28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I inform the House of the death on 2nd March 1973 of Mr William George Bryson who was a member of this House for the Division of Bourke from 1943 to 1946 and for the Division of Wills from 1949 to 1955. On behalf of the House I have forwarded a message of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased,I invite honourable members to rise in their places. (Honourable members having stood in their places)
– Thank you, gentlemen.
– Petitions have been lodged tor presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the honourable Speaker and members ofthe 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 only exist when Church and State are legally separated in form and substance. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson and Mr Thorburn.
To the honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain people of the Torres
Strait respectfully showeth that they wish to remain Australians and do not wish the border between Queensland and Papua New Guinea altered. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that:
this Parliament re-affirm our rights to our islands, our ancestoral homes for generations before the discovery of Australia;
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 -
Ensure that finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for 78 per cent of Australia’s children.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hallett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of Victoria respectfully sheweth;
That permitting kangaroos to be commercially exploited when permissible cropping rates are unknown and the means of enforcing controls or protective laws are completely ineffective in this land, is allowing this unique animal to follow the path to rarity or extinction, along which all wild animals have gone when subjected to exploitation in similar circumstances.
Estimates show that kangaroos alive in their natural habitat as tourist attractions are worth $200m more to the Australian economy over a 9-year period than dead ones exported as pet food or toys over the same period.
We, Australians, have the right to see kangaroos in reasonable numbers on the landscape; we find the commercial slaughter of the kangaroo to be abhorrent and unjustified.
We your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that you will:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled. This humble petition of interested citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that your Honourable House will at once, in the public interest, take steps to dedicate as a National Park an area of at least 1,436 square miles as recommended by the Northern Territory Reserves Board.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr MacKellar.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain members of the congregation of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Manly, respectfully showeth:
That the needs of the Aboriginal people should be considered and met in a just and realistic fashion with proper regard for the Aboriginal ethos.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to give priority to this urgent matter.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr MacKellar.
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:
The following conditions at the Marsden Road Infants’ Dept School shows 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 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 Mr Whitlam.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence, Minister for the Navy, Minister for the Army, Minister for Air and Minister for Supply. Is the honourable gentleman aware of a statement made by Mr Clem Lloyd yesterday, I understand in the late afternoon, that the honourable gentleman’s version of the resignation of Mr Lloyd from his staff was completely untrue? Did this refer to a version given by the honourable gentleman earlier in the day in Hobart? Does the honourable gentleman agree that the version he gave was completely untrue?
– There has been a great deal of speculation concerning the resignation of 2 members of my staff. I inform the House that after I made a statement yesterday in Devonport at a State conference of the Australian Labor Party I immediately began to investigate the statement which was issued by my former Press Secretary, Mr Lloyd. It is quite clear to me now that discussions took place between an official of the Department of Defence and Mr Lloyd. Certain matters have now been brought to my attention and I will be having discussions with Mr Lloyd about them. In the meantime I take the opportunity to table the full documentation and the result of the investigations which I requested from the Secretary of the Department of Defence.
I might add for the information of the Leader of the Opposition, that I said at the conference in Devonport that at no time had my Press Secretary advised me that directions had been conveyed to htm that he would not be able to attend the briefings which were to take place between me as Minister for Defence and Lord Carrington, the British Minister for Defence. T understand that Mr Lloyd has confirmed that this is the position.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour. Some weeks ago in Perth the Minister stated that his Department would be investigating the allocation of unemployment relief grants through local government, based on the principle of the local initiative program introduced by the Canadian Government in 1971. Can the Minister inform the House, firstly, whether authorities outside capital cities, such as the Hunter District Water Board, will be eligible for such relief grants; secondly, whether any pollution projects and extension of sewerage schemes will qualify as projects suitable for such grants; and, thirdly, what progress has been made with the examination of the proposed programs?
– I was correctly reported as stating in Perth that we ought to get better value for the money we are now spending on unemployment relief in rural and now in metropolitan unemployment relief programs. I said that I did not like a scheme which virtually turned people into members of a chain gang chipping grass and engaging in other non-essential schemes which provide work and keep people off the dole, but which do not provide them with any real job motivation and which do not contribute, to any extent worth mentioning, to tha improvement of society in the areas in which they work. I did applaud the Canadian scheme which encourages local initiatives so that jabs that have some social meaning can be embarked upon and so that unemployed people can be employed doing that sort of work. The Canadians have found that the scheme works very well.
If the Canadian scheme were adopted here it would apply not only to metropolitan areas but also to areas like Newcastle and to country areas. The honourable, member for Shortland has shown a continuing interest in this matter. He has been to see me on 3 separate occasions, as a consequence of which I took the initial step of asking my Department to prepare plans for submission to Cabinet. I talked with the departmental officers about this matter in Melbourne yesterday and I hope to be in a position shortly to make submissions to Cabinet on it. When the submissions are made it will be made quite clear that we would use this sort of enterprise to deal with pollution problems. I am sure that when I am in a position to present the submissions Cabinet will be glad to adopt the scheme. We will be able to dispense with the chain-gang method of providing employment which the previous government was able to dream up, and have something that will be worthwhile for the people who are doing the work and worthwhile for the communities in which the work is carried out.
– Did the Minister for Defence receive no information from Mr Clem Lloyd, either volunteered by Mr Lloyd or requested from him by the honourable gentleman, as to the reason why Mr Lloyd was leaving his staff, until the time of Mr Lloyd’s statement made yesterday?
– r said in answer to the Leader of the Opposition that at no time did Mr Lloyd inform me that he had been told, or that information had been conveyed to him, that he was not to attend the briefings with Lord Carrington. This was not discussed between Mr Lloyd and me.
– I was asking why he was leaving your staff. Did he give you a reason? Did you seek reasons?
– The answer is no. He did not give this as a reason for leaving my staff.
– Did he give you any reason?
– No, not at all.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. I preface my question by pointing out that Parents Centres (Aust.) is a non-profit voluntary organisation of parents pooling and providing information. Questions on breast feeding require special knowledge, so this organisation applied for a new telephone number to be shown under the subheading ‘breast feeding’. It was informed that a D notice on the phrase ‘breast feeding1 had been issued by the Postmaster-General. Will the new Minister review the case for inserting in the telephone directory the words which the previous administration found offensive and tell his department that breast feeding is unlikely to deprave or corrupt?
– The Australian Post Office is anxious to provide all services that would interest the community. In my opinion it would not be regarded as offensive to use the term ‘breast feeding’ and I see no reason why an entry should not be included in the directory under the appropriate heading as requested by the relevant organisation. I understand that the honourable member will have some information conveyed to him about this matter which should be of some benefit and some satisfaction.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he had discussions with the Secretary of the Department of Defence about whether Mr Clem Lloyd was to be included in or excluded from the Australian party which was to have discussions with Lord Carrington and his advisers.
– The matter that the Leader of the Country Party has raised is incorporated in the document which I have tabled, but the answer more precisely is no.
– Will the Minister for Northern Development take appropriate action to ensure that soft drink manufacturers in north Queensland are able to purchase sugar at the same price as it is being made available to the brewery in Cairns for the manufacture of beer? As both beer and soft drinks are most important to people living in tropical Queensland what is the reason for the difference in sugar pricing?
– The honourable member will be aware of the provisions of the Sugar Agreement Act, which Act in fact determines the price of refined sugar in Australia for domestic use. Two basic grades are 1A and IXD, for which the price is a little over $200 per ton. Other grades of sugar are related to these grades. The sugar used by breweries usually is regarded as liquid brown. It is of a somewhat lower quality than the sugar used in soft drinks or, indeed, in canned fruits. For this reason, the sugar is made available at a lower price. The honourable member will also be aware that the sugar industry is extremely awake to the problem of substitutes and in recent years there has been a concentration on certain sugar substitutes - starches as well as the cyclamatic acids - particularly for industrial use. That is another reason why the sugar is supplied at a lower price. The honourable member will also recall that, under the legislation, the base price system fixes the price at the Brisbane price plus freight. That is another reason for the price differential. I can well understand the honourable member’s interest in this problem because people in north Queensland have certainly established a remarkable capacity for the consumption of beer, soft drinks and, in fact, even water.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. The honourable gentleman will recall that he has just tabled a document. I note that it is signed by A. H. Tange, Secretary, 1.45 p.m., 6th March 1973. It is on the minute paper of the Department of Defence and it reads, in part:
I noticed the suggestion that one of 2 members of the Minister’s staff be included.
I remarked that this was, in my experience, not usual in an international negotiation. I had in mind also the obligations existing between the 2 Governments that discussions on certain fields of Defence information would take place only in the presence of persons who had been especially briefed about the subject matter. I saw as a contingency that the-
-Order! The right honourable gentleman may summarise the document but not quote from it.
– It is a document which has been tabled, Mr Speaker.
– The document may be summarised but not quoted from.
– I will summarise it, then. The Secretary of the Department of Defence saw as a contingency that the British might make a point about whether the Minister’s staff should be included. The document then says: 1 then telephoned you and spoke with you. The Secretary of the Department of Defence said that he telephoned the Minister for Defence and spoke with him. He then explained, he said in the note that the Minister for Defence tabled, the reason for his call to the Minister and that it was necessary to keep a record of the discussion. The Secretary of the Department of Defence said that it was usual for a secretary to make a note of the discussion. He said that the Minister for Defence-
– Mr Speaker, 1 raise a point of order. It has been ruled previously in this Parliament that it is possible to make a preface to a question and, on occasions, I have attempted to do that. But it has also been ruled that excessively long prefaces are not permitted. I have not yet heard, in his long summary, the Leader of the Opposition coming to the point of his question and I suggest that he is out of order.
– It has always been the custom of the House - this was the case during the previous Government’s term of office - that the Leader of the Opposition is allowed a certain latitude. However, on this occasion I was about to request the right honourable gentleman to ask his question because his preface was much too long. It denies the right of honourable members, particularly back bench members, to ask questions.
– Is it a fact that the document tabled by the Minister for Defence states that he said such a record would suffice and that he accepted the view that the presence of a member of his personal staff was not essential? Does the document say that, as soon as the conversation was finished, and in order to assist the practical preparations, the Secretary of the Department of Defence sent for Mr Hort? In view of the answer-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. It appears that quite blatantly the
Leader of the Opposition is defying your instruction to him.
– No. The Chair will decide that. However, I ask the right honourable gentleman to ask his question. The preface is far too long.
– Did the honourable gentleman, in answer to a question directed to him by the Leader of the Country Party, say that no discussions had occurred between the honourable gentleman and Sir Arthur Tange, Secretary of the Department of Defence, about whether Mr Lloyd was to be excluded from discussions? Does the honourable gentleman now wish to change his answer in the light of the document that he himself has tabled and which is contrary to his answer?
– I tabled a document for the information of the Leader of the Opposition and members of this House. As I understood the question that was directed to me by the Leader of the Country Party it was whether I had had discussions with Mr Lloyd on this matter.
– The Secretary of the Department of Defence.
– That was my interpretation of the question and if it was not the correct interpretation I apologise to the Leader of the Country Party. If it is suggested that I had discussions with the Secretary of the Department of Defence, that is quite correct. The information is contained in this document andI indicate to the House that when this matter was put to me and when a discussion occurred about the protocol, in relation to discussions that would take place, between myself and Sir Arthur Tange, I naturally asked the Secretary of the Department what was the normal procedure. It is indicated in this document that the reply of the Secretary of the Department of Defence was that it was not normal for members of a Minister’s staff to be present at such discussions. I then indicated that I wanted a record kept of those discussions and subsequently I made arrangements with the Secretary of the Department for a member of my staff to be present. The matter is clearly outlined in the document.
I believed that I should have a complete record of the discussions that were to take place and that a member of my staff should be present. That is quite clear and it is set out in this document. If the Leader of the Country Party misinterpreted my answer I say to him quite clearly that at that time I thought his question related to discussions that I had had with my Press secretary, Mr Lloyd.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the honourable member is concerned about the clarity of my question, I suggest he look at the Hansard record and he will see that it was as clear as a bell.
– Order! No point of order is involved.
– Will the Minister for Immigration investigate the delays of up to 12 months which occur in the issuing of tourist visas? Is the Minister aware that these delays cause great hardships and resentment, particularly as they affect parents and grandparents of Australian families who merely wish to come to our country for a visit?
– I share the honourable member’s concern at the delays to which he has referred. In fact, only last Friday I received, from a European country, a telephone call which indicated that a grandmother, who was aged 97, died while awaiting approval to visit Australia to see her grandchildren. She had been trying to come for some half a year. The rules governing the issue of visas to members of families in the past have caused continuing hardship. I am pleased to advise the honourable members that these rules have been changed and where there is a desire for a visit by a member of the family, particularly parents and grandparents who want to come to see their children or their grandchildren in Australia, the application will be dealt with not in 6 months or 9 months but in a matter of delays - I mean in a matter of days. As you can see from my slip of the tongue, Mr Speaker, I am almost stuck with the procedures of the past, but I am trying to change them as rapidly as I can. This has been a matter of concern for a very long time. I am happy to say that the procedures have been changed and that the sorts of incidents which have occurred in the past will not occur in the future.
– I ask the Minister for Labour whether he will elaborate his views on the inclusion of penalty provisions in respect of strikes, embodied in consent awards made by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– If the honourable gentleman will try to contain himself until the Bill is introduced, ail will be explained then.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. In view of the strong criticisms by members of the business community, professions and universities, of the complexity and the outdated philosophy of our ramshackle Australian company law as embodied in the uniform Companies Acts, will the Minister take urgent action to appoint an expert committee to examine in depth the position of corporations in our present society and the problems which they raise, and to advise the Government on the measures which should be enacted in the proposed Commonwealth Companies Act so as to make that Act effectively meet the needs of the Australian society in the twentieth century?
– There can be no doubt that what the honourable member has said is a matter of considerable concern. The increasing complexities of modern company activities and the changing patterns of behaviour in the commercial world certainly call for constant attention. I know that the Attorney-General has the matter under full and deep consideration and it will certainly be dealt with when the proposed Australiawide law dealing with companies is introduced. This question is not unrelated to the proposal of the Government to set up a securities and exchange commission, which also touches on the same sort of problem. However, I will refer the question to the Attorney-General and suggest that he give the honourable member a detailed answer.
-I direct my question to the Minister for Defence. In view of the Minister’s apparent acceptance of what he regards as the purported democratic direction of the Government by decisions of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party, will he assure this House that in matters relating to defence the decisions taken by the Government will be determined by the Government alone? Does he see the policy of the Government influenced by the direction of such persons as those who have been vocal from the left wing of the Party in Victoria in the last few days?
– The honourable member should be well aware that any decisions relating to defence in this Parliament will be made by the Government and those decisions will be conveyed to the people, lt is the Government’s responsibility to make decisions relating to defence. So far as the remaining part of the honourable member’s question is concerned, it does not concern me and it is certainly no concern of his.
– What action has the Minister for Education taken to provide emergency grants for needy students at tertiary institutions? What are the sums of money involved? To what extent will this measure relieve the problem which exists at present?
– Earlier in the year 1 received a letter from Professor Lazenby, the Vice-Chancellor of New England University. The V ice-Chancellor informed me that with the rise in fees in New South Wales universities of 16j per cent, in conjunction with a severe effect on family incomes in his region of New South Wales of the western New South Wales drought, a good many of his students were in considerable distress and he feared that some students would not be able to continue at the university. He indicated that he had made valiant efforts to help the students, and had raised a sum, which I recall was about $45,000, but that this would not be sufficient. I was not able to assure him that the Commonwealth Government would anticipate the decisions of next year and fully finance universities or, I should say, waive university fees, but I did indicate an interest in his problem of students who were in need.
As a result of further correspondence from the Vice-Chancellor I had discussions with Professor Williams, the chairman of ViceChancellors Committee, and then with the Australian Universities Commission and the Colleges of Advanced Education Commission. Submissions were then made to Cabinet which were approved and which will become the subject of amending legislation providing $3m for tertiary students, the amount to be divided between universities and colleges of advanced education. From memory the figures are $2,165,000 and $835,000 respectively. These sums of money are to be distributed among the vice-chancellors and the principals according to the enrolment of their universities or colleges. From the indications I have received the sum will be sufficient this year to meet the cases known to university officials or colleges of advanced education officials of students who are in need. I say that with one qualification, lt is easy enough for certain universities to tell me specifically the number of students who are leaving university because they cannot finance their continuing studies, although they have been successful. Those students can be recalled and assisted. However, it is not easy to know the number of students who matriculated but never applied because they had no resources. That is a serious problem. I believe that the $3m which will be appropriated and which I understand the universities and other institutions are already advancing will, in conjunction with their own resources, meet the emergency.
– Does the Minister for Defence agree that it is strange indeed that a man who had served him faithfully for 6 years should tender a resignation to take rapid effect without giving any reasons whatsoever for such tendering? Does the Minister also agree that it is equally strange that he, the employer, should accept and indeed seek to accelerate that resignation, again without giving any reasons for doing so? Can the Minister explain this strange and almost unbelievable occurrence?
– This matter is related to the circumstances as outlined in the document which is before the Leader of the Opposition and which I have tabled in the House. I do not hesitate to say that I did worry about the reasons for Mr Lloyd’s resignation. I inquired of the Department as to the instructions which had been given and was informed that Mr Lloyd had not been told that he could not attend the discussions which were to take place. This was apparently a result of a misunderstanding by the Department which I have now taken steps to rectify. In view of Mr Lloyd’s past relationship with me I can only regret that this unfortunate misunderstanding has occurred and that, because of subsequent oversights, I have not until now been informed of the real reason for Mr Lloyd’s resignation. As I said to the House earlier, I shall be in touch with Mr Lloyd about these matters.
– I ask the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation whether his attention has been drawn to a recent statement regarding the deaths of people in air crashes being due to cyanide gas, carbon monoxide and other gases from burning curtains, seat covers and so on, even though those people have survived impact. If so, has his Department investigated the matter to determine what articles give off such toxic substances? What steps are proposed to be taken by the Department to reduce the risks from these causes?
– I noticed in one of the Sydney newspapers recently a very interesting article on the number of deaths that were allegedly caused by fumes as the result of fire on board aircraft. It is a fairly technical question which the honourable doctor has asked me. I have referred the matter to the Department of Civil Aviation and asked the medical officers in that Department to give me a full and detailed report which I will make available to the honourable member when it is ready.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: In view of the fact that the telecommunications section of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department showed a profit of $71. lm in the financial year 1971-72, which included the implementation of part of what he called the country lines policy of which he was so critical, how does he substantiate the claim that he inherited a policy that would oblige him to increase telephone charges by 25 per cent next year to get capital? Secondly, will the introduction of a 35-hour week and the granting of 4 weeks annual leave further aggravate the financial position of his Department and necessitate even further increases in telephone and/ or postal charges?
– The honourable member for Maranoa in his question admits that there was a deliberate increase in telecommunication tariffs in 1970-71 to get an outrageous surplus for capital development. Of course, the difficulty is that the capital requirements are such that even that surplus was insufficient. My criticism, as explained in this House, concerned the justification for asking the existing subscribers to provide capital of such immense proportions for development when the work could well have been spaced over a number of years and financed in another way. As the honourable member would know, there are a number of grave problems in the Queensland area, particularly in the Brisbane centres, where there is an enormous backlog of work because there have been insufficient funds devoted to it. It would be important in any developing State for priorities to be considered in relation to need in order that adequate capital could be made available other than through subscribers. I would have thought that it would have been prudent for any government to ensure that its works programme was properly financed so that existing subscribers would not be fleeced to the extent that they have been whereby these works are provided from their incomes instead of from Consolidated Revenue.
(Mr Hurford proceeding to address a question to the Minister for Property and Services).
-The question is completely out of order.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I preface it by reminding him that during the election campaign he stated that a Labor Federal government would meet the financial commitment for stage 2 of the Ross River Dam project in Townsville. Does the Prime Minister intend to honour this promise and, if so, will the necessary finance be available on request?
– I made the undertaking. The means of implementing it are before the Government now. I expect to make an announcement quite soon.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I ask what action has been taken by the Government in relation to claims by primary and secondary industry for compensation for losses arising from revaluation and changes in the value of the United States dollar and other currencies?
– An interdepartmental committee has been set up comprising representatives of the Treasury, and the Departments of Primary Industry, Northern Development, Overseas Trade and the Prime Minister and Cabinet to consider a scheme for assistance for certain primary industries. The committee has made a report and has indicated a scheme of assistance for those most directly affected by the revaluation of the Australian dollar in December. Assistance has been given to the canned fruit and fresh fruit industries, the terms of which have been announced in detail by my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry. Has his attention been drawn to reports that the Government is considering abolishing export incentives? In view of the problems already created for exporters by the Government’s currency decisions, is the Minister able to confirm or deny the accuracy of these reports?
– I have seen the reports to which the honourable member refers and they are mostly inaccurate. The Government has given consideration to this matter, which was before an interdepartmental committee for some time. A report has been completed and it is ready for consideration by the Cabinet. When that report is considered full consideration will be given to the effect of revaluation on Australian secondary industry.
– I address my question to the Minister for Immigration. Is he aware that Victorian secondary schools with very heavy non-English speaking enrolments are being refused permission to employ enough English language teachers despite the fact that such teachers are available for employment? Is this an extension of the policy under which the Victorian Government diverts specialised English language teachers to general teaching duties? Will he take action as a matter of urgency to see that Victoria’s migrant children are not denied the English teachers upon whom their wider education so largely depends?
– I have had some telegram complaints from inner suburban school teachers in Melbourne stating the problem very much in the terms that were put forward in the honourable member’s question. I might say that I am very concerned at the reports which have been received. At the present time some 35,000 migrant children are receiving special assistance and special counselling. We would hope that this year there will be 1,000 teachers, financed from Commonwealth sources, to give assistance in this sphere of specific counselling and specific help in schools where there is a heavy concentration of migrants. The complaints which have been put forward by the honourable member have, as I said, also reached me by telegram. I have been informed that a fully detailed submission will be forthcoming from these schools and when it is received I can promise the honourable member that it will receive urgent attention and I hope that we will be able to meet the deficiency to which he has referred.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question which is supplementary to the question I asked him earlier. I wonder whether he would reconcile for me the answer which he gave to that question when he said the Government alone would determine the defence policy’ with the statement made publicly a week or so ago that it was a democratic process for the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party to direct the policies of a Labor government, with particular reference to troop movements from Singapore.
– I reiterate that in matters of defence, as with any other matters, the Cabinet, the Caucus and the Government will make the decisions relating to policy. But if the honourable gentleman wants me to spell out what T said publicly a few days ago then I will be glad to inform him that as the Australian Labor Party is democratically based - unlike the Opposition parties - every member of the Party has a right to determine policy which will be submitted to the Parliamentary Labor Party. As a result of policy decisions our platform is adopted by the Party. Perhaps I ought to remind the honourable gentleman that had it not been for the good work undertaken by members of the ALP in 1969 and again in 1972 it is clear that this Government may not have had the resounding victory it had in 1972. This is a democratic process.
– Some members in your own Party think you are a bit of a dud.
– You just hung on to your seat.
– You are just holding your job at the moment.
– You will be lucky if yourepeat the performance. To conclude the answer: The honourable member is well aware of the democratic processes that take place and I repeat what 1 have said, that the Government will make the decisions but when policy decisions are made by the Party then naturally they will be given due consideration by this Government.
– For the information of honourable members 1 present the text of the statement I made last Friday following the meeting between the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and trie concerning the River Murray and the River Murray Commission. Copies of this statement will be available to honourable members in the Parliamentary Library.
– For the information of honourable members T present a report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Twenty-seventh Parliament on the subject of Australia’s foreign aid.
Debate resumed from I March (vide page 1 86), on motion by Mr Mathews:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed lo:
We, the House of Representatives of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– On the last night of sitting we had the rather remarkable situation in which Opposition members, who had cried crocodile tears all day about being denied the right to speak in this Parliament, were not present to continue the debate on this subject. Two Government supporters had to be called successively. It would appear that wanting the opportunity and taking it are 2 different matters for the Opposition Parties. They could not even find enough speakers or else they were too-
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I wonder whether you would provide the honourable member with a copy of last Thursday’s Hansard so that he can see the reason for what happened. It was fully explained.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I can understand the honourable member’s charging at this matter. One of the Opposition’s front bench members would not speak because he would have to divide his time between 2 sitting days of the Parliament. That is how serious honourable members opposite are. They are a pack of prima donnas.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable member knows very well that this was explained by me during the adjournment debate on the last day of sitting. The speech would have been the maiden speech of a member of the Australian Country Party.
– It ill behoves the honourable member to speak on this matter. The speakers listed were the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), then the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), followed by the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson). There were 2 Liberal Party speakers who would not come into the House. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) can ask members of his own Party.
– You are out of date, as usual.
– I had the list of speakers in front of me. I can understand the Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party being upset when members of his own Party are not here to back up the statements of their Leader in this House.
I want to deal with one other subject which I think should be aired in this Parliament. A lot of statements have been made, especially by Opposition members, alleging that other governments would not be prepared to trust a government which accepted the advice of its outside political organs. They are saying quite clearly and loudly that if a political Party is honest - I emphasise that word - and acknowledges the right of its members to have a say in the way that Party conducts itself in the Parliament, other governments would not be able to trust that Party. What is in fact being said is that governments such as the Canadian Government cannot be trusted. In that country the Prime Minister is selected by the Party conferences, not by the parliamentary Party, and it is usually necessary for the Party to provide a seat in parliament for that member after he is elected leader of the Party. 1 suggest that some degree of honesty in approach by Opposition members would be of great value to this Parliament. I also suggest that if members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party in this place do not stand on the platforms of their Parties, are heard publicly to state that they do not support the policies of their Parties and are not in this Parliament or other parliaments for the purpose of implementing the policies of their Parties, their election is nothing short of a confidence trick. They have stood for election on a party platform but they come into the Parliament and say that they are not prepared to accept the policies of the party which they sought election to represent.
At this stage I suggest that there are very important matters before this Parliament. The Australian Labor Party, which now has the privilege of forming a Government in this Parliament, was elected on a policy and platform which was devised by consultations through all organs of the Party and by accepting advice from persons outside the Party who wished to make submissions to the Party. It was a policy which was refined over a long period of time and enunciated by the Leader of the Party on behalf of the Party. To suggest or in any way indicate that this Government, having been elected, should now repudiate its announced policies and the means by which those policies were evolved would be to suggest that the Government of the country could become dishonest. I suggest that any man who seeks his Party’s endorsement and stands for election on the policy of that Party and then seeks to repudiate in the Parliament the right of that Party to ask him to carry out the policies on which he was elected is a person not fitted to be a member of this or any other Parliament.
The matters which were placed before the Australian people in the Governor-General’s Speech as the programme of this Government constitute a programme to bring Australia forward into the 1970s out of the dim, dark ages in which the unimaginative LiberalCountry Pary government maintained it. At the time when the former government was defeated we bad not advanced beyond the mid- 1950s, and anyone who has listened to what has been said in this House since that time by the members of the former government parties will fully realise just how far in the past those people are living.
I have pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-RepIy. I believe that the Speech given by the GovernorGeneral outlines a basic programme for Australia of which every Australian will be proud. I am sure that this House will overwhelmingly accept that programme in the years to come, and we will make sure that it will be implemented.
- Mr Speaker, I would like to begin by complimenting you upon your elevation to the high and august position that you occupy. Over the long period of time that I have been privileged to know you in this House I have come to appreciate your ability to interject in debate, from time to time, to relieve the atmosphere and to make people feel that their significance is perhaps less than they might be demonstrating. I feel that in the years to come we will have ample opportunity to see you in the chair giving us an illustration, as you did this afternoon, of your ability to put people in their places.
I would also like to extend my compliments to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who is Mr Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. During the years in which the honourable member for Corio has been here since he took the place of our great friend, Sir Hubert Opperman, he has been a popular and highly respected member of the House. Both you, Sir, and the honourable member for Corio were elected to the offices you now occupy in this Parliament without opposition by the Opposition parties, and it is reasonable to point out that this is a compliment to you. As is our custom at the beginning of a new Parliament, I would also like to compliment the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) and the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) who have prepared the Address-in-Reply and those other gentlemen who have made their maiden speeches in this debate which has provided their first opportunity to speak in the House of Representatives of Australia. Those honourable members are in Parliament for the first time. 1 listened with a great deal of interest to the Speech that was made by the GovernorGeneral on behalf of the new Australian Government. It is an interesting experience to speak for the first time since 1949 from the Opposition benches, lt is only when one looks at such robust and earnest gentlemen as the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) and others on this side and across the other side of the House at my friend, the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), that one realises that from time to time we may have a robust exchange of opinions. I have no doubt that they will be of great interest.
The 23 years during which the coalition Liberal-Country Party Government led Australia were without parallel in the history of development of this nation. From 1949 to 1972, this country became known internationally as the lucky country and, although from time to time there may have been the odd blemish and the room for improvement which can always be found in every environment and in every economy, I am quite sure that my friends and colleagues on both sides of the House will agree with me that Australia knew great development and prosperity in those years. Some interesting international changes have taken place to which we should direct our attention as they relate to the change of government in Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has stated with great clarity that changes towards a new foreign policy have been a direct result of his personal interpretations and his Party’s understanding of those international changes. It is interesting to note that the policy of the Australian Labor Party appears to have been consistent with the changes in policy that have emerged from the United States of America. There is no doubt that, in the speeches that were made in this House on foreign affairs - at least after 1964 and 1965 - there was a thread of appeal for the People’s Republic of China to be recognised as something other than that country which had attacked, for example, Tibet and been guilty of genocide some 20- odd years ago.
That the present Australian Prime Minister made overtures to go to the People’s Republic of China cannot be denied. When arrangements were made for the President of the United States to visit the People’s Republic of China, it looked as though the then Leader of the Opposition in Canberra had been looking into a crystal ball and making assessments which would prove remarkable in their future application. What was the real reason for the American decision to seek a closer relationship with the People’s Republic of China? lt is interesting to wonder whether, if the People’s Republic of China had not proceeded to establish its own nuclear capacity and if, for example, from the period of Premier Khrushchev onwards there had not been a deterioration in relations between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China, the present situation would have existed at all.
