
This is contrary to past experience which has shown that school leavers have never been employed until March of the following year.’
Executive director of the New South Wales Retail Traders’ Association, Mr J. B. Griffin, said, I am not aware of any abundance of employees. 1 am sure, however, that there are plenty of people available for work but the question is whether they are suited for particular jobs.’
Mr Griffin said the Government figures ‘surprised’ him.
He said, ‘The general feeling is that there has been an upturn in the economy and the business community in general is confident that there will be a progressive improvement.
Yet these figures show a trend the other way.’
The New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry, Mr Hewitt, said today unemployment figures were inflated by some people being ‘choosy about what jobs they will take.’
In my own electorate the position has improved considerably despite the fact that very dry seasonal conditions exist. Inquiries made at branches of the Department of Labour and National Service in various centres in the electorate do not reveal any panic or great numbers coming forward seeking employment. In fact, 1 know of many men on the land and in business who have advertised for employees but have not received even one applicant. The unemployment situation is grossly exaggerated.
The Budget brought down by the Government is proving most successful from an employment point of view. It has increased business activity and created confidence for employers to increase their staff. Country areas of Australia have been seriously affected by poor seasonal conditions and, with a downturn of purchases of machinery, trucks and the usual farming equipment, there has been a falling off in manufacture and supply sources with, of course, a laying off of staff. Although the rural sector is patchy there has been an improvement which is reflected in improved employment figures. The latest figures, for August, show 96,805 unemployed which represents 1.73 per cent of the work force. When compared with overseas countries, although we do not like to see unemployment in Australia and want full employment, our figures are the lowest on record except possibly for Japan and
West Germany which have 1.3 per cent of their work forces unemployed. The United Kingdom has 4.2 per cent of its work force unemployed, Canada 7.7 per cent, the United States of America 6.4 per cent, Austria 3.2 per cent and Belgium 3.6 per cent. In comparison we more than hold our own with these countries.
We have heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) quote figures out of the air of some 200,000 unemployed by Christmas and the shadow Treasurer, the member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), suggest 150,000 unemployed by Christmas. Late last year members opposite were quoting the above figures to apply in the first quarter of this year, but this was a gross miscalculation as are the statements again being uttered in this field. There are strong signs that unemployment is picking up and, of course, this does not suit the political feelings of the Opposition. The Government is pledged to full employment and has proved that it is prepared to help stricken rural areas with dollars. In the recent Budget it has shown a progressive, confident and realistic outlook in respect of the lower and middle income groups, with increased employment opportunities for Australians.
– I refer to an article in the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ of Monday, 18th September. The article, which is very brief, is headed ‘Soft-sell film to lure the migrants’ and is by David Gleeson. It states:
New South Wales can expect a flood of starry eyed British migrants from the beginning of next year.
They will come expecting a warm and friendly welcome in a prosperous and beautiful land, blessedby natureand man.
That is the concept of New South Wales given by a new Government-sponsored movie designed to seduce British migrants.
The 15-minute color film is a joint production of the State Government and the Bank of New South Wales.
It is the first movie to be used by New South Wales to attract migrants.
As an exercise in propaganda the film uses the soft-sell technique, rarely over-stating the case.
It emphasises wealth, relaxation in the sun, education and opportunity.
The makers have taken great pains to stress the State’s heritage lies mainly in Britain.
Potential migrants arc told most families have a car, New South Wales abounds in unspoiled natural beauty, there is plenty of housing-
I emphasise ‘plenty of housing’ - and the education system is just fine.
It follows a newly-arrived British migrant family who drive about in a late model station wagon viewing the better parts of Sydney.
Always smiling and enthusiastic, the family is shown settling into home, school and job.
They go to the beach, the countryside, a poolside barbeque and hit the city night spots. All simply idyllic.
Because the aim appears to be to brainwash the viewers, it’s no surprise the film doesn’t show some of the harsher realities in life in New South Wales.
Its called New Life - New South Wales.
The picture it presents of life would be novel to many New South Welshmen.
