28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. S. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– A petition has been lodged by Mr Les Johnson as follows and a copy of the petition will be referred to the appropriate Minister :
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
that, to allow true religious freedom, Governments will make no law respecting religion, neither to prohibit the free exercise thereof nor to compel the individual citizen to support the religion of others.
that nearly all non-State schools are church schools which to a greater or lesser degree promote a specific creed.
that, about 80% of church schools are Roman Catholic schools, which Roman Catholic spokesmen explicitly state to be extensions of the church.
that, the use of Commonwealth funds to aid church schools compels every taxpayer to finance the religion of others, whether he wishes to. or not.
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.
– In addressing my question to the Prime Minister I refer him to the Press conference he gave on Tuesday, 13th March last, during which, in answer to a question, he said: ‘Australia is not discernibly affected by nuclear tests by China’. I ask the Prime Minister: Has radioactive fall-out from Chinese nuclear tests been registered in Australia? In order to justify his statement which I have just quoted, will he inform the House of the relevant percentages of total radioactive fall-out registered in Australia attributable to Chinese and French nuclear tests?
– All atmospheric nuclear tests have an effect, wherever they take place in the globe. In general terms, the effect of the Chinese nuclear tests is only one-tenth as great in Australia as the effect of the French nuclear tests at Mururoa. However, I emphasise that it is not only the question of degree which makes the French tests more actionable than the Chinese tests. There is a jurisdictional element which applies to France and does not apply to China. In other words, Australia can, we believe, take action in the International Court of Justice against France because of her atmospheric tests, action which is not available to Australia to take against China in the Court.
– My question, which I address to the Minister for Immigration, concerns the national population inquiry. Where are the public hearings of the national population inquiry to be held? Who can submit evidence? Has the inquiry been advertised? If so, where? Where can my constituents obtain further information about the inquiry?
– The national population inquiry has been under way for more than a year. The target date for its completion is July of next year. As part of that inquiry public hearings will be held in all States, including some country areas. The advertisements inviting submissions from individuals and interested organisations have appeared in more than 20 newspapers. I think a total of 80 advertisements has been inserted so far. I suggest that the honourable member’s constituents can make written submissions, either as individuals or as part of an organisation, to the national population inquiry in Canberra. Subsequent to that the inquiry staff, headed by Professor Borrie, will be in touch with them, if necessary, to invite their appearance before the open public inquiry. I might say that the inquiry to determine the size, structure and distribution of Australian population in the future and to recommend upon these subjects, will be open to the public and the Press.
– Will the Prime Minister now tell the House in precise terms why his Attorney-General undertook the raids on the Canberra office and Melbourne headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, or does the Prime Minister intend in this House and elsewhere to continue to hide behind the evasion and prevarications of the Attorney-General, who is now so clearly discredited by this whole affair?
– I shall give a serious reply to the question. I had proposed to make a statement after question time if a question was not asked on this subject. Last Tuesday in answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, I read to the House a passage from a report of an interdepartmental meeting that had been held on 2nd March. On 1st March the Attorney-General had said in answer to a question in the Senate that he would table a statement on Croatian terrorism. The report from which I read was dated 5th March and it was made to ASIO headquarters in Melbourne by an ASIO officer in Canberra who had been present at the interdepartmental meeting. I said in answer to the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday, and again yesterday in answer to a further question from him, that I was having inquiries made into the matter. I now inform the House that the inquiries have been completed. I shall read the passage from the ASIO report again. It reads:
The Department of Foreign Affairs made 2 points on the proposed statement. The first was that the statement should not be at variance with the interim reply given to Yugoslavia in response to the aidememoire presented to Australia following the ‘Bosnian Incident’ in 1972. The second was that unless there were reasons to the contrary, they prefer the statement to be deferred until after the visit to Australia of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia from the 20th-22nd March 1973. The Attorney-General’s Department accepted the first point but argued on the second point that the Attorney-General might find it necessary to table the statement at an earlier date.
This passage gave the Attorney-General grave concern. It gave me and the whole Government great concern. It did so for the best and plainest of reasons. No Minister and no government could for one moment accept a position in which its departmental advisers were minded simply to ensure that the Government would follow the same line as the previous Government in regard to this most serious issue of terrorist activity in Australia. But this is precisely what the report on its face said that officers were planning to do. The AttorneyGeneral took the most serious view of the matter. Having seen the text, he felt it incumbent upon him to take quick and decisive action.
I add that his sighting of this particular document was only a further stage in a mounting chain of events. The mounting chain disclosed with ever greater certainty the fact that right wing organisations associated with certain Croatian migrants to Australia were actively involved in terrorist activities. Further, they had revealed intentions to disrupt the visit to Australia of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia, and possibly to make attempts on his life. It was against this background of mounting concern about Croatian terrorist activities that the interdepartmental meeting was held on 2nd March. It was plainly a meeting of much significance. The inquiries into the meeting and its outcome were made by the head of my own Department in conjunction with the heads of bodies represented at the meeting. They were: The Department of Foreign Affairs, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Department of Immigration, the Commonwealth Police and ASIO.
The inquiries show that the ASIO representative gave, in what was admittedly an internal minute, a wrong report of what was said by the officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and that as a consequence he wrongly represented the remarks of officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. I do not suggest that this was done deliberately, but it is a matter for concern to the Attorney-General and to me that it should have happened. The whole matter has now been resolved after proper administrative inquiries. This is as it should be. In saying this I emphasise again the gravity of the position that the report on its face disclosed. It could only be viewed with alarm.
I conclude by observing that the practices revealed by these inquiries into the interdepartmental meeting on 2nd March show that there is a need for greater care in the conduct of such meetings. This is especially so when matters affecting Ministers and the political direction of government are involved. In such cases proper records of proceedings should be kept. It is, in addition, essential that officers keep their Ministers fully, frankly and accurately informed. It is only in this way that Ministers can be aware of developing thinking within their departments. It is only in this way also that the officers of the Public Service will be able to make sure that they translate into action the policy requirements of those elected to the responsible task of governing the country.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. I understand that in the United States the Federal Government controls motor vehicle safety standards and that compliance with those standards by the automotive industry, both local and foreign, is mandatory. I ask: To what extent is the Australian car owner protected with similar safety standards?
– It is perfectly true that the United States of America has what is known as a Highways Safety Act which was first introduced in that country in 1966. Since 1967 all motor vehicles in the United States which are involved in interstate commerce have had to comply with the mandatory safety measures which are laid down and which today are known as the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. These standards became operative in 1967. From time to time the American administration has updated the standards. In Australia a similar set of design rules has been introduced. These rules were endorsed by the Australian Transport Advisory Council at a meeting held in February 1967 and became operative, I think, in 1970. At present I believe that there are some 22 design rules which manufacturers have to comply with. Whilst the national Parliament has not the power to direct the States what to do on this matter, at least by meetings such as those of ATAC agreement can be reached on standards that can be written into the requirements for the manufacture of motor vehicles. Through the co-operation of the States and the Commonwealth, including its Territories, I have said we have today 22 design rules which set out to improve the safety standards of motor vehicles. This is a subject which has been worked on continually by State Ministers and by Federal departments in an endeavour to upgrade the general safety standards of motor vehicles. I refer to the design of the dashboard, the driving position, steering wheels and that sort of thing. Progress is being made on this matter.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in relation to the raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters in Canberra. The Prime Minister will recall being asked a question on this matter last Tuesday by the honourable member for Indi. I ask: Does he recall that he did not answer that question? Does he recall that he did not answer -except to say that he did not know - a similar question put to him at a Press conference on Tuesday and a further question I put to him yesterday? In view of the fact that the AttorneyGeneral has said that the Prime Minister does know why he visited the ASIO office in Canberra, because he discussed his visit and the reasons for it with him, will the Prime Minister now pay the House and the Australian people the courtesy of answering the question? Will he demonstrate the truth of his assertion to the House yesterday, that we now have a Prime Minister who tells the truth, by telling the truth.
– I have amply demonstrated not only that we have a truthful Prime Minister at last but that we have a courteous one. T have not cast aspersions upon people who ask questions and I have forborne even to retaliate against those who ask questions in unseemly and offensive terms.
– My question, which is addressed to the Postmaster-General, relates to unsolicited material being transmitted through the post and in particular to the ‘Rhodesian Commentary’, published by the Rhodesian Information Centre. Does this centre remain open in defiance of the Commonwealth Government which has the constitutional power to direct its closure? Does the journal of the Rhodesian Information Centre support a government which is in a state of rebellion against the British Crown? Will the PostmasterGeneral withdraw the registration of this newsletter for transmission as a periodical through the post?
– What the honourable member said in the first part of his question is apparently the position. Of course, the Post Office has power to register publications for transmission at concessional rates. This usually falls within the ambit of the discretion of the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in each State. I will have inquiries made as to what is the present position concerning this publication and I will ascertain from what State transmission by post has been initiated. I do not know, apart from that, what action I would like to take except to say that I would like to ban this publication. If this publication were not registered for transmission as a periodical it would be treated as a packet and obviously more postage would be paid. I think it is in the interests of the Australian people that we clearly indicate that we do not favour this regime and anything that I can do to ensure that this transmission is not effected will be brought into being.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Capital Territory. Has the Minister ridden in a taxi in Canberra recently? Is he aware that residents and tourists in Canberra can wait up to 2 hours after ringing for a cab and up to half an hour at a taxi rank? Also, is the Minister aware that licences for a single taxi change hands at approximately $25,000 per licence? Does this not suggest an unhealthy monopoly situation? Will the Minister do something about it?
– Although I have not ridden in a taxi recently, I have ridden in taxis. May I thank the honourable member for expressing the concern that I think is implicit in his question because what he raises is a subject for concern. It is nice to think that this concern can come from the Opposition ranks. It is my understanding that taxi plates are now fetching an average of $22,000 or $23,000 in the Australian Capital Territory. I heard a report of a price paid - perhaps this was the asking price - of about $25,000. There are approximately 80 taxis operating in Canberra. If one does some simple arithmetic one can calculate that about $2m is invested in taxis in Canberra. One can relate that fact to the criticism that is often levelled at governments that they should try to create proper public transport systems. It is always said that one cannot do this because it would be too expensive. I believe that we should all bear. in mind that the community pays in a different way for a privately operated public transport system. If $2m is tied up in a privately taxi service made up of 80 taxis, something is wrong.
– You need more taxis.
– That is right. I will have something more to say about that. Under the previous Government - and I come back time and time again to this - taxi plates were allocated free of charge. These plates are distributed on application. If there is more than one applicant the allocation is determined by ballot. That means that after a short period of time the person who has a taxi plate has something to sell worth $25,000. I think that that idea gives offence and that this was implicit in the question asked by the honourable member. No-one denies anyone a wind fall or a bit of luck; but, when it ls being paid for by the community in the way in which a system such as this makes the community pay, it gives offence and it is time that something was done to stop it.
The system of taxi plates which has been encouraged in the Australian Capital Territory operates in other areas. If the honourable member and the House will bear with me on this matter, I am minded to say that it operates in Canberra’s milk distributing system, where vendors, who are operating on a part-time basis and running 2 or 3 jobs, put themselves into hock to finance companies and are obliged to pay high rates of interest trying to create for themselves something which they like to call ‘goodwill’ but which is not really goodwill, much as the premium for a taxi plate is something that could be called goodwill. But, in the long run, the community pays and there is created a system, whether it be for transport services or milk distribution services, which is fragile, which does not work, which breaks down immediately it is subjected to any sort of pressure and which requires a comprehensive and unwieldy system of control. I have told my Department that I want a full report on why we should not employ people to drive taxis, as we employ people to drive buses and Commonwealth cars, and in that way achieve a better result. But I agree with the honourable member that the system is in urgent need of review, and I am indebted to him for raising the matter.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. During his recent visit to the United States, did any American officials express views on the Australian action in regard to currency exchange rates? If so, what position did they adopt? Would it be true to say that the Australian action complements that taken by the United States authorities?
– I did hear expressions of approval of the action taken by Australia on 23rd December. There was also approval of our sticking to our decision when the American dollar was devalued.
– I bet they loved it.
– More exports to Australia.
– I must say that I find it rather astonishing that honourable members opposite apparently defend the proposition that Australia’s currency should be devalued rather than revalued. If one makes a comparison between the movement of the Australian dollar from the time of the Smithsonian agreement until the present time and that of every currency except the United States dollar, one finds that we have reached the same point as nearly all the other substantial currencies with which we like ours to be compared. I would have thought that people should take a little pride in the integrity of their currency. But there seems to be a suggestion in some quarters that it would have been better had our currency been devalued. I simply make the proposition that what has happened to the Australian dollar since 23rd December shows very clearly that where we sold our products in terms of the American dollar we sold them cheap and where others accumulated assets in Australia in terms of the American dollar they bought them cheap. If there is defence of buying and selling cheap, those who want to defend it are welcome to that defence.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to his reference to the interim reply of the previous Government to the Yugoslav aide-memoire of 16th August 1972 as being a ‘lie’. In view of the fact that his own Attorney-General in the Senate described it as a bland interim reply, mentioning the matter was being investigated and making no admissions, and that - to adopt some of his own words - only a malevolent or inefficient reporter could refer to it in the terms used by the Prime Minister, will he now table the interim report so that honourable members and the people of Australia may judge for themselves?