The countries in our region which are most vitally concerned with the relations between the People’s Republic of China and the USSR are, of course, Japan and, unquestionably, Taiwan and India and Pakistan. Australia, being so far away, has watched the deterioration in relations between the USSR and the People’s Republic of China and wondered whether this deterioration was an indication that nuclear war would take place in due course. This is a matter of great concern to the people of the United States of America and their President must know that, in the event of hostilities breaking out between countries which are capable of using nuclear weapons, the dangers of nuclear war are increased enormously. Therefore, it seems to me quite logical that, once the President of the United States felt that relations between Peking and Moscow were so bad and that the Government in Peking wanted to seek what is called the normalisation of relations with the United States in order to return to the family of nations throughout the world, he should encourage the Government in Peking to do so. I think that was the decision which was made and which has led to the remarkable change that has taken place in the last 12 months. It can be observed and must be admitted that the People’s Republic of China is moving towards normal relations with more countries at a greater rate than would have been deemed possible 10 or even 5 years ago.
However, it is vital for us to remember that, at present, relations between the USSR and the People’s Republic of China remain very sensitive. Large forces confront each other on the borders between the 2 countries. The Japanese, of course, who would be vitally concerned in any war between the USSR and the People’s Republic of China, have done all that they can to normalise their relations with the Government in Peking in order to establish, if possible, a measure of influence and understanding with that Government in the hope that peace will be maintained in our region. This leaves Taiwan - the Republic of China - to be considered. One wonders whether the wisdom of the ages, which one hopes will prevail in Peking, will lead to a situation where Taiwan will be ignored in terms of military considerations and the future government in Peking will forget the famous quotation from Mao’s little red book that politics grow out of the barrel of a gun.
All these matters to which I have referred have a significant relationship to the policies of the new Australian Government. Those policies appear to have been under some pressure from some people - at least within the Australian Labor Party - who over recent days have sought to create a problem between the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) and the Secretary of that Department. This is a line of conduct which I would describe as being not in the interests of Australia. The very distinguished Secretary of the Department of Defence, Sir Arthur Tange, is well known internationally. He is known within this country as a former head of the Department of External Affairs, now called the Department of Foreign Affairs, and he is one of our top and most experienced men. It would be a monumental tragedy if, for parry political reasons, there were any great conflict between the Minister, who carries on his shoulders the problems of the defence of Australia, and the head of his Department. From my own point of view, if there has to be a Labor government in power, I would prefer to see in charge of our defence a man who has flown the Fill and had served at the battle of El Alamein rather than someone less conspicuous.
During the last few minutes of my speech, I should like to refer to another matter which was mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech and which concerns me greatly. It relates to Papua New Guinea. I quote from the Governor-General’s Speech as follows:
My Government will move with all due speed towards the creation of an independent, united Papua New Guinea. It proposes to achieve this in thi closest consultation with the Government and House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea within the life of this Parliament.
I have had some experience of Papua New Guinea myself. I have been somewhat troubled in recent years when the Leader of the Opposition - now the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) - made it clear that he believed it to be of vital importance to the welfare of Australia that Papua New Guinea should become an independent country as quickly as possible. I am, however, taking heart from the comment in the Governor-General’s speech that it should be a united country. I believe that the Prime Minister will realise that there is no great benefit for Australia if we create an independent Papua New Guinea and watch within 2 years a fragmentation process which will take Bougainville and perhaps areas of New Britain out of the zone of control of the Government in Port Moresby. I do not think that any sensible Australian would wish to see this occur.
I make the appeal to the Prime Minister to put the accent upon the term ‘united’ as well as the term ‘independent’. I believe it to be of first-class importance to Australia that our Prime Minister and our Government should be able to say: ‘We are now quite convinced that Papua New Guinea, as an independent country, will remain united’. If there is any doubt about this, I believe that Australia’s interests are best served by remaining, at the request of the Government in Port Moresby, closely associated with the Territory and accepting responsibility in its defence and its political development. If the independent Papua New Guinea Government has to be established during the lifetime of this Parliament, it seems to me that the decision about the date of independence should be left to Mr Somare and his colleagues, for they must be best placed to analyse this fragmentation problem to which I have referred. In the event of pressures developing within the Territory; in the event of the people of Bougainville seeking secession and in the event of the Tolais and the Mataungans - the people in New Britain - seeking to achieve autonomy in relation to the Government in Port Moresby, it is quite clear that Australia’s great efforts, particularly over the last 20 years, will be set at nought. It must be remembered that vast sums of Australian taxpayers’ money have been spent in development within Papua New Guinea. It is obvious, when one looks at that Territory, that it will continue to depend, to an enormous degree, for its development upon the generosity of the Australian people, and that generosity will, in fact, be reflected in the policies adopted by the Australian Government.
An early reference in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech related to the manifest desire of large sections of the Australian community, particularly, it was said, the youthful majority, for a more tolerant, more open, more humane, more equal and yet more diverse society. In my judgment it would be very difficult to find any society on this earth which would be more humane, more equal yet more diverse than the Australian society has been over the last SO years. The truth of the matter is, as I said in the beginning of my speech, that this country has been very fortunate. It has been protected largely from the evil effects of the Great World Wars of 1914- 18 and 1939-45. We have, under the umbrella of our powerful friends, been able to create a society which has developed at an enormous rate - a society which has been prosperous and within which the welfare of the average family is as well developed as can be found in any country on this earth. I therefore feel that if there is a desire for a more tolerant, more open, more humane, more equal and yet diverse society it should be acknowledged that we are not starting from what is, in fact, a police state or something as sinister as that. I will support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in whatever motions he may put to the House on particular aspects of this matter. 1 say to the Prime Minister and his colleagues of the Australian Labor Party that I look forward to some interesting jousts in this House from time to time in relation to some of the economic policies that they will endeavour to bring to the people of Australia. I hope that when those policies are argued out in this place and in another place we shall have ample opportunity for political expression.
– I find it difficult to believe that those present in the House last week could not have been affected by events that marked the opening of the 28th Parliament. Those who were not affected lack any sense of occasion. The return of the Australian Labor Party to the Treasury benches after an absence of 23 years was an event that brought untold pleasure to millions of Australians. Only a handful actually participated in the proceedings but throughout the nation those who have supported us, worked for us, voted for us and shared our moment of triumph and, I believe, many others who did not, were, nevertheless wishing us well.
For my own part it completed my greatest ambition - to witness and participate in a Federal Labor Government. That ambition commenced a little over 13 years ago. A sense of disquiet at a lack of national goals and national leadership, a feeling that the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, was smugly complacent at the manner in which he had ruled in the interests of a privileged few, gave way to real anger at the callous manner in which the 1960 credit squeeze was introduced and which put approximately 150,000 people out of work. It seemed inconceivable to me at the time that any government could so lightly regard the welfare of hundreds of thousands of human beings as to use their suffering as a means of righting their own economic misadventures. Yet the same callousness prevailed recently in the 1971 Budget.
For someone whose family background was predominantly apolitical and who had been nurtured within the confines of the privileged private school system, I determined that people with such scant regard for their fellow Australians were no longer fit to rule this country - not now or ever. I resolved to play whatever part 1 could in bringing about the removal of the Liberal-Country Party coalition from the government of this country. Each year that passed since I made that decision further strengthened that resolve and as I gained and learnt more of the Australian political scene and my interest broadened to encompass a much wider field of human endeavour, I came to realise just how badly this country had been governed. Wherever one looks, the appalling deficiencies and neglect are obvious. In the area of planning, whether it be economic, urban or agricultural, there is almost a total lack of direction. In the field of human relations whether it be the aged, the invalid or low income workers, the Aborigine, the younger generation or the socially and politically conscious, there has been total lack of appreciation or understanding of what places people in their present plight or what concerns them.
Our opponents pride themselves on their relations with other countries, yet internationally we were regarded as primitives, aligned to the long discredited foreign policies of, first, Great Britain and. more recently, the United States of America. It became more and more obvious to Australians that foreign policy pronouncements of imaginary threats of communist takeovers in our near north were blatant political propaganda for internal domestic consumption. How convenient it was that these threats appeared just prior to an election and faded quickly after the election was over. Our concern for the plight of those threatened by dictatorships from the extreme left was matched only by our lack of concern for those already under the dictatorship of the extreme right. Whilst thousands of young Australians were fighting and dying in South Vietnam to save that country for democracy our former Prime Minister was trying desperately to maintain relations with countries which select their sporting teams on the colour of a man’s skin. Ever ready to denounce the denial of human rights in Russia, China, North Vietnam and other communist countries, the former Government was noticeably reluctant to apply the same yardstick to South Africa, Rhodesia, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the Philippines.
No doubt for years the pundits will argue the reasons for Labor’s victory and the Liberal’s defeat. There are those who will put the view that the Liberals lost because of lack of leadership and disunity and that Labor’s ‘It’s time’ slogan was an appropriate rallying cry for the mood of the electorate. There are those who will argue that we won because of the positive leadership shown by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the carefully worked out and imaginative policies that he put to the Australian people in the whole of the period of his leadership of the Australian Labor Party. There will be those who will argue that the Liberals lost because they failed to stand up to the continued blackmail and threats of members of the Country Party to withdraw from the coalition if they did not get their way, and that both of the coalition parties had failed to enunciate new policies and programs to deal with the problems that beset the Australian society of the 1970’s. The arguments will be never-ending, each putting his case, dependent upon his own particular prejudices or the barrow he is trying to push.
Since 1 joined the Labor Party I have heard at least 10 different explanations why the Australian Labor Party lost the 1949 election. Those who will prosper from the last election are those who realise that a little of all those reasons contributed to the change of Government. What surprises me is that in the few days that Parliament has been meeting the new Opposition appears to have learnt absolutely nothing from its recent defeat, lt would appear that members of the Opposition regard the result as some aberration to be tolerated for 3 years until the electorate comes to its senses and returns them to their rightful place, ordained by God and Queen, to rule Australia. Unless they improve on their inauspicious start of the past 3 months I can assure them that they may well set a new record for the term spent by a party in Opposition.
Incidentally, if 1 may digress a little, I noticed that the former Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, took some solace from the fact that the coalition had lost only 8 seats with a swing of 2.5 per cent whereas his predecessor, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) had lost 17 seats. He failed to mention that his predecessor had to defend the best result the non-labor parties had had since Federation, and that had there been a further swing of a little over one half of one per cent he would have lost a further 6 seats, namely, Parramatta, Paterson, Bendigo, Deakin, Henty and Griffith, and would have faced a Labor majority of 21 seats.
The nice gerrymander that prevented Labor from taking office in 1954 and 1961 when it gained the majority of the 2-party preferred vote operated again during the last election so that Labor required 52.7 per cent of the 2- party preferred vote to gain office, whilst our opponents could have retained office with 48.5 per cent of the vote. With electorate boundaries drawn fairly - with one man, one vote, one value - the defeat of the Liberal PartyCountry Party coalition would have been devastating. Government must go to the party or parties which gain 50.1 per cent of the 2- party preferred vote. Our electoral system should be designed accordingly to ensure that the democracy we acclaim so loudly is a reality as well as a theory.
The address given by the Governor-General last week is a momentous document for social change. It is ambitious; it is grand; it is a blue print for a great society and for a great nation, lt is also a massive indictment of 23 years of apathy and indifference. In our early years as a nation we led the world with progressive and enlightened legislation. It is Australia that now looks to other countries for example. 1 was amused to hear some of the asides muttered by the Liberals during and after the Governor-General’s address. It is a measure of how out of touch with the real world they are that they should sneer at our program, lt was their sneering and arrogance that put them where they are today.
We have been accused of trying to create a Utopia. 1 think ‘instant Utopia’ is the phrase used in a derogatory and derisory fashion. Frankly. I find that phrase flattering. I make no apologies for wanting to create a Utopia. I believe that that should be the aim of any just and humane society. I am realistic and pragmatic enough to realise that Utopia can never be achieved, but that should not stop us trying. If we get half or three quarters of the way there it will be an immense advance on not trying at all.
A great deal of public discussion has taken place on Labor’s program. If our supporters were pleasantly surprised at the speed with which reforms were announced our opponents were left gasping. After hearing for so many years how impossible it was to act in so many areas it was almost laughable that the only criticism the conservatives in the community could come up with was that we were going too fast. What was evident to the rest of the community was how easily these reforms could be carried out by a Government with the wit and the will to apply itself to the task.
In almost every field of government there has been action. Those in receipt of pensions will soon receive their first increase as part of our program of lifting the standard rate pension to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. The abolition of the means test and the introduction of a national superannuation scheme are also part of our program. There have been emergency grants to States to assist in overcoming the backlog of housing commission homes which is now running in excess of 90,000. A schools and a pre-schools commission will soon be evaluating the needs of education in both the private and public sector so that genuine equality of opportunity is available to every Australian child, irrespective of colour, nationality, heritage or religion. A new era in industrial relations will begin with the object of eliminating legislation which is now the cause of friction between employer and employee and between one trade union and another.
A national inquiry into the largest Government Department, the Post Office, is about to begin. Our natural resources will be developed by Australians for Australians. Already steps are in motion to establish a national pipeline authority to construct and maintain a natural gas pipeline system throughout Australia to ensure continuity of supply and uniformity of price. Votes for 18-year-olds, the abolition of national service, recognition of the People’s Republic of China, and more control of and information about United States bases in Australia are all measures that daily add to the program introduced by the new Government. It is now a little over 3 months since we gained office, yet more has been achieved in that short period than in any 3 year period during the past 2 decades. Each day has highlighted the incredible inadequacies of the previous administration.
We are now in the process of debating the program outlined in the Governor-General’s address. We have presented our program. The Opposition will criticise it. This is the democratic process. It is right and proper that it should do so. It is equally true that those who judge the Government and the Opposition - the Australian voter - should hear what the alternative government proposes. This is the other half of the parliamentary’ process.
I notice the front bench spokesmen for the Opposition are complaining that their Press releases are not being reported adequately in the media. When one finds that during the first 3 months of their new-found role they have relied solely on negative criticism of the Government and have not put forward one constructive suggestion, it is hardly surprising. Is it not about time that the Australian people started to hear the program and policy of what is laughingly called the Opposition? What is its excuse? ls it that it has not had time or is nol 23 years enough time to determine national goals and policies? We heard what happened to the policy committees set up under the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) last year. It is easy enough to operate without clear-cut policy when a party has control of the Treasury, when it can distribute largess, when it can alter electoral boundaries, when it can select the timing of an election or when it indulges in the gutter politics that marked the last week of campaigning of the 1972 election, but it is another ball game when it is denied those advantages, lt has been obvious to the Australian Labor Party for many years that what passed for national goals and policies were simply a nervous twitching from time to time as the political climate changed. We need only look at the performances over the past few days to see that nothing has changed amongst the Liberal and Country Parties. Their approach is totally negative and devoted almost entirely to trivia. I realise that they will have to learn how to ask a question. I would have imagined that they would be able to come up with something better than the innocuous questions asked so far.
The censure motion moved on Thursday morning must surely have been the non-event of the week, but the prize for the most adolescent performance must go to whoever decided to oppose the extension of one minute for the ringing of the division bells. One hour and ten minutes was devoted to such trivia. Is it any wonder that Parliament and politicians are held in such low esteem? One can imagine the reaction of those who tuned in to the parliamentary broadcast last Thursday afternoon. If they were surprised then they must have been even more amazed when they heard Opposition members attributing all the ills that beset Australia to a government that had been in power for only 3 months.
I was fascinated to hear the maiden speech of one new Country Party member, the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann). Whilst I congratulate him for the fluency of his initial performance, I can assure him that he underestimates the intelligence of the average Australian voter if he believes that Australian voters will accept that the failure to decentralise, the lack of telephones and the total absence of any attempt to develop our tourist industry is the fault of the Labor Government. I am sure that if this House had assembled on 3rd December, Country Party members would have been blaming the new Government for every shortcoming in Australia. Whilst the honourable member for Fisher gets some marks for cheek, he came nowhere near the performance of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), the former Minister for Social Services, who surely comes up with the prize-winning performance of all time. After being the Minister responsible for social welfare for nearly 5 years and having failed to abolish the means test he now proposes to move:
That in the opinion of this House the abolition of the means test for all persons aged 65 and over should not be delayed beyond the 1973 Budget.
Can any honourable member in this Parliament surpass that performance for audacity? I would have thought that even the honourable member for Mackellar gave the Australian voters credit for a little more intelligence than that. If we need more proof that things are just as they were before one needs only lo read the nauseating drivel that passed for a speech by one of the Opposition’s backwoodsmen, the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn). If one needs evidence of how out of touch with the Australian electorate are most members of the Liberal Party, let me remind the House of what the honourable member had to say. In his speech last Wednesday he said:
There is no doubt in my mind that the Chinese Government has made certain that Australia will become a satellite communist country much the same as Czechoslovakia is to the Soviet Union, much the same as Poland is to the Soviet Union. . . . and so on.
I refer to some of his other remarks which almost would have called for a withdrawal. However, I understand under parliamentary procedure an honourable member may insult a party. The honourable member went on to say:
I see very little difference between the activities of this Government in hitting the headlines in this manner and those of the Black September movement which annihilated athletes last September.
Surely that must be a new low in parliamentary dialogue.
I should like to conclude by mentioning the question of Parliament as an institution, a matter on which I spoke in my first term in Parliament. It concerned me gravely as a member of the Opposition back bench that Parliament was being ignored and that too much was rubber-stamped by Parliament. There was little or no debate and no opportunity for backbenchers on either side to make a contribution to the parliamentary process. I feel that it is most important that the new Government gives the opportunity previously denied to honourable members. I am hopeful that when Bills are introduced and Opposition backbenchers come up with proposals that are acceptable, the Government will accept them. I cannot see that either side of the Parliament has all the conventional wisdom or all the intelligence. I hope that the Cabinet and my Party will show tolerance this time, in a way in which we were never treated before. Unless the Labor Party adopts that course we can ask no quarter if we return to the Opposition benches in the future.
– That will not happen.
– I certainly hope that it will not happen for a very long time. It is too easy for governments to become complacent and feel that they alone know the answers to problems. I am sure we do not have to diverge from our basic philosophy and proposals, but I believe that if an Opposition member comes up with a proposal, it ought to be given consideration. This is the only way in which Parliament can start to operate. If an honourable member knows that he has a chance to change legislation he will come into the House. The reason why honourable members stayed in their offices and attended committees was that they knew they were the only places where constructive work was done. Certainly they have not been able to get anything done in the Parliament. I hope there will be a big change in that field in the next 3 years.
– Firstly I should like to add my congratulations to Mr Speaker upon his election to the Chair. I hope that in that job he does not lose the sense of humour that we have enjoyed from him over the last few years. I offer my congratulations to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your election to that position and to the position of Chairman of Committees. I know that you will do a good job. I now turn to the Address-in-Reply. One of the most outstanding omissions of Government policy promises in the Governor-General’s Speech last Tuesday was in that portion dealing with regional development. Albury-Wodonga was mentioned as a site which would receive attention, but no mention was made of the promised development of Townsville. My remarks in this Address-in-Reply debate will be confined to the subject of regional development and to the statements made on this subject by the present Government during the last election campaign.
During this campaign much was said about the establishment of regional growth centres in the Albury-Wodonga area and in the city of Townsville in north Queensland. In fact these were the only areas mentioned as being specifically chosen for accelerated growth. This idea suits the people of north Queensland fine, but I would like to know whether, prior to these statements being made, consideration was given to the problems of making Townsville a regional growth centre. I should like to know, and I know the north Queensland people would like to know, whether the Government is honest in its intentions to implement this idea. If so, when is a start to be made? I should like to know also whether this statement about promoting a regional growth centre in Townsville was just another election gimmick to win votes in north Queensland. The reason that the. Government’s statement on this matter is suspect is that during the campaign so much was promised to the people in the north that they are now beginning to wonder whether excuses will be found to delay the implementation of all these promises.
An additional reason which makes the Government’s pre-election promises suspect is the purpose of the last Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party being held in Townsville early in 1972. At the commencement of the conference the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party stated that the specific reason for the conference being held in Townsville was to assist in unseating the Federal member for Herbert. During that week Press statements were directed towards just that. In the ensuing period many magnificent promises were made by the Australian Labor Party candidate for the benefit of the area, presumably, as the people were led to believe through the Press, on behalf of the then Leader of the Opposition and the now. Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). As many honourable members will imagine, I was tremendously upset at having to disappoint the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party by retaining my seat. This leads to one question. Is the Government honest in its intention to promote accelerated growth in Townsville? If so, has it considered all of the problems that will have to be tackled and overcome before this can be achieved? If so, when is a start to be made? Or was it just another election promise that will be fobbed off with excuses until it becomes another distant memory? If the Government is honest in its intentions would it define, loudly and clearly, its interpretation of ‘regional development’? Does this just mean the development of an existing city or the development of surrounding districts as well as the city? It is said that the Albury-Wodonga area will become a planned city in which it will be a delight to live. This may be all right for New South Wales and Victoria but Queensland needs new cities like we need holes in the head because Queensland is the greatest example of decentralisation. This was acknowledged by the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition. In my opinion the existing cities and towns in Queensland and the districts surrounding them should be considered for development before there is any talk or thought of building new cities.
Let us look at what the Government has promised to do in respect of regional development. During the policy speech of the present Government prior to the recent elections, these were some of the statements that were, made on this subject: Rebuilding our existing cities and building new ones; promote a massive attack on the problem of land and housing costs; water and sewerage services to all premises by 1978; implement the recommendation that centres nominated for accelerated development be recognised for telephone charging purposes as extensions of the metropolitan area, whereby rentals would be equated and calls between these places and the State capital charged as for local calls; in its first term of office to concentrate initiatives and endeavours in 2 areas, Albury-Wodonga and Townsville; purchase land in co-operation with State and local governments, acquiring rural land before it is zoned and the land then to be released on a leasehold basis; freezing of land prices in growth centres such as Albury-Wodonga; provide money to build homes for 200,000 people on the southern outskirts of Sydney as a planned city, the land to be developed on a leasehold basis and allocated according to needs or ballot.
These are the policy statements the Labor Party made on this subject during the election campaign. Let us have a brief look at some of them.
I suppose the rebuilding of our existing cities and the building of new ones is the Government’s contribution to the idea of decentralisation, but as I have mentioned Queensland needs new cities like we need holes in the head. What is meant by a massive attack on the problem of land and housing costs I do not know. In my opinion this situation certainly needs some control, but I think it will be most interesting to see how the Government mounts its massive attack on this problem without detrimental effect to complementary industries.. Then I guess the people who live in Camooweal, Cloncurry, Hughenden, Julia Creek and the dozens of towns such as these throughout Queensland and in the outback towns of other States would be most happy to have water and sewerage services laid on to their premises by 1978. During the election campaign and at a Press conference after the election, the piesent Prime Minister was most emphatic that Townsville would be regarded as a centre for regional development and accelerated growth, and while I think this is a highly commendable intention. I wonder whether he and other members of the Ministry have thought of the problems associated with this intention. These problems and the methods employed to solve them, providing the Government goes ahead with its intentions, could well become a guideline for centres designated for development in the future, that is, of course, if the Government really intends to proceed with its proposal.
I mentioned earlier that it was the Government’s policy to regard recognised development centres as extensions of the metropolitan area for telephone charges and services. Townsville is close to 1,000 miles from Brisbane, and if the Government does implement its policy it will be interesting to see the effect on the people of Ayr, Home Hill, Ingham, Tully, Cardwell, Innisfail, Cairns, Mount Isa and other such places who will have to pay normal trunk line charges to Brisbane while people in Townsville will enjoy the privilege of being able to make the same trunk call for 5c. There is no doubt that it would suit the people of Townsville, but I would rather the new Government implement this policy than me, for I can imagine some very irate people in north Queensland will be asking why this privilege can be extended to 74,000 people in one centre and not to the whole of north Queensland.
There is no doubt that the city of Townsville, the second largest in Queensland, is growing rapidly and that this growth has been continuous over the last few years. It has been doing this in its own right and it will continue to grow as the need for expansion arises; but there is one major problem which must be overcome before any talk of accelerated growth can even begin to be considered and this is the problem of an adequate water supply. The normal daily usage for people and industry in Townsville is approximately 15 million gallons. This supply comes from a dam erected in the mountains some 40-odd miles to the north and from weir catchment areas situated on the Ross River. Both these supplies are dependent on adequate rainfall, which is not always assured. Any prolonged dry spell means excessive water restrictions both for people and industry. In fact, the city was limited to a daily usage of approximately 9 million gallons over the last few months. At the beginning of this year the city had only sufficient water to last for 42 days at the rate of 9 million gallons a day. Fortunately there has been sufficient rain since to extend this period. The point I am trying to make is this: Before the new Government can take one step to establish Townsville as a growth centre, it must ensure that there is sufficient water to service this growth.
– What did you do about it during the years you were in office?
– I am giving the Government a chance to. get off the very large hook it is on if its supporters would only listen. At the present moment there is a flood mitigation and water storage project being undertaken on the Ross River. If this dam is completed and if there is sufficient rain to fill the dam and keep it filled, it will ease the water requirement situation for a period of only a few years. The complete answer to regional development in this area is the construction of the Burdekin Dam. Whether the Prime Minister was angling for votes I do not know but he stated during the election campaign that this project would be proceeded with. This is easy enough to promise, but the construction of dams is not done cheaply and in my opinion the Burdekin Dam at this stage would cost approximately $400m to complete. Therefore the question arises: will he honour this promise or will it be shelved using the excuse of awaiting definite information on the project?
The Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) made a statement on 1st February that immediate action was to be taken to accelerate the reappraisal of the Burdekin River basin, and that he was shocked at the almost complete lack of action on the part of
Federal authorities on this matter. He further stated that the evaluation could take several years to complete and that the Prime Minister had made it clear that the resources of the Burdekin basin were vital to the economical development of Townsville. In fact the statement implied that nothing much had been done and that it would be years before anything could be done.
Yet the 1971-72 annual report of the Commissioner for Irrigation and Water Supply in Queensland stated that work continued on the re-examination of the original scheme based on the Burdekin Falls Dam which was reported on in 1951. Topographic mapping of alternative diversion dam sites was completed and preliminary assessment of storage potential on 2 tributaries was commenced. The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation completed a preliminary investigation of other dam sites on the Burdekin, and a more detailed study of another site was initiated. These and other aspects of the appraisal have been the subject of further discussions with Commonwealth departments. A joint Commonwealth-State technical working group was formed and commenced preparation of a detailed outline for study which would define the scope and responsibilities for the more detailed work to follow. In view of this report I fail to see how it could be said that practically nothing had been undertaken, and 1 would suggest that there is enough appraisal work completed for the Government to announce whether it intends to commence the Burdekin project and if so, when it would commence. If the Government feels that this scheme would be too expensive for it to implement, let it say so in all honesty. Perhaps then we can provide the answer for another project which would satisfy all of Townsville City’s water requirements at a great deal less cost. But this water problem is the first matter that must be considered over and above anything else.
Another question I have regarding this development is: Does the Government intend to concentrate on the expansion of Townsville itself, or the region around Townsville, which would include the Burdekin, Charters Towers and Ingham districts? My own opinion is that the whole district should be developed if the Government intends to proceed with its idea of establishing regional development. Ingham for instance is an area which could be developed extensively for the benefit of that area and for Townsville. If this were accepted there is over 100,000 acres of prime forest land which is ideally suited for growing softwoods. At the moment we import a lot of our softwoods for local use, and yet this area, which could produce millable timber in from 10 to 12 years, is standing idle. Also these softwoods, used in conjunction with bagasse, the fibrous waste from sugar cane milling, could produce a pulp which would be acceptable for export marketing. This would mean the establishment of a pulp mill which in turn would mean continuous employment, both rural and industrial, for quite a number of people.
If the Government proceeds with the development of Townsville as it says it will in its first term of office, extensions to the port facilities will have to be considered. In the light of any growth these extensions would become a necessity, especially with the expansion of our mineral production. The problem of freight costs both to and from the north will have to be considered if any industrial expansion is to be undertaken, in order for us to compete in all markets and to ensure continuity of northern production. A definite increase in communications will also have to be considered, and by communications 1 mean transport and other services throughout the district. It would mean an upgrading of the road system and the sea and air services, something which could not be accomplished without huge financial assistance. The establishment of an international airport in Townsville is to be undertaken if the Government honours another promise, and this also leads to further heavy financial commitment by the new Federal Government. But please do not misunderstand me on this, because I wholeheartedly support the idea of regional development. But it is my opinion that this development must also include districts as well as cities and towns. The development of a city is useless without the development of surrounding districts. If the new Government is sincere in its intention to promote such development throughout the nation, then I am prepared to support it. But at the present moment, in view of the Government’s confusing approach to regional development, I feel it may be some time before we will see any positive moves in this direction. The decision to make an area a growth centre is easy, but the implementation of this decision is going to be far from easy. In all sincerity I ask the Government: Are you honest in your intentions in this matter so far as Townsville is concerned, or are you not?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Before I call the honourable member for Diamond Valley I point out to the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, first, may I ask you to convey my congratulations to Mr Speaker on his appointment to the high office which he’ now holds and also ask you to accept my congratulations on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. Perhaps the greatest honour which can come to anyone in a parliamentary democracy is to act as a representative of his or her fellow citizens. I am very conscious of the honour of representing the people of Diamond Valley in this House, and I thank the electors for their support. I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking my predecessor, Neil Brown, for the work he did on behalf of the people of Diamond Valley. Although we belong to different parties and have different points of view on many important matters of policy, we have, through 2 election campaigns remained friends. I wish him well.
The Governor-General’s Speech is a blueprint for social and economic change in Australia. I would like to comment on some of the issues raised in the speech, and add some of my own thoughts on what I believe to be desirable extensions in the years to come. We live in an age of challenge and an age of change. I believe that it is up to all honourable members, both Government and Opposition, to make sure that this Parliament works. I hope that this twenty-eighth Parliament goes down in history as the great reforming parliament. If the aims as set out in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech are put into effect, then this hope will be realised. The Speech lists very important matters such as social security which will affect the basic welfare of Australians. We live in a country where no-one should suffer poverty, where no-one should be lonely in old age and where no-one who is sick does not receive proper care. We live in a community which is rich enough to provide for the needs of its citizens. What happens depends to a large extent on us. This Parliament bears the responsibility.