In many respects the film falsely describes the real position in New South Wales. Let me examine in detail the situation. First of all it emphasises wealth in contradiction of the announced decision of this Government to hold an inquiry into poverty. Estimates made by interested experts in this field state that 1 million Australians are existing below or near the poverty line. Potential migrants are told that there is plenty of housing and that the education system is just fine. Of course, both of those claims are untrue. For example, at present there are 40,000 families on the waiting list for New South Wales Housing Commission homes. It is true that some housing is available if those seeking it are willing to pay $40 or so a week. If any intending migrant is desirous of obtaining a Housing Commission home he should be told that the waiting period is at least 4 years.
In addition it is stated in the newspaper article that the education system is just fine. This is, of course, not true because in New South Wales the public school and the poorer independent school systems are desperately short of finance with which to provide enough schools and teachers. Every New South Wales member of this House would know that this state of affairs does exist. I would like to emphasise that it would be tragic for any British family to migrate to Australia unless the breadwinner could be guaranteed continuity of employment. It would be most unfair to those people at present unemployed in Australia if migrants were to come here and compete for jobs. Finally I again quote a portion of the article which I consider fairly sums up the position. The article states:
Because the aim appears to be to brainwash the viewers-
I emphasise the word ‘brainwash’ because there is absolutely no truth in the advertisement -
It’s called New Life- New South Wales.
The picture it presents of life would be novel to many New South Welshmen.
I’ll say it would, ls it any wonder that British migrant families are returning home when they find that the advertisements for New South Wales which they answer are absolutely false. New South Wales and Australia generally have been painted as idyllic places to which to come. It is said that there is plenty of housing which, of course, is a complete falsehood because, as everyone knows, most housing is available only to those who are very rich. With over 100,000 registered as unemployed, would migrants come here to compete with already unemployed Australians for jobs?
The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keeffe who just resumed his seat, said that the unemployment position is not as bad as it is painted in the newspapers. Of course, that is completely wrong. In my electorate of Sydney I have people coming in droves to my office every day from the St Vincent de Paul Home and Matthew Talbot Hostel. Many of them come from country areas hoping that they might find employment in Sydney. The St Vincent de Paul Home does a splendid job in providing sustenance and a bed for those people who are coming to my office in droves every day seeking unemployment cheques which in most cases are long overdue. There are job opportunities for people with expertise in various skills and trades but for the unskilled person there are very few job opportunities in Australia at present. It is strange that the New South Wales Government has taken steps over the past few years to prosecute firms for false advertising: now we have this completely false film advertising New South Wales being shown overseas to attract migrants. When the film makers say that housing is in plentiful supply, what do they mean? I have no doubt about the authenticity of this news paper article and I agree with the sentiments expressed by the ‘Daily Mirror’. But anyone, particularly a government and a supposedly reputable bank, who advertises overseas that there is plenty of housing available in New South Wales is telling a deliberate untruth as every honourable member in this House knows. We have 40,000 families in New South Wales faced with a 4 year wait before they can get a Housing Commission home.
Is it any wonder that British migrants are very disturbed when, after being presented with falsehoods, they arrive in Australia only to be disillusioned because they have been conned into coming out here? The comments made in the ‘Daily Mirror’ article are very good and I congratulate that newspaper for putting this situation before the public. There is no doubt in my mind that the New South Wales LiberalCountry Party Government, supported by the Bank of New South Wales, in ils film has told complete falsehoods.
– I rise tonight on 2 matters. Recently I had cause to raise with the Department of Customs and Excise the question of some imitation gilt candleholders which had been sold in Perth in a manner which was quite attractive to the buying public. However, what the manufacturers failed to disclose was that the candleholders were made of an inflammable material. As 1 understand it, the candleholders are sold throughout Australia, there being, I am informed now by the Comptroller-General of Customs, no prohibition on their importation. This is an appalling situation and I feel that the public should be warned. A constituent of mine purchased one of these items and gave it as a birthday present to his daughter who subsequently lit the candles and left them burning on the wall. A fire occurred which damaged the house and those in the house were indeed fortunate that they were able to douse the fire in time to prevent it from destroying the house.