– The honourable gentleman was Foreign Minister for some period himself. He would know that it is not the practice to table or publish communications of this nature between governments. I am happy to have had the honourable and learned gentleman’s concurrence with my statement, indicated by his deep and repeated nods. The honourable gentleman said that I had said that the interim response to the aidememoire was a lie. What I did say was this: I was answering a question by the Leader of the Opposition. I quoted for the first time from the report by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation representative at the interdepartmental meeting on 2nd March. On that extract I made this comment:
I was naturally concerned at the inference that because our predecessors had lied to the Yugoslav Government we should lie to the Parliament.
The interim response which the honourable gentleman gave to the Yugoslav Government after - as the department records show - the most agonised confrontation with his colleague, the Attorney-General at that time, was deficient in the same respect as all other replies given to Yugoslav notes had been deficient for up to 10 years before.
– Was it a lie?
– It did not tell the whole truth. The Yugoslav representative had repeated-
– You should be ashamed of yourself.
– Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw that.
– No, I will not.
– I name the honourable member for Gippsland.
– For what reason?
– I name the honourable member for Gippsland.
– I move:
That the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House.
Mr Anthony - That is shocking, Mr Speaker. For saying what? (Opposition members interjecting)
– Order! Some more honourable members will be named in a moment. I gave the honourable member a chance to withdraw. His remark was unparliamentary and a reflection on the Prime Minister.
– Mr Speaker, in all conscience, I cannot withdraw the remark. I said that the Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself.
– The question is that the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you ruling that if the honourable member for Gippsland says that the. Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself that is unparliamentary?
– It is absolutely.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
– Order! I name the right honourable member for Higgins.
– Mr Speaker, on a point of order -
– I move:
That the right honourable member for Higgins be suspended from the service of the House.
– Mr Speaker, there is already an issue before the House. What sort of performance is this?
– The honourable member will resume his seat.
– That is disgraceful.
– Order! I name the honourable member for Barker.
– Mr Speaker, your ruling is shameful and disgraceful.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) proposed:
That the honourable member for Barker be suspended from the service of the House.
– Order! The first question is that the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House. All those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ‘ayes’ have it. Is a division required?
– Most definitely a division.
– The House will divide. Ring the bells. (The bells being rung) -
– Mr Speaker, this is the most disgraceful display of partisanship I have seen in 19 years in this Parliament.
– Order! When this division is taken the honourable member will have to apologise.
Question put -
That the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority .. .. 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– 1 move:
That the ruling be dissented from.
– I second the motion.
-Order! The honourable member for Gippsland must leave the chamber. (The honourable member for Gippsland thereupon left the chamber)
– Mr Speaker, I submit that there are 2 other motions which must be put to the House first. Before putting them, however, I would suggest that the right honourable member for Higgins and the honourable member for Barker should be given the same opportunity to withdraw their remarks as was given to the honourable member for Gippsland who refused to take it. There are 2 motions which still have to be put but so that the time of the House may be saved I submit that you might give the right honourable member for Higgins and the honourable member for Barker the opportunity to withdraw the offensive remarks.
– I thank the Prime Minister for his care for my welfare and my rights, such as they appear to be in this House, but I do suggest that he is wrong for a number of reasons. First of all, there are not 2 motions to be put because there is already before the Chair one motion which has been moved- by the Leader of the Opposition and that motion needs first to be dealt with.
– That is correct.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. That being so, it would probably be out of order for me to speak to the matter which the Prime Minister raised but I will be delighted to do so when it is in order.
– I present to the Clerk of the House the motion of dissent.
-Order! I have 2 motions before the Chair already and they must be dealt with prior to the motion of the Leader of the Opposition being put. The question now is that the right honourable member for Higgins be suspended from the service of the House.
– You are ruling that I am now able to speak to that motion.
– No, .not to speak to the motion. I am offering the right honourable gentleman the same opportunity as I offered the honourable member for Gippsland. If he cares to withdraw the remark the motion will be withdrawn.
– I take it that I am at liberty to explain why I will not withdraw.
– No. The right honourable gentlemen either withdraws the remark or he does not. The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– You are saying I cannot withdraw? You are saying I cannot explain why I will not withdraw it?
– Well, this really is a Rafferty.
– Not at all. I named the right honourable member for Higgins and the question now . is that the right honourable member be suspended from the service of the House. (The bells having been rung)
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker - standing order 100 provides that on a motion of dissent from Mr Speaker’s ruling debate shall proceed forthwith. I submit that the words ‘proceed forthwith* predicate that this debate on the motion dissenting from your ruling should take priority over the other 2 motions which are before the Chair.
– Order! It does no such thing. There are 2 motions before the Chair already.
– No, there are not.
– Order! There are 2 motions before the Chair already. The motion is for suspension of the Standing Orders for the right honourable member for Higgins - I am sorry; the motion is that he be suspended from the sittings of the House for 24 hours.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker - members have been named but no motions have been put.
– Order! The question is that the right honourable member for Higgins be suspended from the sittings of the House. Those of that opinion say aye. To the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.
– A division is required.
– The ayes will pass to the right of the Chair and the noes to the left of the Chair. I appoint the honourable members for Wide Bay and Bonython tellers for the ayes and the honourable members for Henty and Calare tellers for the noes.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker - do I understand you to have ruled that, when a motion of dissent from your ruling has been put to you, that cannot take priority over another motion before the Chair? If so, if the House were of a mind to disagree with one of your rulings it could not be discussed until after the substantive motion.
– I have already given the answer to that point of order to the honourable member for Moreton. The motion of dissent does not supersede this motion.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker - I have just asked for May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’. There is no copy on the table. Does that mean that you are going to disregard it?
– You should not name him but certify him.
– The relevant order is standing order 304.
– Mr Speaker, those words of the Prime Minister are offensive to me and I ask that the Prime Minister withdraw them. Mr Speaker, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
– Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister said that this man should be not named but certified. Is that going to be allowed?
– I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw.
– Mr Speaker, I withdraw.
– Look at that big courageous fellow.
– Order! He has withdrawn the statement.
– May I ask a question of you, Mr Speaker? When the new Standing Orders come out, will they have the present cover or a swastika on the front?
– Or a hammer and sickle?
That the right honourable member for Higgins be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the honourable member for Barker be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative. (The honourable member for Barker thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– Mr Speaker, I move:
That the ruling be dissented from. (Mr Snedden having submitted his motion in writing.)
- Mr Speaker, your ruling is that it is unparliamentary to say of any member of this House- -I take it, Mr Speaker, that you are not giving a privileged and special position to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) - that he should be ashamed of himself-. This is a quite unsupportable ruling. I believe that it is proper for a member of this House,’- in the course of debate or question time, to say of another honourable member ‘Your actions are such that you should be ashamed of them’ and then, explain why that honourable member should be ashamed of his actions. ;
Indeed, that is what May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’ indicates at page 428. It states that, if a man or. a - woman in Parliament says something of that kind, that person should be given the opportunity to explain the context in which, the statement was made. You, Mr Speaker, in .what I believe to be the most grievous error of judgment ever made during my period in’ this House from the chair that you occupy; refused to give a man, who served for about 3 years as the Prime Minister of : this. country and who enjoys the title of right honourable as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council, the opportunity to say why he believed . that what was said should have been said. Let me remind you, Mr Speaker - perhaps you, need, this reminder - of the context in which the statement was made. The Prime Minister has, in this House during his term as Prime Minister, constantly abused-
– He has done that, but not in the context I am using. The Prime Minister constantly has abused question time in this House. He has not answered one question directed to him, except one of which he had notice and which was a Dorothy Dixer. He constantly has refused to answer any questions without notice-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The. motion before the Chair is one of dissent from your ruling. The conduct of the Prime Minister has nothing to do with the motion before the Chair.
– There- is no substance in the point of order.
– Today the Prime Minister returned to a vilification that he made the other day in which he volunteered that the previous Government had lied in its communication from government to government. The Prime Minister volunteered that Not a single piece of evidence did he produce to justify that. Indeed, he hides behind national security not to produce that document which his own
Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has described as a bland interim report. In order not to have rammed home the lie that the Prime Minister in fact perpetrated by describing the communication as a lie, he hides behind national security not to produce evidence. Furthermore-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order.
-Order! The question before the Chair is whether the word ashamed’ is unparliamentary.
Or Everingham - My point of order is that the Leader of the Opposition imputed motives in using the term ‘lie’ of the Prime Minister. It is quite in order to say that a person has told an untruth. It is quite out of order to say that that untruth is deliberate because that imputes motives to a member of this House. I therefore ask that the word ‘lie’ be withdrawn.
-Order! I would like to point out of the Leader of the Opposition that the question is whether the word ashamed’ is unparliamentary. The matter relating to what the Prime Minister did with ASIO has nothing at all to do with the question before the Chair
– I will continue, Mr Speaker. The statement which you have ruled is unparliamentary was that the Prime Minister should be ashamed of. himself. If there can be no opportunity to explain the context of it, how can we have a Parliament? Open government died in this Parliament last week. Do not let democracy die in this Parliament today. The Prime Minister was able to say in answer to a question that the previous Government lied, because it is not unparliamentary to use that term in relation to a group. He took advantage of that. Today the Prime Minister, as he has done on previous occasions, having made his brave statement started to withdraw from it. We know that he said one day that there was a conspiracy. The next day he was not sure whether there was a conspiracy. Today he said there was not.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. May I take the opportunity to repeat what honourable members heard you say, namely that the issue is whether the Prime Minister should be ashamed of himself. What the Leader of the Opposition is talking about is completely irrelevant. He is seeking to canvass something that is not before the Chair.
-Order! I realise that in a position like this the Leader of the Opposition should be afforded some latitude in making his point.
– I want to contrast the statement that the Prime Minister should be ashamed of himself with 2 statements made by the Prime Minister during the course of what has happened here today. The Prime Minister sat there while we were debating whether the right honourable member for Higgins should be suspended from the service of the House for saying that the Prime Minister should be ashamed of himself. The Prime Minister said of the right honourable member for Higgins: ‘Nobody else takes him seriously, Mr Speaker. You should not either.’ Is that not more offensive than the remark of which the right honourable gentlemen was accused? Then when a colleague of mine who has served this Parliament for more than 2 decades took a point of order the Prime Minister said, in the way which has led people to characterise him as feline and vicious-
– I take a. point, of order, Mr Speaker. Is not the motion before the House that the Speaker’s ruling be disagreed with and not whether the word ‘ashamed’ is unparliamentary? If the question is that the Speaker’s ruling be disagreed with, should not the Leader of the Opposition be alluding to decisions of previous Speakers and not to the words of the Prime Minister? The Prime Minister is not present in the chamber.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– The honourable member for Blaxland interrupted before I was able to say the words ; used by the Prime Minister this morning in relation to the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). He said: ‘You should not name him but certify him’. The Prime Minister well knew that that was offensive and he intended, it to be so. Then a point was taken. The Prime Minister, intending it to be offensive, knowing that it would be broadcast and trying to get a laugh from those people sitting behind him, then got up and said: ‘I withdraw it.’ Without any shadow of doubt, he intended the insult and then he did not have the courage .to go on with what he intended. He then withdrew, knowing that the point was made. The honourable member, for Blaxland has just interjected, taken a point of order or used some extraordinary process and said that I should be talking about words. Well I will talk about some words. I refer honourable members to page 434 of May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’. It is quite clear that I can not call the honourable member a cheeky young pup because that would be unparliamentary. I can not call any of the honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House a series of words. I will not run through them because I do not want to make any imputations.
– Would I be in order in calling you a big ham?
– Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– The honourable gentleman has never recovered since he campaigned for the ministry and failed abysmally on the judgment of his colleagues. I will not read out these particular words because it might be thought that I meant them about some gentlemen on the other side. In the Senate the President - your colleague, your co-chairman of parliamentary committees and of international parliamentary committees, your cochairman on the Joint House Committee - permitted Senator Murphy to call my colleague, Senator Greenwood, a protector of terrorists. Of course, the charge has been completely dismissed but it was not ruled unparliamentary.
– Order! I have allowed the right honourable gentleman quite a lot of latitude, but the decisions of the Senate have nothing to do with the Chair of. the House of Representatives. In addition I remind him that the question is whether my ruling that the word ‘ashamed’ is unparliamentary is correct.
- Mr Speaker, do I understand you by some manner of means to be saying that what occurs in the Senate is irrelevant to the considerations of this House? You might just as well say that what occurs in the House of Commons is irrelevant.
– A point of order, Mr Speaker-
– Order! The question before the Chair is whether the word is unparliamentary or parliamentary. The Chair has ruled that it is unparliamentary. That is the decision of the Chair. We are now discussing the motion of dissent.
– A point of order-
– Those are precisely the matters about which I am speaking.
– A point of order-
– Order! The. Chair is competent to make any decision as to what it thinks is parliamentary or unparliamentary.
– I submit that, in terms of standing order 72, the right honourable gentleman is contravening that standing order in alluding to proceedings currently under debate in the other chamber.
– Order! He is not alluding to proceedings; he is alluding to an incident that occurred in that House.
– I take a point of order. I would like you Mr Speaker, to refer the Leader of the Opposition to the standing order under which you acted. I refer to standing order 303 (c). It states:
If any Member has . . . used objectionable words, which he has refused to withdraw;
I suggest that you draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the fact that the standing order refers to objectionable words.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The proceedings in this House must, for the purpose of deciding whether something is parliamentary, be such that the House is capable of receiving information as to what is regarded as parliamentary in the Senate. I have drawn attention to what Senator Greenwood said of Senator Murphy. Senator Greenwood said of Senator Murphy that not only was his statement improperly based but that it was dishonestly presented. He said:
It is a biased and selected presentation of facts.