This Parliament should be an effective instrument for political action which is the expression of the will of ordinary people in society. That is why the electoral measures which will come before us for detailed discussion shortly are so important - these measures will embody the principle that a majority of the people of Australia through their vote can make and break governments. The will of the majority of electors should be supreme and no electoral gerrymander should ever take away this right. The Governor-General’s Speech outlines the desire of the Government to build a more co-operative society. 1 am well aware that many Australians do not hold the parliamentary system in very high regard. This is regrettable. However, we as members of this House will need to take positive action if this attitude is to be reversed, and here I agree with the remarks that were made this afternoon by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). I hope that we will establish committees to examine many aspects of Australian society. These committees and individual members will need to be provided with the necessary secretarial and research facilities if this Parliament is to make sure that legislation and proposed legislation is properly considered and if members are to be able to carry out their tasks with efficiency while retaining a very necessary contact with their own electorates and the community. The bringing of the people into real contact with their Parliament is the responsibility of all members of this House, both Government and Opposition. By working together on matters where there is general agreement I believe we can add a new dimension to political life in Australia.
I hope that this Parliament will make significant progress towards giving women an equal place in our society. For a country which once led the world in granting rights to women about the time this Parliament was established we have often since lagged behind the rest of the world. What many people fail to realise is that true equality for women is of great benefit to society - to both men and women. As a teacher I saw how much the granting of equal pay and status has meant to the profession as a whole. When this Parliament considers legislation which affects women, women should be consulted, and they should help make the decisions. This House can make a significant contribution to rights for women by, among other things, passing legislation to provide much better adult education facilities, to establish equal pay for work of equal value, to provide for family planning clinics, to build child care centres and to reform those laws which discriminate against women both socially and financially.
Twelve years ago a select committee in another place brought down a report outlining its findings on certain aspects of road safety. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the honourable member for Robertson, a previous speaker in this debate, has a great and well known interest in road safety. Not nearly enough has been done by governments up to this time to see that action arising out of the select committee’s findings was implemented. Road accidents cost Australia in excess of $ 1,000m annually and cause pain and grief which can never be measured in monetary terms. I am convinced that by taking resolute and well planned action this Parliament can change the present situation. If this country were involved in hostilities with another country which caused the tens of thousands of deaths and injuries which road accidents cause in Australia every year, then no effort would be spared, no cost would be too great to see that such death and injury were brought to an end. That is the sort of effort we must make. If it means a complete rethink about the type of individual and public transport systems that we will need in the future, then that is what we must do. New concepts which will provide fast, safe, and efficient transport and at the same time preserve our resources and our environment must be thought out and adopted.
Our environment can also be preserved by providing well planned incentives to individuals and corporations to encourage them to recycle waste and prevent the destruction of irreplaceable resources. We live on what has been aptly described as spaceship earth. Careless and unplanned use of this world’s resources if continued indefinitely will cause the destruction of future generations almost as surely as atomic warfare. We owe a debt to the past. We also have a responsibility to those who come after us. As trustees of the earth we must see that through world wide co-operation the earth’s resources and the environment are preserved. My electors will be watching with hope and interest to see the implementation of policies which will assist in the preservation of the environment.
I am very pleased to see the emphasis which is given to education in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. As a young area Diamond
Valley is vitally concerned. I am quite sure that we shall see from this Government a new deal for children at all stages of their education and especially fop those children in our community who suffer mental, social, or physical handicaps. As with social welfare matters the mark of a good, just, and great society is the way in which that society treats those of its members who are less fortunate than the average. I believe that we need to start thinking of education not only as a service for the young but as a service to the whole community, to be used as and when necessary - like health services. This will need a completely new emphasis on the role of adult education and retraining programmes. The proposed use of schools as community centres is long overdue. In the electorate of Diamond Valley where we have a great many young people the provision of cultural, youth, and recreational facilities, based at least in part on our schools, will be very much appreciated.
I believe that the Government is to be congratulated on the progress which has already been made to see that all Australian citizens have available to them a wide range of social security benefits when and if they need them. I am particularly pleased about the decision which has been taken to abolish the means test on age pensions during the next 3 years. Not only will the abolition of the means test mean that our elderly citizens will enjoy a better standard of living but it will also mean that many people who are in receipt of retirement benefits will be able to continue to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy - at least on a part time basis.
The action promised to encourage economic growth will be welcomed by the whole community. A nation is as rich as the goods and services it produces. Incentives to industry and others to produce more goods and services of real value will quickly raise the standard of living of the Australian people and will enable a more rapid implementation of the programmes outlined, lt is also pleasing to see that mention is made of the need to fight inflation. Since I was elected I have received many letters from constituents who are concerned about the continuing and rapid rise in prices. This rise in prices is causing hardship to those members of the community who are not in a position to fix their own wage or price structure. Rising prices affect pensioners and others on fixed incomes, most families, and a very large section of primary and manufacturing industry. I believe that as a first step a prices justification tribunal is very welcome, but ultimately powers will need to be sought from the States or from the people to regulate prices. This does not mean that our economy needs to be in the grip of an iron bureaucracy, but rather that those people who at present manipulate the economy for their own selfish benefit will have to be satisfied with a reasonable profit for initiative, skill, and the use of their resources. There is no doubt in my mind that a referendum proposal on price regulation if put to the people would receive overwhelming support.
At long last local government is to get a new deal. For far too long local government has been denied the resources which are necessary to carry out the tasks which a developing society requires it to perform. The proposed legislation to allow local government access to the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the moves to give local government a voice on the Australian Loan Council are to be highly commended. Eventually I hope to see a fully integrated system of government in Australia where each level of government - Commonwealth, State and municipal - has its properly planned role to perforin. I am a firm believer in national planning but I am also a firm believer in local implementation of those plans whenever possible. The people who are most affected should have a direct voice in the implementation of those policies which concern them. For instance 1 would like to see more local participation in the field of social security. I believe that this would not only be cheaper but would also be much closer to those concerned. Financially, too, an integration of government and a planned use of resources would pay handsome dividends.
I believe that the rating system based on property values is no longer appropriate in a modern society. Not only do municipal rates fall most heavily on particular groups in our community, namely those on fixed incomes and farmers, but also little regard is given to the the ability to pay. In addition the actual collection of the rate is expensive. In the electorate of Diamond Valley which, outside the Australian Capital Territory, is the largest electorate in Australia in terms of electors enrolled, the collection of municipal rates would cost something approaching $250,000 annually and over the whole of Australia in excess of S20m. This expenditure produces nothing of real worth to the community. We can use our resources much better.
Another aspect of the Governor-General’s Speech which interested me was the emphasis placed on international co-operation. Such measures as those outlined provide useful steps towards the ideal of world government. In the course of human history we have progressed from the family unit to the tribe, to the village, to the city state, to the nation state and now to the amalgamation of nations into various defence and economic arrangements. Each one of these steps was necessary for the preservation of human society. I believe that we have now reached the stage where world government is necessary for the future preservation of human society. Australia can and should give its support to the concept of world government. I do not underestimate the difficulties - they are enormous - but we cannot afford to wait until there arises a meglomaniac who is prepared to destroy the world if his will cannot be supreme. A loss of sovereignty can in my mind be justified in the interests of the safety of the whole human race.
A useful step in the process of world integration would be the teaching of the international auxiliary language Esperanto to all children all over the world, lt is easy to learn and expressive and would enable people in this day of extensive world travel to meet and converse with ordinary people no matter where they might go. Esperanto means the language of hope. If all people could communicate no matter where they travelled then one of the serious barriers to world integration and government would be broken and the hope of world wide co-operation would be much closer to being achieved.
As far as Australia is concerned I support the idea of the establishment of a chair of peace studies at an Australian university. Surely the subject is important enough to receive the attention and support of this Parliament. Human nature does not change but human attitudes do. It is the combined attitudes of the people who make up our society that are important - not individual saints or sinners. Whenever people say that matters like world government, the disappearance of racism, the abolition of poverty and the effective use and conservation of the earth’s resources are unattainable ideals, I think of an illustration I once saw on the cover of the Victorian Teachers Journal’. It showed a small boy in the latter part of the last century being reprimanded by his schoolmaster for making paper darts in school. As a punishment, the boy was writing over and over again on the blackboard: ‘Man will never fly. Man will never fly.’ Mankind can, if it so desires, accomplish all manner of wonderful things. The real question is whether we are prepared to organise things properly to see that ideals are translated into action. That is the role of this Parliament. I hope and believe that this Parliament can make its own significant contribution to the action which is necessary.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Before calling the honourable member for McMillan 1 point out to the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech. 1 call the honourable member for McMillan.
– As the newly elected member for McMillan and as the only member of the Australian Country Party to have represented that electorate, I appreciate this opportunity to take part in the debate on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I congratulate the mover of the motion for the presentation of the Address-in-Reply, the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), and the seconder of the motion, the honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Whan) for the way in which they introduced the debate into this House and for the points they made. I think that we can look forward to some very strong debate from honourable members on the Government side. I also congratulate the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) who made his presence felt and who left no doubt as to the earnestness of the part that he will play in this Parliament. 1 deem it a signal honour to be standing in this national Parliament, having arrived here through the medium of a democratic way of voting, and to express the loyalty of the people of McMillan to the Queen. I hope that honourable members who come to this House will always be given the opportunity to do so. It is clear that there are elements within our midst desirous of deleting any reference to our ancestral mother country; they would sever the traditional ties of democratic government if given the opportunity. I refer in particular to the suggested removal of the Union Jack from the Australian flag. As descendants of pioneers and early settlers, we have held to the traditions that came with the first unfurling of the flag on Australian shores in 1788, one important tradition being the bicameral system of government. Again this is being challenged by some people on the ground that it has only traditional value. They say that today’s world demands something different. We need to be very wary of changes, without due consideration, to the traditional origin of our heritage and our flag. Men have laid down their lives to preserve what it signifies, as a guiding star for future generations to follow. Loyal Australians will ever say ‘no’ to any Party, person or government that wants to design a new flag without the Union Jack. Let us not allow anyone to downgrade the flag that symbolises so much of our Christian and British way of life.
Of course we want to be Australians. We want to be different. We can be different and still retain that little safeguard of tradition. Red, white and blue are precious colours to us. Biblically, red represents blood - the saving blood of Christ - yet it can signify divine judgment. White symbolises purity and holiness. God calls us as a nation to obey his commandments and laws. Blue is the colour of the sky, reminding us that God lives. Red is the Son, white the Holy Spirit and blue the Father - the impersonal God. That is the message that the Union Jack represents, and it has gone out to the four corners of the earth as the bearer of human values, giving great ideas of civilisation and ordered life. To me. any Australian ashamed of the flag is equivalent to one who is ashamed of his very own mother.
I stand here today as the successor to the former Liberal member for McMillan who gave 17 years of very conscientious service to his electorate. 1 pay tribute to him for the contribution he made to this Parliament. He was a member of several important committees to which he gave his best endeavours. I trust that he and his wife will enjoy good health in their retirement and that the fellowship of the many friends they made while serving in 6 parliaments will remain with them always.
Before I launch into battle as a new recruit in the Opposition let me offer my congratulations to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and to the Government. My sincere congratulations go also to the newly elected Speaker for the very high office that he holds and to the honourable member for Corio (Mr
Scholes) who is the Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. These are very important positions within this Parliament. I say to the Prime Minister and his team that they are in government because they won the majority of the seats, but they could be out of office in a very short time if they continue to ignore this Parliament as they have done over the past 12 or 13 weeks. There is no doubt that the Australian Labor Party was given a mandate to govern. But the antics of acting the perfect role of a dictatorship - I say this advisedly - have scared the Australian public into rethinking their position. Prior to the election many people fell for the slogan: It’s time for a change.’ But many more are now saying: ‘Time will tell. When will this ideological philosophy end and common sense prevail?’ The reason for my saying that is abundantly clear to those of us who have great credence in a democratic system of parliament.
It is many weeks since the Parliament was prorogued. It is 12 weeks since the election was held last December. For several of those 12 weeks we had a 2-man dictatorship. We saw that same dictatorship jump the gun on the 7 per cent upward revaluation of the Australian dollar. The consequences of that were just being realised by the unsuspecting public when the United States dollar was devalued. This has created alarm. All previous governments have paid currency variation compensation. The previous Government paid up to $ 1 1 1 m. But no such thing has been indicated by the present Government up to this point of time. I can speak with some authority about the effects of the revaluation because I have evidence that one export industry in my electorate will lose $14,500 on orders already on the water. That is real evidence of the effect on one industry. But what is more important, of course, to my dairy farmers is the estimated 2c per lb on butterfat that they will lose. If the Government refuses to compensate our exporters in vital primary, secondary and mineral industries this country will face a sorry situation. Perhaps this is the way the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) expects that he can implement his hand-out program without increasing taxation. There has been a 10 to 12 per cent rise in revenue and expenditure in recent years, particularly over the last 2 years, revenue and expenditure increases have been roughly the same, but revenue could not be expected to meet the expenditure the Government now proposes unless, of course, inflation runs riot and taxes of necessity increase. We have had indicated to us, even today, the Government’s intention to establish a prices justification tribunal or board. Reliance on a prices justification policy operating at the end of the line after increased costs have been injected into the economic system will do little to curb inflation.
As a new member enjoying the courtesy of the House I will not embark on a recital of all the many concerns I have about the policies of the new Government as outlined in His Excellency’s Speech. It was certainly a bold and imaginative legislative program that he outlined. From my observation I would say that it is based completely on the theories of socialism. If allowed to become a reality in its entirety it would spell disaster for this country. Therefore it is incumbent upon us members in Opposition to bring some reality into this Parliament. I have been amazed at some of the outbursts from the Government side about progressive administration resulting from Country Party representation. Country Party representation in this’ Parliament, I want to remind the House, has been responsible for many of the stabilisation plans, particularly in primary industry. As yet this Government has not demonstrated any knowledge of such matters. The Country Party participation in this Parliament has been a contribution of the greatest national importance and I make no apology for arriving here under the Country Party banner and hope that my contribution to this Parliament will reach the same high standard of values on all national issues, one of these being decentralisation.
I take issue with those who would deny those we represent the right to be heard and defended. All the remarks about gerrymanders are based on the thinking of those about to do the same thing. Growth centres I do not oppose, but I view with concern the move to do only what has been outlined in the scheme for a so-called Utopia - Utopia was talked about today - in the Albury-Wodonga area and other areas. It appals me to think that when the electorate of McMillan has every natural resource at its disposal this Government talks of developing a whole new complex. What an expensive exercise this will be. The growth centre at Albury-Wodonga will be away from the seaboard, and materi als will have, to be brought into the area and locally manufactured goods will have to traverse again the same route to the export terminal.
In McMillan we also have the Latrobe Valley’s huge industrial complex which is now almost at a standstill. Many towns in close proximity, with natural resources in abundance and of immense value, want to be involved and recognised. They want to be assisted. I also refer to the brown coal deposits which provide our power resources throughout Victoria and which I undertook as a candidate to have researched as potential liquid fuel resources as a defence measure. We have, as yet unconserved, a plentiful water supply, natural timber and planted pine forests and a variety of minerals. All of these - or any one of them individually - are of such significant importance as to create natural growth in the existing towns and in appropriate industries.
My own council is one of the many shire councils which are showing initiative towards fostering industry and the natural development of such industry as is appropriate to the area. They should be given every assistance from a national fund. This would prove to be a much more economic proposition, with much more permanency and with a greater encouragement for the distribution of our population, than would artificial monolithic centres. People should be given confidence in their future. A realistic and economic measure, such as lowering the costs of communications, should be investigated forthwith. This is one area in which action ought to be taken immediately and should be the subject of one of the terms of reference of the inquiry into the Australian Post Office. The Commonwealth can help directly in the growth of regional centres, as can the States, by locating some of its activities in those centres. Naturally significant amounts of long-term finance could ensure a successful and sensible national and natural development.
The fear that 1 have is the encouragement by this Government of the trade unions to demand shorter working hours, 4 weeks holiday and higher wages, which will destroy any decentralisation effort. I have always been a great believer in long-term finance. It is the only fair means of assisting people in the primary and secondary industries and the only real opportunity that many have of getting houses, getting re-established or initially launched. Long-term finance guarantees a person’s security in times of lower prices and the many disasters which primary producers face from fire, flood and disease. Many young dairy farmers would welcome protection from financial crisis. I will welcome, and even congratulate this Government if it has the intestinal fortitude to provide it, that §500m with which it wooed the Australian electors prior to 2nd December. As one who has a close association with hospitalisation, social welfare and handicapped people, 1 will be a very keen critic of any change in policy in this field, and again will welcome on behalf of these unfortunate people the assistance that has been promised. In the McMillan electorate we have some very fine hospitals, but a program of further assistance for the frail aged is very necessary, and again it will be my earnest endeavour to see that this Government honours its election promise.
I hope to see a realistic approach to a national water conservation program. It is becoming more and more evident that there is a great lag in some areas. This situation dispels confidence among those who might contemplate establishing industries. The selfish attitude of metropolitan dwellers demanding more and more water from the rural areas is creating inequalities and disregarding the equitable distribution of our water resources. This is happening in the electorate I represent. I want water conservation plans updated to ensure the rights of the municipalities and the people within them and a guarantee that there will be no retardation of their natural growth.
In McMillan university and tertiary education facilities are becoming a pressing need. With no university facilities in the eastern half of Victoria - this is pretty hard to imagine, but it is a fact - the establishment of the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education forms a sound basis for future expansion into university faculties. As the demand for these facilities rises, I hope to see the great election promises of this Government honoured.
It has been my pleasure to speak to this motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply as a forerunner of my contributions to this House as a representative of the Australian Country Party and the electors of McMillan, who have given me the honour of speaking on their behalf. Stepping down from the serenity of the Victorian Legislative Council into this battle arena is a somewhat awesome experience. My maiden speech was like getting married for the second time - I was nervous on both occasions.
Before calling the honourable member for Holt, I remind honourable gentlemen that this will be his maiden speech, and I am sure that he will be extended the usual courtesy.
– Despite the many congratulations which have already been offered to Mr Speaker, I would ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to convey to him my sincere congratulations. Making a first occasion speech in any place and under any set of circumstances is a trying experience. Spoken in this chamber, it carries with it a strong sense of pride, a very real humility and a consuming responsibility. In applying myself to the task of being an effective member of Federal Parliament and a worthy representative of the Holt electorate, I am grateful for the confidence shown in me by those responsible for my election.
I wish at the outset to pay a tribute to my predecessor, Mr Len Reid. Marshall McLuhan made use of that eminently descriptive phrase the global village’. It reminds us in a nutshell of our citizenship in and our responsibility for the world. Perhaps no man in this Federal Parliament, in recent years, has more patiently, and at the same time more urgently, applied himself to the subject of overseas aid to underdeveloped countries than has Len Reid. I pledge myself, as far as I am able, to build upon the interest and concern he has generated. It is my hope, and I believe the hope of this Government, to lift Australia’s foreign aid program to underdeveloped countries to at least one per cent of gross national product in the life of this present Parliament.
I believe I am singularly fortunate to be entering Parliament at a time of rapid change and exciting development. I am encouraged by the fact that the Party to which I have given my allegiance is at last where it deservedly belongs - on the Government benches. Already the nation senses the dawn of a new era in Australia. In some ways, the period is similar to the last 2 decades of the 19th century. At that time the spirit of nationalism found its political fulfilment in the establishment of this Federal Parliament. The nation is, I believe, beginning now to learn what is meant by ‘coming of age’.
There are signs of a new nationalism emerging - a nationalism which is casting off the irritations of a worn and weary jingoism in order to fulfil its destiny and purpose within the geography and sphere of influence to which it properly belongs; an outgoing nationalism which now seeks to express itself in an anthem of its own. Some have said that this is merely trivial. Others - and, I believe, a great majority - see it as a symbol of healthy independence. Shortly, Australians will be able to speak of citizenship rather than naturalisation ceremonies. Australia now pursues its own foreign policies rather than following slavishly and uncritically the rigidity of powerful, if friendly, nations. The cultivation and expression of our own special ethos within the family of nations will result, I believe, not in our loss but in our ultimate and lasting gain. The value placed upon our national character will be in direct proportion to the degree of respect which we command in both sound government at home and bold leadership abroad.
On the larger arena of world affairs, an electorate such as mine seems small. Yet Holt, like many others, is a microcosm within a macrocosm. It holds within its boundaries the mixture of heavy and light industries. It maintains growing, active and demanding housing areas and residential communities. Each of these is sensitive in its own way to changes in economic stability. The memory of dole queues and emergency relief centres in February 1972 is still fresh in the minds of many. That is an experience, let me say, that we are determined not to repeat under a Labor government. Holt is in fact so clearly representative of Australian life in its economy and sociology that the sorts of things I believe are necessary in my electorate are those things for which the entire Commonwealth seeks progress and direction. With this in mind, I comment upon that section of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which concerned itself with education and allied matters. With a background of a quarter of a century spent in teaching from grade 1 in primary school to form 6 in secondary schools and in lecturing and tutoring at tertiary institutions, and with experience of work at a supervisory and administrative level, it may not be surprising that on this occasion I should choose to major on the subject of education.
It seems almost trite to commence by affirming the essential difference of every child and the worth of every individual student. It seems so obvious that it is taken for granted. It is, however, at this very basic point that the previous Government failed so lamentably to meet its obligations. The child of today is too often manipulated by ineffective and inefficient structures, disadvantaged by often haphazard and totally inequitable distribution of Commonwealth grants and financial assistance, misunderstood and pressured by ambitious and confused parents and de-humanised and depersonalised by hungry labour markets. He is in danger of being submerged in the floods of political and socio-economic opportunism. It is the task of every school to strive to develop fully the personality of the child; it must assist the child to develop into the sort of person who can cope with rapid and often far reaching change. It should enable him to communicate more effectively with those around him. It should make him one who can gainfully and creatively use his leisure time so that the fullest benefits from life can be enjoyed and shared. The school must encourage a heightened critical faculty so that in every impingement of impression through whatever medium he may the better be able to arrive at assessments affecting his past, his present and his future.
We must move, I submit, towards a better system and a more imaginative educational philosophy. In particular, we must provide a framework whereby we encourage the child to rate himself against himself. Such type of evaluation would displace the method of dog eating dog - that is, a distinctive rating against others - which, by its very competitive nature, may cripple and destroy some and may stamp the mark of failure upon a significant proportion of other students for long periods, even throughout the whole of their school life. Can we wonder, in these circumstances, where the drop-outs go? Can we wonder why they carry that failure into the wilderness of social maladjustment? The teacher must be seen, in any progressive education program, not as a fact distributor but as a guide, an encourager and an organiser of situations in which the child can learn most effectively for himself. The teacher who is forced to prepare for examinations has sadly, but often compulsorily, succeeded only in denigrating living education. Formal education is not an end in itself; it is only the starting point of an on-going process.
One of the principal aims in education is to guard the way and keep it open. All too often the way is barred before the process has begun. If individual differences are to be recognised and the issues overcome, we must strive to tackle the problem where it belongs - in the classroom. A large and consequently often an unmanageable class is the deadly enemy of personal treatment and individual attention. Despite the utterances of a Minister for Education in the previous government, I must emphatically take an opposite view. In October 1971, the honourable member for Wannon, ./1 Malcolm Fraser, at that time holding the portfolio, and speaking on a survey of needs, questioned the necessity to reduce class sizes. He said then:
I think it is relevant in the context of a survey of needs such as this, to keep in mind that research in the related area of class size has failed to substantiate the view that pupil performance and achievement are directly related to class size.
If the honourable member believed firmly in the too-long held but entirely fallacious philosophy of examination-oriented education upon which my earlier remarks gave ventilation, then his contention is consistent with his error of judgment - an error, I may add, which he and his Party have persisted in both before and since, with tragic consequences. It is, however, my view that a large and diverse class size seriously reduces the possibilities of coping adequately with the variables of learning capacities, speed and efficiency.
Moving now from the area of method and concept in education, 1 would wish to comment on the issue of right and privilege. It is my conviction, and that of my Party, that the birthright of every child in a prosperous and affluent Australia is to receive an education of quality - and, in time, of equality as well. Twenty-three years of Conservative government, buttressing elitist concepts and supporting the ‘haves’ as against the ‘have nots’, has brought us to a state of near chaos. Only an Australian Schools Commission, working on the terms of reference as outlined in Labor’s policy, will be able to salvage the wreckage of past mistakes and the paucity of long term planning by the previous government. The Commission will undertake its work on the basis of needs and priorities not on the unjust application of the ‘numbers game’.
Let us look in a little more detail at 3 important areas where review and reform are urgently needed. Firstly, in the matter of the award of Commonwealth scholarships I refer to the scholarship award at Form 4 level for the final 2 years of secondary school education. I have researched some interesting figures taken from my own electorate of Holt. As at the end of 1972 there were 1.170 students in Form 4 at the 7 government high schools. One hundred and fourteen scholarsships were awarded. As against this, 2 high fee-paying independent schools carried together 239 students at the same level and 91 scholarships were given. In other words, 38 per cent of eligible students gained scholarships in 2 affluent private schools, whilst 9.7 per cent of eligible students in 7 governments schools gained Commonwealth scholarships. The chance of gaining a scholarship in a wealthy independent school was 4 times as great as in a government school.
The contrast is even more sharply defined if we take examples from extremes of the social spectrum. At Haileybury College, Keysborough, one of Melbourne’s more exclusive, public schools, there were 190 students at Form 4 level. A staggering 76 Commonwealth scholarships were secured by the children of advantaged parents. At Doveton High School, with one more student only - that is 191 - at Form 4, the number of Commonwealth scholarships awarded was 12. Haileybury has over 6 times greater advantage over Doveton in the matter of direct financial assistance to selected students. This is an iniquitous system indeed - a system, I would contend, which is based on the false assumption that financial assistance should be given to and should be the prerogative of those most highly rated in a competitive examination situation. Once again the concept of privilege so consistently and persistently pursued by the previous government asserts itself. We of the Government side contend that every student who has successfully completed all but the last 2 years of his schooling should receive financial assistance to enable and encourage him to proceed with his education.
Touching now on the vexed issue of State aid, the misuse of government money also applies. The richer schools, on the basis of present distribution, get richer, whilst the poorer schools, both government and Catholic and housing the majority of students, remain the poorer. In each independent school, a fiat rate of $104 per student per year is provided by the Commonwealth. In the independent primary schools, the amount is $62 per annum. In this distribution of funds no account whatsoever is taken of the needs of the schools as apart from the numbers enrolled. Using 1971 figures for the school enrolments concerned, the largest of Victoria’s independent and well endowed schools, Methodist Ladies’ College, Kew, with a school complement of 2,120 students would receive the astounding total of $205,276 per annum from Commonwealth sources. At Haileybury College, Keysborough, with 1,432 students, the Commonwealth aid received would be $135,275 per year. This does not, of course, take into account a similarly large amount, on the same kind of unfair actuarial stupidity, granted handsomely by State governments. The largesse of the previous government’s ‘Lady Bountiful’ approach to wealthy independent schools continues to perpetuate inequities and, in consequence, to reduce the kind of educational reform which I commented upon earlier in my speech being carried out. This Government maintains that the only fair system in determining financial assistance in schools, be they independent or government, is on the basis of need.
Specialist services have long since been recognised as essential in the total area of educational needs. Few would deny that the modern student is under grave pressure, mentally and emotionally. In 1972 it was estimated that the ratio of psychologists to students was one to every 18,000 in Victorian government schools. We should work towards the appointment of a student counsellor in every school. I would see the extension of the counselling service as underlining the concept of education in relation to the child’s total experience both inside the school and out of it. Under such conditions the student becomes a whole person, not a human vacuum to be filled with structured facts and tabulated knowledge.
The need for specialist teachers and services in many fields becomes increasingly necessary and sometimes tragically urgent. We have hardly begun to cope to any significant extent with the problem of dyslexia or autism. Even where such services are available they are dispersed and inadequate. Following an urgent request for action regarding a serious speech defect, I was informed that the child could be placed on the long waiting list. An estimated 2 years’ delay was expected before therapy could commence. A school was opened in Dandenong this year for those with special learning difficulties. It was fully enrolled 6 months before it opened its doors. It is now clearly recognised that there should be 2 or 3 remedial teachers in every school. Where appointments have been made, too often they have to be used for normal classroom teaching.
These are but a few examples. A similar situation applies with respect to migrant teachers. It is at these crisis points that Commonwealth funds should be applied. When every child is able to take advantage of his full time at secondary school; when all underprivileged children are cared for; when physical education facilities are available to all students; when the dyslectic and autistic child has the specialist treatment he needs; when counsellors are trained, available and appointed to our schools; when remedial treatment of children with learning difficulties is adequate; when all migrant children, with their particular language difficulties, are catered for; then, if we have an excess of financial resources, and only then, will I be happy for thousands of dollars to be poured into wealthy, elitist schools and institutions. As I see it now, that day is a long way off.
If the greater part of my time has been spent in spelling out the areas of need in education, would not wish to convey the notion that I see those needs as an isolated or restricted area of concern. The discovery of life - and as one of the greatest teachers once remarked ‘life more abundant’ - is its aim and its object. It must seek to equip both young and old to understand and to apply justly and wisely the means of the distribution of our national wealth, lt is the study and the operation of economics. Life abundant seeks also to care for people. It brings a greater sense of responsibility towards others. This means social security and welfare, and public health. To be truly educated is to be aware of the world we live in - the city, the street and the block, environment, housing and community. Failure to understand the worth of community, whether at local, State or Federal level, is to fail to appreciate the validity of government. It is, therefore; Mr Deputy Speaker, with this sense of balance in mind, that I express my commendation of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! Before I call the honourable member for Berowra, I remind honourable gentlemen that he will be making his maiden speech. 1 ask that he be afforded the usual courtesies.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment to your office, and I ask you to convey to Mr Speaker my congratulations on his appointment to the high office of Speaker. Also, 1 express my thanks to the people of the Berowra electorate for electing me as their member in this House. I assure them that 1 will do all in my power to represent them effectively. I should also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor, Hon. Tom Hughes, Q.C., who voluntarily retired from this House. His service to the Parliament included a period as AttorneyGeneral. He commanded the respect of members of all political persuasions, not least for his capacity to listen to and to accept an argument from either side of the House.