These articles are brought into the country and I suspect that there is a substantial profit to be made from them because of the cheapness of manufacture and the amount of money for which they are sold. Some recently on sale were marked down from $10 to $5. Each one is a lethal piece of furniture. The regulations allow such a dangerous item to be imported but let us not say that the item is not dangerous for I have photographs of the damage done to the house and the remains of the candleholder which I am given to understand was quite attractive when it was sold. The item comprises 2 candlesticks and a mirror in the background. Who would not be tempted to buy it as a gift for, say, an aged mother or a young child? Who would not be tempted to light the candles if a power failure occurred or in circumstances where it was felt that candlelight was appropriate or if it was desired to use them as a nightlight?
In case there is a fatality before some action is taken I am raising the matter in Parliament. I feel that the public should be made aware of the danger of this type of material. It is far past time that national Australian consumer protection standards were adopted in relation to materials and designs of both Australian and imported goods. The existing Australian standards association is a manufacturers’ association concerned only with Australian goods. It is not a statutory body and does not look at imported articles or control Australian products sufficiently. It is the manufacturers’ technical experts who do the research on their products and it is highly unlikely that standards will be laid down which would necessitate even minor increases in cost. In Britain and Canada there are strict safety standards, particularly for children’s articles. Little attention has been given to this matter in Australia and I ask that some action be taken to provide controls in this area.
Another matter of a serious nature to which I wish to draw the attention of the House is the appalling treatment of some purchasers of war service homes which were built or purchased in Western Australia in the immediate post war period. These homes have substandard brickwork which is not apparent when they are new. In addition the homes are subject to inspections every 5 years to meet loan requirements and as a result of these inspections instructions to repair the homes may be given. The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) is currently looking into 2 cases in my electorate and I hope that some favourable solution will be found to the problem of restoration of these buildings. It is not possible to sell these homes. At one home one could put one’s hand into holes in the wall. Surely some insurance is available to cover restoration work and to protect people against initial bad workmanship. In this respect I instance the cases of Mr G. Currie of Como and Mr Doulton of Manning. Mr Doulton’s home has fretting of brickwork, holes in the mortar and allows water through the walls. It is a health hazard and also a structural hazard should there be an earthquake. I would not like to see too many heavy vehicles go past as further damage will occur. This matter of sub-standard construction has been brought to the attention of the Department and the Minister by Mr Currie. Letters from people reveal that this is clearly a common problem in Western Australia. How many other people are similarly affected is unknown. I quote from Mr Currie’s file. As far back as May 1966 he received a letter from the then Minister for Housing, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, which stated: lt is apparent from all these reports that it is not possible to ascertain with any certainty the cause of the fretting of the brickwork in your home, which has taken place since the home was erected some 14 years ago. Nevertheless the official papers do show that the State Housing Commission shared wilh you the cost of the repairs carried out to the brickwork in 1963, even though the Commission was in no way obliged to assist you at all in this matter.
In your letters you make it clear that you are not satisfied with the assistance which the Commission made available to overcome your difficulty. However the point is that you, as the house-holder, are responsible under the terms of the Contract of Sale which you entered into when your purchased the home, for any maintenance necessary to keep your home in good order and repair.
I have had regard to all the circumstances, but I can find no reason or justification why the cost of any remedial work required to the home at this point in time should be borne out of public funds. I regret, therefore, that I must confirm that no responsibility can be accepted by the Director of War Service Homes for any further repairs to your home.
God help the consumer, in this instance a man who served his country. After being away he bought a home - his dream home - and finally found that he had been sold something shoddy. I find this completely despicable. There is a continuing tone through the letters that Mr Currie received. On 9th February 1966 the Director of War Service Homes wrote:
The General Manager informs me that it was necessary following a routine periodical inspection of the home in June, 1963, to draw your attention to the need for certain items of maintenance to be carried out, including the repair of fretted mortar to the brickwork.
I am told that fretting of mortar in brickwork is a relatively common problem in Western Australia probably because the climatic conditions - winds and driving rain - are conducive to mortar decay over a period of time. Fretting of mortar is particularly prevalent in homes built in the early post-war years and probably the scarcity of cement and the poor quality of lime available at that time are the main causes. The problem is not confined to War Service homes.