He said that the Attorney-General has disgraced his office. That was parliamentary in the Senate. If you really want to know some things that are not parliamentary I will remind you of a couple of them. I think it is an appropriate time to remind the House of a couple of things that were unparliamentary. There was a jug of water and glasses on the table.
– I rise on a point of order.
– You cannot take it.
– I will take it; I will give it out too.
– Order! If the House does not come to order I will leave the chair.
– The Leader of the Opposition keeps using the word ‘parliamentary’ and it has been used in this debate, if it could be called that, for some time. May I remind the House that the relevant standing order is standing order 303 and it states:
If any Member has . . . used objectionable words,
You, Mr Speaker, have made a ruling and the Leader of the Opposition seeks to challenge that ruling by moving dissent from it. The only issue here is whether the words that the Prime Minister should be ashamed of himself are objectionable words. What water has to do with that heaven only knows.
– As I pointed out, May’s Parliamentary Practice’ at page 434 gives a list of words which have been held to be Unparliamentary. What I am saying is that not in the House of Commons but in this House there have been other occasions which were unparliamentary, for example, when a certain honourable member walked around the end of the table and got a glass of water.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Speaker, I submit that now and right through his address the Leader of the Opposition has been dealing with matters not connected with the question before the Chair.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– There was another occasion when an honourable member in this chamber called another honourable member a bumptious bastard. Quite clearly that is unparliamentary.
– A term of endearment.
– That is the standard of the Minister for the Capital Territory.
– What did he say? I did not hear it.
– He said that it was a term of endearment.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr Lynch) put:
That the Leader of the Opposition be granted an extension of time.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I second the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) dissenting from your ruling, Mr Speaker, that the words ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself are unparliamentary. I believe, Sir, that you are creating a parliamentary precedent in classifying this expression as unparliamentary. I cannot recall any such phrase being ruled out of order in this House previously. You have been in office now for 5 weeks. You have performed your duties well and with dignity. I think most honourable members have been impressed by the way you have carried out your duties. However on the first occasion when a major test is made in this Parliament of the credibility and veracity of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), who seems to take it upon himself to sling any accusation whatsoever at the previous Government, and when he is challenged, you rule in favour of the Prime Minister. In other words, you are protecting the Prime Minister.
When you were elected to office, Mr Speaker, I spoke briefly and said that I believed you were a man who could carry put the job, that you had displayed an understanding of Parliament during your manyyears here and that provided you dispensed justice without bias and impartially you would have the support of this side of the Parliament. I believe there is every reason for honourable members of this Parliament to doubt that your ruling today was not unbiased. Either it was biased or you displayed an incapacity to handle this House or a lack of knowledge of the rules of parliamentary procedure and of what is parliamentary and not parliamentary. We have had a series of strange circumstances since the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) took it upon himself to raid the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters in both Canberra and Melbourne. Every time members of this Parliament have tried to squeeze out some sort of information from the Government we have had evasiveness and a lack of reply to our questions. In other words, the Prime Minister through his actions has shown a complete and utter contempt for the Parliament. He has refused to answer many questions that I have asked him concerning the simple proposition: Why did the Attorney-General attack ASIO headquarters in Canberra? He dodges the question every time. This may appear to be irrelevant to the motion before the Chair but it is not because the more we ask questions related to this unusual set of circumstances, circumstances which are most strange, the more we find diversive tactics being used to try to take public attention away from this breach of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act which has been committed by this Government.
The tactics that have been used include claims that there has been a conspiracy, and there is over-dramatisation of the question of terrorism in this country. The Government has built up the issue around its suggestion today - and this is what we are getting to - that the previous Government had lied in a reply that it gave to the Yugoslav Government. This suggestion was made in a reply in this House today. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) . asked a question in relation to this matter. The Prime Minister took it upon himself to make the accusation that the previous Government had lied. In one week we have heard the Prime Minister make some of the most outrageous, statements that have ever been made by Prime Ministers in the history of this country. One such statement was that there was a conspiracy in his own Public Service, an accusation that will live and be remembered for a long time in the Public Service., Today he makes, the charge that the previous Government had lied to another government. When my colleague., the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), stated by way of interjection that the Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself, you asked the honourable member for Gippsland to withdraw that remark on the ground that you claim it is unparliamentary. I want to know your justification of the claim that .it is unparliamentary because if that statement, which is not offensive in itself to a person, is claimed to be unparliamentary there is a bool? full, of statements that have been made in this Parliament which are also, unparliamentary.
Mr Speaker, I am sure that if you looked up the records you would, find a long list of accusations which you have made about previous governments or personalities in this Parliament and. if they were revealed to you 1 am sure that your conscience would be pricked, I have here a copy of Hansard of 20th April 1972 reporting you as saying in the House:
If he is referring to me personally I would say that he is an unmitigated liar and I will not withdraw that expression unless he withdraws his implication.
The then Speaker in making a ruling said:
Order! The honourable member for Sydney will restrain himself. The language he has used is not desirable and it should not be used in this House.
But were you named, Mr Speaker? Were you thrown out? Did the then Speaker react in a trigger happy manner by saying: ‘Withdraw or you will be named’? Heavens above, if this is to be the standard of performance expected in this House every honourable member in the House will be fearful of making an interjection. Is Parliament supposed to be a House where there is complete order and where the honourable member who has the call is not allowed to be interfered with or subjected to interjections during his speech? This goes back to Hitler’s parliament, the best organised parliament in the world, where one person had the floor and nobody was allowed to interject. There is a series of incidents taking place in this country which must be worrying persons who are concerned about the rights and civil liberties of citizens. The Australian Labor Party champions itself as the only party concerned with civil liberties. However, the performance in this House today does not display any great civil liberties in respect of the rights of members of Parliament in a democratic institution where there should be freedom of expression.
What is concerning us on this side of the House and the whole of the Australian community more and more as it understands the facts is the attitude of this new Government towards stifling the civil liberties of people. Why this unusual act of the Attorney-General going into and torpedoing ASIO? Why? Because the Government wants to form its own Commonwealth police service in this country which will take directions from a Minister. Will this be an infringement of civil liberties? The action of going to ASIO has spread terror and fear amongst the whole Yugoslav community in Australia and that fear is spreading further to all new Australians. There are threats of deportation. And today when the honourable member for Gippsland made what is a relatively innocent remark you, Mr Speaker, took the stern action which led to his expulsion from the House. Is it little wonder that a previous Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), felt so incensed about the matter Is it little wonder that the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) who had been a Minister for a long time in the previous Government felt so incensed? Every member of this House was shouting: You ought to be ashamed of yourself’. There should have been one motion that every member of the Opposition be expelled from the House.
– You are defending larrikinism.
-Order! The House will come to order. The honourable member for Adelaide will withdraw that remark.
– I made the comment that the -
-Order! The remark was a personal reflection and I ask the honourable member to withdraw it.
– Certainly, Mr Speaker. If my interjection is unparliamentary I withdraw it.
– It was most noticeable while the Leader of the Opposition was putting his case to support his motion that there should be dissent from your ruling, that there was constant interruption from honourable members opposite who took a series of points of orders to try to prevent the Leader of the Opposition from putting his case. When we ask for a sensible reply, what happens? The Government will not give it.
– I rise to order. It is a reflection on the Chair for the right honourable member for Richmond to suggest that you allowed irresponsible points of order to be taken during the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to delay the House.
– Order! There is no point of order. The House is discussing a motion of dissent from the ruling of the Chair.
- Mr Speaker, I believe that the peremptory way in which you responded snowed a lack of understanding of proper parliamentary procedure. Maybe you can be excused for it because this is the first major test you have had. But the damage has been done to three of my colleagues on this side of the House. They have been expelled from this chamber and that is a very serious reflection on them. But I believe that those members were acting in good conscience in refusing to withdraw a remark which I think was justified. I would say myself that the Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself for stating that the previous Government had lied. That is an immense libel by the Prime Minister of a previous Government, and it also involves a third government. This matter needs close examination and scrutiny. What we want to see in this House is a chance for people to be able to scrutinise these things and not be shoved aside by the Prime Minister by making some witty remark or avoiding the question.
At present there seems to be an inconsistency between what the Attorney-General has said in the Senate- that he told the Prime Minister all the related facts about the ASIO raid - and the facts that the Prime Minister has told this House and the Press outside this House. We want to know where the truth lies. We believe that your ruling, Mr Speaker, is grossly unfair. We believe that, if this is to become the pattern of rulings from the Chair, it is disgraceful and deplorable. We on this side of the chamber will have to take the sternest action if this is to be the standard. We dissent from your ruling and we are more than quietly disturbed by it.
– Before I call the Minister ‘ for Services and Property I take this opportunity to make a personal explanation about a statement by the Leader of the Country Party concerning an incident that occurred last April. The right honourable gentleman did not finish it. He quoted only portion of it. The Prime Minister withdrew his assertion and I withdrew mine.
– As calmly and as dispassionately as I can, I hope to bring the debate back to the level on which I think it should have been conducted and to explain to the House a few factors behind your ruling, Mr Speaker. I oppose the motion, and if honourable members who are interjecting will listen I will endeavour to explain why I do so. It is true that objection has been taken to the words ‘ashamed of yourself. It is not that the expression is unparliamentary, as you know,’ Mr Speaker; it is the manner which is objectionable What is said is one thing, but every member of this Parliament knows that how it is said is another thing. You may well call a man a ‘b’ with a smile on your face because it is how you say it that determines whether you get away with it. It is the manner and the context in which the words are used which determine whether they are objectionable. It is all very well to say these things flippantly, but the emphasis they are given and the manner of approach can cause people to take objection. This morning the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) was interjecting constantly.
– That is not right. That is a distortion.
– ‘Let me continue. The manner of the honourable member for Gippsland while saying ‘you should be ashamed of yourself was cold, .insulting and sneering. He was following a course of-
- Mr Speaker, I rise to a point of order. Can the Minister reflect on a person with such vile language, while that person has no chance to defend himself in this House?
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I say quite clearly that the’ honourable member for Gippsland was following a course of conduct which could be described, to use an Irish term, as deliberately trailing his coat. He was given an opportunity to withdraw, ;but he refused the offer. Let me remind the House that that offer is a concession given only by the benevolence of Mr’ Speaker or the’ Parliament, because standing’ order 304 provides, in part:
If the offence has been committed in the House, the Speaker shall forthwith put the’ question, on a motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed-
It is a courtesy of which the honourable member for Gippsland did not take advantage. He was given ah opportunity to withdraw, but in a calculated and insulting manner he refused to do so. He was determined to be a martyr and at all costs to get his name in the newspapers tomorrow. You have been very tolerant, Mir Speaker. The Opposition has . been taking advantage of your good nature and tolerance. I would like now to quote what was said by honourable members opposite on your election as Mr Speaker.. Before I do so, I remind honourable members that you were, the unanimous choice of this House. Your integrity and honesty are such that the Opposition did not oppose your election. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) said:
We will not interject while, you are speaking provided that you do not speak for too long. We will be courteous at all times, provided that you do not provoke us.
Listen to this -
Further, we will be parliamentarians at all times, no matter what the circumstances.
That was the assurance given by the Opposition to you, Mr Speaker. You were the unanimous choice. Nobody doubts your integrity. This Parliament placed that on record by your election. The honourable member for Gippsland should have learned, as I have learned in a long period in Parliament, that there is one chap you cannot argue with anywhere and that
Is the referee. As parliamentarians, we know that the Speaker must be obeyed and his decisions carried out. Whether he is right or wrong, if one does not obey his dicta one finishes up where 3 honourable members have finished up today. That is quite right, according to the Standing Orders of the Parliament.
In fairness to you, Mr Speaker, I point out that a study of the questions that have been asked in this session shows that your tolerance has always been tested. As you know, questions should not contain arguments, inferences, imputations, ironical expressions, hypothetical matter or things of that nature. Nevertheless, questions do contain such matter because honourable members opposite take advantage of your good humour. In today’s incident, the relevance lay not so much in the words as in the emphasis behind them, in the manner of approach and in the deliberate intention not to. withdraw. In those factors lay the responsibility for the suspension of 3 honourable members. The Leader of the Opposition put an unusual proposition to the Parliament. He suggested that ex-Prime Ministers and ex-Ministers are entitled to special consideration.
– He did not. That is untrue.
– The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself not only to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) but also to you, Mr Speaker. In other words, he deliberately flouted your ruling, showed disrespect to the Parliament and insulted the Parliament. Let me say that the right honourable gentleman, as an ex-Prime Minister, ought to know better. 1 for one will not be giving him special consideration. The honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) is another ex-Minister. It was said These are ex-Ministers. They are above the law and should not abide by the rules of this place’. Why should they not? Each of those honourable members deliberately said ‘You should be ashamed of yourself and each was paid the courtesy of an opportunity to withdraw. They flouted that courtesy.
Much has been said this morning about the Prime Minister. He went off to farewell a visiting Head of State. Insinuations were made by honourable members opposite which do little credit to them. They should take note of the attitude of the Prime Minister. This morning when you asked him to withdraw,
Mr Speaker, he set an inspiring example to honourable members opposite. (Opposition members interjecting)
– Do not get excited. I can wait. I am speaking in grievance debate time. Take your time and interject.