In rising to speak about the GovernorGeneral’s Speech I refer to and applaud the intention of the Government, expressed in that Speech, to play an energetic part in the forthcoming round of international trade negotiations due to open later this year. This round will come to be known as the Nixon Round. Nothing is clearer than that in the past few years the international economic and financial system has been in disarray. There are problems of trade and problems of the exchanges. The man in the street knows these as ‘currency crises’. Of course, the two are intimately bound up together. There is and there has been for some years a substantial imbalance in international trade. This results from a multitude of causes.
The flow of trade is hampered by tariff barriers and, even more importantly, with the substantial success of the ‘Kennedy Round’ of trade negotiations, by a bewildering array of non-tariff barriers. The General Agreement on Trades and Tariff Secretariat a little time back identified some 800 forms of non-tariff obstacles to international trade, such as quotas, import controls, export subsidies, restrictions in the name of health standards and so on. No country has clean hands in this respect. But I venture to refer to the rigid apparatus of agricultural protectionism associated with the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Economic Community as an outstanding instance, to the widespread judgment - it is extremely difficult to document - that the controls of this sort on imports into Japan are particularly severe, and to the quotas and especially the voluntary restraints on imports of traditional manufactures of the United States. These are major factors contributing to the present imbalance of trade both within the developed world and as between the developed and developing countries.
Looking at the causes of the world trade imbalance on a broader canvas and a longer perspective, the resurgence of Europe, particularly West Germany, after World War II, and the spectacular economic progress of Japan, have decisively eroded - relatively speaking, mark you, not absolutely - the dominance of the United States in the supply of goods and services to the world which prevailed at the end of World War II and resulted at that time as its natural concomitant in the era of the ‘almighty dollar’, as most honourable members of this House will recall. It is worth emphasising that there is nothing mysterious, chauvinistic or reprehensible in that. It was just the fact of life that in the post-war circumstances the American industrial machine was intact and massive and could supply the goods the world wanted, while America for its part wanted relatively little from the rest of the world. Therefore US dollars - the means to buy from America - were scarce, valuable and coveted. And entirely naturally therefore, the US dollar became the medium for international buying and selling. In plain terms it was international money - as good as gold.
In this House last week, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) spoke warmly in his tribute to former United States President Harry Truman of the monumental generosity of the United States in contributing vast sums, and thus essential goods and services, to the restoration of war-devastated Europe. But now, as 1 said, there has been some inevitable evening up. The relative position of the United States has changed. The United States trade surpluses of the 1950s and early 1960s have given way to massive deficit while yet the US dollar, in plentiful supply but no longer convertible into gold, continues, for practical and understandable but hardly rational reasons, as the major form of international money. It is important in this situation to maintain a proper perspective and in particular a balanced view of the role of the United States.
For my own part I find the attitude of honourable members opposite to the United States disturbing, to say the least. I referred a moment ago to the generosity of the Prime Minister’s statement in relation to President Truman. It contrasts oddly with the almost pathological anti-Americanism of other members of the Government. The views of the Minister for Labor (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) as expressed on the occasion of the maritime ban earlier this year when these Ministers referred to the leadership of the United States in the most deprecating terms - indeed as maniacs - are clear. The position of the Prime Minister is more difficult to spell out. As honourable members will recall, he did not have a great deal to say at that time. But at this point, so far as I can judge, I would say that he sees the United States as immensely powerful and well-meaning but rather myopic and blundering in its conduct of international affairs and in need of some guidance in its actions from smaller and more sophisticated friends - like Labor-governed Australia.
Be that as it may, one can certainly go along with the Prime Minister to the extent of agreeing that the United States is immensely powerful. Its sheer economic dominance is indicated by its gross national product of approximately$US1,100 billion - using ‘billion’ in the American sense. I will focus on the approximate figure of $US1,100 billion and compare it with the second most economically powerful country in the nonCommunist world, Japan, with a gross national product of upwards of $US200 billion. West Germany has a gross national product just nudging that figure. Britain’s gross national product is about$US150 billion. Australia, taking note of the recent revaluations, has a gross national product of the order of$US50 billion. To give honourable members a perspective of this figure, it would be absorbed in the margin of error allowance in the projection of the United States gross national product by American economists.
Now it is true that as a result of the inevitable historical development to which I have referred and the relative incidence of barriers to international trade we now have a world trade pattern the outstanding feature of which is the very large United States trade deficit with its major counterpart, an almost equally large surplus in Japanese trade. These conditions indeed spell a weak US dollar in the foreign exchange markets. But make no mistake about it, it does not - I repeat, it does not - spell an economically weak America. The statement by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) that we should have no truck with the United States dollar because it is on its way down to being ‘worth nothing’ is indicative of his own bias, but it is pitifully off beam as an appreciation of economic reality. Similarly, the view expressed by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) that there will be further devaluations of the United States dollar may prove to be correct, though undoubtedly death and higher taxes to finance this Government’s inflationary program are a much higher probability!)
My point is that if there are any such further devaluations they will be deliberate ones, ploys in the tough bargaining by the world’s No. 1 economic power for a re-alignment of trade barriers and international currencies, bargaining by a United States Administration which is skilled in the art of the big league power play and not in any need of the advice of self-professed sophisticates from other countries, small or large. 1 cannot underline too strongly the point that, as things stand, while the United States dollar is weak in the exchange markets of the world, the dominant economic strength of the United States stands unimpaired. Cheap tills at the currency position are in poor and uninformed taste.
The central point is that the United States, in the face of a Europe and Japan reluctant to come to terms with a clear need for trade and currency negotiations with a view to farreaching and, in the monetary sphere, fundamental reform, has served notice that it is time - to use a phrase familiar to all honourable members - to get down to business. The United States can exert some muscle in these matters. The United States devaluation of 12th or 13th February - depending on which side of the Pacific one is on - was a major contribution in itself, as the Treasurer (Mr Crean) stated in a recent interview with Mr Peter Long, the ‘Sun-Herald’ financial editor. But it was not the only measure announced by the United States Government. There were other measures affecting - I say affecting, but to speak plainly, encouraging a restriction of - American investment abroad and there was a clear indication of the possibility of further action to come in the trade field. Honourable members will recall the 10 per cent surcharge on imports imposed at the time of the United States initiative in August 1971 - a restrictive measure of no mean order. This time Representative Wilbur Mills, the influential chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has suggested a 15 per cent import surcharge.
Far from being a weak element in the international community, the United States has presented the world with a choice. The world can pursue constructive international trade and monetary reform with some urgency, or the imbalance can be resolved the American way - in the latter event with unpredictable damage to world economic growth - and, be warned, with the rest of the world and, in particular the developing world, risking heavier economic losses than would be faced by the United States. In that sense the world trade and financial system stands at a crossroads.
So I commend the Government’s intention to take an energetic part in world trade negotiations. lt bad better get cracking on the necessary industrial and rural reconstruction programs which inevitably will be required under reciprocal GATT concessions. Hand in hand with these negotiations must go a beginning to the task of reforming the world currency system - a move, perhaps, towards something in the nature of an ‘SDR standard” or special drawing rights standard - if some measure of stability in exchange rates, albeit with a greater flexibility than now, is to be achieved. The SDR standard would include as a key element the demonetising of the ‘swags’ of excess United States dollars now sloshing around - to use the colourful phraseology of the financial Press - in the foreign exchange markets of the world, and poised per medium of the sophisticated development of the Eurodollar market and the operations of the multi-national companies, to flood in this direction or that direction whenever the betting is good for up-valuation of a currency.
However, in this context also we should approach the exercise with a right perspective on the matter. To hear some people talk it would be thought that when the Japanese, for example, buy up an avalanche of United States dollars it is in some way embarrassing to the United States. That is not so. The Japanese would be doing it not to support the US dollar, as it was misleadingly put, but to prevent an appreciation or up-valuation of the yen against the. dollar and, by preventing that, to maintain the Japanese competitive edge in world markets.
Against this background the national interest of Australia is to guard its options carefully and to mesh our actions into the big league’. I am somewhat loath to criticise the recent actions by this country in the currency field because perhaps it can be said that the matter is in the very best of hands’. 1 refer to Dr H. C. Coombs, a gentleman whom I hold in the highest esteem and, indeed, revere. I gather from the Press that the Prime Minister, if not the Treasurer, consulted Dr Coombs, but the process is a little confused, lt seems pretty clear that neither of them consulted the Cabinet.
As loath as I am to do so, 1 feel bound to say that with the United States deficit in 1972 and the Japanese surplus being the size they were, a blind man could see in the latter months of last year that a major realignment of world currencies was inevitable and imminent. When in addition it is recognised that we had already effectively revalued our currency to some extent, what was the purpose of drastically curtailing our options in the imminent major international readjustment by the unilateral 7.05 per cent revaluation at Christmas eve weekend? Two reasons spring to mind and neither is very sound. Firstly was the capital inflow which was said to be building up troubles for monetary control. Those difficulties will be compounded by the mounting Government deficit which at this very moment is heading towards an inflationary record. The capital inflow could have been contained by more direct measures. The second argument was, in effect, to keep election faith.
As the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) said recently, the noel had been given to the international speculators and the payoff had to come.
Be that as it may, given the decision of 23rd December, it was certainly difficult for the Government, in the light of our obligation to contribute to the stability of the present rather fragile monetary system, to do other than stand pat when the United States devalued on 12th February. But that does not alter the fact that the combination of the decisions of 23rd December and February add up to a very big change. I ask the House: Would the Government, that is, the Cabinet, have acquiesced in that if there had been no revaluation in December? Would the Cabinet have acquiesced in an up-valuation as against the United States dollar of the almost unprecedented order of nearly 20 per cent? That is what has taken place since December last. In all there has been a revaluation of almost 28 per cent since 1971 and an up-valuation overall of the Australian dollar at least of the order of 10 per cent since December last.
I believe that it would not have done so. But if the answer from the honourable members opposite is an unrepentant yes, I would say, that is the answer of men who have not had to make a sale overseas of meat or other rural products, of iron ore or any other mineral product but, most importantly, of an Australian manufactured window frame, a radio microwave link, a motor car or a desk calculator - in a word, any one of the great range of items which today make up our increasing export trade in manufactured goods. That trade is of the utmost importance for Australia’s long term prosperity and growth and therefore - and I ask the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), who led in this debate, to mark this especially - this trade is important for the chances of this Government making a reality of the programme of social and economic development outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech and so eloquently supported by the honourable member for Casey. I might add that the domestic program - its objectives, as distinct from its ways of obtaining them - is widely supported on this side of the House. Honourable members opposite do not have a monopoly of a concern for social justice, as they often like to imply.
If Europe revalues upwards this week it will help a bit. But, by and large, I would suggest that it is time, past time, that we called it a day in upvaluing the dollar. I strongly urge the Government to do this because with the current high wool prices being, unhappily, unlikely to last forever, with imports likely to increase notably with the resurgence of strong economic growth, and with an acceleration of inflation being the inevitable outcome of the policies of this Government, the Government will need all the leeway in foreign exchanges it can get-
I commend the intention of the Government to take an energetic part in the great matters affecting the welfare of the whole world and of this country in particular. Of them to whom much is given much will be expected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Before calling the honourable member for La Trobe I would remind the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech and I trust the House will extend to him the usual courtesies.
– I rise to support the motion that the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral be agreed to. I would like to congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on being elected to your high office and ask you to extend my congratulations to Mr Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. Contrary to the suggestion from the Opposition that you should limit yourself to precedent set by your previous counterparts, may I warn you that to treat all precedent as gospel is the mark of the conservative, stunts initiative and limits man.oeureability. I realise that all the occupants of the Chair will treat regulations and Standing Orders with judicious respect, but I have no doubt that each of you will leave your individual stamp on this office and serve a term that will long be remembered for its objectivity, understanding and initiatives.
However, if your offices are to have full effect it will demand co-operation from the floor of this House. As one journalist has said recently:
To most of the public at large, Parliament unfortunately represents little more than an anachronistic gas’ chamber where politicians make wordy speeches, throw around inane interjections and manipulate parish pumps.
But as the same journalist suggested:
Parliament is also a critical testing ground of philosophies, practices, personalities and parties and is the nerve centre of our political system.
If we are to complement your speakership then this Parliament must become the undisputed nerve centre of the political system. Inevitably there must be changes if Parliament is not to be irrelevant to the people.
A parliament is irrelevant when it becomes remote from the people, ignoring the swelling voice of change and supported by a voting system that is insensitive to change in electoral mood. It is irrelevant when it denies its responsibilities allowing economic decisions to be made in boardrooms and becomes subservient to minority pressure groups out of phase with public feeling. If this Parliament is to be the nerve centre of the political system it must honour that phrase which is the essence of democracy - ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. Machinery must be developed that closes the gap between Parliament and people and is responsive to changes in public demands.
The previous Government has only itself to blame for what the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) described as a rise in political strikes in this country. When a government avoids its obligations it leaves a vacuum of responsibility that will be filled by extraparliamentary bodies urged on by frustration at the inactivity of the Government. The program outlined by the Governor-General demonstrates that this young Government will not allow responsibility vacuums to develop and be filled by extra-parliamentary groups in matters of social security, health, industrial relations and equality of opportunity. This Government has indicated it will no longer tolerate the differences in the equality of life and opportunities between black and white, between town and country, between men and women or between rich and poor.
Secondly, 1 would like to express to the electors of La Trobe my appreciation at being elected to represent them as part of a Labor Government in this Parliament and to acknowledge the reasons why they made their choice.
The people of La Trobe have realised that Australia faced a crisis - a threat to the quality of life that should be due to all Australians and would be restored only when more emphasis was given to community programs in schooling, housing and employment. The people have turned to Labor, as they did in 1929 when the electorate of La Trobe was then part of Flinders. In that election a Prime Minister lost his seat. In this election the Liberal Party lost an independent and outspoken member in Mr John Jess. Some in this House and his supporters of the Right will undoubtedly miss the previous honourable member for La Trobe, but such loss should be seen as counter balanced, if not overshadowed, by the loss of the advocate of the Left with his fiery, volatile rhetoric, the previous honourable member for Sturt. Mr Foster.
The speech of the Governor-General captures the seriousness of the crisis and meets it head on with a 3-year program designed to achieve basic changes in the administration and structure of Australian society. 1 wish to comment on the underlying theme of that speech for in the common denominator of the several parts of the pro gram lies the response and understanding of the crisis in the quality of life. In a- world that is experiencing accelerating change there is a clear failure of existing social and economic orders to meet the needs of modern society. Man’s activities are increasing at a rate that is unprecedented. In the decade from 1960 to 1969, the world population increased by 600 million, 5 times the increase in the first decade of this century. The increase in the world’s energy consumption in 1971 and 1972 considerably exceeded the total world energy consumption of a century earlier. This acceleration of change in our time is an elemental force. The thrust has deep sociological consequences and if we are to progress with change we need to mould a new economic and social system in this country and internationally.
People have become increasingly aware that they have become mere statistics in the bureaucratic machine which is a feature of both capitalist economies dominated by huge international corporations and communist and fascist economies dominated by totalitarian governments. The Governor-General’s Speech should be seen in the context of 2 main forces - the accelerating rate of change and the increasing concentration of power and property in the hands of a few.
If people are to determine their own destinies, which is what democracy is all about, then democratic practice must coincide with economic reality. This will demand a degree of economic and social co-operation rather than competition that has not seen the like in this country before. In Australia, power and wealth are vested in property other than that used for consumption and unless this is shared more equitably, democracy and this ambituous program will never become a reality.
The accelerating rate of change is placing great demands on education already suffering from the impact of specialisation. The demarcation between technocrat and decision maker becomes increasingly blurred and the adviser and policy maker becomes one and the same. Whatever the profession, the level of education reached or the social role expected, everyone must be able to live in harmony with each other and the environment. Our present education concentrates too much on preparing a person for a job-slot or earning an income rather than fostering a community spirit of freedom and justice, tolerance and social responsibility. The main argument against educational programming of the individual is the same argument that I use against censorship, the banning of social drugs and enforcing conscription. Such conformism denies the cultivation of self-discipline and social responsibility as well as obstructing the capacity of the individual to live with the accelerating rate of change. The government education system has not been encouraged to gear itself to change. The previous Minister for Education and Science, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), said that the virtue of the independent school system was in the diversity of education it offered and this was the rationale for increasing Government aid to independent schools.
The Governor-General’s Speech acknowledges the failure to provide such diversity to the majority of children by introducing legislation to establish a schools commission and a pre-schools commission. Among other directives, the proposed Schools Commission will be charged with the responsibility of assessing and achieving an increase in the quality of education as much as of the quantity available. As more than 75 per cent of children attend government schools, it would seem right that more emphasis be given to encouraging diversity in this sector of Australian education. To limit diversity to the independent sector only increases the divisions in society and perpetuates social and opportunity inequalities.
In my own electorate of La Trobe, the Fern Tree Gully High School has suffered because the experimental program there had received little encouragement. Experimentation leads to diversity and if successful experiments are to be capitalised on, and errors avoided rather than repeated, greater Commonwealth responsibility must be directed towards greater diversity and parent involvement in government schools. It is therefore pleasing to note that another of the terms of reference for the schools commission will be to have regard to the primary obligation of the Government to provide and maintain government schools systems of the highest standard open to all children. Perhaps then we will see more comprehensive schools, more co-educational schools and a breaking down of the zoning system that is worked for the benefit of the bureaucracy rather than to increase the choice available to those who use the government education system.
There are few conservation issues in recent times which have aroused so much interest as the flooding of the beautiful Lake Pedder which lies within a national park. The lake has become a symbol of what can happen when engineering projects are pursued relentlessly in the name of progress and without sufficient regard to the consequences upon the ecology and environment. To turn a phrase slightly: ‘Oh Progress, what sins have been committed in thy name?’ It is fitting that in the Speech, the Governor-General, as the Queen’s representative, should echo the words of Prince Phillip when His Highness, as President of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said that the Lake Pedder case marked the end of Australia’s pioneering days and ushered in a new phase of conscious concern for the long term future of our national and human environment.
Perhaps it is too late to save the symbol, but it is essential we learn the lesson and not repeat any mistakes we might discover from an inquiry into the case of Lake Pedder. In my electorate of La Trobe there lie 2 gems in the Victorian environmental crown - the Upper Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges. These areas are Melbourne’s largest and nearest picnic spots and recreation areas. Each weekend, thousands of Melbourne’s 2J million people go there by car to seek relief from the tension, pollution and noise of the city. Now these beautiful ranges are threatened by quarrying, the suburban sprawl and pollution through lack of sewerage. In the drowning of Lake Pedder lies the precedent of legalised rape of a national park. The Federal Government must assume greater responsibility for the preservation of Australia’s national parks such as the Fern Tree Gully National Park and Sherbrooke State Forest and the public must be reassured that the evils of the past will not happen again.
As technology becomes more capital intensive and as productivity increases it is inevitable that there well be a universally applied 35- hour week. The problem is not how to prevent that inevitability but how to use the increased leisure time for the fulfilment of all people. These national parks will become more important as increased leisure unlocks the opportunities to enjoy our environmental heritage. Because of the limits of our Australian Constitution the Federal Government will need the co-operation of all States if we are to protect the rights and national inheritance of future generations. The Department of the Environment and Conservation’s proposals to develop a ‘human progress’ index will go some way to focus on the new values of society towards the environment. But 1 feel the Government will need to demand environmental impact statements for all major commercial and private projects as well as Government projects if the total objective is to be realised. No longer can Australia, or any nation, act in an irresponsible manner towards the environment, for a nationally committed error can become an international disaster. Over-fishing, the cumulative effects of pesticides, ocean dumping of mercury, oil and radioactive materials are now of international concern. Initiatives made in Australia will be to the benefit of all mankind.
One of the more important tasks for which this Government was given a mandate is to provide a comprehensive public health service available to all as the fundamental right of every citizen. To achieve this objective there will need to be a change in thinking by all those concerned with health services, away from professional and commercial profit and towards a government sponsored and private co-operative community service. It is wrong that residents of my electorate should have to travel IS miles or so through heavy traffic to attend a regional hospital. It is wrong that life should be endangered and the likelihood of complications increased because there is no regional hospital with full casualty department and full operating facilities to serve the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. But now, under this Government’s program, this fast growing sector of Melbourne may soon experience the security of adequate health care. The proposed establishment of a National Hospital and Health Services Commission will survey and develop regional co-ordination of health care delivery so that no person will be jeopardised unduly by where he lives.
The range of health initiatives by this Government is wide, and as a pharmacist I am particularly pleased to refer to the Government’s intentions to reduce the cost of pharmaceutical benefits as part of that scheme. The Governor-General’s Speech includes a proposal for the expansion of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories into the production of non-biological pharmaceutical products and possibly to acquire a private firm to supplement CSL with new technical management and marketing skills and methods. The high cost of drugs means that this Government has a great and important responsibility to the public to ensure that maximum benefit is being obtained from each dollar spent on CSL. It will be our task to cut down the annual cost of drugs to the national health scheme, now standing at over $160m a year. We will use an expanded CSL as a pace-setter in the pharmaceutical industry to achieve this.
It is significant that the inquiry conducted by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits revealed that the pharmaceutical drug manufacturing industry in Australia, which is overwhelmingly dominated by overseas multi-national corporations, is one of the most profitable industries in this country. Profits exceed 20 per cent on capital expended even without allowing for hidden profits. It has been estimated that the expanded CSL could save the taxpayer as much as $80m each year, or 18 per cent of the total cost of the present national health service bill of $420m. By entering into the manufacture of more important and commonly prescribed drugs, and incidentally those of greatest profitability, we can save the taxpayer almost 20c in each $1 he now outlays on the national health scheme.
There are 2 other influences that exert downward pressure on drug prices that should also be mentioned. Prices paid by the Department of Health to drug manufacturers are assessed on cost structures, but detailed information of local cost figures cannot be demanded from them. With CSL in the market as a public enterprise we will have access to this reliable, important costing data. Secondly, an important reduction in the price of penicillin could be achieved if CSL, which sets the market price for penicillin, did not have to load the price to recover its expenditure on research and unprofitable but essential life saving biological products. The House of Representatives Pharmaceutical Benefits Committee in its 1972 report, in which it recommended examining the expansion of CSL, also recommended that, in the public interest, the Commonwealth should meet the costs of these unprofitable, life saving activities of CSL.
The Director of CSL has said that with 12 months notice, $5m in capital and extra buildings and staff, CSL could enter competitively into the drug industry. As well as saving the taxpayer about $80m each year on expanded activities it would save $6m on the $15m annual cost of penicillin. To illustrate what I am saying, I ask leave to incorporate a table showing a comparison of Australian and United Kingdom prices received by drug manufacturers of selected items.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– It should be noted that comparable cost data are available to the British Government and that the cost of penicillin in Australia is 2i times that in the United Kingdom. This enterprising move will not only help to reduce drug prices to the taxpayer but also contribute to making CSL once again a service to the public rather than an operation for commercial gain.
Sir, there are some who will criticise the pace of Labor’s program and its spread. But after 23 years, the magnitude of our problems, the rate at which they are growing and the agonising crawl in which institutions respond mean that we must make a start at solving all our problems. Our pace is also governed by the resources, manpower, expertise and funds available to us. It is an enterprising and ambitious program that attempts to encompass the problems that prevent a better quality of life for all people. No less will do.
Motion (by Mr Lynch) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition speaking without limitation of time.
– The Liberal Party in Opposition will follow a positive course. We will not merely oppose. We will put forward alternatives. We will try to improve legislation as it comes before the House. We will be cooperative in the conduct of the business of the House and expect co-operation to be accorded to us. We will acknowledge the Government’s positive and beneficial actions when they occur. We will oppose those policies and actions of the Government which we believe are not in the interests of the people. Our opposition will be selective. Where necessary it will be uncompromising and unrelenting. Our scrutiny will be detailed and thorough. We will react decisively as we have done already to policies which buy domestic political peace at the price of national interest. We believe the interests of this nation will be best served by our developing our role as an alternative government. As time progresses we wish not only to show that the governing Party is inadequate but to prove ourselves better. In pursuit of that course I have since my appointment as Parliamentary Leader given priority to the all important task of building an opposition structure which will fit us for government. We have promised Australians that we will re-examine our policies and rebuild them on the basis of Liberal philosophy, superior as it is, to socialism.
We are organised to receive the benefit of the best minds in this community from commerce, from industry, the universities and other tertiary and specialist areas to assist us with our policy development. We are reestablishing the bridges to all sectors of the community. The organisational wing of the Liberal Party, the branch members, the women’s sections and the Young Liberal movement will have a greater role in policy advising. I emphasise ‘advising’. It is abhorrent to our Party as it must be to all concerned Australians, and members of the Parliamentary Labor Party, too, if they made known what was really in their minds, that no group should have the power of direction over the people’s elected representatives in this Parliament. We have achieved a close working relationship with the Australian Country Party. In spite of attempts to dramatise and exaggerate the difficulties we are different parties. We have differences of emphasis and approach. But we are basically agreed on what is good for this country and we will work for that day when we again establish a coalition in government. My duty will be to pit the Opposition against the Government and 1 will not be distracted from that task.
In 1972 by capturing some middle ground the Australian Labor Party won the right to govern. It achieved this by the development of some new policies but largely it was by the manipulation of symbols and the exploitation of that community feeling that democracies are best served by giving the other party a go. The ALP won a mandate to govern. But to suggest, as the Government does in the Speech of the Governor-General, that all their statements are endorsed - in fact demanded - by some sort of mystical will of the people is unreal and nonsensical. To write so grandly that ‘delay would mean damage to the nation or unwarranted neglect of the people’s wishes and mandate’ or to refer to the program the people have instructed them to implement is pompous self delusion. Some Australians were convinced by the brave words of Labor. Now they will judge the Government by results as they earlier judged the parties by their promises. Already there is tension of an extreme degree in the Government.
I am surprised that the ALP would want to raise before people’s minds; however erroneously, as it did in the Governor-General’s Speech, the relationship between the people and the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in this House last week in the first question he answered as Prime Minister unqualifiedly acknowledged his Government’s and his own subservience in policy matters to the Party machine. Today his Deputy, the Minister for Defence, Minister for the Navy, Minister for the Army, Minister for Air and Minister for Supply (Mr Barnard) disagreed with him publicly in this House. With a boldness born of his current despair the. honourable gentleman said that he cared not for the opinions of the machine. That was an aberration he will regret and, I forecast, he will correct. We know the community will be ignored by the Labor Government. It is not the people instructing the ALP, it is the machine. If the machine says ‘destroy alliances with our friends’ the Government must destroy them. The Government has acknowledged that. So much for the democratic theory of the socialist party. What a mockery of the assertion in the ALP policy speech that it has as a great aim ‘to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land’.
Government supporters know that the decisions will be taken in Surfers Paradise in July. They have acknowledged it through the voice of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) of this country. The Labor Party promised greater participation in decision taking - more democracy. Then it set up a 2- man government of a kind this country has never seen and does not want to see again. The Prime Minister held 14 portfolios and the Deputy Prime Minister held 13 portfolios.
The only thing that can be said of it is that giving the Prime Minister more portfolios than the Deputy Prime Minister had a nice sense of propriety as between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. It was said at the time that often they conducted their Cabinet meetings whilst walking across the lake to Parliament House. It soon became apparent by later difficulties when a Cabinet was formed - and the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) who is seated at the table will be well aware of this - that the reasons for the plethora of decisions at that time was to prevent Cabinet involvement in taking decisions. That was the only reason they were taken. It had nothing to do with urgency of policies or mandates or anything else. It was the purpose of the Prime. Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to deprive those people who they thought would oppose them from the opportunity to do so. The relationship between the Prime Minister and the rest of his Party was rather like the relationship between the farmer and the turkey until Christmas time. Government supporters promised equality of treatment for all Australians. Then they set about the most prejudiced and biased pursuit of trade union interests at the expense of other groups and the community at large. Their fine words about conscience and personal freedom were believed by many when they talked about compulsory military service. Now, in blindness to personal freedom and individuality, they force by abuse of their economic power compulsory union service for their low purpose of rewarding their political power base.
Government supporters talked about cooperation with private enterprise, yet they hand out discriminate economic rewards and penalities according to such criterion as capitulation to trade union demands. They talked about eliminating industrial conflict, yet they enter the arena themselves totally committed to one side, and there has been no diminution of the strike rate since they entered into government. They promised good government, yet great decisions, such as that on currency, are taken after a telephone chat between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr Crean), without even consulting relevant senior Ministers. The relevant Ministers made it clear that they objected to not being consulted. But then the denouement came. The Treasurer made it clear that no decision was taken at all. The fact that our currency appreciated by 10 per cent against the United States currency was represented as being no decision at all. How does that relate to the promise of good government? They promised good government, yet they are spending us into a huge deficit with apparent unconcern about the impact on economic management and the principles of public finance.
The Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), seeing an incapacity to fulfil promises, has resorted to the incredible claim that it is all the economy’s fault. He is the only person in Australia who holds that view. Government supporters promised control of inflation, yet for political reasons they attack the problem with one arm tied behind their back. That arm tied behind their back is the one concerned with costs. Many countries have had incomes-prices policies. This Government is unique in world history in believing that a prices policy alone will suffice. It does this in its eagerness to pamper its power base - the trade unions and their powerful leaders.
The Government promised us the maintenance of our alliances. The offensive statements of 3 senior Ministers - the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) and the Minister for Overseas Trade - and the conduct of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have imposed totally unnecessary strains upon our alliances and our friendships. We were to play a great role in the region. Under the Liberal Government, Australia was respected for its reliability, sophistication and wisdom. Now the Prime Minister dreams of being a home grown De Gaulle. He was ever so delicately rebuffed in Indonesia. The Indonesians were not willing to see the influence of the People’s Republic of China extending so rapidly into our region. The Government promised to reduce uncertainty, yet it continues to be uncertain over currency. People do not know where the country is going. Firms cannot plan in relation to export incentives. What about interest rates and taxation measures? Some people in Government predict a degree of economic stimulus. It is like an exciting episode from Blue Hills’. Will the Treasurer or the Minister for Overseas Trade win in the next exciting episode? Who will win that battle? What is the role of Dr Coombs? Who is the Prime Minister’s economic adviser - the Treasurer, the Treasury, Dr Cairns or Dr Coombs? The Government is creating uncertainty and is uncaring about the effects of that uncertainty.