The repair and maintenance of a property is a responsibility of the householder and under the terms of the Contract of Sale which you entered into at the time you purchased your home, you are responsible to carry out any maintenance necessary to keep the home in good order and repair at your own expense. Repair of fretting mortar, especially after a’ period of time, is a maintenance matter and therefore your responsibility under your contract. lt is completely beyond me to understand the reasoning behind this argument of buyer beware’, which applies in this instance, it would appear, to people who have bought war service homes. I look for a final solution, which must be found. I am sure that the Minister will endeavour to find a solution. It is not sufficient to finance people to buy sub-standard homes when it is proven that there is a general problem with the group of war service homes that was constructed in the immediate post-war years.
– I was hopeful that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) would be here. I think he is probably on his way. I wanted to raise a social services matter that has arisen in my electorate that has upset me probably more than any other case I have dealt with since I became a member. On Monday of this week a woman came to see me. Basically the story is this: She is a deserted wife with 2 children, boys aged 13 and 10 years. There has been some trouble with the eldest boy. He has been wandering away from home. I am delighted to see that the Minister is now in the House. I will recapitulate if I may. The woman who came to see me on Monday is a deserted wife. She is a delightful woman.
I suppose one could say she is everybody’s idea of what a mother should be. She is a woman of, I suppose, 47 or 48 years. She has 2 boys, one 13 and one 10. The eldest boy has been a problem to her and has been running away from home. He is not a bad child, but because of the difficulties the family is having he is now in Mittagong boys home. She received a letter from the Department of Social Services in the usual standard form. It stated:
Owing to changed circumstances your pension has been reduced from $57.50 to $36.
I realise, and I think she does too, that when one of the children becomes a ward of the State it is normal for a reduction to take place, in the pension. However a reducation from $57.50 to $36 seems to be rather savage. So I contacted the local officer of the Social Services Department, who said to me: That is strange because she ought to have been receiving more than that. She should have been getting $62.50’. I think that was the figure he mentioned. He said: ‘Leave it with me. I shall check it’. He rang me back 2 hours later. I am still shaking over his reply because I cannot believe that any government could permit this to occur. Apparently why this woman has had her pension reduced is that the husband, who deserted her, left about a year after the first child was born, and the second child is the product of another relationshipcasual or otherwise, I do not know - and certainly not of the father of the first child, who deserted her. So because this woman has a second child born outside wedlock, or however the Department likes to describe it, she is now being told that her pension will be reduced from $57.50 to $36.
I am sure that honourable members will agree that this is an appalling situation. I have been discussing this matter with members on both sides of the House, and they have found it incredible that this situation could continue. I cannot accept the attitude the Government has towards single mothers but at least I understand it even if I reject it. Its policy is that single mothers should not get social services because this will encourage promiscuity. I think that is a mediaeval concept. Surely this woman, who already has a family, who is a mother, a housewife and a deserted wife to boot, should not be penalised in such a way on the basis that the child was not of the legal marriage. To me this is a moral judgment which no government has the right to make.
In discussing this matter with one or two of my colleagues it was pointed out to me that in the ‘Age’ of 13th September an article, appeared which was headlined Fewer forced into marriage: “Pathetic” to condemn single mothers.’ It was an article quoting what the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) said about single mothers. The article reported him as having stated:
If this shows that a woman who finds herself pregnant is less prepared to enter a shotgun arrangement with a man with whom she has had a clandestine or brief affair, and if she says that she is not going to ruin her life, and the baby’s life and that man’s life, and that she will have the baby as a single person instead, I would not say that this is the sort of thing we should rapidly condemn without some thought.
It gives us hope that maybe there is an air of tolerance coming into our community that would allow single women to do that.
I believe that the article is a very good article in which the Minister has pointed out that we are getting a new, informed attitude towards single mothers. I will not mention the name of the woman to whom I have referred, although she has given me permission to do so. I do not want to mention her name. I would rather not for the sake of the child and the sake of the woman. I think this sort of situation is primitive in the extreme. If we are to talk in terms of abolition of poverty and if we are to talk about bringing social justice into our society - I am sure there would be very few people in this category - I believe, that this anomaly must be abolished. I would very much like to hear the Minister. I will be delighted to give him the name and address and file number tomorrow when I get them, but I would very much like to hear what his attitude is if it is possible.