I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should tell us whether those honourable members are to be given special consideration. Similarly, the right honourable member for Richmond and Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) said: Why cannot a fellow interject now and again?’ I remind him that Standing Orders provide that all interjections are disorderly. He has been here long enough to know that. I advise honourable members opposite - this applies particularly to the 3 honourable members who have been suspended, when they return - to read the Standing Orders so that they will know precisely where they stand.
To sum up the matter, what is relevant is not so much the words that are used as the manner in which they are used. No Speaker could be tolerant enough to allow all honourable members to be roaring out, in a way which is meant to be offensive, the words you should be ashamed of yourself or any other words. With due respect to those honourable members who have been suspended from the Parliament temporarily, I suggest that they are at fault - not you, Mr Speaker. Only your tolerance and understanding have allowed you to go so far without taking appropriate action. I do not wish to say more on this question because I believe it is not hard to defend the unanimous choice of the Parliament. It is not hard to defend a tolerant person who has been described by honourable members opposite in that way. I know what you go through, Mr Speaker. I have been in Opposition and I know what honourable members try to do to Speakers. Consequently, the honourable members who have been suspended today should learn a lesson and know that you, above all people in this Parliament, must be obeyed. You cannot allow honourable members to say anything that reflects on you, the Prime Minister or the Parliament if they say it with an intent to discredit. As this is Grievance Day and I do not want to take up the time of private members, as honourable members opposite wish to do,I move:
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 10
– Order! The Prime Minister has not completed his answer to the question asked of him. 1 call the Prime Minister.
– As 1 was saying in answer to the question by the honourable member for Parramatta, the core of the trouble between Yugoslavia and Australia has been that previous Australian governments would not acknowledge the burden of the Yugoslav complaints that there were organisations in Australia promoting dissension in Yugoslavia and plotting terrorism in Australia. Successive replies by Australian governments never acknowledged the organisations. They concentrated solely on the actions of individuals.
– Are you judge and jury?
– I have become inured to the supporters of Hitler’s puppets and so on in this place.
– 1 rise on a point of order. It has become typical for the Prime Minister to make remarks–
-Order! What is the honourable member’s point of order?
– 1 ask that the remark be withdrawn. It is abusive, unparliamentary and contemptuous of this House. It is typical of the Prime Minister to make such remarks.
-Order! There is no point of order involved. Such remarks are in order unless they reflect on an honourable member. This was the ruling given by my predecessor on numerous occasions and it has been strictly adhered to. When I was a member of the Opposition aspersions that we were communists were cast on us and they were ruled in order. A member of Parliament could not reflect on any person. Therefore a point of order is not involved in this case.
– I rise on a point of order. In the previous Parliament I heard you, Mr Speaker, on many occasions ask for a remark to be withdrawn when it was alleged that Labor Party members were associated with communists, and those aspersions were withdrawn.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The aspersions to which the right honourable member has referred were withdrawn because they were cast on me.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, it is perfectly true, of course, as you have said that one cannot cast aspersions on an unidentified group of people, that one cannot cast aspersions on a Party or something of that kind. But I submit that in this case aspersions have been cast on individuals because that is certain which could be rendered certain. The honourable gentleman has referred to people who have adopted a certain line in regard to the Yugoslavs in this country. Those people can be indentified in this Parliament. They are not a vague group of people. The honourable gentleman has cast an aspersion on those individuals who have adopted a clear line in this matter. I submit that he should be called upon to withdraw the remarks that he made.
-Order! There is no point of order involved. I call the Prime Minister.
– Honourable members should be sufficiently responsible in this matter to realise that those who condone the display of photographs of Ante Pavelic in Australian premises, those who condone the display of the Ustasha flag in premises, those who celebrate 10th April every year, are condoning the most odious of Hitler’s puppets. This is not an allegation which my Government makes. It is an allegation which my Government confirms on the basis of answers given by previous Foreign Ministers - the honourable member for Wentworth and the right honourable member for Lowe. They have said and confirmed that Ante Pavelic was Hitler’s puppet, that the Ustasha was his supporting political organisation, that 10th April is the anniversary of his accession to power as Hitler’s puppet during the war. Honourable members should not lightly promote divisions in this community, particularly among migrants, and particularly among migrants from Yugoslavia, by condoning that small section of the Yugoslav migrant community who commemorate 10th April, who honour Ante Pavelic and who display his flag.
– Mr Speaker, I press my point of order which has not been answered by the Prime Minister.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– There were many people interjecting during this resumed question time, as there were during the earlier question time. I could not identify any individual interjectors. But anybody listening to the proceedings would know that there were many interjectors. When I refer to some of these organisations, there are in this Parliament amongst the Liberal Party and the Country Party, I am ashamed to observe, supporters of Hitler’s puppet regime.
– I take the point of order that the Prime Minister has referred to my Party, the Australian Country Party, and in so doing has cast an aspersion on me personally. I ask that he withdraw and apologise to the House.
– I think that if an honourable member from any Party believes that a remark made by another honourable member is a personal reflection on himself - and I admit that as a back bench member I took this action - he is entitled to ask that the remark be withdrawn. I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the remark he made as far as the honourable member for Cowper is concerned.
– Mr Speaker-
– If you do not withdraw you are acting disgustingly.
– You are the greatest dictator ever to enter this Parliament.
– Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition to order. The honourable member for Kennedy will resume his seat and stop pointing. I realise that what members of the Opposition have just done is something that may have been done in the past. I did it as an individual. I have no objection to it. If any honourable member feels that he personally has been reflected upon, he is quite entitled to take such action.
– I did not hear the honourable member for Cowper interject; I was not reflecting on him.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. You have ruled that, if any member of the Opposition says that he feels personally offended by the statement, just as you in the past have done he may require that statement to be withdrawn. Every member of the Opposition has said that he feels personally offended. I ask now whether, consistent with your earlier ruling, you will require the Prime Minister to withdraw.
– I did ask the Prime Minister to withdraw in regard to the honourable member for Cowper.
– Any reflection 1 made-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order.
- Mr Speaker, I take a pointof order.
- Mr Speaker, I will take the point of order.
– Heil Hitler! Sieg heil!
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I draw your attention to the fact that the -
– Mr Speaker, I took a point of order before the Prime Minster or the Minister for Overseas Trade.
– Twice the honourable member for Kennedy has given the Nazi salute and twice he has called out: ‘Heil Hitler!’ I draw your attention to this, Mr Speaker and ask that it be withdrawn.
– The remarks of the Prime Minister are totally offensive to me and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– The only persons who can claim to have suffered from my aspersion are those who were interjecting.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Would you, Mr Speaker, require the Prime Minister to withdraw his remarks in relation to all members on this side of the House who have said that they feel personally offended by the words used?
– Order! Only one person so far has said that he feels personally offended and that is the honourable member for Cowper.
– Would you prefer us to do it individually, Mr Speaker?
– The only persons-
– Mr Speaker, let me continue with my point of order.
– . . . who can ask for a withdrawal are those persons who can assert that they were interjecting.
– Mr Speaker, you are making a travesty of this Parliament.
– Some honourable members who collectively sought a withdrawal, including the honourable member for Wannon, were interjecting when I was giving my reply. My aspersions could apply only to such honourable members as were interjecting. There were many honourable members interjecting.
Mr Sinclair - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. As one of those who were interjecting and as one of the members of the Opposition. I ask that the Prime Minister withdraw the remarks, which were totally offensive to me.
– If the honourable member for New England was interjecting, he was doing so in support of Hitler’s puppets.
– Mr Speaker, that remark is grossly offensive to me.
– Order! That is a personal reflection and I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw it.
– If the honourable member for New England asserts that he was not interjecting on my reference to organisations, then of course I will withdraw it.
Mr Sinclair -I was interjecting andI ask that the Prime Minister withdraw his remark.
– Order! There can be no qualification. It was a personal reflection and the Prime Minister will withdraw it.
– To allow the proceedings of the House to continue, I will withdraw. Successive Foreign Ministers have answered -
– Mr Speaker, I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the remark in relation to me. I have indicated that I found it personally offensive. He has not withdrawn it in relation to the Deputy Leader of the Country Party and other members who have the same view of the Prime Minister.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. Will honourable members allow the House-
– Mr Speaker, he has not withdrawn the remark.
– I think we should all go to lunch.
– That might be a good idea.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. You asked the Prime Minister to withdraw the comment which all members of the Opposition parties consider to be totally insulting. The Prime Minister, with his usual contempt for the forms of this Parliament and the Chair, in fact has not withdrawn that comment in an unqualified way. I submit to you that the posture which the Prime Minister has taken during the course of this extended question time is totally contemptuous of parliamentary procedure, the forms of this House and the ruling that you have given.I ask you, Mr Speaker, in terms of that ruling, to insist that the Prime Minister obey the ruling and withdraw the insulting and offensive comment which he has made, and to do so without qualification.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
- Mr Speaker, successive
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I believe that it is the wish of every member of this House that the proceedings of the House be kept orderly and that the business of Parliament be proceeded with. The only stumbling block at the moment is the pride of the Prime Minister, which will not allow him to withdraw the insulting remark directed towards members of the Opposition. I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw his remark and to understand the forms of this Parliament.
MrWHITLAM- Successive Foreign Ministers have never given a frank answer to Yugoslav-
Mr McLeay - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. I was interjecting when the Prime Minister was speaking and I found the remark insulting, especially considering that I spent some of my life fighting Hitler. I demand a withdrawal from the Prime Minister.
– Order! The Prime Minister has made a withdrawal in regard to the honourable member for Cowper. The Chair is not going to advise honourable members of what action they should take; that is a matter for themselves. If the Prime Minister reflected upon the Opposition as a whole, no point of order is involved.
– In fairness to the honourable member for Parramatta-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order.
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
Mr Corbett -I want to take a point of order. I was not interjecting at the time the Prime Minister made his comment, but the terms of his reflection on my Party were offensive to me. As an individual member, I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw and I hope that every member of the Opposition will personally ask for a withdrawal, if the Prime Minister will not be fair enough to withdraw in regard to the Opposition as a whole. I found the remark personally offensive and I ask for a withdrawal.
– No point of order is involved when a remark is a reflection on a party.
– In fairness to the honourable member for Parramatta -
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The ruling that you have just given contradicts the ruling you gave a few moments ago when you said that, if a specific member of a party found the words offensive, he had the right to ask that those words be withdrawn. This is what happened. You have now ruled that that is not possible, that an individual member who so feels does not have that right. I submit, Mr Speaker, that the record will show the contradiction in your rulings..
– I would like to make it perfectly clear that the honourable member for Wannon is not running the House; I am trying to do that.
– I take a point of order.
– Let me rule on the point of order taken by the honourable member for Maranoa. He was talking about his party being offended.
– No, I was not. It was I who was offended.
– There was no reference to the honourable member personally. The honourable member for Maranoa spoke about his party and an insult to his party.
– On a point of order, I said that I felt personally insulted by the remarks of the Prime Minister. The honourable member for Cowper made the same representation to you. I believe that you asked the Prime Minister to withdraw his remark in relation to the honourable member for Cowper. I ask you to give me the same privilege because I found it personally offensive. I ask for the remark to be withdrawn as far as I personally am concerned.
- Mr Speaker-
Mr McLeay - Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to a point of order raised 2 or 3 minutes ago. You have not ruled on it I was interjecting and so was the honourable member for Balaclava. I felt personally insulted by the remarks of the Prime Minister and I demand that he withdraw them.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order, as one experienced in these matters. The same thing happened to me under Sir William Aston’s Speakership. On many occasions under his benign leadership here I referred collectively to honourable members opposite as fascists, I said that all the Ministry were touching the till and a dozen and one other things. I was never asked to withdraw them because Sir William Aston ruled, as you have, that collectively one cannot offend a party or a group.
-I call the Prime Minister.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister made 2 offensive statements. You asked him separately to withdraw them. He withdrew one in a qualified manner. He did not withdraw the other. I submit, Mr Speaker, that you, occupying your high office, must ask him to withdraw them both in an unqualified way or else you will show bias in favour of the Prime Minister.
- Mr Speaker-
– A point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer back to your own ruling in relation to one honourable member who interjected. No-one interjected to a greater extent than I did. You gave that ruling and you obliged the Prime Minister to withdraw his remark. I take extreme personal offence at being called a puppet of Hitler and I ask for the same privilege as you gave to the other honourable member, and that is that the remark be withdrawn in regard to me personally.
– I call the Prime Minister.
– In fairness to the honourable member for Parramatta, I should make it clear that he tried to give a much more candid reply to the aide-memoire from Yugoslavia than the former Attorney-General gave. I would like to table these documents. If I have his permission to seek the concurrence of the Yugoslav Government in tabling the draft, I will do so. The honourable member previously asked whether I would table the reply which was sent to Yugoslavia. The ordinary international practice is that one would not do so, but I believe that honourable members would see, to the discredit of the former Attorney-General and to the credit of the former Foreign Minister, that the latter tried to give a more candid reply. He did not accept the insertions or concur in the deletions which the Attorney-General sought.
– But the reply itself could not be described as a lie.