The Governor-General’s Speech promised basic changes in the administration and structure of Australian society in the lifetime of this Parliament. There are reforms to be achieved and changes to be made. Our society is dynamic and works its own changes at a pace which enables adjustment and prevents conflict. We want change to meet changing circumstances, changing needs. Governments must provide leadership, but we reject the aim of basic changes in the structure of Australian society over 3 years, especially when the Government has used only airy-fairy words and has not told us the nature of the changes and what it is the Government wishes to change. It has not described the process. Are basic changes in administration to mean the overthrow of the Public Service or an assault on the banking or insurance systems to which the Government is pledged in the Platform, Constitution and Rules agreed to at Launceston and to which the Prime Minister said unqualifiedly that he was bound in policy terms? Is it to mean an assault on the insurance, banking and legal systems, the society or the marriage institution? What is this attack that will change our social system so fundamentally and basically? We have been very well served by our institutions. We want them adapted, not overthrown.
The Governor-General’s Speech rhetorically urged a more tolerant, more open, more humane, more equal and more diverse society. We were not given clues as to the meanings of those words. We suspect they are empty words. What does tolerance mean in this context? What does equality mean? Does it mean massive enforced equality or does it mean equality of opportunity? If it means the latter, we agree; if it means the former, we will oppose it to the bitter end. What does diversity mean? Are we to polarise our society with a basic change? Do we import diversity into Australia? It would be a national penance to force diversity on this remarkably integrated nation. The Governor-General’s Speech said of existing social and economic structures that there is a ‘clear failure’. These institutions have served Australia well. They must be capable of examination and improvement but clearly they have not failed. They must be defended as well as criticised.
The Speech referred to the primary importance attached to relations with Indonesia and the nations of the South Pacific. The term primary importance’ is a misstatement. To use the term ‘primary’ is to misunderstand Australia’s national objectives, its future path and the welfare of the Australian people. Relations with our immediate neighbours in the region are an absolute, just as it is an absolute to honour our treaty commitments and just as it is an absolute to sustain and maintain our alliances. There can be no priority as between absolutes. The Government has been prepared to allow relationships with traditional allies - the United Kingdom and the United States of America - to atrophy by placing its primary importance on the neutrality in South East Asia which will - I quote from the Speech - ‘involve the phasing out of present military arrangements such as the Five Power Arrangements’. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech totally ignores ANZUS. What are claimed as new and momentus directions may point nowhere in the end. Achieving the zone of peace is not even within Australia’s power. We will not even be invited to join ASEAN. It is that group of nations which is responsible for the proposition and for carrying it through if it is to be achieved. We will not be there. At the same time as we stand off to watch that happen and rely on it, we allow our traditional alliances to atrophy. We allow senior Ministers to hurl abuse at our great ally and its great President.
We are told that the Government will move with all due speed to create an independent, united Papua New Guinea, lt can insist on the country’s independence but not on its unity. The objectives may very well be in opposition the one to the other. They may be inconsistent. A government may mouth the words: ‘We will shed you. You must be independent’, but it will not achieve unity for that new country. The timetable for self-government is fixed but not the timetable for independence. That is clearly a matter for the people of the country to decide for themselves.
A cities commission is to replace the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. This seems a very myopic approach to regional development. We are not interested only in cities. Regional development is apparently to be the exclusive preserve of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and his newly formed Department. But let me make this clear in everybody’s minds: Centralism is no substitute for co-operative federalism. We will support the Government if it tackles our problems with reality and practical determination. We will support its spending plans if it accounts for the economic impact of its spending and sets priorities. We will support its foreign policy if it is objective, if it is careful for national interests and if it accounts for the consensus of the Australian people. We will support the Government if it intends co-operation and not coercion in relation to the States and in relation to private enterprise. We will support the Government if it governs as elected representatives of the people and rejects the influence of its all-powerful machine.
I paraphrase with some modifications the words of my predecessor in the office of Leader of the Opposition: ‘My fellow citizens, I put these questions to you. Can we afford another 3 years like the last 3 months? Are we prepared to maintain at the head of our affairs a coalition of factions which has lurched into crisis after crisis, embarrassment piled on embarrassment week after week?’ The Federal President of the Australian Labor Party yesterday had to send telegrams to people who he denies are different from other members of the Party saying: ‘Be quiet. Wait till we get to Surfers Paradise in July; then we will fix it all, chaps. You can have your say then. Then we will tell the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister what to do’. The former Leader of the Opposition also said: ‘Can we accept another 3 years of waiting for next week’s crisis, next week’s blunder?’ What prophetic words they were when they were spoken. Who could have understood those words of the Leader of the Opposition to be a description of his own Party? He never foresaw it himself, but prophetic those words were and the situation which he described is exactly that which fits the Government. We will work as an Opposition to correct this situation at the first possible opportunity.
– 1 did not intend to participate in this debate, but the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has stirred my emotions.Ifeel that I should say a few words in response to what be said a few moments ago. The Leader of the Opposition criticised the attitude and the policies of the Australian Labor Party Government in the last 3 months. Even a biased critic will agree that more has been done in the last 3 months of benefit to this country than had been done in the previous 23 years under the former government. The 2-man Government did more in an hour than the previous government did in the previous year. If honourable members study the program of legislation that has been announced by the Government they will find undoubtedly that included in it will be some of the most far-reaching and beneficial measures ever introduced into any Parliament in this nation. The Opposition has started off with disunity. We find now that members of the Country Party and the Liberal Party are blood brothers again. They have given up fighting over rooms and major matters like that. They are now speaking to each other. I never forget the first momentous days of this Government. There were more than a hundred thousand people unemployed and the nation was looking for leadership on both sides of the House, but what did we find? This did not concern the members opposite. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) took somebody else’s room, and the newspapers were full of this for days on end. The new Opposition in the Parliament was fighting not over the affairs of the nation but about whether one of the squatters should be evicted from the room of one of the leaders of the Opposition. Does anybody in this Parliament know yet who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition? I have never been told. Nobody here knows. The man who the Liberal Party claims is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has the worst room in Parliament House, and. the de facto Deputy Leader has one of the best. Mr Speaker, you have not advised me of your deliberations on this subject and consequently I think we are as much in doubt as the rest of the populace as to just who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Country Party says that he is the second most important man in opposition. I suppose he works on the same basis as the Country Party does with the boundaries of electorates - getting the minimum of votes and exerting the maximum influence it possibly can.
Rarely in my time in this Parliament have I heard a more humorous statement than the statement by the Leader of the Opposition a few moments ago that the Country Party and the Liberal Party are united in this Parliament. Honourable members know as well as I do that the Opposition is discredited. That applies to both parties, but possibly no other Party is more discredited than the Country Party, although it is stretching it a bit to say that there could be any party more discredited than the Liberal Party. The situation as I see it today is that honourable members opposite are now endeavouring to mislead the people into thinking that they are a united Opposition; that they can give leadership to this country again; that they can lead the people into the promised land. Everybody knows that they are bereft of policy and that their leadership is at the lowest possible level. Even the present Leader of the Opposition was elected to that position by a majority of only one. Can honourable members imagine, for instance, that great man, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), thinking that the present Leader of the Opposition has more brains than he? Certainly not. He has told the world the brains and capacity he has. Do honourable members think that the former Prime Minister looks with pride on his successor as Leader of the Liberal Party? If I were he I would say: ‘I must have been crook because that chap has taken over from me’. These things are apparent for all the world to see.
Honourable members opposite talk about disunity on the Government side of the Parliament, but knives a yard long are being held by every member sitting behind the front bench on the Opposition side. The country knows it; the world knows it, and I will tell the Parliament who else knows it - the Leader of the Opposition. This is the situation on the opposite side of the Parliament. 1 do not think that in our time honourable members opposite will ever return to this side of the chamber. This is a vibrant nation looking for leadership and getting it from a government that is really doing things and a government that has a sense of responsibility to the people of this country. In this Parliament only the other day, at a time when members of the Opposition were saying that they were here to lead themselves back to government, they spent 90 minutes arguing over a minute. Imagine that - for 90 minutes this fighting Opposition argued whether it would give members a minute more to walk into the Parliament for a division or quorum. Have we heard one new idea in this debate from any honourable member opposite? Has anybody on the Opposition side of the Parliament said anything that is worth while? With all due respect to the new members, I congratulate them on making their speeches to this Parliament, but quite frankly not many of them are an improvement on the older ones who used to be here. This is the situation the Opposition members face at this time. I have no desire to hold up the business of the House, and consequently I do not think I should further delay the deliberations on the AddressinReply as many other new members wish to make their orations, but I could not let the occasion pass without saying a few words in response to what I think would be one of the weakest speeches made by a Leader of the Opposition in what was the first crusade of the present Leader of the Opposition in his endeavour to win back government of this country.
Before concluding I congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your elevation to the Speakership of this House. My association with Speakers has been a long and happy one, and I feel that with your dignity, ability, knowledge and respect for Parliament you will bring great credit to the high office you occupy. Apart from everything else, you come from a great district. You come from Redfern, where rules and standing orders are always obeyed. I know that, with that background, you will bring to the position great knowledge and respect from all members of this Parliament. 1 congratulate those honourable members who have made their opening speeches in the Parliament. I wish those on the Opposition side a short and happy career in this place; and to those who have shown such distinction from this side of the Parliament, I extend my congratulations on what they have done towards bringing about a Labor government of this country. From their contributions, it is apparent that they will play an important part in the deliberations of this chamber and the welfare of this nation.
– Before calling the honourable member for Mallee, I should like to remind the House that this will be his maiden speech.
– As a new member, let me first congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your elevation to that high office. I am sure that you will give just consideration to all us new members so that we can put forward the views of our electorates for the benefit of our people. As I commence what is only the second maiden speech of a member for the Mallee electorate, I am vividly aware of the 26 years of service and dedication of our former member, Sir Winton Turnbull. In his long parliamentary career, Sir Winton has earned the respect of all Australians, and is regarded as one of our true statesmen. The people of the Mallee electorate and the Australian Country Party here record their gratitude for the unique record of service and we wish Sir Winton and Lady Turnbull a long and happy retired life.
The Mallee electorate, so named after its natural cover of eucalypt, is the largest electorate in Victoria and takes in almost onequarter of the State’s land mass. Thirty substantial towns and cities are distributed throughout the region, each community being closely knit socially and culturally - a proud achievement resulting from the harsh pioneering days not so long past. Community pride and responsibility have made each centre a stable, important part of the total electorate and we wish to retain our individuality. We in the Mallee expect to share equally in the work of this nation but we also expect to share in its advantages. We do not ask for favour, but we contend that, as a part of a developing nation, our electorate, which has a huge potential, needs and is entitled to receive any incentive or amenities that are presently available or will become available to any other part of this country.
Primary industry has been responsible for building up Australia’s wealth. It is the wealth and the future of the Mallee. Its continued viability, stability and influence must not be underrated. No other electorate has such a diversity of production. Wheat production is 60 per cent of the State’s total. The southern Mallee is the largest producer of quality malting barley. Production of wool, meat and dairy products from both dry land and irrigated pasture is immense. The fertility and agricultural pursuits of the Murray region of the Mallee electorate range from tobacco growing to citrus, almond, wine and fresh and dried fruit production. The northern end of our electorate is a major supplier of fresh fruit and vegetables to most Australian metropolitan markets. Many vital secondary industries and the rapidly developing tourist potential of this unpolluted, sunny and friendly Victorian province all add to the importance of my electorate.
All this in a natura] rainfall region of from 8 to 13 inches makes water, in both quantity and quality, indispensably tied to our future. There is a real need for a strengthening of co-operation of the States and our Federal Parliament to harness, distribute and improve every available source of water. The salinity problems associated with the entire Murray Valley are of critical national significance. The investigation and reports on this problem have been completed and it is in the interests of Australia that work be commenced imme diately through the initiatives of this Parliament. The salinity report is now over 2 years old. Controversy between the Commonwealth and the States is preventing united and coordinated remedial reclamation measures being carried out. No other system has been more imaginative or successful than the WimmeraMallee channel network. It has provided life to thousands of dry land farms. But present day needs and the advantages of technology demand that a progressive pipeline scheme be undertaken in its place. The huge saving in water and labour and the future restoration of our natura] water courses make this a necessary and valid national undertaking.
Primary production and the marketing of the produce is a source of real concern. The violent fluctuations of price and returns of those engaged in the many vital rural industries should not be part of this 20th century. In a business where production costs are governed by those not engaged in primary production, the value of this produce to the consumer should be based on the cost of production plus a reasonable return. The economic worth of rural produce has for too long been governed by supply and demand, and of late by the state of world currencies. A primary producer’s work, his efficiency and his investment entitle him to a return equivalent to those of people in other occupations.
The balanced development of this nation and the decentralisation of people and resources are of vital importance to my electorate. National schemes that specifically develop certain regions of growth using public finance, incentives and concessions must not exclude from them other existing towns, communities or industries. The future use of the Postmaster-General’s Department and of local government will, I believe, decide the success or otherwise of Federal Government participation in balanced development. The PMG must always be regarded as a public service to this nation and its people, and not purely as a business enterprise. With 13 shire and city councils in my electorate, I am acutely aware of their huge financial commitments and increasing responsibilities. Long have past the times when local government authorities were simply road makers and collectors of garbage. Today they have to meet the needs of their ratepayers in the field of community activities and social welfare. I am convinced that local government can administer best and meet most efficiently the requirements of the community and, more importantly, the individual. Local authorities are more approachable and, notably, know the willingness of the citizens to divert resources from one use to another. It is the responsibility of the Federal Parliament to up-date the status of local authorites by providing realistic finance. Authorities should have scope for both diversity and experimentation. Local government has unique contributions to make to the quality of human existence in our changing environment. Let this Government give assistance to those who are not too tired to rely on their own efforts.
The interests of country people and the future of rural industries as part of the national economy are my immediate concern. The re-establishment of an up-dated wheat stabilisation scheme must take into account this Government’s responsibility as te future credit sales and their financing. It must take into account the fact that a 10c increase in the first advance does not cover the loss of 15c due to the currency alignments; nor does it give any guarantee as to the final payment. Improvements in the selling, preparation and marketing of the produce of our wool, dairying and meat industries in particular, are necessary. The proposed policy of this Government towards the dairy stabilisation scheme and towards imports of New Zealand butter have this industry in a state of flux. The position of all secondary industries in relation to assistance must be part of any decentralisation strategy. For the total scene of primary production, the indispensable aspect of future financing procedures must be of valuable immediate and long term help. Rural assistance requires the consideration of social as well as economic effects.
Very strong feelings prevail at local level and throughout the hinterland of western Victoria, as to the circumstances that are inhibiting the growth of trade at the port of Portland. Portland is a superior port. Huge savings in rail freights and the ease and relative cheapness of shipping, are real economic reasons why positive Federal Government action must be taken to guarantee its future as a viable facility. Vested interests are hindering the movement of cargo to and from Portland. It must not be tolerated by this Parliament.
I have spent considerable time on these matters simply because these issues are the life of the Mallee electorate and we are depending on this new Parliament for satisfactory legislation. This Australian nation has achieved so much in a short period of time. There is no better place on earth to live. We have an affluence and a standard of living equal to any. But change is all around us and rightly so. Our problem is one of deciding with whom or how to replace our past traditions or methods. Old friends and standards are, unfortunately, being rejected - we sincerely hope not before the new ones are proved. We are resting between 2 distinct forces - the forces of tradition and those of new ideas and aims.
The years leading up to the turn of the century - it is a sobering thought to realise that we are less than 30 years from it - will be a period when our national character will be severely tested. Are we, for instance, a truly democratic society except perhaps by a fine balance? Are we today pleading with our governments to accept many of the responsibilities in our social and private lives that as individuals we are trying to avoid? This new Parliament, the old and new members, have the huge burden in all issues of national responsibility from defence, social welfare to education in plotting the course for the future. Our success will lie in removing the increasing internal and industrial disturbances and in halting the over-development of urbanism and its associated environmental ills. The continual conflict of rural and city interests must be removed, knowing full well that one cannot live without the other. The incidence of poverty and discrimination; the relationship between all forms of government, and the removal of unprincipled pressure groups are all vital issues for consideration.
The total quality of life, as we have known it, is under challenge. The challenge is to respond with the skills, initiatives and the abilities of the Parliament and its people to avoid the pitfalls. Australia today is being asked to assume a more accountable and independent position in world affairs. Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community is calling upon our export industries to expand and broaden their market outlets. There is an urgent need for the whole concept of tariff protection to be reviewed. Education, and its true role in linking it to the life of the community, has to become more available to all our children, encouraging them to make the most of their potential. Facilities are important, but the quality of instruction will ultimately determine the success of our system. Greater help is needed for the under-privileged and handicapped; as are greater opportunities for pre-school and technical education, practical and sympathetic continuance of plans to give our Aboriginal people their rightful place in the nation, and increased assistance to our under-developed neighbours. These are all areas for careful Government consideration. Our social welfare system must be further expanded to meet all areas of need while not creating a bigger problem where people can and do live in the city whereby initiative is sapped and productivity is reduced. Political expediency is the real danger in developing satisfactory and successful social welfare programmes.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was pointing out that our social welfare system must be further expanded if we are to meet all areas of need in our community. In doing this, we must not create a bigger problem, with people living off the State, initiative being sapped and productivity reduced. Political expediency is the real danger in developing satisfactory and successful welfare programmes.
As a Country Party member representing in this Parliament a vast and aware rural electorate, I believe that rural people have a right to express their convictions through their representatives in Parliament and to share equally in the wealth and advantages of this fortunate nation. Rural people and those who live in small towns are by distance, availability and diverse interests much harder to represent effectively than those people in concentrations of population. But when the Country Party recognises these difficulties and attempts to cater for them, it is acting not only on behalf of its own interests, but also on behalf or rural citizens - some represented in this Parliament by Labor members. Good representation in government for a citizen does not stem from equal numbers of electors in electoral divisions; it does not even start there. It is born of the relationship between electors and their representatives, the availability of representation, the flow of information and ideas, and response in understanding the interests of the people and relating them to the national welfare. This Labor Government was elected because for the first time in 23 years its policies were accepted by a majority of Australian electors, and for no other reason.
The people of Mallee have expressed by their vote in no uncertain manner their confidence in my Party. A prominent feature of the last election was the lack of response in rural areas to Australian Labor Party policies. I express gratitude for the work of past leaders and members of this House, and in particular I wish to mention the vigorous and energetic strength of our Leader, the right honourable Doug Anthony. Through strong and responsible leadership, the Country Party has shown this nation that the influence of rural people, by adequate representation in our national Parliament, has helped to provide stable government.
In concluding my Address-in-Reply speech on the Governor-General’s address, I wish to make only one point. Our democratic way of life has allowed us to develop an independence of thought, speech and action. But by this very freedom there is also a developing tendency towards a lack of discipline. This Federal Parliament has within its power the ability to see that we do not have to face another major adversity to make us realise that democracy, freedom and the Australian way of life we enjoy are not inevitable.
-Order! I remind honourable members that the next speech also is a maiden speech.
– Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your attainment of the office of Speaker in this, the 28th Parliament of Australia. I have noticed that you are enjoying the responsibilities of your high office. I. express the hope that both you and the Chairman of Committees, Mr Scholes, will long enjoy the responsibilities of your respective offices, exercising that skill and impartiality that are already evident to members on both sides of the House. 1 should like also to congratulate the other honourable members new to this Parliament who have made their maiden speeches. I think the Parliament will be the better for their presence. I certainly agree with one of the earlier speakers who said that the new members would contribute to the standard of debates in this place. I thank the electors of Shortland for the confidence that they have shown in me by sending me, with a resounding majority, to represent them in the Federal Parliament.
My predecessor, Mr Charles Griffiths, who represented the electorate of Shortland from its formation in 1949 until his recent retirement, established an enviable record of service to the electorate, particularly in the field of social services, even though it was rumoured by certain officers of the then Department of Social Services that Charlie Griffiths had his own version of the Social Services Act and how it ought to be interpreted. His objective always was to render ease and aid to the under-privileged, those suffering hardship, the aged and the young. He won the respect and gratitude of his constituents for his untiring efforts on their behalf in his 23 years of service in this place. I pay tribute to those efforts. It is my privilege to succeed Charles Griffiths as the representative of the electorate of Shortland in this Parliament.
The electorate of Shortland, with about 55,000 electors and 90,000 people, covers a wide spectrum of activities and occupations and takes in some of the most rapidly developing areas in New South Wales. Its boundaries adjoin those of the Federal electorates of Hunter, Robertson and Newcastle and it contains portions of the State electorates of Wallsend, Wyong, Charlestown and Lake Macquarie. It runs south from Newcastle to Swansea and around the northern foreshores of Lake Macquarie almost to Toronto. It embraces a portion of the Newcastle City Council boundaries and a large part of the area of the Lake Macquarie Shire Council.
Lake Macquarie is one of the finest salt water lakes in Australia, with an area of 105 square miles. It is a major recreational asset to the vast Hunter region. Its waters yield all kinds of seafoods to those who are patient. 1 am led to believe that there is a number of such patient gentlemen on both sides of the House. The foreshores of the lake are a mecca for campers and holidaymakers from everywhere. The lake took its name during the governorship of Lachlan Macquarie, in the period 1810 to 1821. In 1821 Captain John Bingie of Newcastle joined a walking tour to Lake Macquarie in the company of 100 Aborigines. He later wrote of his visit in these terms:
The whole surrounding countryside and lake were serene and still: solitude reigned, no tree disturbed and no trace of white man’s civilisation … all is in its natural state.
This description was penned in 1821.
Shortland contains some of the oldest developed sections of Newcastle and some of the newest and fastest growing sections of the area. With over 2,000 New South Wales Housing Commission homes spread over 13 suburbs in the electorate, there are still almost 2,000 families waiting for Housing Commission homes and facing a minimum wait for them of 2 years. Because close suitable land has been tied up by land speculators the New South Wales Housing Commission is forced further and further afield in its search for suitable land, economically priced, on which to construct further Housing Commission homes. The result is that people seeking Housing Commission accommodation, who cannot afford to purchase other homes - those in the low income brackets who can least afford to pay - are forced to live the greatest distance from their place of employment and so carry a double burden. They must bear the burden of low income and the burden of higher travelling expense to and from work.
Major industrial activities in the electorate include underground coal mining, fishing, tourism, sand-mining, steel fabricating and chemical manufactures. A large part of the work force is employed at steel industries in the adjoining electorates of Newcastle and Hunter for which the Shortland electorate has become a dormitory. 1 have tried to describe to the House something of the composition of my electorate I have mentioned also the condition of the area in its virgin state. I now present some of the problems facing my constituents - problems which have developed under Liberal Party-Country Party State and Federal governments. Shortland, like other electorates in what has become known locally as the northern area, has been caught in the scissors of neglect of a Federal Liberal PartyCountry Party Government and a State Liberal Party-Country Party Government. Because the northern area consistently returns Labor State and Federal representatives the region, in my opinion, has been deliberately neglected by successive Liberal Party-Country Party governments. This Government will change that. Poor public transport, higher fares and infrequent services are the order of the day. In fact fares are so high that it is common to see young school leavers who are looking for work hitch-hiking along the road because they cannot afford the bus fare to travel to and from industry or their place of employment.
It is common also for young people who have just started work and who are earning something like $22 to $23 a week to hitch-hike to and from their place of employment because the fares cost anything from $4.50 to $5.50 a week. They find the best way to save money is to hitch-hike and not pay fares. Major roads in the electorate are congested and there is little prospect of early improvement. Major areas of the electorate are without sewerage. Ratepayers reel under the continuing burden of ever-increasing council and water rates, which are a legacy of the previous Government. Another legacy of the previous Federal Government is the large number of young people in the Shortland electorate who are out of work.
Separate figures for unemployment in the Shortland electorate are not available as they are included in the Newcastle employment district. The ratio of unemployed females to unfilled vacancies in the Newcastle employment district is something like 5 times the State figure. Similarly, in the Newcastle employment district the ratio of unemployed males to unfilled vacancies is something like 2i times the State figure. I know that these matters are also common to other electorates which have suffered as a result of what we can only term 23 years of Liberal-Country Party stagnation. Housing Commission areas have been constructed with scant regard to recreational and cultural needs. In fact at Gateshead, which is one of the major Housing Commission areas in the Shortland electorate, not even a public hall is available to meet the needs of several thousand residents or in which to conduct a function. 1 have noted the comments that have been made by previous speakers, particularly from other States, on the difficulties faced by local government bodies in their electorates. As an alderman of the Newcastle City Council for the past 4£ years I have seen at close hand the difficulties that have arisen as a result of local government being deprived of the assistance and encouragement that it ought to have been receiving from State and Federal governments of the day. I am heartened by the provisions mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, the recognition by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and this Government of the importance of local government in our system of democracy. It is to the credit of the Prime Minister that for some years he has constantly projected the value of local government. I am convinced that it was the recognition of the role of local government by the Australian Labor Party and our willingness to accept a degree of responsibility for its burdens that materially assisted in bringing us to this side of the House. That people are sensitive to the injustices and inequalities of local government is evidenced by the fact that, in New South Wales 5 of the 7 newcomers to this chamber as a result of the elections held on 2nd December 1972 are sitting councillors or aldermen. Clearly they have been sent here to help correct the injustices and inequalities of the present local government system. It is clear from the Governor-General’s Speech that this Government will play a very strong hand in helping to correct those injustices.
I am firmly convinced that the Liberal-Country Party Government of New South Wales has deliberately followed a course of downgrading local government. It began with a decision of the New South Wales Government in 1968 to alter the method of voting for local government from the proportional system to the multipreferential system, at the same time abolishing compulsory voting at local, government elections. The reason given was lack of interest by the voters. Figures of 25 per cent and 30 per cent of non-voters were cited. The terms of the Electoral Act in relation to local government elections were not being enforced. The burden of this was being transferred to councils and naturally there was a reluctance on the part of aldermen and councillors to proceed with it. It ought rightfully to have been enforced by the State Electoral Commissioner. In 1971 under the optional voting system the turnout of voters in local government elections in some areas of New South Wales was as low as 18 per cent. I think that is the evidence that one looks for in the positive downgrading of interest in local government and local activities, particularly by the people at large.
In line with this the New South Wales Government removed from office without just cause, without consideration and without prior notice, the elected representatives of the Hunter District Water Board and replaced them with ministerial appointees. The practice of replacing elected representatives with ministerial appointees has been followed by <<*ner authorities. I think it is fair to say that when we hear complaints from the other side of the
House about jobs for the boys it is very clear to the public at large who created this precedent. In my opinion it certainly does not exist on this side of the House, but it certainly exists in New South Wales. The tragic thing about replacing elected representatives with ministerial appointees is that one takes away from the decision making body the involvement of the public, the right of the people to express their views in the arguments that Iv.’.ve to be decided. In this day and age th: provision of sewerage services to homes <ind the proper disposal of effluent is a basic essential hygiene service. In the electorate of Shortland alone there are 2 major and 2 minor sewerage schemes for which cost estimate^ total approximately $7m. The suburbs involved have been settled in some cases for 70 years and yet they still have the primitive sanitary pan services. Some have septic systems.
Because of a decision by Lake Macquarie Shire Council, acting in its wisdom, when new homes are built now and in the future expensive - in some cases up to $2,000 - septic transpiration or pumpout systems have to be installed where sewerage is not available. The cost of these systems is an onerous burden on the home buyer or builder concerned and will have to be duplicated when sewerage services are eventually supplied. I will be watching in the life of this Government to see that Shortland receives its fair share of Federal funds for local government and for an extension of sewerage services in the Shortland electorate. 1 have related to the House the need for $7m to implement essential sewerage services. What happens to the effluent from the services presently operating? At Burwood beach, which is in the electorate of my colleague the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) the outflow of sewerage from the city of Newcastle for which only a screening process is provided, emits from a short pipe which is just off the beach.
Unfortunately, for the Shortland electorate, the effluent of the Newcastle electorate is disposed of south along the Burwood beach. This is the major flow of effluent to the sea, but only at Burwood beach is there a screen treatment. In the case of Belmont beach there is no treatment whatever; there is a direct discharge of sewage at one of the main beaches in the northern region. These conditions must not be allowed to continue. The estimated cost of providing a proper treat ment works at Belmont beach is Si 2m and at Burwood Beach $15m. I described earlier to the House the idyllic conditions that existed at Lake Macquarie in 1821 before the white man’s civilisation came. In 1973, to the best of my knowledge, there are 19 sewerage and surcharge outlets into this lake. Clearly this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Funds must be made available, not only to provide the essential hygiene service of sewerage but also to protect the waters and environment of the lake itself. To this end local citizens have banded together into a voluntary organisation which they have called the Lake Macquarie National Park Trust with the aim of ensuring in association with local government that the waters of the lake and its foreshores are protected for the benefit of posterity. What greater growth has there been in the community in recent years than th.it of an interest in the environment?
At last among the people of Australia there is a stirring to protect the quality of the environment, a stirring to protect the quality of the heritage which has been passed down to them. Nowhere in New South Wales has the fight been stronger and fiercer than in the case of the much vaunted attempt to construct a highway - motorway 23 - through Blackbutt Reserve at the northern end of the Shortland electorate. Blackbutt is a priceless reserve of over 400 acres in the Newcastle end of the electorate, a jewel of a natural reserve in the midst of an industrial city. So strong has been the opposition to the routing of highways through this and other reserves that last week in staid old Newcastle there was virtually blood in the streets when people in their efforts to prevent partial destruction of Birdwood Park for the construction of a major highway, barebanded tried to stop a bulldozer of the Newcastle City Council demolishing trees. The allegiance of these conservationists and environmentalists knows no political boundaries. It is a new grouping, a spontaneous coming together of persons interested in preserving the beauty that nature has given to our people.