– I shall of course look forward to receiving from the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) the particulars of which he speaks and I will examine the case. What the honourable member says is not quite as simple as it looks. I think we all are, or should be, rather alarmed at the rising rate of illegitimacy in this country. If I recall the figures, 21,000 illegitimate babies were born in the calendar year 1970. In the year 1971 the figure was 25,000 and, although this is unofficial, I understand from the preliminary indications that the 1972 figure will be substantially higher still.
What is happening now is that about 10 per cent of total births in the community are illegitimate. This is not something which I think we should take lightly. I realise that from a humanitarian point of view we must look primarily at the interests of the child. Yet at the same time one must look at the preservation of the social structure as a whole. It may be that some people believe that marriage is no longer important and that we should get rid of marriage altogether. This is not something which I believe. In fact, I would reject that concept very strongly indeed.
– The honourable member asks why.
– Why prejudice the children? That is the question.
– If one does reject that concept that there is no point in marriage and that one should go to another kind of society, one would have to take the further step of having some kind of sanctions which apparently are necessary because of the quite unprecedented upsurge in illegitimacy which has taken place in Australia in the last 3 or 4 years. Do we want this to continue or do we not? If we do not want it to continue we may have to think in terms of some kind of sanction? As the honourable member for Robertson would know, it is very difficult to decide what is the correct thing to do because there is a conflict of the 2 principles. Do we look always to the child or do we look to some extent to the genera] structure of society? At the present moment, when in Australia it would appear that the general structure of society is changing in a way that I certainly would deplore and that most of us would reject, I do not think we can ignore entirely the latter consideration. However, on this particular case, the honourable member can be assured that, when he gives me the name of the person concerned tomorrow, I will have the case examined in detail.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.44 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister repre senting the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Has the Government yet made a decision on (a) acceptance of the Statute of the Hague Conference on Private International Law and (b) accession to the Statute of the(Rome) International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (Hansard, 7th April 1971, page 1651).
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
No; but consideration of both matters is proceeding.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
As the MacRobertson Miller Airline Services agreement expired in September 1971, what now prevents the grant of a licence to Trans-Australia Airlines to operate services between Perth and Darwin, as it has sought since 1962.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Government has recently decided and announced that, as an integral part of its review of the 2-airline policy, TAA will be licensed to operate on the Perth-Darwin route via Port Hedland. such operations not to commence before June 1973 and future expansion by TAA on the route to be phased in in such a way as notto give TAA equal access with MacRobertson Miller Airline Services before June 1975.
This gradual introduction of TAA services will have regard to the state of traffic on the route from time to time and is designed to minimise any disruptive effect on the staffing of MacRobertson Miller’s present operations.
Post Office: Parcel Deliveries (Question No. 6268)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On 14 February 1972 I approached the Heads of Missions representing Austria, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany. Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Yugoslavia inviting consideration of the Australian proposals. Subsequently, on the dates shown in brackets after the name of the country, I began discussions with the representatives of Canada and Switzerland (18th May 1972), U.S.A. (19th May 1972) and Israel (24th May 1972). Both Canada and Switzerland had previously shown interest in the Prime Minister’s announcement.
Invitations to consider participation in the Australian proposals were extended on 2nd June 1972 to the representatives of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Finland, Lebanon (whose Ambassador had inquired earlier), Norway, Peru, South Africa, Sweden and Uruguay.
In addition, on 26th June 1972 the Australian Ambassador at Brussels, who is accredited to Luxembourg, placed the Australian proposals for portability of pensions before the Luxembourg Government. In August last the Australian High Commissioner in London raised with the Cyprus High Commission there the question of participation in the Australian proposals; this followed earlier overtures from the Government of Cyprus.
Australia already has comprehensive reciprocal agreements on social security with Britain and New Zealand. The High Commissioners in Australia for those countries were informed by me of the Australian proposals on 8th May 1972, and the question of amendment of the existing agreements was left open. Officials of the British High Commission had earlier made preliminary inquiries.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This arrangement is not regarded as an alternative to prompt action to process claims within my Department. For example, procedures already exist within my Department for immediate payment of widows’ pensions where the husband has died.
As a result of requests made by the States, Directors of Social Services were authorised to make similar arrangements with the appropriate State authorities.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The period between the date of payment of advance fees and the connection date in these areas is:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable members question:
The Commonwealth responsibility is to gauge noise nuisance levels. It is a State and Local Government responsibility to interpret those levels for which there is some United States guidance material insofar as the Noise Exposure Forecasting technique is concerned.