– If the honourable member asks me to ask the Yugoslav Government and he gives his own agreement, I will table the drafts of this reply as well as the reply that was sent. I ask that further auestions be put on notice.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented to a degree by imputation in the reference that was made to the interim reply to Yugoslavia. Insofar as I was connected with this matter, I want to make it quite clear to the House that there was no lie or anything misleading involved in it. I have asked that it be tabled. I understand the regular practice is not to table. I will take into consideration the offer that has been made by the Prime Minister, but it is an offer contingent on tabling a whole lot of other documents as well, apparently. I want to make this quite clear in view of the fact that one cannot see the document - it is not tabled - that it was not a lie and it was not an untrue document that went to the Yugoslav Government. In the course of his reply the Prime Minister really retreated to the position that successive governments over 10 years had failed to assert or acknowledge that there were terrorist groups. That was really what he was saying - not that the document conveyed any untruth or any lie but that it lacked an element of assertion that he thought ought to be in it.
-I call for ministerial statements by leave.
– Has there been any withdrawal by the Prime Minister of his statement? I, like the honourable member for Boothby, was one who spent some time fighting Hitler’s armies or air forces. I believe that this was an extremely offensive remark and there has been no attempt whatsoever to withdraw it.
-Order! I have ruled on this several times. I have said that there is no point of order involved when someone is reflecting on a particular group of members or a party. If an honourable member specifies a particular member, the point of order is well taken.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I bring to your notice a ruling given by you within the last 15 minutes when
I took a point of order during a reply to a question by the Prime Minister. My point of order then was that the Prime Minister had reflected on me personally. You gave a ruling requiring the Prime Minister to withdraw and apologise. Yon announced that ruling to the House. My point of order is that the Prime Minister has not withdrawn and apologised in accordance with your ruling.
-Order! I did not give any ruling. I said distinctly that that is what I did when I was a member of the Opposition. It was not a ruling that I was giving.
– I move:
I have not risen to my feet in this discussion today regarding the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) because of the position which I formerly held in the House. I realise the difficulties confronting the Chair when a situation like this arises in the House. Quite frankly, I think that today the Prime Minister has continued to evade, as he did on Tuesday and again yesterday, questions that have been asked by members of the Opposition in relation to a very important matter. I believe that the incident today - the naming of my colleagues, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) - has brought the standing of this Parliament down to a level that I have not seen before.
-The matter concerning the honourable member for Gippsland has already been decided by the House and it cannot be reopened in the debate now.
– Many of the other things that have happened in this House, I say with due respect, have been a reflection upon the Prime Minister. I believe that he has shown an attitude which, unfortunately, he has shown on previous occasions in this House. It is for that reason, without any further remarks to aggravate the situation, that I move the suspension of the Standing Orders.
-Is. the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Immediately before the suspension of the sitting for lunch my colleague the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) moved that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent any member of this House making a statement in relation to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) referring to their association as puppets with people outside the House. During the course of this morning’s proceedings the Prime Minister made a series of references which were, completely unjustified in their form and somewhat hysterical in their presentation. They related not only to our conduct as individuals on this side of the chamber but also to the pattern which we followed in our time in government. As individuals several of us - in fact all of us - have risen and objected to the manner of the allegations of the Prime Minister. You yourself, Mr Speaker, in the context of the rulings you gave this morning said, in relation to a point of order taken by my colleague the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), that if he personally took exception to the remarks which were directed in general to the Country Party but which he felt were directed particularly to him they should be withdrawn. The Prime Minister has not withdrawn those remarks, and because he has not withdrawn those remarks specifically we on this side of the House feel that it is essential that we should not be prejudiced by completely unjustified and unsubstantiated allegations made against us by the Prime Minister.
There is in this place a very real need to ensure that justice not only be seen and observed but be practised if it is to be seen, observed and practised in the rest of the community. The proceedings of having allegations made in an unsubstantiated fashion which was implemented by the Prime Minister give us on this side of the House no opportunity to defend ourselves. The only way we can gain this opportunity is by moving a motion for suspension of Standing Orders to enable us to refute completely the allegations that the Prime Minister has made. Every one of us on this side of the House has been associated in the context of the references by the Prime Minister. Each of us was included in a broad bracket in a way which suggested that we in some way had been guilty of an association, which of course is nonsensical. So is any suggestion that in any way the administration of the previous Government failed, because we quite effectively demonstrated efforts to try to ensure that if there were any terrorist activities in the community they should be contained. The fact is that the former Attorney-General yesterday in another place produced a series of references which effectively demonstrated how during the course of the life of the last Government we endeavoured to pursue to the ultimate inquiries into all segments of extremism in our community.
It is essential that we should not be vilified without an opportunity to defend ourselves. The only procedure that is available to us is by turning to your own ruling, Mr Speaker, and suggesting that the ruling which you made and which has not been taken up by the Prime Minister should in fact be implemented. It is only by moving for a suspension of Standing Orders and by suggesting that members on this side of the House be permitted to make statements relative to the charges laid that we have and can have any opportunity at all to defend ourselves and to demonstrate to the people of Australia that, unlike the present regime, we pursued practices which pertained to the proper administration of the law which enabled individuals to rest secure in their own homes without the fear of police intervention in the wee small hours of the morning, without the fear of that knock on the door - the knock on the door that for so many was the genesis of their wishing to leave their former country to come to Australia, a fear to which now so many migrants to this country must unfortunately be subject again. It is only by having an opportunity to make statements to rebut the charges of the Prime Minister that we on this side of the House can for all time lay at rest the thought that in any way we were less than diligent in our efforts to ensure that justice was duly exercised and that in any way any one of us would condone violence in our community or subscribe to the allegation that we were puppets of people here or in any other part of the world. Indeed, we on this side of the House believe that the charges are completely unjustified and believe that it is only by the suspension of Standing Orders that we can clear our name of the unjustified charges by the Prime Minister.
– Honourable members are quite entitled to object to blanket aspersions cast on them. In Opposition, I suppose I spoke as much in favour of such a proposition as anyone, and I cannot speak in a different sense now that I am in Government. There has been for as long as I can remember, at least throughout the 1960s, and it was confirmed by votes of the House, observance of the ruling that honourable members could not ask for a withdrawal of aspersions which are made on organisations to which they belong, such as political parties. There was in fact a difference of ruling on this matter between the former Speaker and the former Chairman of Committees. I always supported the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. I thought he was right, but the House in those days did not uphold his ruling. In particular, the form of aspersion which has been cast on honourable members and which was constantly cast on members of my Party when it was in Opposition was to the effect that our Party contained certain people to whom objection could be made. Of course, if one did not specify who they were nobody could object.
This is a matter in relation to ‘ which I do not believe it is satisfactory just to overrule a Speaker. A Speaker is entitled to follow the rulings of his predecessor. It is not satisfactory just to overrule a Speaker when he repeats a ruling which previous Parliaments have endorsed when made by previous Speakers. The proper way to deal with this matter is by amending the Standing Orders. I for one - I am a member of the Standing Orders Committee - would support such a proposition. I believe that the Standing Orders on this matter ought to be changed. Mr Speaker, I believe you gave’ the only ruling which any person in your position could give as things stand, that is, under the present Standing Orders as they have been interpreted by previous Speakers and endorsed by previous Houses. I will take the opportunity to point out the particular aspersion that I made. I referred to supporters of Hitler’s puppet. I want to allay any impression that I was saying that any individual here was a supporter of Hitler or that any party contained supporters of Hitler. I did refer to supporters of Hitler’s puppet. It is important, I believe, that honourable members should realise-
– I rise on a point of order. The question before the House is whether Standing Orders ought to be suspended for a particular reason and it is not an occasion for the Prime Minister to try to explain his way out of the aspersion he made this morning.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Several points of order were taken against the Leader of the Opposition this morning in order to take time away from him when he was trying to make a case. Mr Speaker, I suggest that you bring the Prime Minister back to the point.
-Order! There is no point of order involved. The motion for the suspension of Standing Orders quite specifically mentions the remarks of the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister now wants to make some reference to his remarks. They stem from an answer which . he got when Leader of the Opposition from the then Foreign Minister, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) on 28th April 1971. I had asked the honourable gentleman:
The reply I received was:
The reply to the second part of the question - whether Australia ever recognised the independence of. Croatia - was nol Later I asked the subsequent Minister for External Affairs, which was the then title of the portfolio, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) whether he confirmed this situation that his predecessor had stated and he said that he did. insofar as it falls to me, there is nothing in the replies which my 2 predecessors gave in which I can find any fault.
It is important, I believe, for -honourable members to realise, that by their statements and by their conduct they should give no comfort to that relatively small number of men, and maybe women, in Australia who are promoting the flag,, the leader and the anniversary of this puppet state created by our enemies in the last war. I represent, as I have said before, more migrants from Yugoslavia than any honourable member in this House has represented, and I can assure honourable members that the use of the flag, the portrait and the celebration of the anniversary create just as much tension and resentment among migrants from Yugoslavia as the display of Hitler’s photograph and the display of the swastika flag would create among most people in Australia. It is important that we should realise that there is a minority but that it is an active and persistent minority. We should, therefore, be particularly careful at this time of the year - approaching the anniversary - not to give any comfort or any condonation to these events and these actions. Terms such as ‘Hitler’s puppet’ are appropriately applied to Ante Pavelic and to symbols that went with his regime.
I believe honourable members have some responsibility to see that the distress and the tension caused for many years, and mentioned pretty consistently over the last 10 years in the Parliament, do not continue. We should be firm in discounting and denouncing any such displays. They happen in this city. They happen in my electorate. I have no doubt they happen in the electorates of other honourable members. There are also statues, sometimes on ecclesiastical premises - there is one such in Canberra and there is one such in Melbourne - which are an offence to some tens of thousands of residents in Australia and fellow citizens. 1 do not believe that all honourable gentlemen realise the significance of the Ustasha flag, the portrait of Ante Pavelic or the celebration on 10th April. I do not believe that all honourable members appreciate the significance, but there are about 140,000 people in Australia who have come from Yugoslavia all of whom are aware of that significance. There may be no more than 2,000 people who display the flag, who honour the photograph and who celebrate the anniversary, but they do create tensions in this community, and by nothing that we say or do or shout in this place should we give comfort to the minority and bring distress to the overwhelming majority.
Having said that, it would help relations in the House if I were to say that I withdraw the words that I used. I would have no doubt that unwittingly many people and many honourable members who were interjecting when I made reference to the organisations do not realise the significance of these organisations and the consequences of what those organisa tions do. I believe they do now and I withdraw the words I used.
– The Opposition is a bit sick and tired of homilies which try to release the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) from a hole into which he has jumped. He is no Jack Spratt who, with a mighty leap, can jump out of the hole. He is in the hole and he remains in the hole until he unqualifiedly withdraws. There is no point in his saying, after a lecture about these things, that he withdraws. Does he think he is the only person in this country who has any knowledge of these things? He has discovered them and believes he is Christopher Columbus - just run into a great new land mass. My colleagues on the front bench have known these things and have had the duty and discharged the duty of trying to wipe out the violence. But they were never prepared to interfere with civil liberties by blackening a whole group of people simply to serve a political purpose. There is no doubt whatever that ‘this morning the Prime Minister chose, to be as offensive as he could be. It was his purpose to be offensive. He wanted to be as offensive as he could ‘be: Now, Mr Speaker,., he comes in here with this sort of explanation and says that after his little lecture, in the interests of something or other, because we now understand! what organisations are”, he will withdraw.
The Prime Minister should have the guts to stand up in this House and say: ‘What I said this morning was insupportable’ , because each member of the Opposition parties stood and said: ‘I find it personally offensive to me’.
– A lot sat down.
– The Prime Minister has done enough damage to his reputation and standing without the Minister for the Capital Territory setting out on a course of selfdestruction by stating as a fact that which he knows not to be a fact.
– I was here.
– You were here! I think you must have been floating off into space, dear boy. Mr Speaker, the fact remains that the Prime Minister has marched a few steps along the path. We are not a group which wants to submit the Prime Minister of this country to unnecessary indignity. The fact is that the -Prime’ Minister did his own dignity more harm by his behaviour this morning than by the withdrawal and it is up to him now to recognise the office he occupies and to agree to withdrawal without qualification or, alternatively, to allow this motion for the suspension of standing orders to be passed so that each and every member of the Opposition parties will have the opportunity to state whether he regards the Prime Minister’s allegation this morning as personally offensive. There is a clear choice for the Prime Minister to make, and he will not be advantaged by smartness or cleverness. Does he withdraw unqualifiedly or does he permit the suspension of Standing Orders so that each and every one of the members of the Opposition can state whether he personally was offended by the statement? However, it should not be necessary for each of them to do it separately and individually now because all did it collectively this morning. If the Prime Minister indicates that he wants to get a settlement of the case out of court I can tell him that there will be no settlement of the case out of court. It will be settled here in the open Parliament and it will be settled by an unqualified withdrawal by the Prime Minister. If he does not do it he will live in a coward’s castle until he does.
– I just want to show what humbugs Opposition members are. If honourable members will give me time I will prove that point beyond question. I refer to page 1375 of Hansard of 23rd April 1969 which shows that in this chamber on that Friday afternoon the then Minister for Social Services was speaking on a Bill before the House. I will quote the whole of the objectionable part of what he said and compare it with and relate it to what happened this morning. All we need to do is substitute the word ‘fascism’ for the word ‘communism’. This is what the then Minister had to say:
It has everything to do with the statement because it shows why it is difficult at this present moment to expand the operations of the Australian National Line. Unfortunately, the people who man the ships, although not traitors themselves, are under the control of traitors. Let me go further. I have spoken about the Korean affair. In this Vietnam affair at the present moment, because the Australian Labor Party is in alliance with the Communist Party . . .