The manner in which these people appear to have been treated leaves much to be desired on the part of the Council, and it is my belief that serious injury to persons was avoided more by mischance than by good management. More and more, government at all levels will have to reassess its values on parks, public and natural reserves before it proceeds to carve off sections for the construction of roads and highways. One cannot help holding the belief that within government structures there has long been a view that pinching pieces of parks and natural reserves for highway construction is the most economic course for so-called progress. It is the responsibility of this Parliament to change that. Parks and reserves have an extremely high community value and wherever possible should be preserved and not desecrated. People no longer are prepared to sit back and take what is dished out to them in the name of progress. Conservationists and environmentalists are fast becoming one of the most militant sections of the community.
I would like to commend to the House the Speech of the Governor-General, particularly that section relating to amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act and the recognition by the majority of Australians that people of 18 years of age have reached maturity and should be entitled to a say in the selection of their representatives in Parliament. If people of 18 years of age are responsible enough to be sent to war and to die, allegedly in a fight to retain their nationhood, then they are mature and old enough to have a say in the selection of their government. The 700,000 young voters presently in the 18 years age group no doubt will have a marked influence on the coming elections. I look forward with eagerness to the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act. I know there is certain uneasiness on the other side of this House and in certain corners of it about what the amendments may contain but I will commend them when they are introduced to the Parliament and commend to the House the recognition of the young people. The Governor-General in his Speech laid out a clear blueprint for a program of legislation that will restore this nation to a course of progress in the interests of the many and of the needy, not the few. I can do no more than emphasise the following words from the Governor-General’s Speech: . . the nature of recent events in our region, the opportunities and responsibilities of the national Government in these times of great change all combine to make the Twenty-eighth Parliament one of the most momentous in Australian history.
-Order! Again I ask honourable members to be silent during the next maiden speech.
– I add my congratulations to those of other honourable members to you, Mr Speaker, upon your election to your high office. I look forward to the impartiality of your judgments and to the continued friendliness which you have already shown to the House. As a new member I listened with interest to the speeches of the Governor-General and the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews), who moved the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. The program outlined by the Government is a clever one; it is cleverly designed to shift the whole balance of political power in Australia to Canberra. This vast continent is to be brought to the precipice of centralism. The constitutional balance of legislative authority and administrative function in the Australian Federation is to be deliberately distorted without the approval of the people, notwithstanding the repetition of mystical invocations by the advisers to the GovernorGeneral of the ‘national will’, the ‘will of the people’, and a somehow perceived ‘instruction from the people’. Apparently these are expressions of a new Labor dogma, but a dogma without substance. The ideas are as archaic as they are irrelevant in a modern parliamentary democracy. The only instruction for constitutional change can come from a referendum of the people held under the Constitution, and while this Government’s program is built upon the political foundation of the Constitution, ignoring its fundamental pillars of support, it can expect to be a ricketty structure for in the end the Government cannot be expected to have nor hold the goodwill of the people.
It is said in the speeches I have mentioned that the Government’s program is conceived in the spirit of and will be guided by a co-operative federalism - a fashionable term apparently. Honourable members would be excused for thinking this is a fancy description of Australian Federalism as it is and as it ought to be under our Constitution. In truth, the phrase hides a wholesale takeover of State authority and responsibility by the calculated use of Commonwealth economic power. The vehicle for this takeover is obviously to be the commission, so frequently mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. There are 8 commissions in all to cover education, preschools, health, cities, transport and urban and regional development. As Commonwealth agencies, backed by the financial power of the Commonwealth, they are bound to become the fourth tier of government in this country. By their very nature, with the Commonwealth economic power behind them, they are likely to reduce State governments to mere appendages instead of healthy legislative organs vital to a healthy nation. The States must not be allowed to wither away under this assault, and I am sure that members of the Opposition will not allow that to happen.
The honourable member for Casey finds justification for the Government’s declared urban bias and co-operative federalism in an alleged studious neglect by successive national governments of urban needs, and comfort is drawn from the fact that new members of this Parliament largely represent outer suburbs of capital cities. I belong to that group. The Stirling electorate lies in a coastal belt rapidly spreading northwards from Perth, a microcosm of Australia with its crosssection of old and mushrooming new suburbs filled with new families, of coastal and inland suburbs, with a significant migrant population, and large Government low income housing areas and in the centre of it, a booming light industrial area. The electors of Stirling increased the Liberal Party vote by 10 per cent over the 1969 election figures and that trend was broadly reflected right across Western Australia. My electors and the people of West Australia look to a solution to their urban problems, common to all Australia, free of a central Canberra-based bureaucracy remote and distant from them. lt is fair to assume that in moving the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, the honourable member for Casey reflects the Government’s thinking and philosophy, justification for an urban bias in Government policies and co-operative federalism is seen also in the statement: ‘Of course the States have little money’, for the matters in respect of which the commissions I have mentioned are to be established. This seems very much litre a policy of starving the child and then in the name of humanity providing it with succour and thereafter seeking the plaudits of the crowd for a great and generous act of charity. But here 1 am already slipping under the influence of the Government’s thinking of the States as children and Canberra as the fatherhead. Co-operative federalism today in Australia requires a policy of revenue sharing, not revenue starvation or economic coercion at which Ministers of this Government have so quickly shown themselves to be so adept. We are not only a highly urbanised society; we are also a highly regionalised country. A national identity and the national co-operation of all the peoples of a country which has such a great and abiding future can be forged and achieved once it is acknowledged that within the Australian federation States and their governments are a system of representative regional government as capable of discerning and expressing the regional will of its people as this Government claims for itself over the national will of the nation. Sadly, but inevitably I fear, the program of this Government will work by federal confrontation, not co-operation.
Ministers have already embarked upon this course - against Queensland over territorial boundaries and Torres Strait islanders as well as over Aborigines and coal export prices, and against Victoria over housing. The calculated confrontation with all States over Aborigines which is to be found in the Governor-General’s Speech disdains cooperation rather than enhances it. Co-operation is further denied by the stated intention expressed in the Governor-General’s Speech to ‘assert and establish’ the so-called sovereign rights of this Parliament over the resources of the sea bed. This has been done without an ounce of any expressed sense of consultation with the States, let alone co-operation. If urban needs are in such a state of national neglect as the Government would have the country believe, and if co-operative federalism is to be the catchery, then the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) ought not to have cancelled the traditional February Premiers Conference. To have held it would have shown a true cooperative spirit. When one is held the Prime Minister will have armed himself with his array of commissions and will no doubt use them to fight off the States’ claim for access to more Commonwealth funds. The message then to the Premiers will no doubt be: ‘Don’t worry, my commissions will fix it’.
There is another area of Government action which causes great concern to the people of my electorate and to the whole of Western Australia. I refer to the December revaluation of the Australian dollar and the later failure to follow the United States dollar down. My colleague the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) in his maiden speech incisively exposed the weaknesses of the Government’s policy in that matter. There is deep disquiet in Western Australia over what has happened. In that State there is an uncertainty as to whether the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr Crean), with cynical deliberation, without consultation with Cabinet and in the knowledge of the economic devastation which their action would cause to the future development of the State’s and Australia’s mineral and primary resources, nevertheless went ahead with the revaluation, or whether they acted from ignorance of what the consequences of that action would be. Either way, their conduct, and the scant public regard shown by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) of the plight of the mining industry, have shocked the people of Western Australia. It may be difficult for all honourable members to comprehend this fact. I hope that the honourable members for Perth (Mr Berinson), Fremantle (Mr Beazley), Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and Swan (Mr Bennett) are aware of it and will express that feeling in Caucus.
The Nullabor Plain is a gulf which modern communication cannot bridge completely. The attitude which the people of Western Australia have towards this area is not a parochial one. They know that the development of mineral and primary resources during a surging decade of development in the 1960s has earned for the western third of this continent the description ‘the great States’. Development has been built upon a massive spirit of free enterprise in the Pilbara iron province and the Goldfields and Murchison nickel provinces and throughout the rural areas, uV, overflow from which has spilled into the southern cities, absorbed a huge migrant inflow and sped our population growth at a faster rate than any other part of Australia. This development in Western Australia saw export income from iron ore rise from $2.7m in 1965-66 to $375m in 5 years at a time when Australia’s export income from wool fell disastrously from $700m to $493m. This is development which saw export income from nickel rise to $92m and from salt to $7.6m and which saw capital expenditure on mines, ports and infrastructure on iron ore projects of the order of $ 1,500m. It is development which has seen 10 new towns each built from a scratch on the surface of a big country with a population growth of some 25,000 people and with a projected growth to 85,000 by 1985. During this period of development 2 new ports, plus Port Hedland, which is the largest tonnage port in Australia, have been constructed. All of this has hap pened in less than a decade. This is regional development in action, not in theory, nor at the behest of a commission.
More than that, nickel, salt and iron ore projects alone have provided the Western Australian State Government with royalties which have grown from a trickle in 1966 to a total of $75m by June 1972 and would have been expected to grow rapidly beyond the current annual rate of about 1522m. These royalties enabed the State to unshackle itself from the Grants Commission in 1963 - an arrangement which this Government proposes to restore in the name of regional development. My State does not want to go back to that. It wants to - and it will - go forward. But the arbitrary revaluation of the Australian dollar and the failure to follow the United States dollar down have damaged confidence, the most valuable commodity of all. This action will have a three-fold effect on all natural resource industries in Australia. Firstly, it will lower export returns; secondly, debt financing of existing projects will take longer to repay; and, thirdly, new development will need bigger volumes of production, and this will be an almost impossible hurdle to overcome in the future. But probably the most disastrous consequences will fall on the Australian companies already involved in development. Companies which have borrowed locally will not have the blow of revaluation softened like companies which have borrowed overseas.
In the Governor-General’s Speech there is a declaration of policy by this Government of maximising Australian ownership. That policy could well have been dealt a body blow by the arbitrary action of this Government in December and its stay-put decision in February. The position is further aggravated by the Treasury penalty upon borrowing overseas, when experience tells us that resource development of the magnitude involved is heavily dependent upon overseas borrowing. In some quarters this is glibly answered by condemning the companies for writing contracts in United States dollars without a currency safeguard clause, and haranguing those companies as foreign owned, with complete disregard for Australian participation in them. Were this not my maiden speech I might bridle unblushingly to the point of explosion at the obvious commercial ignorance and prejudice displayed in such remarks as this House has already heard in this debate. The unchallengeable fact is that without these long term sales contracts written in United States dollars there would not have been the development that I have described. United States bankers provided finance in quantities unheard of in Australia which could not be borrowed or would not be loaned locally. Long term sales contracts were financed in United States dollars because commercial necessity required the contracts to be written in the same currency. These contracts were written in 1964.
If honourable members opposite took time out to read the statutes of Western Australia for that year they would see a pattern of agreements in that State which reflect what I have said. In 1964 when this was happening the United States dollar was untouched by currency problems. No company can sustain a loss of 21 per cent, the value by which contracts written in United States dollars have fallen with 3 effective devaluations of the United States dollar in 14 months. The iron ore companies in the Pilbara will lose approximately $A 1 1 2m in income this year as a result of the December and February decisions. The loss in value of long term contracts running to 1993 is immense. For example, the loss for one company amounts to $A256m. The total for all export iron ore companies approaches $A 1,000m. The Minister for Minerals and Energy could not tell the honourable member for Perth during question time last Wednesday what the Government’s action meant to Western Australia in terms of postponed or cancelled development projects. Western Australia is entitled to know without delay. If there are postponements or cancellations we are entitled to know without delay what this Government proposes to do about it. The inability of the Minister to tell the people now the impact of what was done by his Government displays to the natural resource industry and to the nation the total absence of consideration by the Government of what it was doing before it was done. This Government has much to remedy and much to answer for.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)Order! Before I call the honourable member for Gellibrand I remind the House that this will be the honourable member’s maiden speech. I call the honourable member for Gellibrand.
– Firstly, may I say how proud I am to represent in this House the people in the electorate of Gellibrand. They have consistently returned Labor members to this Parliament and no doubt they have great hopes that this Labor Government will provide for them a more humane, secure and just society than that which they have known for the past 23 years. Pensioners and people of low income families make up a considerable proportion of my electorate and for both of these groups poverty, or the threat of poverty, is an ever present reality. I am sure that if this Government is allowed to carry out its mandate then these abhorrent current realities will be effectively eliminated. This will be so because this Government is motivated by egalitarian values without which poverty will never be eliminated and economic security never assured. The previous Government, by shunning those egalitarian values throughout its 23 years of office, has created a situation in which many Australians live in poverty. The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic Research found in its poverty study in Melbourne in 1966 that 7.7 per cent of the population was living in poverty and another 5.2 per cent was living in marginal poverty. Thus about 13 per cent of the population of Melbourne was found to be living in poverty or near poverty at that time, and that was a conservative estimate because, as those who conducted the survey stressed in their publication, the poverty line they drew at that time was ‘austere’ and ‘stringent’, to use their words.
After that information became available the previous Government made some perfunctory efforts to alleviate the situation, but it achieved very little and this was inevitable given its apparent refusal to face up to the fact that poverty is a relative not an absolute concept. Whether or not we are poor depends not on our actual income alone but on that income compared to the incomes of other people in the community. For instance, in Indonesia the average income per head of the population in 1969 was $US100, and a person earning 5 times that amount would be well off by Indonesian standards. But in the same year Australia’s average income per head was SUS2.300, so that $US500, which was a good average income in Indonesia, would certainly be a poverty income in Australia.
Poverty then is indisputably a relative concept. It follows that its elimination can only be achieved by a concerted attempt to ensure, firstly, that those at the bottom of the income ladder are not so far below the average income level that their incomes could not be regarded as reasonable by general community standards, and, secondly, to ensure that that continues to be the situation by providing that those lowest incomes increase in step with those of the community generally. Unless we take both of these steps we will not eliminate poverty in Australia. I am immensely pleased to be a supporter of a government which intends to take both those steps. Already there is before the Parliament a Bill to increase the rates of various social service benefits as part of the process of establishing acceptable minimum income levels in our society.
In passing may I refer to one very commendable feature of that Bill. As well as increasing the various levels of social service benefits the Bill also eliminates the totally unjustifiable and deplorable differential system which previously applied as between various benefits implying as they did that one condition of need was more respectable or less respectable than another. For instance, a man with a dependent wife and 2 children who was out of work for more than 6 weeks because he could not get a job currently receives $34 a week, but a man with the same sized family who was out of work because he was sick for that period of time receives $37 that is, S3 more. The need is the same but apparently the previous Government considered that being unemployed was somehow not respectable or the individual was to blame to some extent. Perhaps the unemployed man was penalised for being a politically embarrassing statistic. Such differentials have no place in a social welfare system which is based on compassion. It is indeed gratifying that the Social Services Bill now before the House will eliminate those differentials and provide for the needy simply because they are needy and will not involve implied value judgments about the morality of the circumstances which brought about the need. I should add that the actual benefit set out in the Bill for the unemployed and sick will provide a family of 4 with $46.50 a week which is a very considerable increase over the levels of $34 and $37 that previously applied.
The Social Services Bill is, of course, only the first step in raising the levels of benefits to equitable levels and it is intended that when those levels have been reached they will be kept in step with community standards by moving them in accordance with the general index of wages as represented by the average weekly earnings index. In this way, their value relative to other incomes in the community will be retained, and that is basic to the elimination of poverty. Of course, a government which is concerned to eliminate poverty must do more than provide adequate social services, lt must also endeavour to ensure that the lowest wage is such that no man can work for a full week and then take home an income that would leave an average family living in poverty. The previous Government’s record in this regard is appalling. In 1966 the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission introduced the minimum wage concept for adult males and although it was initially above the poverty line as set by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic Research it later fell below that level for a family of 4 and is still below that level. Since 1966 the unions have taken a number of cases to substantially increase the level of that minimum wage. But although the Commonwealth Government intervened in those cases, supposedly in the public interest, it did not make any submission of substance in support of those union applications nor did it attempt to assist the Commission in any way by providing background material that would have been helpful to the Commission in its task of setting an adequate minimum wage. I have every confidence that, in contrast to this obvious lack of concern for the lower wage earner displayed by the previous Government, the present Government will support a substantial increase in the minimum wage in the coming national wage case.
Whilst on this matter of national wage cases I would like to refer to the claim made earlier in this debate by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) that his Party was not anti-union or pro-employer. One can only say in relation to that assertion that it was hardly supported by the performance of the Opposition Parties when they were in office. There were 20 major wage cases involving union claims for general wage increases in the 23 years in which the Liberal and Country Parties were the Government of this country. These were basic wage, margins and national wage cases. The Commonwealth intervened in all of them. On only 2 out of those 20 occasions did the Commonwealth support any increase in wages at all. Once it suggested that a small increase would not be outside the capacity of the economy and once it said that it supported a moderate increase. Of the other 18 cases it flatly opposed any increase in 9 cases, including 7 out of the last 9, and although it did not specifically oppose any increase in wages in the other 9 cases the general tenor of its remarks in most of them was to emphasise the dangers of a wage increase.
In the light of that performance by the previous Government, we on this side of the House will take a lot of convincing that the Opposition Parties are not anti-union. This is especially so when we recall that they also supported the retention of penal clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Resort to those clauses by employers cost the trade union movement about $500,000 in fines and costs between the early 1950s and late 1960s. I am pleased to be part of a Government which genuinely supports the legitimate aims and aspirations of the trade union movement and which will prove that by its actions in the Arbitration Commission and by abolishing the iniquitous penal clauses.
Let me return to the general theme of my address. There are many other important ways in which action can and must be taken to eliminate poverty and to provide economic security to all. The program of this Government as outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech is full of such action. An important part of that platform is a pledge to restore full employment. The previous Government, whether through incompetence or deliberate intention, periodically allowed unemployment to reach alarming levels and in so doing destroyed the economic wellbeing - such as it was - of many thousands of Australians. A government which is concerned to maintain the economic security of its people must give the highest priority to full employment. This Government is pledged to do that.
The national compensation scheme will prevent an injury at work or leisure from dragging a family into penury, as will the scheme for universal health insurance which will guarantee all citizens freedom from fear of mammoth hospital bills and other medical expenses. The channelling of funds into schools and pre-schools on the basis of need will do much to ensure that equality of educational opportunity becomes a reality. All these measures and others like them will play an important part in bringing about the goals of the Government to which I have alluded. But there is one other aspect of the Government’s program which has important egalitarian connotations to which I have not yet referred, and that is its intention to put pressure on prices or perhaps I should say on the price fixers. For the past 23 years the Government of this country fought inflation in 2 ways - by stop-go policies of deflation and reflation thereby causing substantial periodic unemployment, and by attacking wage claims. Never could it have been accused of putting real pressure on price fixers to reduce their prices or even to reduce the size of a proposed price rise. Had it done so, it could well have had more effect in reducing the rate of inflation and in the process it could have saved the consumers of Australia many millions of dollars.
Let me refer to one specific example. The Holden car came into full production at roughly the same time as the Liberal-Country Party took office 23 years ago. At no time in the period since then did the previous Government attempt to reduce the price of the Holden, despite the enormous profits it was making for General Motors Corporation which wholly owns General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd. To prove this let me point out that the original investment from General Motors Corporation in America amounted to $1,931,600. That is the total amount of American money that has been put into General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd. That money had been well and truly repatriated a number of times over prior to the Holden project even beginning. But since the Holden project began enormous profits have been made. Between 1951 and 1972, excluding the 2 years 1960 and 1961 for which no profit figures are available, the profits made by General MotorsHolden’s were $461. 6m and $246.6m was repatriated in dividends. In relation to the amount of money which came from the United States of America to finance General MotorsHolden’s in the early stages, the profits amount to 239 times the original investment and the dividends amount to 128 times the original investment. Clearly this was a case where the price of the product was not only too high but also was in fact totally exorbitant. The operations of a prices justification tribunal which could have exposed this situation and brought about a lower level of Holden prices over the years would have had immense benefits for the people of Australia.
Of course, pressure on price fixing can be achieved in other ways - for instance, through tough legislation for the control of monopolies and restrictive practices. In this regard it is relevant to note that in the United States a government survey recently found that if monopoly industries in the United States were to be broken up, prices could be reduced by 25 per cent or more. That was an internal report of the United States Federal Trade Commission. It is referred to in Ralph Nader’s study group report on anti-trust enforcement which has been produced as a book entitled ‘The Closed Enterprise System’. This is not to say that exactly the same situation would apply in Australia but it indicates what we all know to be the fact, and that is that monopoly and oligopoly go hand with administered prices and high profits. Action to control monopoly and to achieve a more competitive environment than currently applies in this country will be undertaken by this Government. It will result in a lower price level than would otherwise apply and in increased economic welfare for the ordinary people of Australia.
There are other ways of putting pressure on prices and restricting their freedom to go to any level the price fixers choose. These involve our external trade position. The considerable importance of exchange revaluation as an anti-inflationary measure is only just being realised in economic circles as a more complete understanding of the inflationary process is achieved. Increasingly in economic circles the simple wage-push explanation of the cause of inflation, so beloved by employers and the previous Government, is being replaced by a realisation of the very important role played by external factors in the economy. Inflation has become much more severe throughout the world, including Australia, since the mid 1960s. Those who see union militancy as its basic cause must explain how unions all over the world suddenly became more militant in the late 1960s. They must also explain why inflation is exceptionally high in some countries such as Spain which do not have a strong trade union movement, if they have a trade union movement at all, and in which worker militancy is rare.
Clearly, other factors are in operation. Those other factors have been spelt out convincingly by the world famous economist, Professor Harry Johnson of the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. His thesis, in minute summary, is that high inflation which has affected the whole of the Western capitalist world in the last few years is traceable to the actions of the United States Government in the mid 1960s when it massively increased its military involvement in Vietnam without increasing taxes. The result was a substantial increase in inflation in the United States of the conventional excess demand kind, and this inflation has been exported around the world due to the dominant position of the United States in world trade and the practice of countries tying their currencies to the United States dollar, as they almost all did until the curency upheavals of the last couple of years.
The process of transmitting inflation works through capital movements and, importantly, through increasing prices in world trade, enabling import-competing industries to raise prices to the extent of the increases in import prices without losing sales to imports. This can be shown to have operated in Australia today with price rises in a number of industries matching increased import prices. Examples of 2 such industries, which I do not have time to pursue, are the steel and motor vehicle industries. This theory is, as I have said, increasingly accepted in world economic circles. The only way to protect the country from inflation in this situation is through either direct price controls or action to lower the level of import prices, which means either exchange revaluation or reduced tariffs. This Government, as distinct from the previous Government, has shown its willingness to revalue, and this action must help to protect Australia from the rampant world inflation. Associated with policies to put pressure on prices through the establishment of a prices justification trubunal and stronger controls on the existence of monopoly power, this Government will be placing the emphasis on inflation control where it should be - on those who set the prices of commodities and services in this community and not on those who have to pay them.
May I conclude by saying that the program outlined by the Governor-General will clearly lead to the eventual abolition of poverty in our society and a more secure and just society for the vast majority of Australians. But in achieving this we should not lose sight of our wider responsibility, and that is to be concerned with the poor people not only of this country but of the whole world. The economic disparities between the richest and the poorest countries in the world are enormous and getting larger. The gross national product per capita for the United States of America in 1969 was 40 times higher than that of India and growing 4 times as fast. The relative nature of poverty to which I alluded earlier applies as between nations as well as within them, and drastic action on a world level is necessary if the great majority of the people of the world are not to become even more poverty-stricken in the future. In the world councils, in our trade policies and in our aid policies we must endeavour to assist the underdeveloped countries to increase their rates of growth. To do so is not only the decent and humane thing to do; it could also represent a very rewarding investment in our future national security.
Before calling the honourable member for Petrie I remind the House that this will be his maiden speech.
– 1 am deeply conscious of the honour which the electors of Petrie have placed on my shoulders in sending me to this House. I would be remiss if I did not pay a tribute at this early stage to the previous occupant of this seat. I was a boy in primary school when Sir Alan Hulme won the seat of Petrie shortly after the War. Sir Alan held that seat for over 20 years and gave unparalleled service to the people of Petrie. Not only did he do that; he achieved distinction in Parliament and rendered great service to the country as a Minister of State. 1 hope that the people of Petrie will continue to send me to this place so that I may emulate Sir Alan’s long period of service and also retire from this House after an equally long tenure of the seat with the goodwill of the people whom I have represented for that time.
The Governor-General’s Speech which was delivered last Tuesday was an interesting document. It contains for the most part slogantype promises which give nothing but the bare bones of what is proposed in the legislative programs to be placed before the House. If one looks at it casually one might be forgiven for saying that a few years ago this speech would have been made in a State parlia ment, because most of the matters of substance which are referred to in it are matters for which the Constitution gives responsibility primarily to the States. But be that as it may, the performance of the Government in delivering the goods, as it were, on its promises in the fields of domestic policy, particularly those related to urban development and urban growth, housing, transport and education will determine whether it survives for another term. It would have been better, I think, had the Governor-General prefaced his remarks by giving us some indication of the definition of terms to be used in his speech, because one notices that it gives repeated reassurances that the Commonwealth Government is to cooperate with the States; that it will co-operate with local government authorities; that it will co-operate with private schools; that it will co-operate with everybody. I have never got the word in my electorate that the Australian Labor Party was wedded to the idea of federalism; yet so much emphasis is placed on it in the Governor-General’s Speech that it leads one to believe that we are entering a new era in which co-operation means something different from what we have expected in the past.
If we look at the action of this Government since it took office a few months ago co-operation may mean: ‘If you do nol do what you are told you will not get any money.’ In fact in Queensland we have had ample demonstrations of this up to date. We had an instant meddling by the Commonwealth in the affairs of the territorial confines of Queensland very shortly after the election. We had in addition a situation fairly recently in which the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) virtually threatened the people of Queensland with a loss of a substantial grant of money if they did not be quiet and take the Government on its face value. This is the sort of blackmail that I suspect we will see from the Government in the future. I need only remind the House that it was a great Queenslander, Sir Samuel Griffith, who drew up the Federal Constitution, and the reasons for drawing a Federal Constitution are as valid today as they were in 1901. I need only refer to the fact that the Sassenachs south of the Tweed occupy 79 seats in this House as against 18 for Queensland. We have difficulty even in getting adequate representation in sporting teams. Honourable members will find many people in Brisbane who will tell them that national rugby league teams are decided on the basis of State bias, with the predominance going to New South Wales. So if that is the position in the field of sport how much more so must it be in the field of politics? The representation of New South Wales in the new Labor Government would indicate that Queensland can expect nothing from this Government except the raw prawn.
I now turn to just one or two of the domestic policies which are briefly outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech, and I turn first to the proposals on housing. As I have said, the Speech gives us nothing of the details. We have to read the newspapers to find out the intentions of the Government in the field of housing. But if we look at what the Government says in the Speech we see that it is to make money available for the States to provide leasehold houses. There were various other proposals put during the election, in Queensland at any rate, that led one to believe that the whole emphasis of this Labor Government was to be towards leasehold of land and homes rather than purchase. If you want to go on a tour of my electorate I can quite readily point out to you those homes which are leased from either the Queensland Housing Commission or private landlords because they are readily identifiable from their state of dilapidation and the rack and ruin that the gardens and the yards have gone to. If one looks at the experience of other countries, particularly the United Kingdom, where council houses have been a problem to local councils and national government alike for many, many years, it seems strange that at a time when everybody else in the world is moving away from leasehold tenure of houses as a solution to the housing problem this Government should make a giant step in that direction. After all, money paid for rent is dead money. I do not care, Sir, whether you say that people want to rent homes that they can afford because their purse cannot afford the deposit to purchase a home. It is well known that, if a person applies to the Queensland Housing Commission for a rental home and establishes his reliability in paying the rent over a period of time, and if he continues to occupy that home until he has paid in rent an amount equivalent to the deposit that is necessary, he can convert to purchasing the home. That seems to be a much more desirable solution than the course charted by the Government in simply providing leasehold houses ad nauseam for people, because the largest single investment of Australians is in their home and most people - even ordinary working people - look forward to their retirement in the knowledge that at least they will own the home in which they live. This Government would attack that principle and put young people into leasehold houses and keep them there during their working lives; and then in their retirement they would have nothing permanent that they could call their own.
While on the matter of housing, I should like to refer to suggestions that have been made to lower the interest rate payable on home finance. It is well known that the majority of finance for homes presently is provided by building societies, which have to compete with other lending institutions. The success of building societies depends upon the ready availability of money to the depositor and also upon the return he receives on his money. It is not the large financier who invests in building societies; it is the average working man who puts his savings into a building society because of the interest rate, the security and the readily accessible nature of his investment. If the rate of interest on home loans is to be artificially lowered, the vast majority of small investors in building societies will withdraw their funds because they will find alternative avenues of investment which return them much more and the housing field will suffer a crippling loss.
I should like to refer briefly to the matter of transport. This is something which concerns me very much because in my electorate we have a railway line which, under the n;:w proposals put forward by this Government, will be electrified. However, it is interesting to note that when the Prime Minister was asked, at a Press conference in Brisbane during the election campaign, what was his Party’s policy on this matter, he told us that it was to electrify the railway in the northern corridor of Brisbane. Another questioner asked him where exactly was that corridor and the honourable gentleman did not know. Subsequently, in the Press, we were told that the Labor Government proposed to electrify 22 miles of railway in the northern part of Brisbane. Anyone who knows the northern part of Brisbane knows that Petrie, which is the end of the suburban line at present, is 16 miles from Brisbane; 22 miles of track would end up in the middle of nowhere. I hope that the Prime Minister has discovered exactly where the northern corridor of Brisbane is because I shall certainly be asking some questions about this matter at a later stage. The people in my electorate would certainly look forward to the provision of Commonwealth funds to assist in the electrification of the railway to Petrie. I also put forward a proposal to extend that railway line to Redcliffe, which is one of the largest residential areas adjacent to the Brisbane metropolitan area and which needs to be serviced by a railway. There is no railway to Redcliffe at the moment and the only means of access its residents have to the metropolis at present is over a somewhat antiquated highway.