Navy: Contraceptives and Prophylactics (Question No. 6355)
asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice:
What was the cost of contraceptives and prophylactics against venereal disease supplied to Navy personnel during each of the last 5 years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Contraceptives are not issued to Navy personnel.
The cost of prophylactics against VD for supply to Navy personnel during each of the last 5 calendar years is as follows:
Ministers for Labour Conference (Question No. 6388)
asked the Minister for
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
What were the names and portfolios of the Ministers of Labour who attended the meeting in Melbourne on 8th September 1972.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Hon. F. M. Hewitt, M.L.C., Minister for Labour and Industry, New South Wales.
The Hon. J. A. Rafferty, M.L.A., Minister of Labour and Industry, Victoria.
The Hon. F. A. Campbell, M.L.A., Minister for Development and Industrial Affairs, Queensland.
The Hon. D. H. McKee, M.H.A., Minister of Labour and Industry, South Australia.
The Hon. A. D. Taylor, M.L.A., Minister for Labour, Price Control, Consumer Protection and Tourism, Western Australia.
The Hon. N. L. C. Batt, M.H.A., Chief Secretary and Minister for Transport, Tasmania.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This answer relates to institutions approved under the National Health Act as (a) hospitals and (b) nursing homes.
New South Wales- (i) and (ii) Nil; (ii) Royal South Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred, Prince Henry, Royal North Shore.
Victoria - (i) Greenvale Village for the Aged, Mount Royal (Parkville); (ii) Hampton Hospital, Royal Talbot General Rehabilitation Hospital, Alfred Hospital, Austin Hospital, Prince Henry’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospital, St John of God Hospital, Ballarat, (iii) After Care Hospital, Caulfield Hospital.
Queensland- (i) and (ii) Nil; (iii) Princess Alexandra Hospital.
South Australia - (i) Nil; (ii) Royal Adelaide Hospital (Nursing Wards); (iii) Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Ward 1C).
Western Australia- (i) and (ii) Nil; (iii) Royal Perth Hospital.
Tasmania- (i) and (ii) Nil; (iii) Royal Hobart Hospital (Lady Clarke Annexe), Mercy General Hospital, North Western General HospitalSpencer Home for the Aged.
Australian Capital Territory- (i) and (ii) Nil; (iii) Canberra Hospital.
Northern Territory- (i), (ii) and (iii) Nil.
Institutions which are approved as nursing homes for the purposes of the National Health Act and which operate units specified as rehabilitation units for -
New South Wales- (i) Allandale Hospital, Lidcombe State Hospital (excluding wards 4, 7, 24A. 24B. 29, 31 A, 33A, 37, 38), Bathurst Macquarie Homes, Governor Phillip Special Hospital. Lottie Stewart, Weemala, Bodington Red Cross, Queen Victoria Homes (Wentworth Falls), St Joseph’s Convalescent Home (Hexham), Mount St Joseph’s Home (Young), Frank Whidden Masonic Homes, Hammondville Convalescent Home, Church of England Retirement Villages, Warrina (Wyuna Wing); (ii) Beverley Park, Drummond Far West Home, Inala (Rudolph Steiner) School of Curative Education, Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Home, McLeod House Convalescent Home, Whitehall Private Kent Home; (iii) Lady Gowrie Red Cross Nursing Home.
Victoria - (i) Bendigo Home and Hospital for the Aged, Greenvale Village for the Aged, Kingston Centre, Mount Eliza Geriatric Centre. Mount Royal. The Queen Elizabeth Home; (ii) Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (MultiHandicapped Children’s Unit); (iii) Nil.
Queensland- (i) Lauriston Centre for Sick Aged; (ii) Queensland Bush Children’s Home, Redcliffe, Sevenoaks Residential Home for Adult Spastics, North Queensland Society for Crippled Children (Cootharinga), Harold Crawford House; (iii) Nil.
South Australia - (i) Central Mission Homes for the Aged Inc., Flora McDonald Lodge, Masonic Memorial Village, Home for Incurables, Lutheran Old Folks Home, Winchester Rehabilitation Hospital, Walkerville Nursing Home; (ii) Crippled Children’s Home, Spastic Home; (iii) Northfield Wards (Royal Adelaide Hospital).