That was what the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) had to say on 23rd April. I followed the honourable member immediately by saying - again I quote from Hansard:
I raise a point of order. The statement by the Minister that the Australian Labor Party is in alli- ance with the Communist Party is offensive to me and I ask for its withdrawal.
Now let us look at the arch humbug. The following then appears:
– It has been the practice in this House that a general statement cannot be regarded as offensive. Only a statement referring to a particular individual in the House can be claimed to be offensive. Therefore, there is no substance in the point of order.
– Is that the man who moved this motion?
– That is the man who moved the motion we are debating at the moment. What was his ruling on 23rd April 1969? Does he want me to repeat it to show what humbugs he and members of his party are, because Hansard sets out what they did when they had-
– I rise to order. Is it not unparliamentary to call an honourable member of this Parliament a humbug? Is it not just as unparliamentary as the words that were used this morning?
– Order! There is no point of order. The time allowed for debate has expired.
That the motion (Mr Lucock’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority .. ..11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Opposition members - No.
There can be no qualification. The Prime Minister will withdraw.
I have had the proceedings which were recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Commission or Hansard - I am not sure who does it - listened to in relation to this matter. ] was in the chamber at the time that you made this remark. The Prime Minister made no attempt this morning to withdraw his remark unqualifiedly, as directed by you. This afternoon he spoke to a motion to suspend Standing Orders. In that statement he did not withdraw unqualifiedly the remarks you instructed him to withdraw, as I pointed out immediately when I followed the honourable gentleman in speaking to the motion. I am asking you, Mr Speaker, to rule that the Prime Minister, in accordance with your direction, should withdraw his remarks unqualifiedly. If you do not so rule I believe that your authority and your standing in this Parliament will be very sorely prejudiced.
This ruling was given to a point of order which I took on 23rd April 1969, as recorded at page 1375 of Hansard. If I may put the whole matter on record-
I raise a point of order. The statement by the Minister that the Australian Labor Party is in alliance with the Communist Party-
A request for withdrawal of remarks applied to a parliamentary party and claimed to be offensive cannot be acceded to unless the remarks can be shown to refer to identifiable members of that Party.
That was Speaker Aston’s interpretation of a situation that existed in this chamber this morning. I contest the point that there is any substance in the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden).
What has been said by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) has had no bearing whatever on the issue. He has referred to a ruling given by a Deputy Speaker at an earlier time in relation to an objection based on entirely different grounds. Of course, this reference could only be regarded as a further subterfuge to protect the Prime Minister from the ruling which you gave this morning. I believe that the position is quite clear to this House. The Prime Minister has not observed the ruling that you gave. I believe that it would be improper for us to accept the substitute approach made by the Prime Minister to try to extricate himself from the position in which he and the Government now find themselves. The records show very clearly that the Prime Minister has avoided observing a ruling given by Mr Speaker in this Parliament. This is a most serious and important issue. It is one that impinges very much upon the actions of the House earlier today. These actions were, of course, of great significance.
I believe that it is a vital necessity that the Standing Orders be observed at all times and that there be a proper approach by you, Mr Speaker, in discharging your duties. We on this side of the chamber have a duty to assist you in this regard. For that reason, what has been submitted by the Leader of the Opposition in taking his point of order is correct. I believe that you must rule that the Prime Minister has not observed your ruling. I believe, likewise, that unless this is done the events of the day will remain as an improper procedure o£ this House. If this were to be the situation we would be setting a precedent which would be wrong for this Parliament. It would be wrong for this precedent to be regarded as one upon which to base future procedures of this House of Representatives. I urge you to take cognisance of what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that the evidence put forward by the Minister for Transport has no bearing at all on the matter, as I mentioned a moment ago. The only person who can correct-
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation in regard to remarks made by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones).
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Firstly, Mr Speaker, I remind the Minister for Transport of the remarks you made earlier when you were in the Chair and said that members of the Opposition had the right individually to ask for the words used by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to be withdrawn. The purpose of my motion to suspend the Standing Orders was to obtain a ruling and it had no relevance to a ruling which 1 gave as occupant of the Chair in another matter referred to by the Minister for Transport. The Minister did refer you, Mr Speaker, to rulings given by previous Speakers and Chairmen of Committees. I remind the House and you, Mr Speaker, of the words used by the Minister. I did not ask for them to be withdrawn because coming from the Minister for Transport I did not regard them as offensive. I point out that in 1964 in a debate in which the same words were used when I was in the Chair, Mr Pollard asked for the word ‘humbug’ used by Mr Harold Holt to be withdrawn. As Chairman, I asked Mr Harold Holt to withdraw and he did so.
– Notice has been received from the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) of his intention at the next sitting to move:
That Mr Speaker ought to be ashamed of himself.
– The next item of business is Notice No. 1, Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1973.
– I raise a point of order under standing order 1 which reads:
To all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders or practice of the House, resort shall be had to the practice of the Commons House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in force for the time being, which shall be followed as far as it can be applied.
This morning you, Mr Speaker, gave your decision in relation to the use of the word humbug’ by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) with respect to members on this side of the House. 1 draw your attention to page 434 of Erskine May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’ where the word ‘humbug’ is included as one of those words which are objectionable.
In the House of-
– Order! There is no point of order involved. If the honourable member who felt aggrieved had taken the point at the time the word was used it could have been dealt with immediately but the honourable member cannot take a point of order on it now.
– On a point of order. I did take a point of order on the use of that very word because I found it objectionable.
– There have been so many points of orders and so much noise coming from the Opposition side that it has been most difficult to recognise when a point has been taken.
– But you did give me the call, Mr Speaker, to make my point of order. I did so and you ruled on it. I still find it objectionable as T did then.
-Order! No point of order is involved.
– J seek your guidance, Mr Speaker, on the ruling you have just given. Does it mean that you now negate standing order 1 and that you do not accept Erskine May and the House of Commons practice as a guide to the making of decisions in this place?
-The words used by the Chair in defining whether an expression is parliamentary or unparliamentary are binding and there can be no debate. Debate may ensue only when there is a motion of dissent or to suspend Standing Orders. There is no point of order involved. I call the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation.
Bill presented by Mr Barnard, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill is to amend repatriation legislation to enable repatriation Service and other means test pensioners to continue to receive their pensions when they leave Australia. Repatriation war pensioners, as you know, Mr Speaker, rightly receive their entitlements no matter where they live in the world. The Bill will mean that Service pensioners and other means test pensioners such as widowed mothers and aged parents of deceased ex-servicemen will be entitled to continue to receive their pensions under the Repatriation Act if they leave Australia. This will honour, in the repatriation field, the Government’s undertaking to allow all Australian residents who have gained the right to receive any social security pension, to enjoy that right wherever they choose to live.
Under the amendments to the Repatriation Act to be effected by this Bill a Service pensioner will be free to leave Australia and live in another country while retaining his pension entitlement. While supplementary assistance will not be payable overseas, the Bill provides that, if one of a married couple receiving supplementary assistance travels overseas, the spouse remaining will be paid supplementary assistance at the single rate during the absence of his or her partner. Any former resident at present living overseas who returns to Australia may receive the Service pension, if eligible. However, he will not be able to transfer the Service pension overseas unless he remains in Australia for a period of at least 12 months. This is designed to prevent persons normally resident overseas from returning to Australia just to receive a pension and take it back with them.
In addition to providing for continuation of payments to pensioners wherever they choose to live outside Australia, the provisions introduced by this Bill will also allow a social security pensioner living overseas, if he wishes and is otherwise eligible, to transfer to a repatriation Service pension, or vice versa, thus giving him the same rights in this respect as would be available to him in Australia. Because the intentions of the population affected by this measure are unknown, it is not possible at this time to assess the overall costs but, generally speaking, they will be relatively small and insignificant in comparison with the effect of removing this unnecessary limitation on people who have earned the right to benefits in the service of their country.
Other matters provided for in the Bill are minor amendments to: Re-draft the definition of ‘child’ in section 83 to clarify the intention that a child who has attained the age of 16 years must be undertaking full-time education and be wholly or substantially dependent upon the pensioner parent before being recognised for Service pension purposes; authorise the extension of benefits under the repatriation regulations to student children over the age of 21 years - Parliament has given its approval in the Repatriation Act 1973 to the recognition of these children in the Repatriation Act itself and this amendment will enable the relevant provisions of the repatriation regulations to be extended to them; and apply to the principal Act new drafting principles which are being introduced by the Parliamentary Counsel. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! As it is now past the time provided for the grievance debate, Order of the Day No. 1. will not be called on.
Bill presented by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill, the second amending social services Bill to be introduced in the current session, is designed to give effect to the election policy speech undertaking of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that pensioners receiving age and invalid pensions, including wives’ pensions, or widows’ pensions in Australia will be able to receive those pensions wherever they choose to live. This right to unlimited transferability of pensions will not depend on the negotiation of reciprocal agreements with other countries; consequently, the limitations on the period of travel which now apply in respect of pensioners moving between Australia and the countries with which we have reciprocal pension portability agreements will no longer operate. Moreover, special residence qualifications will no longer be required for portability of pensions.
The substance of this Bill represents a radical departure from the present arrangements for what is called portability of social security pensions. Under the present arrangements for portability to occur - that is the right to draw
Australian pension benefits outside of this country - a pensioner has in general to have been resident in Australia for at least 20 years after reaching the age of 16 and additionally can only attract portability rights in 4 countries: Italy, Greece, Turkey and Malta. There are also long-standing reciprocal social security benefit rights for Australians in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. These are comprehensive reciprocal rights as distinct from pension portability.
The extension of portability rights beyond the limited number of countries mentioned was dependent on increasing the number of countries with which reciprocal arrangements could be established. The last Minister for Social Services certainly embarked on such an objective but the results were not equal to the enthusiasm with which he set about this task, as the following table shows. I seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
In addition, the Government of Luxembourg was approached in June 1972 through the Australian Ambassador to Belgium but the response was that there was no concrete interest in the project. Representatives of the Government of Cyprus in London expressed interest but there had been no substantial developments by the time of the Australian general elections in December 1972.
-We do not intend to forbear with such a cumbersome, slow moving and inadequate process for providing pension portability. We have sliced through the gordian knot-
Portability will now be provided without any requirement for reciprocal arrangements with other countries. That is, a person drawing Australian pension can take that pension right anywhere in the world after 10 years Australian residence in the case of age pension, and after 5 years of such residence in the case of invalid pension where the invalidity occurred in Australia, otherwise after 10 years’ residence in Australia. No period of residence is required in the case of widowhood where the couple were permanently resident in Australia when the husband died. This is truly a substantially generous improvement on pension portability practices to the present. lt comes in recognition of the special rights and needs of migrants in this country - justice too long denied them.
For too long migrants have been told by past governments of their valuable contribution to the development of this nation. But for equally long too little has been contributed by those governments towards the special needs of so many migrants especially during their difficult period of adjusting to a new, alien and not always hospitable society. Too often they have been seen as and treated as front line fodder for our industrial system as the disproportionate representation for some migrant groups among the semi-skilled and unskilled work classifications indicates. This disproportionate representation in these employment categories incidentally is also evidence of the socio-economic upward mobility which their presence has allowed many Australian residents of longer standing.
The presence of migrants in this country has been valuable to this nation and has given it and its people a far better future than would have been achieved otherwise. But there is much that should have been done to assist many migrants and we intend remedying this neglect. What is proposed in this Bill is only a small part of what has to be done - of what should have been done for too long.
Now let me give some detail about this Bill. Under the Bill, pensioners who have gained the right to receive an Australian age, invalid or widow’s pension by satisfying the appropriate residence qualification by actual residence in Australia including periods of absence counted as residence under the Social Services Act but excluding periods of residence in Britain or New Zealand treated as residence in Australia by virtue of our reciprocal agreements with those countries, will be able to continue to receive their pensions overseas at the rates current, and under the conditions applicable to the payment of pensions, in Australia. Wives’ pensions will also be payable overseas.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, as this is important legislation I draw your attention to the state of the House. (Quorum formed)
– This right to continue to receive a pension overseas will operate in the same way as if the pensioner had remained in Australia. Thus, for example, if a widow pensioner remarries overseas, her pension will automatically cease.
The Government’s proposals for unrestricted portability of pensions will apply to pensioners leaving Australia on or after the date on which the enabling legislation becomes operative on receiving the Royal Assent. It is necessary to draw the eligibility line somewhere and retrospectivity would have been difficult to apply equitably. This cut-off point is consistent with the principle incorporated in legislation introduced by the previous Government providing for pension portability under reciprocal arrangements made with other countries.
Moreover, the Government’s proposals render unnecessary the provisions of the present legislation enabling payment to be made in respect of a period of up to 30 weeks on a pensioner’s return to Australia after a temporary absence, and for the payment of pensions to pensioners who go to live in an external territory. Of course, the rights of such pensioners who are absent from Australia on the date this legislation becomes operative will be fully protected.