I should like to refer to the question of education and the proposals which were made in the Governor-General’s speech. It appears to me that the Government has its priorities the wrong way round in regard to education. It proposes an immediate relaxation of fees paid by students to universities. The Government proposes to take over all fees and to abolish them as from the beginning of 1974. Of course, this will not solve the problem of quotas and the people who are available to be educated in universities. It simply means that those who are intelligent enough to matriculate - they may not always be those in the lower income brackets - will pay no fees. It is curious that, in this session of Parliament, the Government has introduced a Bill to lower the voting age to 18 years. One might be forgiven for thinking that the abolition of university fees is simply a shoddy, political trick to endear the Government to potential voters at the next election.
As I said, the Government’s priorities in regard to education appear to be wrong. If the Government wants to give equal opportunity in schooling to every child in Australia, it should concentrate on the primary field because it is there that the child takes his first steps up the education ladder. It is a well known statistical fact that 20 per cent of all primary school children have some specific learning defect, whether it is an inability to learn to read or an inability to do sums. However, only approximately 5 per cent have a severe learning difficulty. So, if these children are diagnosed early enough in primary school, they can be brought into the mainstream of education. Remedial teachers in primary school are vitally necessary if the Government is to implement its proposal to give genuine equality of opportunity to all children. If these children are diagnosed at that level of schooling they can proceed and learn as they move into the higher grades. If they are not diagnosed, it will be found that children will drop out of the educational stream because they just cannot cope with the information that is being thrust at them. We will have the drop-outs from high school who do not take advantage of the education system. So, I suggest that the Government has its priorities in the field of education the wrong way round.
I now refer to the subject of local government. I was very interested to see the reference to this matter in the Governor-General’s Speech. As an old shire councillor and one who has been thrust into this rapidly expanding urban situation in the Petrie electorate, I know very well the problems of local government. The problem is to find sufficient money to carry out all those works which are required in a modern community, such as underground drainage, sewerage, water reticulation, street lights, surfacing of roads and the provision of parks. All these mundane ma t-rs must be provided by local government and money must be found. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister visited both the local authorities in the Petrie electorate and made certain promises to them. He made promises of financial assistance of which I shall remind him in due course; I expect that some action will come from the appropriate department in this regard.
It was interesting to note that in the Governor-General’s Speech the only real proposal that was made to assist local government authorities was that they should be brought into the Loan Council, with a vote and a voice in the deliberations of that body. Are we to assume from that that what the Government is offering local authorities is loans? If that is so, then the Government is not going anywhere near meeting the problems that face local government. The problem of local government is to raise money. If a local authority is granted a loan, it must be repaid; and for every $50,000 worth of loan money which is raised by the Pine Rivers Shire in my electorate another cent in the dollar is added to the rates. So, this would seem to me to be a curious situation where the Federal Government is proposing to come into the field to assist local government in performing its functions adequately and the best that is being offered is simply a loan which will have to be repaid from the pockets of ratepayers.
One might hope that the Government will come forward with a proposal of direct grants, but this again leads to a danger that is unexpressed in the Governor-General’s Speech. If one takes the Speech at its face value, then we are to have a virile federal system. But if one looks outside the Speech, at the performance of the Australian Labor Party over the years and at its performance since it became the Government on 2nd December, it leads one to believe that what is going to happen is that there will be a heavy concentration of power in Canberra and decisions which should properly be made at the local level by local councils and by State governments will be made by public servants in Canberra and the money will be dished out in Accordance with their subservient attitudes. If this is the case, proposals implementing that scheme will find me an implacable foe. If on the other hand the Government proposes schemes which will assist in alleviating urban problems, if it also preserves the dignity of people at the local level in allowing them an opportunity to be creative and also to take the decision themselves without any undue pressure from the centre and if the Commonwealth proposes that that should be the situation and the Commonwealth should simply be the fund-raising body for these ventures, then it will have my support.
Pear is expressed by many constituents in the Petrie electorate and other people in Queensland of the danger that their right to make decisions on matters affecting their personal lives will be transferred to Canberra. That situation will be a denial of the Constitution which, of course, apparently means nothing to the Government at the present time because it seems to have very little regard for it. The Government makes proposals without saying whether they are in conformity with the present Constitution. It may fairly be said that a constitutional convention is required to realign the responsibilities of State governments and local government with the available funds that they have to perform their tasks. I hope that in those deliberations the Commonwealth Government would approach the subject with a spirit of true federalism and would be prepared to make money available to local bodies without any strings attached so that they may make the decisions in the best interests of people in their areas.
– Order! Before I call the honourable member for Lilley I remind the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech and I ask the House to accord him the usual courtesy.
– J listened this afternoon while the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) made reference to what occurred following the 1972 Federal elections. The reference he made concerned the necessity for the newly elected Government to take action which apparently is somewhat unprecedented. Perhaps I should feel a little guilty because the reason that the Labor Government could not function properly was that the electorate I represent was the last in Australia to provide a result following that election. When that result was made known, the Labor Party was successful in the electorate of Lilley by the margin of 35 votes.
I place on record my thanks to the people of Lilley who supported the Labor Party and recorded a vote for me on the occasion of that election. I referred to the somewhat small majority, but 1 hastily add that one receives encouragement from many sources and I was particularly encouraged, following the election, when the new Leader of the House (Mr Daly), in his own inimitable fashion, took me aside in a friendly way and assured me that if 1 worked hard in my electorate, looked after the people and attended my duties 1 should have no trouble in doubling that majority. I am confident that when the people of Australia realise - I know they have done so to a great degree even at present - the progressive type of policy that the Labor Party in office will be pursuing in future, at the next Federal election there will be an avalanche of support for this Government. I say that because the people of this nation are progressive in their attitude. No longer can they accept the type of policies to which they had been subjected over the years. They want change and they want this nation to really go forward and the vehicle for progress in this day and age is an Australian Labor Party Government.
I also place on record my appreciation of the support that was given to me by people within my electorate during the campaign - people who worked on behalf of the Labor Party and who sought as their only reward the return of a Labor Party government. These people worked tirelessly in my electorate and I appreciated their action very much. I am particularly fortunate in entering Parliament at a time when the Government is taking a new involvement in a whole range of social policies which have particular reference to an electorate such as mine. I will work in this Parliament and in my electorate as a member of a government which is pledged to work for equal opportunity in education for Australian children; greater employment opportunities; a better deal for pensioners; a real attack on poverty; a proud and progressive Australia a vote for the 18-year-olds in the community and recognition of the status and rights of the Aboriginal people.
I repeat that I am proud to be a member of this Government. My one regret is that the State of Queensland did not return more Government supporters in the elections last year. The Australian Labor Party had excellent candidates. They were dedicated men who would have made excellent contributions to this Parliament and to its functions. I believe the reason for more members not being returned from Queensland to this side of the House was the type of campaign which was entered into by the opponents of the Labor Party, particularly the type of campaign and the attacks which were made on the Australian Labor Party’s progressive health policy. On this occasion, of course, full-page newspaper advertisements, pamphlets, radio programs and all the different means of communicating with people were used to mislead and to falsely represent the Australian Labor Party’s policies.
– It was a shame.
– It certainly was a shame. It was with pleasure that I listened to the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General setting out the progressive plans for the future of Australia and dealing with health insurance - a policy which this Government is pledged to introduce on behalf of the people of the nation. I was particularly pleased to hear the Governor-General say that the overriding consideration must be the welfare of the patient. Our opponents in Queensland claimed that the Australian Labor Party in government at the Federal level would destroy Queensland’s free hospital scheme.
This scheme was introduced in Queensland by a State Labor government and it was introduced despite the bitter opposition of Conservatives in government here at that particular time. This happened about a quarter of a century ago. Under a Labor government this free hospital scheme was properly maintained, was run efficiently and it provided not only hospital treatment for the people of Queensland but also medical treatment in the outpatients section of the Brisbane public hospital and Queensland’s public hospital. But after 15± years of Country Liberal-Party Government at State level in Queensland and after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government at the Federal level, the free hospital scheme so proudly introduced by an Australian Labor Party government has come in for criticism, not necessarily from Labor Party people but from other people within the community. For instance, the ‘Australian’ newspaper recently ran a series of articles dealing with the hospital and health scheme in Queensland. The heading of one of the series of articles which appeared in the Brisbane section of that newspaper is ‘Black List Silences the Doctors’. The article reads:
The threat of a Health Department ‘black list’ hangs over Queensland doctors and nurses who complain about the Slate’s health system.
Anyone who pries into the system as I did encounters this medical wall of silence.
Medical personnel either refuse to be quoted in tear of their jobs, or the braver of them speak, but insist on anonymity.
The existence of the departmental ‘black list’ was confirmed by outspoken Liberal doctor-politician Dr Arthur Crawford, MLA.
Dr Crawford, a Wickham Terrace surgeon, has incensed some of his fellow Liberals in State Parliament with his fearless comments on Queensland’s health system.
The next part of the article should be of interest to everybody in Queensland. Questions should be asked and action taken to have something done at State level in respect of this. The article continues:
Inferior intravenous equipment and antibiotics were being imported from overseas for Queensland hospitals because they were cheap, Dr Crawford said.
The State Stores Board calls tenders in Queensland. If a drug representative presents a new drug he will be asked not whether it is efficient, but what it costs, Dr Crawford said.
This section of the series of articles refers to an attack on the Queensland health system, not by the Labor Party but by a member of the Liberal Party in the Queensland State Government. Many of the ladies listening in
Queensland this evening would have read the article which dealt with the obstetrics section of the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. The article states that a shortage of beds is looming in Queensland. Anyone investigating this allegation must wonder how any conscientious government could attack the sound proposal put forward by the Australian Labor Party in the election campaign preceding the last Federal election. I quote briefly from this article, which reads:
By the end of next year, the facilities at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital will not be enough to cope with women having babies, according to a specialist obstetrician al the hospital.
The hospital was rapidly approaching a crisis in the provision of obstetrics beds. lt is the only Government-provided obstetrics hospital in Brisbane and the Government has no plans to build another, the obstetrician said.
Even if it did, it takes 10 years to bring a hospital from the planning stage to completion. In the meantime, the women of Brisbane are in for a rough time.
This is typical of articles which appeared in the ‘Australian’ newspaper. Unfortunately these articles appeared not before the federal election but following it. They expose the Country Liberal Party Government in Queensland and the way that it has allowed a health and hospital scheme, which was introduced in 1946, and which served the people of Brisbane very well, to deteriorate.
Several matters mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech are of specific interest to Queenslanders. I was somewhat astounded to hear the honourable member for Petrie (Mv Cooke) say in effect that there was nothing in the Governor-General’s Speech which meant much to Australians. I wondered whether he listened to, read or heard about the Governor.General’s Speech delivered in 1969. Tt represented the programme of the previous Federal Government. I am told that it took His Excellency one minute to read that speech.
– There was not much in it.
– There could not have been much in it. I was particularly interested to hear His Excellency the Governor-General refer to a proposal which would be welcomed by the people of Brisbane, namely, the Federal Government’s foreshadowed action to implement, in co-operation with the States, a major program to improve public transport. I was astounded to hear the honourable member for Petrie make some caustic comments about this proposal. Coming from Brisbane he should know that in 1947 a State Labor government tabled a report, which was adopted in 1950, which dealt with the electrification of the Brisbane railway system. When the Labor Government left State office in Queensland in 1957 tracks had been laid, buildings had been provided and the electrification of the Brisbane railway system was well on the way. But the incoming government, which took office in 1957, did not take long - I think a matter of about one year - to shelve the plan and to stop the work which the Labor Government had commenced.
The city of Brisbane, its business people, its work force, its suburban residents and the proper progress of its development have been seriously disadvantaged as a result of this retrograde step. It really amazes me that a member coming from the Brisbane area should attack something that the Federal Labor Government is trying to do on behalf of the people of Brisbane. I point out that at the time when the Labor Government in Queensland made a decision to go ahead with the electrification scheme the cost would have been slightly more than $5m. I believe that the figure now is $60m or more.
At the last Queensland State election the Labor Party promised that if re-elected it would go ahead with the electrification scheme. By a strange coincidence on the night following the election speech delivered by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland, the Deputy Leader of the Queensland State Government, delivering his policy speech, promised the people of Queensland that a transport commission would be established and that work would be commenced on the electrification of the Brisbane railway system. To my knowledge nothing was done until quite recently, when a report was made indicating that this Federal Government would make finance available in order that proper public transport might be provided for the residents of Brisbane.
One might inquire why the Brisbane people have not applied pressure on the State Government with a view to having something done to improve the transport system. Of course, something was done by the Queensland Government. It had 2 reports prepared in the interim period by an American firm of consultants, Wilbur Smith and Associates. The first report, which was introduced in 1965, advised the Government and the people of Queensland that steps should be taken to provide freeways and to improve private transport facilities in Brisbane. Apparently Mr Wilbur Smith, an American, did not learn from the American experience that by providing additional roadways and freeways the cities become jammed with traffic hold-ups, that the air becomes polluted and that the environment suffers. That proposal was contained in the first report.
In 1970 the second report was handed down. In this report Mr Wilbur Smith and his firm recommended that public transport should be improved in Brisbane. That appeared to be a direct contradiction of the findings of his earlier report. It appears that until the Federal Government makes finance available to Queensland nothing will be done in regard to improving the transport system in Brisbane. I was particularly pleased to hear the Governor-General make reference to the Government’s belief that industrial confidence requires industrial co-operation and that the Government will take steps to promote cooperation and reduce confrontation. How any reasonable person with a sense of responsibility is able to advance arguments in opposition to such a proposal is beyond comprehension.
It is in the industrial relations field that the Labor Government differs most from the previous Government. Before I resume my seat I would like to say that I believe that the Government has a good attitude towards industrial relations. I believe that if people in the work force want to enjoy the benefits that are gained from trade union activities and the work that is put into industry on behalf of workers, they should belong to unions. I believe that the great majority of Australian people subscribe to this view. I confidently believe that the people of Australia will support the Labor Government in its industrial policy and that when that policy is put into operation true industrial peace will be brought to Australia.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mackellar)Order! Before I call the honourable member for Darling Downs I remind the House that this is the honourable member’s maiden speech. I ask that the usual courtesies be extended. I call the honourable member for Darling Downs.
– In rising to speak for the first time in this House I ask the Deputy Speaker to convey to the Speaker and to the Chairman of Committees my sincere congratulations on their election to their exalted positions. I have noted in parliamentary records that Sir Littleton Groom, a predecessor of mine in the seat of Darling Downs, was also for a time Speaker of this House. Also I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to convey to the Speaker my sincere and warm appreciation of his most human thought in insisting that the wives of new members be seated in the chamber for the swearingin ceremony. No doubt tonight I can be excused for being somewhat overwhelmed - certainly overawed - by the knowledge that I am following in the footsteps of a great Australian, Sir Reginald Swartz, who is a manly man and a friendly friend. He served his country with great distinction in peace and war. He epitomised the Australian ethos. He was a veritable dynamo and full of new ideas. He was like a force that would never stand still. I wish him well in his retirement and recall the words of Hamlet: ‘He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again’.
The Darling Downs electorate has a worldwide reputation for the quality of its products and the friendliness of its people. It is a very great honour to have the opportunity to represent those people in the Parliament of this country. I hope that I can fulfil, as my 5 predecessors have, the trust and confidence which have been placed in me. My division is an area where there is an independence of the rural and city areas, each of which has a deep respect and appreciation of the other’s point of view. There are 2 main cities in my electorate. Toowoomba, the garden city, is famous for its carnival of flowers and for its rugby league footballers who humbled the might of Great Britain on the playing fields in 1924. Warwick, the rose city, is famous for its rodeo - which is a truly distinctive expression of the Australian way of life - and for its schools. The economy of the area, based as it is on agriculture and employment in various industries which serve agriculture and on export manufacturing and processing, has been dealt a savage blow by what is termed revaluation. The people are disturbed and they have a right to be because their financial security is not only being eroded but also is being threatened. Therefore, one of the great issues in the Darling Downs area is the matter of revaluation compensation which will be necessary because of 2 recent decisions - the unilateral appreciation of 7.05 per cent by the
Government of this country in December and the 10 per cent devaluation of the American dollar.
It is not my intention to become involved in the arguments for or against the devaluation decisions. However, I am concerned with the great injustice which has been done to the various sectors of the economic life of my constituents, namely, the primary producers, the manufacturing exporters and the employees. A nice sounding platitude and a very fine piece of rhetoric has been echoed, that compensation will be available provided hardship can be proved. On behalf of the people of Darling Downs I reject the proposition with the narrow guidelines laid down by the interdepartmental committee. It is completely and utterly unjust to members of a section of the community who, as my friend the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) said the other day in this chamber, were the main contributors in allowing the Australian people to have a credit balance at the end of the last quarter of last year. Some $28m has been savagely grabbed from the pockets of the Australian wheat growers. The sum of $10m has been taken from the sorghum exporters of southern Queensland - $4.2m as a result of direct action of the Government and $5.8m because of the decision of the United States Government.
The Government is hiding behind a smokescreen of buoyant world markets, deliberately, to deny a just debt to individuals who are struggling for their very existence after years of drought, low overseas prices, increased costs which are moving forever upwards at a galloping rate following the Government’s announced intention to grant 4 weeks annual leave, and the granting of concessions to those unions which will dance to the musical strings pulled by such people as Carmichael, Halfpenny and Elliott.
When a fall of 18 per cent in the f.o.b. price of sorghum - that is to say, $12.60 a tonne on the basis of a sorghum price of $70 a tonne - is related to farm gate price, excluding freight and handling charges, the rate of fall in income is not 1 8 per cent but 23 per cent. Mr Deputy Speaker, would your Government stand idly by while the earnings of the Australian worker were dissipated by 23 per cent? Well, I ask your Government not to stand idly by while the farmers of this country have their incomes reduced by 23 per cent due to the actions of your Government. We heard in the Governor-
General’s Speech about the Labor Government’s plan for a growth centre in Townsville. Like snow on a hot day, this promise has melted away. Let us hope that this Government does not forget about Queensland. Some honourable members opposite certainly have not forgotten about the State when it comes to criticising that great Queenslander, Joh Bjelke Petersen, who, as a great defender, has safeguarded the rights of a small section of Queenslanders whom the Labor Party seeks to steamroll into Papua New Guinea.
If the Government is serious about improving the quality of Australian life, is concerned about the imbalance of population on the seaboard and is desirous of establishing a relatively pollution-free environment, there is no better place for an injection of Commonwealth finance for growth purposes than the Darling Downs. It is a good place in which to live. A solid number of industries and a work force are already present. In addition in the area there are reserves of over 1,000 million tons of top quality steaming coal. At present this is the subject of a tender to the Southern Electric Authority of Queensland for the purpose of establishing a power house. It is worthy of note that the estimated reserves are in excess of the reserves at Moura and Blackwater and have one very great advantage over these areas in that they will be under the control of that great man of principle, Joh Bjelke Petersen, rather than being a political football in the game of personal ambitions and antagonisms between the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor).
One cannot but be depressed by the obvious policy of the present Government to pursue deliberately a policy of centralism, or what the Government euphemistically refers to as ‘a true and co-operative federalism*. Advance notice is served that I am totally opposed to the centralisation of power in Canberra by the devious method of eroding the powers, and rights of the individual - and this is surely the most sacred right of all - and attempting to destroy the State and local authorities. The words of the Prime Minister, as recorded in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 13 th November 1972, are worth repeating. He said:
If we were devising a new structure of representative Government for our Continent, we would have neither so few State Governments, nor so many local Government units.
Of course, we would expect the disciples of Lenin, Marx, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung to move relentlessly towards abrogating the freedoms which so many of us on this side value so much. We have had suggestions of grants to ease the States transport problems, providing the Commonwealth has representation, a situation repeated in the realms of education and health. Now there is the offer to take over the railways.
History has recorded that the classic Federal position deteriorated as the States lost fiscal power. The effective power, the power of the purse, firmly resided in Canberra. The establishment of Commonwealth monopoly over income tax. the extension of the concept of excise duty by the ruling of the High Court in the case of Western Australia v. Chamberlain Industries, the inability of that court to limit the Commonwealth’s power to impose conditions on grants under section 96, have led to the situation where the finances of the State are dictated by the whims of the Federal machine. But what an avalanche we can expect now with the Prime Minister’s proposals for the complete restructuring of Australia’s system of government, the eventual aim, of course, being complete control from Canberra. The best form of Government is that which is closest to the people. Hence it is vitally important to maintain local Government.
A few figures are worth recording: Firstly, the local government tax per head of population in Queensland at $51.10 is higher than the Commonwealth average for the 6 States; secondly, the accumulated debt of Queensland local authorities, is in excess of $380m. The seriousness of this situation is obviously beyond disputation. However, I presume now from the published statement of the Prime Minister, and the remarks in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, that irrespective of what facts are assembled, however just the case is or however unrelenting is the pressure, representations to trie present Government would be like pouring water on a duck’s back.
In a democratic system, disagreement and discussion are both inevitable and desirable. As an Australian, I am somewhat concerned at the changing emphasis in our foreign policy and in the surging trend towards centralism. In both these fields, one cannot but be concerned at those directions which are rather depressing in their familiarity and rather outrageous in their neglect of the welfare of the
Australian people. It is true to say that under the previous Government there was an appreciation of the changing pattern of Australia’s involvement in world affairs. But it is well to remember our very close links of the past with the United Kingdom, links which are still very important, as well as our necessity to have strong alliances with the United States of America on whom we will have to depend. Whilst recognising the People’s Republic of China, let us make sure the people of Taiwan are not sacrificed. And we must remember that Japan is one of our great trading nations. It might be fair comment to say that each could not live without the other.
We have on the Darling Downs some problems with agriculture and the impact of freight costs on our manufacturing industries. We have on the Downs a family company producing heavy duty trucks. In addition to high electricity costs, this company also incurs heavy freight costs on its raw materials. These conditions also apply to other manufacturing and processing export industries. This burden on country manufacturers can be eased by subsidising freight and by retaining export incentives. It seems to me to be far better to spend money on attracting people away from the seaboard than to waste millions of dollars on servicing them in the overcrowded areas.
The history of agriculture over a century and a half on the Downs, subject as it is to all manner of pressures from economy, science and philosophy, has left its marks with erosion. One cannot but be amazed after flying over the areas at the veinlike scars of deep gullies and yards of sheet erosion. It is estimated that some 8 million tons of soil is removed each year and this pollutes the streams and rivers and causes havoc with the roads and consequently increases costs to the local authorities. But above all, this is erosion of the very best of soils, which often have been treated with fertiliser. Some 11,000 tons of unit nitrogen are used on the Downs each year. Methods have been devised of controlling erosion - contour banks, grass and strip cropping. But what is urgently needed is a suitable pasture that will grow on the black soil earths. I suggest that Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation be asked as a matter of extreme urgency to carry out research into a suitable pasture. Indicative of the concern on erosion, the
Allora Shire was officially declared a soil erosion hazard area - and plans of action to safeguard the soils for the use of future generations are now on the drawing board. But what will be necessary will be finance. It is understood that an approach will be made for a subsidy of 50 per cent from the Federal Government, 25 per cent from the State Government, and 25 per cent finance to be supplied by the landholder. I hope that, when the matter is aired, it will be treated with the concern and seriousness it deserves.
The butter industry on the Downs is in serious difficulty - due to harsh seasons, Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and the increases in the margarine quota, and a price received completely unrelated to the cost of production as it does not take into account the value of unpaid family labour - and, I emphasise, the Australian ethos has been built on the family unit. As butter is manufactured where cream is produced the industry is a valuable employer of decentralised labour. Queensland’s share of the Australian butter production in the last year was 9.3 per cent. With every other section of the community receiving substantial benefits I hope that something can be done to save this Queensland industry for, say what they like, Butter is better’.
This is a House of responsibility - a responsibility to be exercised with justice. This House must not and cannot degenerate into a mere rubber stamp, subject to the dictates of outside bodies. The Parliament is supreme. I hope that for the progress of our nation, for the development of our way of life, for the maintenance of our ideals and for the progress of peace at home and abroad our efforts will not be in vain.
- Mr Speaker, I join with other members of this House in congratulating you on your election to your very high position as the person in charge of the proceedings within this House. Your great attributes, Mr Speaker, for which you are known - being able to hear courteously, answer wisely and consider soberly and above all act impartially - will undoubtedly cause you to measure up to the standards of the greatest Speakers that ever this honourable Parliament has had. I similarly congratulate the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who has been appointed Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker and who, I believe, will similarly discharge his duties. He too will be long remembered for his impartiality and skill in the discharge -of his duties as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees.
I also congratulate new members on their maiden speeches. Many good contributions have been made by new members from both sides of this House. These honourable members have enjoyed, as we all enjoyed when we made our maiden speeches, the absence of interjections when making their maiden speeches. No longer will they enjoy that privilege. But I have no doubt that they will be able to handle the situation that some of us older boys have had to accept. I congratulate the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) on his maiden speech, not so much for what he said but for the manner in which he delivered it. I hope that he will emulate the principles of his predecessor, Sir Reginald Swartz, who had the respect of all members of this House for the many years during which he was a member. But I think the honourable member for Darling Downs was rather extravagant in his praise of the Premier of Queensland, Mr Bjelke-Peterson who, if I recall correctly, is the man who sees no evil or nothing improper in his Cabinet Ministers taking out shares from time to time in private companies which are connected with areas on which his Government has to deliberate and legislate. This is something that the Labor Party would never permit.
– He is in every racket himself. He is an expert in rackets but never plays tennis.
– As the honourable member for Lilley said, the Premier is an expert in rackets but never plays tennis. The honourable member for Darling Downs also failed to point out that the Premier of Queensland introduced legislation prohibiting the people of the City of Brisbane the opportunity to elect their own mayor democractically, when every other shire or local government body in Queensland has the right and privilege to elect its own president or mayor.
– He is a dictator.
– I would say so. I would like the honourable member for Darling Downs to have expressed some concern about the closing down of the railway depot at Warwick some time ago which resulted in about 104 railway employees having to find other employment. If the honourable member could not have done anything about it he should at least have expressed some sympathy.
– We have your number. You will keep.
– The honourable member is new here and will have to learn that he may not interject while he is out of his seat. I wish to make some remarks about the right honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden), the alternative Prime Minister, who is commonly known in my electorate as Wacky Mackie Snedden.
– Order! The honourable member should not refer to another member by such a .pseudonym.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker; I will endeavour to conform with your ruling. Just before the suspension of the sitting for dinner tonight the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) levelled a tirade attacking the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Prime Minister. Among other things the Leader of the Opposition said that the Labor Party is dictated to by other influences within the Party and outside the Party. He put great emphasis on this point, Mr Speaker, as you are undoubtedly aware. He went on to say that the people’s elected representatives should be the sole deciders of legislation and government policy. This is what he said, as Hansard will prove tomorrow. But the Leader of the Opposition, Janus-like, has 2 faces, and speaks with 2 tongues. The Townsville ‘Daily Bulletin’ of 5th March contains an item about the right honourable gentleman. The report is headed: ‘Pledge by Snedden’. It states:
The Federal Opposition Leader (Mr B. M. Snedden) has pledged the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party to pay more heed to the party membership,
The report continues:
He was answering the Victorian Liberal Party president (Mr Philip Russell).
Mr Russell’ said; ‘Our Parliamentary representatives must listen more closely to what the ordinary party members are saying to them.’
He said: ‘Lel your fall from power sting you into the realisation that you win only succeed if you listen to us mora closely in the future.
Then there is the pledge from Billy Mackie Snedden, now the Leader of the Opposition. He said: 1 am determined while I am Leader of the Federal Party it will never be said with justification again that we did not listen to the broader Party.
We need an input of the attitudes, values and expertise available to us in the party.
What temerity on the. part of honourable members opposite before dinner to level savage criticism at the Australian Labor Party because it listens to all ranks in its party, respects all ranks but bows down to nobody. This is the Party that is now steering Australia on another legislative course. It is a course which will make a stronger and stronger impression on the minds of the Australian people. Much criticism has been levelled by honourable members on the other side of the House. My colleague, the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who last year in Malawi so diplomatically and skilfully represented this country and the previous Government as a delegate to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, referred in his speech today 7 times within 7 minutes to the. People’s Republic of China. What a change from the time when supporters of the previous Government were on this side of the House.
– It used to be ‘Red China’.
– It used to be Red China. They used to say that the Chinese would be landing on Bondi Beach. I remember one night when I was speaking in this House the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who is not in the chamber said: ‘You want to stop them at Lake Burley Griffin’. Is it any wonder that the former member for Warringah, that dignified and honest politician, Mr St John, said that the Liberals fell from office because of their lies, their subterfuge and their falsity to the Australian people?
– They lied and lied and lied, he said.
– They lied and lied and lied, as the honourable member for Chifley so effectively pointed out the other night. They fell from office because they lost the confidence of the Australian people, because they could not get away any more with their lies about Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China. Before I pass from this subject of the People’s Republic of China, what did the Victorian Minister for Tourism, Mr Byrne, say according to today’s Press? He had much praise for the People’s Republic of China. On his return a day or two ago from a visit to China he shouted high praise and said that China is going to regard Australia, from the point of view of imports, as one of its most favoured nations.
– A Liberal Minister!
– He is the Liberal Minister for Tourism in the Victorian Parliament. He said that China was opening up for tourism. My colleague the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), whose electorate adjoins mine, was not critical of the People’s Republic of China in his remarks in this debate, but praised Taiwan. He said that the People’s Republic of China had always bought our wheat when that country needed it.
– That is right, too.
– That is exactly right but we were the first country to be dropped from the list when their own crops were successful. They did not drop Poland from the list of importers. They did not drop Canada from the list of importers. They did not drop the Argentine or France. The first one to be dropped was Australia because of our filthy involvement in the Vietnam war. That is why we were dropped from the list. Then overnight China became respectable. Why did China become respectable? The true reasons why China has become respectable in the eyes of the United States have never been stated in this House. China became respectable with the United States because the American Chamber of Manufactures put the pressure on and said to the Nixon Administration that it wanted to sell some surplus goods. These facts are available in the Parliamentary Library if honourable members care to look them up. China was contemplating the purchase of some modern transport aircraft. The greatest area of unemployment in the United States was in Seattle, the location of the great American aircraft industry. China was contemplating buying some British aircraft and had placed orders for, I think, a couple of Concordes. Pressure was applied to the Nixon Administration to get on to the bandwagon and get over to China to try to sell some aircraft, thus relieving the redundancy in the Boeing aircraft factory in the Seattle region. That was one of the reasons why China became respectable overnight. The previous Government in this country for years tried to frighten the Australian people with the threat that the Chinese were about to land on our shores. Is it any wonder that the previous Government’s supporters have been relegated to the Opposition benches where they will remain for many years because of the progressive attitudes of the Labor Administration.