Western Australia - (i), (ii) and (iii) Nil.
Tasmania - (i) Nil; (ii) St Giles Home for Crippled Children; (iii) Nil.
Australian Capital Territory- (i), (ii) and (iii) Nil.
Northern Territory- (i), (ii) and (iii) Nil.
asked the Minister for Edu cation and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (J), (2) and (3) Where a pensioner takes in lodgers to obtain company and additional security, money paid for lodging would not be included as income in assessing pension entitlement. However, where the number of lodgers exceeds 5, the question has to be considered whether he is conducting a business, in which case the net income may be taken into account.
Where a pensioner provides meals, his income is usally assessed on the following basis -
Bed and breakfast - 10 per cent of the gross amount obtainable when the rooms available to lodgers are fully occupied;
Full board - 20 per cent of the gross amount obtainable when the rooms available to borders are fully occupied.
However, these rates are subject to adjustment where this is warranted by the actual position. For example where the pensioner has to meet rental or mortgage payments.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What was the date, nature and cost of each proposal submitted by the Australian Dental Association since August 1968 (Hansard 19th August 1970, page 232; 25th November 1971, page 3768 and 15th August 1972, page 184).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Additional to the proposals referred to in Hansard of 19th August 1970, the Australian Dental Association has put foward only one proposal which, if implemented, would involve the expenditure of Commonwealth funds. This proposal, dated 18th July 1972, relates to the fluoridation of water supplies or, where communal water supplies do not exist, the provision of dietary fluoride supplements to children. It has not been costed by the Department of Health.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What attitude is taken by the Government to the statement on page 8 of the report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for 1970-71, that for some years the Commission has foreshadowed that the restrictions and limitations placed upon its activities would in time make it impossible to secure sufficient revenue to cover the cost of its operations, particularly those functions undertaken in the national interest and that that situation has now been reached.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act provides for the Laboratories to produce and sell biological products of a kind used for therapeutic purposes and to undertake research in connection therewith. The laboratories produce and sell on the open market, a wide range of pharmaceutical products both for human and veterinary use, and the range of these products has been expanded from time to time as circumstances warrant.
The Commission’s difficulty in the face of rising costs and increased competition with consequent reduced profit margins is appreciated. The Government is, therefore, giving consideration to the desirability and practicability of further extending the Laboratories’ activities into the associated field of non-biological products. In this connection, there are many aspects which call for detailed examination and consideration.
Provision exists under the present legislation for Commonwealth financial assistance to be extended to the Commission to carry out its functions. Foi example, where the Commission undertakes research in accordance with a determination by the Minister, and the Commission satisfies the Minister that the operations (including the undertaking of the research) of the Commission have been carried out at a loss in a financial year, the Commission is entitled to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth, to the extent of the loss or the cost of undertaking the research, which ever is the lesser. Reimbursement has been extended to the Commission in connection with such expenditure incurred in 1966-67 ($331,000) and 1971-72 ($479,000) and provision of $647,000 is included in the Departmental estimates for 1972-73 for this purpose.
In addition, provision also exists for the Commonwealth to make funds available to the Commission for other purposes. Since its inception in November 1961, additional capital of some $5m has been made available to the Commission by the Commonwealth to facilitate capital replacement, modernisation and expansion programmes at the Laboratories. The Departmental estimates for 1972-73 include provision for the grant of additional capital of some $2.1m to the Commission to meet planned capital expenditure in 1972-73.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable, member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
On what date and by what means did the Bureau of Transport Economics become aware of the recommendations which Sir Henry Bland made about it in the report which be made on 7th January 1972 upon the existing system of land transport in Victoria (Hansard, 29th August 1972, page 761).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The report of the Board of Inquiry into the Victorian Land Transport system was tabled in the Victorian Legislative Assembly on 29th March 1972. A copy was obtained by the Bureau of Transport Economics the following day and at that time it was noted that the BTE was mentioned in one of the recommendations. So far the Victorian Government has not made an approach in connection with the particular recommendation
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 September 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720920_reps_27_hor80/>.