Pensioners receiving their pensions in Malta, Italy, Greece and Turkey in accordance with the reciprocal pension portability agreements entered into under the legislation introduced by the previous Government will not only have their existing rights preserved but will be brought within the new provisions that is they will be able to continue to receive their Australian pensions but the requirement that they live in one of the 4 countries mentioned will no longer apply. Action has already been taken to advise the governments of Malta, Italy, Greece and Turkey of the Australian wish to terminate the agreements made with those countries which, as far as Australian pensioners are concerned, will become redundant.
Australian pensioners going to Britain or New Zealand for permanent residence at present lose their Australian pensions but may receive, under our comprehensive reciprocal agreements on social security with those countries, the pensions of the country in which they are living. Australian residence, for this purpose, is translated into British contributions or New Zealand residence respectively. These agreements thus require review in the light of the Government’s decision to pay Australian pensions abroad and the necessary action has already been initiated.
The reciprocal pension portability provisions currently incorporated in the Social Services Act permit the grant of a pension outside Australia only where a pensioner has a continuing entitlement and where a ‘transfer’ from one type of social service pension to another is involved. These provisions will be retained but also extended as I will indicate in a moment. Complementary legislation is being introduced to permit the payment overseas of pensions payable under section 92 of the Repatriation Act. The Bill now before the House will permit a pensioner receiving such a pension overseas to transfer to an age, invalid, wife’s or widow’s pension payable under the Social Services Act. The pensioner medical service will, as at present, continue to be available only in Australia, as will the concessions provided by the Commonwealth in respect of radio and television licences and telephone rentals. However, funeral benefits and the special pension payable for 12 weeks after the death of one member of a pensioner married couple will be available for pensioners receiving their pensions overseas.
Pensioners overseas will not receive supplementary assistance as the eligibility conditions could not properly be applied; in this respect the Bill maintains the situation incorporated in the pensions portability legislation enacted last year. However, when each member of a married pensioner couple in Australia is qualified for supplementary assistance, the rate payable to each is half that which could be payable if only one were a pensioner. The Bill makes provision for the increase of supplementary assistance to the single rate, subject to eligibility in other respects, to the member of a pensioner couple remaining in Australia when his spouse is absent.
Human nature being what it is, cases could conceivably arise where people who have previously lived in Australia might aim to return to Australia foi the specific purpose of receiving a pension, after which they would again leave this country. As a deterrent to such action, the Bill provides that where a person applies for a pension within 12 months of his return to Australia any pension which may be granted will not be payable overseas if he leaves Australia within a year of the date of his last return to this country. It is realised, however, that unforeseen circumstances, for example, the death of a husband or wife, could arise which would provide a bona fide reason for a change in plans to reside in Australia. In these circumstances the requirement of 12 months residence in Australia before the pension can be transferred overseas will be waived.
As 1 have indicated, pensioners who have gained the right to receive an Australian social service pension by satisfying the appropriate residence qualification or who are receiving a wife’s pension will be able to continue to receive their pension overseas without restriction. While it will benefit mainly aged, invalid and widowed migrants who wish to return to their former homelands, cither permanently or temporarily, it will apply equally to all pensioners. It will thus in future be possible for pensioners to visit, or live with, their children or other relatives who have settled or are working overseas. This Bill marks another instalment in the implementation of the Whitlam Government’s progressive policy in the social welfare area and will be followed by many other measures designed to ensure that we resume our rightful place as a pioneer and leader in this field. I commend the Bill to the House. (Quorum formed)
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report on the survey of child migrant education in schools of high migrant density in Melbourne. I seek leave to make a statement on the report.
Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Late last year an on the spot study of 63 State and Catholic primary and secondary schools and State technical schools was undertaken with the purpose of ascertaining the actual and potential problem areas in schools with a large proportion of migrant pupils. The survey was carried out by officers of the 4 authorities concerned, namely, the Victorian Education Department, the Victorian Catholic Education Office, the Department of Immigration and my Department. The background for this survey was that a number of complaints had been received from schools expressing dissatisfaction with conditions. Part of the discontent sprang from the inadequacy of school premises to house the number of special classes that were warranted by the children in attendance. There was no provision under the child migrant education program for accommodation of classes.
The child migrant education program was mounted in April 1970 with the intention of providing special English instruction to enable migrant children with English language difficulties to achieve a sufficient command of English for them to join fully in normal classroom activities. To this end, the Australian Government provides funds for State and independent school authorities to pay the salaries of the necessary additional teachers and to purchase special language teaching equipment, lt also helps to provide in-service training for these teachers and makes learning and teaching materials available. The State and independent school authorities have been responsible for deciding, within the limits of the program, which schools required the services of additional English language teachers; for recruiting the teachers; and for finding the space for these teachers to conduct classes. Altogether throughout Australia there are now over 1,000 teachers giving special instruction to more than 37,000 migrant children. These teachers are doing an outstanding job of work under conditions which, if the findings of the survey are a general indication, are often very poor indeed.
The report states that in the schools surveyed only 29 per cent of the rooms used for migrant English classes were proper classrooms. This means that teachers and children are working in sub-standard accommodation comprising staff rooms, cloak rooms, store rooms, offices, corridors, sick bays and even shower rooms and laundries. If this were not bad enough, the survey also shows that the migrant children who attend classes in these uninspiring surroundings are the lucky few. Only one-third of the children in these schools who have difficulty with English are actually attending classes and, of this one-third, 40 per cent are not receiving sufficient tuition. Effectively, only 20 per cent of the children in the schools surveyed who need English tuition are receiving enough of it.
The first and most obvious reason for this is the shortage of classroom accommodation. Classes are already occupying the spare cloak rooms, store rooms, corridors and laundries. There is little or no room for any more classes. The second reason is a shortage of teachers. At present, in state and independent schools all over Victoria, there are some 500 teachers providing English language tuition for over 16,000 migrant pupils. If the needs of the schools in the survey alone are to be adequately met, some 400 of these teachers would need to be deployed in the 63 schools. However, it would serve little purpose to place teachers in schools which have no room for them to conduct classes. Thus, the 2 problems of accommodation and the supply of teachers are inter-related. These problems are aggravated, as the survey shows, by certain shortages of equipment and materials.
The Child Migrant Education Program, as I have said, provides teachers, equipment and materials. In these schools there are not enough teachers, not enough equipment, not enough materials and, above all, not enough classroom accommodation. As a consequence, far too few migrant children are receiving sufficient help. Two steps must be taken to remedy this disturbing situation. The provisions of the Child Migrant Education Program must be reviewed including the earlier decision to make the provision of classroom accommodation for migrant children the sole financial responsibility of State and independent authorities. Child migrant education must always remain a co-operative venture between the Australian Government and state and independent education authorities However, I believe that the Australian Government can and must assume a greater financial role in this venture especially in providing assistance to state and private authorities to overcome accommodation problems. To achieve this and to prevent many migrant children from growing up to become secondclass citizens, I propose to consult my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, on ways and means of reviewing the Child Migrant Education Program in conjunction with State and independent school authorities, so that it will fully meet the needs of migrant children. I present the following paper:
Survey of Child Migrant Education - Ministerial Statement, 5th April 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I welcome the statement that has been made by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). He will know and the House will know that the survey of child migrant education was initiated by the previous Minister for Immigration and myself because we were concerned about many of the problems that had been revealed in the report. I think he also knows that the departmental officers conducting the survey had an open hand in pointing to the deficiencies and the shortcomings of the program that had been initiated which, the Minister said, now involves over 1,000 teachers and 37 000 migrant children. Because of the matters that had been raised and because of the circumstances which I had seen in a number of schools especially in the inner city areas, I believed that more needed to be done and, therefore, ought to be done. As a result, the survey was introduced.
The fact that the survey was introduced showed a concern, a willingness and a determination to improve a program that had been begun a relatively short time before. I could have understood it if the Minister had said or had wanted to say that the program should have been begun many years ago. He did not say it, but the fact is that it had been begun and there was a willingness and a determination to improve it, to provide the maximum opportunity for migrant children. The factor to which the Minister drew attention in regard to classroom shortage was one of the factors which persuaded the previous Government to make special capital funds available to the States to help in achieving a greater expansion of state school construction. It needs to be noted that there are wide differences between the States in these matters. It is my belief that Victoria and New South Wales have problems that Western Australia and Tasmania do not have. If the Minister is successful in breaking some of the Treasury formulas which determine that funds should be divided on a certain basis, so that a greater proportion of funds can be allocated to the inner city areas of Melbourne and Sydney, I wish him well because in relation to this particular problem these are some of the areas where the greatest support and the greatest funds are required.
I believe that the problems of the 2 largest States outweigh the problems of the smaller States. I can remember asking to be shown the school in Perth which the Minister wanted to knock down next. It was not possible to be shown such a school. In Melbourne of course, and in Sydney I would believe, it is a different matter. The previous Government recognised a significant part of this problem by providing additional capital funds to the States and to independent school authorities on a continuing basis. It is my understanding and my hope that that capital program will continue.
There is one point to which the Minister did not draw attention - maybe he did not because it overlaps into areas of other ministerial responsibilities - and that is that this problem of migrant children, or of children generally from underprivileged families and underprivileged homes, cannot be tackled or solved solely in the school itself. There is an inter-relationship, a connection between what happens within the school and what happens within the home. This is going to be of quite crucial importance. Some schools are tackling this problem with vigour. I know of some that have national nights for those of Greek origin or for those of Italian origin so that the families can come along to the school to see what happens and to participate in school activities, and to encourage a real concern for what their children are doing. In other areas the situation is more difficult, perhaps because of background, location or lack of attractiveness in the school facilities. But the inter-relationship of what happens within the school and what happens within the home is of quite critical importance. It will be a very difficult problem to overcome.
If a child comes from a migrant family it may have bad only 2, 3 or 4 years of schooling in its own language. The mother may not show a great capacity to learn English. The father does learn English because of his contacts at work. The child will be taught English at school and will then return to a home environment in which a language foreign to us is spoken. There are, I believe, difficulties and divisions within the family which the school alone will find it very difficult to tackle. That is one of the reasons why the previous Government developed programs or indicated its willingness to develop programs in consultation with the States to tackle handicaps of all kinds. lt is one of the reasons why a certain professor from La Trobe University, who had never been a political supporter of the previous Government, was given research funds to help examine the needs of children in the inner cityareas and of underprivileged groups. T hope that his research findings will be of greater value than his political criticisms of the previous Government.
This is a significant problem, lt will not be easy to solve. It is one that will require a total approach - not just as to what happens in the school but maintaining an adequate link between the school and the family. It will therefore require not just teachers but social workers, psychologists and others who will bp able to assist in quite difficult circumstances. I commend the Minister for the way in which he has responded to this report. I hope that the response will be taken further, not only to look at the school environment but also to look at the total environment of the children who are now in part the Minister’s concern but still significantly the responsibility of the States.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I have sought leave to make a statement to the House on the present position in the planning to meet the future airport needs of Sydney. Over a long period of years honourable members have shown a deep interest in this matter, not only because of its importance in the overall planning and development of the Sydney region, but also because it is important in the national sense with Sydney as Australia’s busiest airline centre and principal international gateway. The starting point in this planning must be a most careful assessment of the likely pattern of growth in the demand for air services between now and the turn of the century. A feature of aviation over the years has been the rapid rate of growth of this demand and the most recent experience has shown no change in this pattern. (Quorum formed) All the studies so far made point to the saturation of the present airport about the end of this decade. There is a clear need for a second airport and the timing for satisfying this need will depend on whether the present airport is expanded, and if so, the form and extent of the expansion. The planning for a new airport is therefore intimately related to the future of the present airport.
There are many people who would like to see the present airport abandoned and all its airline traffic transferred to a new site. Against this proposition there are some important features of Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, including its proximity to the city and the substantial and unobstructed area of Botany Bay on one side of it. It also represents a large investment - nearly $200m and the cost of its replacement could be much higher. It seems obvious that the only way in which its ultimate closure to airline traffic could be contemplated would be if a new airport can be provided at one of the alternative sites closest to Sydney. The siting of a new airport near Sydney is a particularly difficult task. If it is to provide for air services efficiently, particularly domestic services, it should be located on the coastal plain reasonably near the city. In this area the terrain itself seriously restricts the number of possible sites, and also makes some alternatives very costly indeed. The extent of existing urban development and the proposals for new development also eliminate a number of otherwise suitable areas.
Honourable members are well aware that in 1971 the previous Government adopted the recommendations of a Commonwealth interdepartmental committee to set up jointly with the New South Wales Government a CommonwealthState committee to investigate, and make recommendations upon, the siting of a second airport and also upon the respective roles of the 2 airports in the future. The decision to set up this committee has been endorsed by the present Government. Another recommendation of that committee, which was also adopted at the same time, authorised the Department of Civil Aviation to engage consultants to carry out. at the cost of the Commonwealth, a benefit-cost evaluation of the alternatives available. The report on this evaluation is to be submitted to the CommonwealthState committee and made available to both Governments. After world-wide inquiries the Department of Civil Aviation engaged the very experienced firm, R. Travers Morgan and Partners of London, to carry out the benefit-cost study. In July 1972 the consultants commenced to assemble their team in Sydney, which now includes some 25 experts in the fields of economics, engineering, aviation, town planning, statistics and computers. A number of the team have been drawn from Australian Government and consulting organisations. Under its terms of reference, agreed by both Governments, the CommonwealthState committee was required to address itself to the alternative sites of Richmond and Somersby for a second airport, but without necessarily restricting itself to these locations if the committee considered that others merit detailed consideration. One of the first actions of the committee was to determine whether other sites should be examined. After careful inquiries, and on expert advice, the Committee unanimously agreed that the merits of all possible sites, including those already examined, be reviewed in the light of new technical information now available. Accordingly, in June 1972 the Commonwealth-State committee sought the agreement of the then Minister for Civil Aviation to examine all feasible sites for the new airport.