– You are hooked on that stuff.
– An honourable member has said something about being hooked. The honourable member’s interjection has prompted my memory. I remember the words of Mr McMahon, the former Prime Minister when Mr Whitlam went to China or just before he was contemplating a visit to that country. The former Prime Minister said: ‘Mao Tse-tung has got Whitlam on the hook like a big trout.’ A week later he could have cut his own tongue out because Kissinger was over there paving the way for a visit by Tricky Dick Nixon. So what a clown the former Prime Minister made of himself.
The Opposition does not like the truth coming out. I am deeply proud to be a supporter of this Government and I am prouder still of its legislative programme. The Whitlam-Barnard Administration has been criticised by speakers in this debate including the Leader of the Opposition in his speech this afternoon. But I believe that the Barnard-Whitlam Administration acted in accordance with the overwhelming wishes of the Australian people in acting as it did while the results in borderline electorates were being decided. What has that Administration done? It has done things that the ALP had committed itself to. That Administration put the commitments swiftly into action. The ALP’s commitments included: The withdrawal of all our forces from Vietnam - those forces should1 never have been there; the cancellation of conscription; the release of conscientious objectors from prison; the release of conscripts from the Australian Army; the recognition of the People’s Republic of China; the withdrawal of our diplomats from Taiwan; the granting of a passport to that great Australian Wilfred Burchett whose passport was cancelled 17 years ago by the previous Government. The previous Government accused him of being a traitor. He came back to Australia and said: ‘If I am a traitor, here I am, charge me and put me before the courts.’ But the supporters of the previous Government were not game enough to do it. That demonstrates the falsity of the filth that you have levelled again at the integrity of Wilfred Burchett. The former Government refused to give him a passport to come back to Australia to see his 80-year-old father who was dying, something that each and every one of those who participated in that refusal should be ashamed of for the rest of his life. That man came back to Australia with the aid of the French in Noumea. The previous Government prevented Burchett from coming back to his homeland by commercial aircraft. A private aircraft had to be used to bring him back.
Why was Burchett’s passport cancelled? It was cancelled because he wrote the truth about the Korean peace talks. He released to those sections of the world media prepared to print it the information that the United States of America had waged germ warfare in the Korean War. That is what he wrote and that is what he was punished for. The American Central Intelligence Agency stole his passport while he attended a conference in Thailand and the previous Government agreed with that action. It refused to issue him with another passport. But the Whitlam-Barnard Administration corrected the previous Government’s evil as quickly and as swiftly as it could by directing our diplomats in France to issue Burchett with another passport. The present Government rightly withdrew the passports of 2 Australians who hold high positions in the Rhodesian Government. This also met with the approbation of the Australian people. We paved the way for a better deal for Aborigines, to give them the land rights which they have justly and rightly deserved for a long while and upon which question the previous Government see-sawed and wavered because it was afraid of offending big business in this country, of which it was the servant.
I want to make some reference to the state of the coal industry in New South Wales which the previous Government allowed to deteriorate because of a lack of orderly marketing of our coal. The previous Government brought about a chaotic situation in the Hunter electorate that has not existed for many years by allowing the coal industry to be dominated by international consortiums. In the last annual report of the Joint Coal Board the Chairman pointed out that one million tons less of coal will be exported from New South Wales in the next 12 months. I would have liked the honourable member for Paterson whose electorate adjoins mine to have spoken with some feeling about the coal mines that have been closed down in his home town, Gunnedah, which is in his electorate. I would have liked him to have expressed some feeling for the families who have suffered. The education of the children of mine workers has been upset by the changes in the coal rnining industry in the Hunter Valley region. I know that the new Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) is endeavouring to plug the holes in the leaking boat created by the previous Government which brought about the disorderly marketing of coal in this country. I believe that the new Minister will endeavour to rectify the wrongs caused by the previous administration.
In conclusion let me say that the Australian Labor Party is as united today as it ever was before. It will continue, despite criticisms, to implement the policies that the Australian people have wanted for so long.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. I remind honourable members that the next speech is a maiden speech and that honourable members should observe silence.
- Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to join with others in congratulating you on your elevation to the Speakership. I know by repute that you will do a good job. I trust that you will also enjoy it. I also congratulate the Chairman of Committees and hope that he too enjoys his job. I would like to thank the constituents of Forrest for having elected me as their representative in this Twenty-eighth Parliament. I am greatly honoured and, in gladly assuming the responsibility, I would like to say that the welfare of every person within the electorate shall at all times be my total concern and care. I pray that I shall meet the expectations that they have of me, both within the electorate and in the wider sphere of the Parliament.
The electorate of Forrest is some 16,000 square miles in area and is the southwest corner of Australia. Its basic strength lies in the rural industries. The rainfall varies from 17 inches a year in the eastern sector to 50 inches on the west coast. Because of the variance of rainfall and soil types nearly every primary product - from wheat and coarse grains, merino wool production, right through to intensive market gardening - is grown. In between those ends every type of primary production is engaged in, excepting the agricultural pursuits carried out under sub-tropical and tropical conditions. We have vast hardwood forests, substantial plantings of softwood, open cut and deep coal mining at Collie, mining of tin and tantalite at Greenbushes, mineral sands mining on the west coast and the processing of a quantity of these. In Forrest we have all the infrastructure of a rural community, dozens of small to medium size towns, with Albany and Bunbury being the ports and main regional centres of the electorate.
On the agricultural scene Forrest is one of the great providers. Besides being the major supplier to Perth of dairy products, beef, mutton and lamb, fruit and vegetables, it is an area which exports much of its wealth to other nations. In years past we have made vast contributions, as has rural Australia, to the wealth of Australia. We have created wealth, which has allowed our secondary industries to grow and our people generally to prosper. The dramatic change which the rural industries have experienced in the last 12 months has been wonderful to see. With wool being so buoyant a degree of prosperity has returned to rural Australia. Grain and meat are in short supply around the world and so those industries are in a sound position, subject only to seasonal conditions and Government decisions.
Looking at the wool industry it is very difficult to understand just how desperate the situation was 18 months ago. How wrong the economic experts were, especially those who suggested that the wool industry was finished and the best thing we could do with our sheep was to push them over the nearest cliff. I pay special tribute to our previous Government and the Australian Wool Commission for acting as they did. It took a tremendous amount of courage and fortitude to continue to buy in vast quantities of wool with so much public resistance being built up saying that this was the wrong thing to do. When the world realised that the Australian Wool Commission meant business, that it could not be broken, and when the world realised that in its endeavour to break the Australian Wool Commission it was running perilously short of wool, we saw a return to more realistic prices. I sincerely hope that the new authority, the Australian Wool Corporation, will have the backing of the present Government and will continue to put that floor in the auction room.
The wool industry is entering an exciting period, especially on the marketing side. The innovations of core testing, micro measuring and sale by sample have been talked about and experimented with for some years, and we will see large quantities of our wool, hand led in this manner, being delivered from the wool shed straight to the mill. Recommendations from the Australian Wool Corporation due in April will be eagerly awaited especially by the wool industry and we may see vast changes in all sections of marketing and transport over the next few years. While most of rural Australia is in a sound position, I would not want this House to overlook the fact that the rural debt is estimated at $2,089m and local government debt is estimated at $1,6 18m. I do not claim to be an economist, but in revaluing the currency, especially in the first currency move in December, the present Government has aggravated the position, as was ably pointed out today by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards). I suggest that there were other ways of handling this situation, bearing in mind the rural industries and local governments, such as by an accelerated review of our tariff structure.
Leaving revaluation for a moment, I would like to take this opportunity to mention the concern of my electorate and myself for the timber industry and particularly for timbered sleepers. In Forrest we have vast hardwood forests of jarrah and karri. In recent months, since it took office, the present Government has reversed the decision of the previous Government to use timbered sleepers on the Commonwealth railway lines. The Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) has stated that tenders will be called and contracts allocated on an economic basis only. I have no real quarrel with that decision, but I do not know how one assesses the economic worth of basically unknown concrete sleepers over a period of SO years. I consider that the report by the Bureau of Transport Economics on economic evaluation of timber and concrete sleepers for 3 railway lines, released in October 1972, is full of ‘guestimations’. Of course it has to be. Dealing with a new product under conditions different from those of other countries, in question is not only concrete’s performance but also jarrah’s The treatment of timbered sleepers is still in the experimental stage, and while this report has predicted a 30-year life for timbered sleepers I know that the timber industry would claim a far longer life for timber with new treatment methods. I believe that there are strong grounds on which to challenge this report, and I seek an independent evaluation of the merits of both materials.
There are, of course, other areas of concern. Sleeper production represents more than 20 per cent of Western Australia’s hardwood industry. It is worth $4.5m a year, including a contribution of $1.2m to the State Government’s revenue through freight charges and timber royalty. The industry would also be hard put to maintain its sleeper exports if their country of origin spurned timber sleepers. Even if concrete had a major economic advantage over jarrah, which the Federal Bureau has failed to demonstrate, it should not be just a matter of measured costs. The jobs of 300 south west timber workers, the future of their families and those who serve them, the future of 30 small sawmills and the well-being of an important decentralised industry must be considered.
Finally on this subject I must mention the ecology aspect. Coir timber comes from regenerating forests. Concrete and the quarrying of sand and gravel leave ugly scars in our countryside. Also no allowance has been made in the report for the disposal of the old sleepers, the Cost of disposal or the possible resale value. Timber sleepers usually find a ready resale to be used for stockyards and the like. At the very worst they can be burnt and so disposed of. It is doubtful that there can be any use for a second-hand concrete sleeper, and I believe that some of the European tracks are littered with them.
I turn to another industry which is common to many other electorates, the export fruit industry, which is battling against rising costs, rising freights and now revaluation. The industry was operating on a slender profit margin before revaluation, and I doubt that the Government compensation will get to the right people or will be the right amount. For industries such as this it is as though somebody has changed the rules half way through the game without letting anyone know. As in all rural industries, efficiency has improved dramatically over the last 15 years, but still this industry remains only just profitable. But now, dealt this blow of revaluation, ail of a sudden the industry, through no fault of its own, is unprofitable, and I speak in the broad context for all industries that have been affected by revaluation. The story must be, and is, the same for our mining concerns, manufacturing and many other industries. I trust that the Government will give full consideration to those industries that are affected and in fact in peril because of revaluation.
My deepest concern about these industries would be for the work force that services them and the jobs of the ordinary people, because surely this is the wealth of the country, this is what pays our way. The vast reserves of overseas currency held by us are not something that will always be there. As mentioned last week, we have just reached a point where our imports and exports balance. We have seen a massive outflow of money from this country during the last few weeks - some estimated $5000m. It could be that in a very short space of time our balance of payaments will be of concern to this Government. I am not one to encourage the lazy, inefficient operator, whether he be a farmer, miner, manufacturer, officer of a Government department or another Government employee; but the rules of the game have changed. Rising costs are catching up with the efficient operator, and he has nowhere to go. Although this Government is pledged to contain inflation, its actions in endeavouring to introduce 4 weks annual leave, its support for the 35- hour week and its disinterest in industrial lawlessness must lead to an acceleration of inflation.
In conclusion, I urge the Government to watch over our export industries to see that they do not wither and die. The only predictable thing that I know is that nothing is predictable. So, in the near future, we may need all our export industries to continue to provide the wealth of the nation and to maintain our good standard of living which was created by the previous Government’s endeavours.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (10.35)- I join the other speakers who have spoken in the Address-in-Reply debate and who have congratulated you, Mr Speaker, on your appointment as Speaker of the House. I am sure that your appointment will have a great effect on the efficient functioning of the House and will have far reaching effects on many Australian citizens. I also add my congratulations to the Chairman of Committees on his appointment. I feel that we should not pause at this point without congratulating our new Ministers upon the very efficient and progressive manner in which they have set about implementing the wishes of the people. The efficiency of the new Government has left the Opposition somewhat bewildered. After 23 years of adopting an attitude of wait and see, all we now hear about are splits in the Australian Labor
Party, centralism, Mao Tse-tung and the like. (Quorum formed) As I was saying, the efficiency of the present Ministers has left the Opposition somewhat bewildered. All we hear about now are splits in the Labor Party, centralism, Mao Tse-tung and actions such as that which we have just witnessed. In spite of these actions the new Ministry will continue to introduce progressive legislation. I believe that these actions are consistent with His Excellency’s remarks in his opening address to the Twenty-eighth Parliament.
As we are now reaching the end of the Address-in-Reply debate, I think there might be some value in referring to the Governor-General’s remarks. His Excellency referred to the clear decision of the people at the Federal election on 2nd December. He said that his advisers will ask this Parliament - itself the fundamental means by which the will of the people can be expressed - to pass legislation by which the people’s instructions can be implemented. It seemed to me that His Excellency, the Governor-General, was reminding the Parliament that if we claim we are a democracy we must have the characteristics of a democracy and act as a democracy. The first characteristic of a democracy is that the government is controlled by the greater number of people represented in the Parliament. As the Governor-General mentioned, the clear decision of the people on 2nd December should leave no doubt in the minds of honourable members as to whom the Government represents.
The Bills that have been presented by the Government to this Parliament indicate that the Government has the clear intention of carrying out the instructions and wishes of the people. One has only to read the back page of the daily Hansard report to be acquainted with the great change that has come over this Parliament since the new Government took office. One sees listed there the Sales Tax Bills, the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1973, the Australian Capital Territory Representation Bill 1973, the Northern Territory Administration Bill 1973, the Social Services Bill 1973, the Repatriation Bill 1973, the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1973, the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1973, the Interim Forces Benefits Bill 1973, the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1973 and so on. All those Bills were introduced on one day by this Government. When before have we seen that happen? All we have heard tonight from members of the Opposition has been what a wonderful job the previous coalition Government did during its 23 years in office. Yet the next Opposition speaker tells us how poor the States are and what a bad state local government is in. It seems to me that honourable members opposite are only emphasising the poor performance of the previous Government over 23 years. Of course, in a democracy they have a right to do this. They have a right to present minority opinions and to put a case for minorities.
I wish to put forward some information and the opinions of a minority in my electorate. I speak of the graziers and other people in the Western Division of New South Wales and their concern for a proper regulation of the kangaroo population. I point out that I am against any form of wildlife slaughter. If it can be proved that the banning of the export of kangaroo skins and products is necessary to prevent the extinction of various species of kangaroos, no further consideration should be given to the matter. But before we make a final decision on this matter we must remember that a large proportion of the kangaroo population in the Western Division of New South Wales is in the Darling electorate and I have been informed by many of the early settlers in the district that there are more kangaroos in the district now than there were when the settlers first arrived in this area. Surveys carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Wildlife Division, the universities and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of New South Wales indicate that the kangaroo has multiplied many times since the early explorers went west. This has been brought about by scrub clearing and the increase in the number of sheep in this district. It must be remembered that, unlike the kangaroo, the sheep will eat saltbush, which is slow to regenerate.
– Order! It being 10.45 p.m., in accordance with the resolution of the House, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to raise a matter and I hope that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) will be able to make some comments in reply. Earlier today I mentioned to him that I would be raising this matter. It concerns virtually all the non-permanent ports around the Australian coastline. This has been brought to my attention specifically because of a very serious situation which the port of Portland is likely to be in as a result of a decision of the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour. Perhaps I need to explain that up to the present time there has been a levy of 40c a man in all the Australian ports which come into this category. This has enabled the various employing authorities at the ports to make the appropriate minimum payments to waterside labour at those ports. A 40c levy per man hour based on all Australian ports has enabled the employers of waterside labour to meet the minimum at all ports. But recently the association formulated a different policy. It has now made a decision that ports should be responsible, for their own funds in this matter. There will be no averaging throughout Australia. Ports such as Portland, Albany or any of the other ports around the coastline will be responsible for making up for themselves the minimum wages of waterside labour. Clearly that will mean that in the outports, the decentralised ports, there will be very heavy increased charges if this decision is allowed to stand. I hope that it will not be. allowed to stand.
I have asked the Minister to look at the matter to see what he can do about it. I mentioned that the average charge was 40c under the averaging provisions around the Australian ports. This policy is to be abandoned. The effect of the new policy, for example, will be to reduce the charge at Geelong to 2c and to increase it at Portland to 11 Sc. I understand that these are hourly levies which will be necessary to meet the minimum award wages for waterside labour. If we look at some of the other ports concerned we find that Gladstone, Geelong, Port Augusta, Wyndham and Darwin are all likely to face relatively modest increases. The first three - Gladstone, Geelong and Port Augusta - face a payment of nil, 10c and 15c respectively to make up the minimum average. But when we come down the list we find that Launceston faces a payment of $3.90, Rockhampton $4, Coffs Harbour $4.46, Albany $4.52, Hobart $5.48, Mackay more than $7 and Cairns, Bunbury and Portland all more than $7 or approaching $8 as the weekly payment which is needed to make up the difference. These are the figures which were used as a levy m 1970-71. There is a difference in other years as a result of the workload through the ports.
But the changed situation that will arise as the results of the AEWL decision will mean that Portland, Albany and the decentralised ports will be entirely responsible for their own charges. They will have to increase their levies and charges greatly as the result of the abandonment of averaging around the Australian coastline. This was clearly a system by which the major ports, the more significant ports, would subsidise the payments for the outports - the decentralised ports. I believe that in the circumstances of waterfront labour where there are national arrangements in a national context this is entirely appropriate but unless the decision of the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour can be changed there will be very serious difficulty in the ports that I have mentioned. There will probably be a diversion of trade back towards the centralised major ports. This is not desirable in Australia’s interests and it is not desirable in the interests of the ports. I believe that the Minister for Labour will recognise this and may be able to do something about it.
– I, like the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), am concerned at the implications of the change in the guaranteed minimum wage levy for the non-permanent ports by the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour. I am concerned, firstly, because it may ultimately jeopardise the employment of some hundreds of waterside workers. I am concerned, too, that it may lead to the closure of ports in a way inconsistent with our developing decentralisation policies. I am concerned, finally, that the AEWL has decided on this action without consulting me and, indeed, in anticipation of the inquiry which I have initiated.
The guaranteed minimum wage scheme was agreed by the National Stevedoring Conference early in 1969 and became operative from 30th June of that year. The various provisions were incorporated in the waterside workers award and appear in clause 36a of that award. Broadly speaking, the . guarantee for each port is calculated quarterly and is based on the average number of hours worked per week in the preceding year. The arrangement provided a guaranteed minimum income for workers in ports where fullscale permanent employment is not regarded as an economic proposition. At the outset it was decided that the scheme would be financed by a uniform rate of levy in the ports concerned. Initially this levy was set at 8c per man hour, but immediately prior to the recently announced changes this had risen to 40c per man hour.
Because of the uniform rate of levy it follows that some ports will, in effect, be subsidising others simply because the level and trend of activity varies from port to port. For example, the average weekly payment under the scheme during 1970-71 varied from as little as 10c in Geelong to as much as $10.88 in Bowen. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a list of the average weekly payments in the various ports covered by the guaranteed minimum wage scheme for the financial years 1970-71 and 1971-72.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House. The attitude of the previous Government - of which the honourable member for Wannon was a distinguished, though, on occasions, rather destructive member - to the introduction of the guaranteed wage was conveyed to the parties at meetings of the National Conference of the Stevedoring Industry during 1969. That was when the actual levels of the guarantee were seen as a wages matter. Hence, the previous Government did not take any particular line, show any particular interest in the matter or make any submissions to the parties in favour of the small port.
I regret that from 5th March of this year the AEWL decided to alter the basis on which the guaranteed wage levy would be made. The AEWL did not consult me, nor did the Stevedoring Industry Council, the Australian Council of Trade Unions or the Waterside Workers Federation. The changed basis of levying is inconsistent with the equalising philosophy of the Stevedoring Industry Charges Act which covers the levies on account of long service leave, attendance money and so on. The levy was altered from a uniform rate of 40c to a rate depending on the minimum wage payments required in each port The effect of this has been to raise the levy to $1.50 per man hour in Cairns, $1 in Mackay, $1.70 in Coffs Harbour, $1.15 in Portland and $1.20 in Esperance. These were the greatest rises and these are the ports where the threat to viability is greatest. On the other hand, in some ports the levy was considerably reduced. For example, it was reduced to 2c per man hour in Geelong, 20c in Broome, 20c in Albany, 25c in Devonport and 30c in Bowen. The AEWL claims that the levy would have risen to 60c had it been kept uniform. So at 22 of the 30 non-permanent ports where a rate of 60c or less applies, there appears to have been a reduction on what would otherwise have been the case. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard a list of ports, together with the levy applicable at each port and the work force in each port.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– The AEWL decision has good effects and it has bad effects. A good effect is that the levy per man hour in a number of ports has been reduced and that this ultimately will contribute to the more efficient functioning of these ports. On the other hand, the future of the 5 ports I named as suffering most by this change is clearly jeopardised. These 5 ports have a total work force of 337 and provide a vital service to the hinterland in the region of the ports concerned. However, we are not able to say now what the ultimate effect of this change in the levy will be and it is certainly quite possible that most of these ports will be able to retain their labour force even with the higher levy; we do not know. If they are unable to retain their labour force - and my Department is closely watching this - the Government will have to examine the case for each individual port to see which ports should be kept open and to determine what financial arrangement is most appropriate to achieve this end.
Whatever the effect of the AEWL move, I believe that it should have consulted the Gov ernment before it took the action which is precipitating the crisis which is causing concern to the honourable member for Wannon and me.
On 23rd February 1973 I wrote to Mr Craig, the Executive Director of the AEWL, concerning the Government’s intention with respect to the future of the stevedoring industry. I said in that letter that I proposed to ask the Stevedoring Industry Council for advice on a number of matters which appeared to be crucial to the future of the industry. Amongst those matters were:
What employment arrangements should be made in respect of ports in which no permanent employment arrangements appear to be viable In the foreseeable future?
I asked also what special financial arrangements, if any, should be made in respect of those ports. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard my letter to Mr Craig, together with a copy of Mr Craig’s reply to me.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
I am writing to you concerning the Government’s intentions with respcet to the future of the stevedoring industry.
As you know the life of the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act was extended last year for a period of twelve months expiring on the 30th June 1973. By that time it was hoped that this Act could be replaced by permanent legislation. For various reasons this has not proved feasible and steps are being taken for the Act to be extended for a further twelve months in the forthcoming parliamentary session.
In the meantime I propose to ask the Stevedoring Industry Council for advice on two matters which appear to be crucial to the future of the industry. These are, first, the question of to what extent permanent employment arrangements might be introduced into the so-called non-permanent ports where stevedoring activities are still conducted on a casual basis, and second, the question of what arrangements might be made to ensure that employment in the industry is placed on a sound financial basis.
Putting these questions in more formal terms, 1 propose to ask the Council to advise me as follows:
Although the Government will want to take a number of other factors into account before settling the form of permanent legislation, it seems essential that the considered views of the parties to the Council on these matters be available to the Government as soon as practicable. With this in mind I would propose to ask the Council to furnish me with its views no later than 31st July 1973.
If you have any comments on the terms in which I propose to seek the advice of the Council I would be glad to have them as soon as possible. I am hoping to convey my request for advice to the Council no later than the first week in March.
2nd March 1973
Mr C. R. Cameron, Minister for Labour, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600
Dear Mr Cameron,
I thank you for your letters of 20th and 23rd February.
As these matters affect the interests of members of the Terminals and Depots Employers Federation as well as members of AEWL, I am replying on behalf of the National Industrial Council in which body both AEWL and TDEF are associated.
The background paper prepared by the Department will be studied and answers to your questions as enumerated will be prepared and forwarded to you.
It is noted from your letter of 23rd February that prior to settling the form of permanent legislation, you propose seeking advice from the Stevedoring Industry Council on two matters as soon as practicable.
We do not have any comment on the terms as set out and note that you propose to ask for views of the Council on these matters no later than 31st July 1973.
It is appreciated that it may not be realistic to expect a reply on the first three matters much before this date.
However, employers are disturbed that the Authority’s funds are in considerable deficit and are hoping that steps to correct this could be taken with effect not later than 30th June next.
A considerable amount of work has been done on the fourth point and employers will be considering a further report and recommendations on funding at meeting next week.
At present we hold out some hopes that this difficult problem could be handled expeditiously by the Council and that it may be possible to report to you In time for necessary legislative changes to be made during the present Parliamentary session.
Accordingly, it would be appreciated if your request to the Council would seek an early report of this matter. I feel sure other parties would co-operate to this end.
Yours sincerely, C. L. CRAIG Executive Director
– The change in the levy system by the AEWL seeks to preempt the advice of the SIC and seeks to affect fundamentally the Government’s options. I would have wished to have an opportunity to consider fully this question in an atmosphere that was free from the difficulties that have now been created by the announcement of the AEWL. I want to express my appreciation to the honourable member for Wannon for raising this matter. It is a matter which I myself raised with the Council a long time ago. I assure the honourable member for Wannon that my Department and I will be keeping an eye on the situation and we will act quickly to see that a proper decision is taken when the time is appropriate.
– The time is now. These ports are in immediate difficulty and something should be done as a matter of urgency.
– Yes, I am doing something. As I told the honourable member, I have taken up the matter with the employers. I have taken it up with the Stevedoring Industry Council. I will be writing to the body concerned again tomorrow. It came as a surprise to me to learn through unofficial sources that this action had been taken, in a sense unilaterally, without the Government being consulted. My Department is greatly concerned about this matter and we most certainly will take appropriate action.
– These ports will be in immediate difficulty if there cannot be a reversion to the old position.
– I realise that. Most of it is due to the fact that your government did not negotiate the matter properly in 1969. At the time it was worried only about bashing waterside workers.
-Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the resolution of the House, the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
How will he mathematically ensure that no person receives less than the average wage level payable in the Australian community.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I don’t know.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Strikes: Effect on Community (Question No. 47)
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
Is he able to say what are the principal effects of strikes on the general community.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: No.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Employee Training: Investment by Companies (Question No. 121)
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
What is the level of investment by companies in Australia with respect to employee training.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
My Department is unable to supply this information.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
ACTU, CCPSO, ACPSA, Victorian Employers’ Federation, MTIA, National Employers’ Policy Committee.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
What action has been taken to increase the Australian content of television programs.
– The Minister for the Media has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
As the honourable member will be aware, representatives of the licencees of the major metropolitan stations met with me at my request on Monday, 5th February, to discuss among other things the capacity of the television industry to undertake increased production of Australian programs, particularly in the field of variety entertainment. Following the meeting, I have discussed with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the progress it is making in its continuing review of Australian performance and capacity of stations from which it periodically determines increased requirements.
The Board, as is its usual practice, had already Invited a number of organisations, including the appropriate unions to submit their views and it will be meeting with the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations later this year, to discuss with that body (as it is required to do under the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Acf) the introduction of revised requirements. The Board in its assessment of “the capability of the industry to meet increased requirements will be taking Into account those factors which are known to be likely to affect the Industry’s viability, including the effects on revenue of any limitations placed on the advertising of cigarettes, and the costs associated with the Introduction of a colour television service in March 1975.
The Board has advised me that during the period between June 1972 (when the latest revision of the Australian content requirements was introduced) and
November 1972 (when the usual holiday lay-off in Australian program production commenced) all metropolitan stations met all of the Board’s requirements, as did almost all country stations (with the exception of a small number which, because of limited technical facilities, were unable to obtain sufficient program material in a form usable by them).
I have advised the Board that in its reports to me on applications for renewal of licences I want to be advised of the station’s record in maintaining its Australian content quota. In the cases of 2 country stations which to date have been drawn to my attention, I have advised the licencee that the application for renewal has been approved on the understanding that the station will meet all the Australian content requirements laid down by the Board. I have asked the Board to keep me informed on the matter.
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Australia has adopted OECD’s guiding principles concerning the international economic aspects of environmental policies, including the polluter pays principle. When in opposition we supported the previous Government’s acceptance of the principle and since my appointment I have publicly indicated the Government’s support for the polluter pays principle.
The Environment: Impact Statements (Question No. 108)
asked the Minister for the
Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As an interim measure the principles developed by the previous Government be adopted immediately and extended in accordance with the next recommendation; in addition, environmental impact statements be required at the Minister’s discretion after consultation with appropriate Ministers, where a proposal has significant environmental consequences and where Commonwealth funds are involved and/or where Commonwealth constitutional power is involved; as from 1st January 1974 the provisions of this paragraph to become mandatory without any discretion at all and the proposing Department or Authority be required to arrange, through the Department of the Environment and Conservation, for public hearings in the case of all impact statements involving the Commonwealth in order to ensure that the public is given an opportunity to express its views on the environmental impact of a proposal prior to the particular impact statement being prepared; the Department of the Environment and Conservation in consultation with other interested Departments to be directed to prepare draft guidelines for the requirements for and preparation of environmental impact statements and to advise on the need for and, if appropriate, the form of covering legislation. This report should be available for the Minister to put a Submission to Cabinet in time to permit any legislation to be brought forward in the Budget Session; and a public announcement be made on the decisions reached in this matter.
An impact statement on the Black Mountain Communications Tower was released to the public on 28th February 1973.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Ministerial Press Releases:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Ministerial Press Releases:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
VIP Aircraft and Motor Vehicles:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Can he provide complete details of the (a) salaries, (b) allowances and (c) superannuation schemes for Ministers and Members in each State Parliament.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I refer the honourable member to the answer which appeared in Hansard on 26th October 1972 (pages 3410-21) in which comprehensive information on salaries, allowances and superannuation schemes for Ministers and Members in each State Parliament was provided.
If any variations have taken place since the information was last compiled, I shall advise the honourable member.
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet: Services Performed by Officers (Question No. 191)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– I refer the honourable member to my remarks on these matters made at my press conferences on 9th January 1973 and 16th January 1973.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 March 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730306_reps_28_hor82/>.