I remind honourable members that the previous Government decided that Duffy’s Forest and Wattamolla should not even be considered, and, at an earlier stage, Towra Point was excluded. These decisions were made before any substantial factual information was available to them. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Commonwealth-State committee received no response to their recommendation. The Liberal Government was not prepared to face up to the important issues involved. The consultants themselves, very early in their appraisal of the problem, made a firm recommendation of a similar nature to that of the Commonwealth-State committee.
This was also referred to the Minister. And so 5 months went by and no decision was given in respect of either of these recommendations by the Liberal Government. Nevertheless, under the direction of the CommonwealthState committee, the consultants continued with the design of the benefit-cost study to commence as soon as a decision on the sites to be examined could be obtained. This work has now virtually been completed and from what I have learnt of it I am confident that this study will present an excellent appraisal of all the significant issues involved in the siting of a new airport, including environmental aspects. A decision on the sites to be considered must be made immediately in order to give an urgently needed focus for the study. I have already mentioned some of the particular difficulties in siting airport facilities near Sydney.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, due to the reluctance of Government supporters to keep the House-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– 1 draw your attention to the state of the House.
-Order! 1 told the honourable member to resume his seat.
– I draw your attention to the state of the House.
-Order! This is the second occasion on which the honourable member has risen in his place on the pretext of calling attention to the state of the House and made a short speech. If the honourable member in future takes the same action T will deal with him. He is entitled at any time to draw the Chair’s attention to the state of the House. He is not entitled to debate the situation. (Quorum formed)
– Furthermore, very few sections of the community would not be affected in some way or another by a new airport, either as users of air transport, airport neighbours, employees on the airport, or through involvement elsewhere in the aviation or related industries. Wherever it is located the ultimate development of a second airport, together with its supporting surface access systems, industries, urbanisation and essential services, will cost the community many hundreds of millions of dollars.
The best site is the one that, for a given set of benefits, imposes least cost on the community. But cost includes not only the narrowly defined financial obligations of the governments, airlines and passengers. Cost comprehends also values for any deterioration of the natural environment, for noise, for the loss of an open space area, for the effects upon rural industries, for the costs of new urbanisation and for many other ‘disbenefits’ which might be imposed upon people. These disbenefits would all be assessed and will influence the relative attractiveness of each site being considered. It is essential, therefore, that the benefit-cost study has sufficient freedom to produce ultimately a selection of the best site having regard, on the one hand, to the community’s need for efficient air transport services, and on the other, to its desire to avoid unnecessary economic or environmental penalties. The study will also consider the desiraiblity or otherwise, of expanding the capacity of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, and it will recommend the optimum timing for the commencement of operations at the new airport as well as the way in which traffic should be divided between the 2 airports.
Although the benefit-cost study cannot be completed until about the middle of 1974, there is a need to reach the point of ultimate decision on the new site as quickly as possible. The earlier interdepartmental committee warned that serious congestion at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, could occur at any time after 1976. Having regard to the time required for the planning and construction of the initial facilities at a new site, its selection must be pursued with the greatest urgency. Because of the delays which have already occurred at the hands of the previous Government, there has been a great deal of uninformed public comment as to the relative merits of alternative sites. It is obvious that much of this comment stems from a lack of appreciation of the characteristics of the modern airport. Many people and organisations in the Sydney area envisage another Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, with all its problems of noise, difficult access and crowded building areas being repeated at a new site. This will not happen.
This Government is firmly pledged to the task of establishing a new airport which will not visit these problems upon its users or neighbours. The new Melbourne airport at Tullamarine, designed 10 years ago, is an example of a modern airport with open spaces, noise buffer zones, modern terminal and maintenance facilities, and quick access. It offers a high level of service to air travellers as well as a setting in which the aviation industry can operate economically 24 hours a day with virtually no pollution or noise annoyance to the airport’s neighbours. It is reasonable to expect that a new airport for Sydney to be designed in the near future could improve upon the features of Tullamarine. Given the necessary freedom I am confident that Sydney’s second airport will also be an attractive feature of this fastgrowing city - one of which its citizens will be proud. Wherever this airport is established, not only will it avoid problems for the neighbourhood communities, but it could bring to the area great advantages in the form of fast road and rail systems, a properly planned urbanisation, new job opportunities and community services such as communications, water supply, sewerage and power reticulation. In addition it could attract the general amenities needed to cater for the millions of business travellers and tourists who will be journeying to and from Sydney from now to the end of this century and beyond. There is no doubt in my mind, if there was a wider appreciation of the advantages which a modern airport will bring to the area in which it is established, most of the rejection protests we hear today would be replaced by offers of assistance.
One important point should be clearly understood by those who are currently advocating sites 35 miles or more out of Sydney. Such a site would inevitably discourage the development of both passenger and freight traffic in and out of Sydney and, to both business and tourist passengers, this will emphasise the relative advantages of either Melbourne or Brisbane with the shorter access times which their major airports offer. The only way of offsetting such a disadvantage would be to maximise the use of the Mascot site with all the increased difficulties which expanded use of this already crowded facility would bring in its train. On the other hand an objective evaluation of all alternatives may well show that a close-in site could be developed without generating any of the problems of Mascot but with the great attraction of allowing Mascot to be closed as an airport with obvious benefits to all of its present neighbours. The development of other close-in sites may not necessarily allow the closure of
Mascot but they could at least avoid expansion of operations there and even this is a benefit not to be lightly dismissed.
Having regard to the deplorable situation this Government inherited from the previous Liberal governments, which refused to face up to their responsibilities or to the very real urgencies of the situation, I have now authorised an instruction to the consultants to compile a long list of all the technically feasible sites, which, within 3 months, will be reduced by comparative evaluations to a short list of 4 or 5 sites. This short list of sites, recommended for in-depth study, will then be submitted to the 2 governments involved, supported by information on all of the sites with reasons for their retention in, or rejection from, the short list. At least this preliminary information will put the Government in a position to make a sensible and responsible decision as to the future course of the benefit-cost study. Obviously, neither the Commonwealth-State committee nor the consultants are going to recommend the continuation for another 12 months of a benefit-cost study in respect of any site which has obvious overwhelming economic, environmental or social disadvantages. What this preliminary information will do however, is to show up, clearly, for the information of the Governments, the 4 or 5 sites which offer the best chances of being ultimately the proper site for the airport.
The in-depth evaluation of these sites which will involve also a study of offshore and inland concepts, will then go forward embracing, of course, all the technical needs of a new airport, the economic implication of the investment of money and resources needed, the implications in respect of the natural, cultural and social environments, and not least of all, the implications which this very large investment will have for the future development of Australia’s largest city and the welfare of its citizens. These are very serious and difficult problems which are faced by governments and communities in many parts of the world today. At this very time the British Government faces a dilemma over the siting of the third London airport and this has arisen because of an earlier decision to ignore the recommendations of an extensive inquiry and locate the airport 55 miles from the centre of London at Foulness, primarily to appease the great pressures being applied by persons and organisations whose principal concern was not in finding the best site, but rather in ensuring that their local interests were not disturbed. Now the British Government is faced with a growing realisation of the enormous economic implications of the earlier decision and the probability that an airport constructed at Foulness would be a very expensive white elephant. This is the type of error which would be disastrous for the future development of Sydney and which this Government is determined will not happen in this country. 1 am aware that the New South Wales Government has indicated publicly that it is opposed to both Richmond and Towra Point as possible sites. This view is not relevant to the present problem which relates purely to the scope of the benefit-cost study being conducted by the consultants under contract to the Department of Civil Aviation. The view expressed by the New South Wales Government is irrelevant until it is known whether either of these sites will appear in the recommended short list. However, the question does arise whether the view of the State Government, that it does not wish to have the new airport at either Towra Point or Richmond, means that it would be prepared to accept other possible sites such as Wattamolla, Badgery’s Creek, Somersby or Duffy’s Forest. If it is its intention at some later time to exclude these sites also, where will it permit the second airport to be built - or does it deny the need for a second airport in the foreseeable future?
It is time the State Government stopped playing politics and got down to the job of accepting its responsibilities to provide Sydney with another airport, otherwise the day will soon come when the present airport is saturated with the growth of traffic and aircraft will be diverted to other capital cities. Melbourne airport is able to accept aircraft at any hour, day or night, and Brisbane should be able to do so before the end of the 1970s. Commercial interests in these other cities will be keen to attract business away from Sydney. The airlines, themselves, will be influenced to develop their services more profitably in other directions. How will our largest city fare in the not very distant future when the traffic jams begin to build up at Mascot? This Government will not be the scapegoat for such a situation, and it is not prepared to follow the irresponsible actions of the State Government in making snap decisions before the facts are known.
The record of the previous Liberal Government in this House is equally irresponsible. In 1969 Prime Minister Gorton excluded the Towra Point site from the considerations of the then existing inter-departmental committee. There were no technical reasons given for such a decision and the committee was denied an opportunity even to consider Towra Point in its investigations. The Prime Minister said it had been excluded because of noise difficulties. If no-one had been given the opportunity to consider Towra Point, it is difficult to justify such a decision on anything but political grounds. At a later time the McMahon Government endeavoured to confine the issue to Richmond and Somersby, and excluded on very little information sites such as Duffy’s Forest and Wattamolla. It may well be that careful benefit-cost and environmental studies will show that some or ali of these sites are not the most suitable for Sydney’s second airport but it is clear that the decisions of the Liberal governments were uninformed and were vain attempts to preserve its electoral chances rather than responsible decisions of governments dedicated to decision making in the interests of the community as a whole.
Since this Government has been in office I have had many representations on this issue from honourable members on both sides of the House particularly from those representing electorates close to Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, or electorates embracing or adjacent to some of the proposed locations. These representations have only led me to the point where I am unable to get any consensus of view that the sites likely to offer the best advantages should even be looked at. This strengthens my belief that the only fair and proper action is to allow the consultants to proceed with their proposed review of all the feasible sites and to submit a recommended short list.It is clear that another airport site must be found in the Sydney area as quickly as possible and that it should provide the quality of service which that city wants and needs. It is also clear to me that, when the Government comes to the final task of selecting a site, it must be able to say. having looked at all of the alternatives ‘beyond all doubt this is the best site’. Because of the delays which have already occurred, a decision at the end of 1974 to commence new investigations of sites now being rejected on quite inadequate information, and with complete misconceptions of the characteristics of a modern airport, would be as intolerable to the citizens of Sydney as it would be to this Government.
I am well aware of the intense public interest in the planning of major airport facilities. As the investigation into the alternative proposals for Sydney proceed, I intend to have the public kept well informed of progress so that individuals and public bodies can participate through the submission of their ideas and views to the Commonwealth-State committee. We want to make it quite clear that we will welcome the participation of the public in this process. It is to be, after all, their airport and they are entitled to have a participatory role in the investigations leading to a final decision. These submissions will all be given careful consideration.
In the first instance suggestions of potential sites for consideration will be received through the Director-General of Civil Aviation, or through the Department’s Regional Director in Sydney, but these will need to be made without delay. On the basis of constructive co-operation on the part of everybody we can look forward to the best site being chosen for Sydney’s second airport late in 1974. I present the following paper:
Sydney Airport Proposals - Ministerial Statement, 5th April 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
– I seek leave of the House to make a statement about the outcome of the investigation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation report of Interdepartmental Committee meeting on 2nd March 1973.
– Leave is refused. I seek leave to make a brief statement to advise the Leader of the Opposition why leave is refused.
– Is leave granted?
– If leave is not granted. I move:
– Leave is not granted.
– I have asked for leave to make a statement and following that matter -
– Leave has been refused.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! You asked for leave. 1 have asked whether leave was given and leave has been refused. Subsequently the Leader of the House asked for leave to make a short statement. I asked you whether leave was granted.
– To give the reasons.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am unaccustomed to having a Deputy Speaker attempt to bully me.
-Order! I suggest with respect that you asked for leave to make a statement. That leave was refused.
– I am entitled now to move for the suspension of Standing Orders.
– You are entitled to move for the suspension of Standing Orders when the Chair calls you. I called the Leader of the House who asked for leave to make a statement. I then asked you whether you would grant the Leader of the House leave. When that has been decided I will call you.
– Leave is not granted.
– Leave is not granted.
– I move:
-Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to speak to the motion?
– 1 am waiting for you to ask whether the motion is seconded.
– You can first speak to the motion.
– Let me deal first, Mr Deputy Speaker, with the matter you have just raised. I did adhere to your ruling but 1 believe that that ruling was not a correct one. Having asked for leave to make a statement and having then told you that I wished to move for the suspension of Standing Orders, you ought to have taken my matter first. However, I adhere to your ruling. You said that leave was refused me to make a statement, well knowing that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) could speak to my motion. That is why leave was refused.
– As has been the custom adopted by previous Leaders of the House for a long period, the Leader of the House rose to explain why he refused leave.
– He will be able to do that later. I have asked for the suspension of Standing Orders to make a statement for a number of reasons. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) this morning was confronted with an awkward situation. It is the practice of the House that leave will not be granted to make a statement unless that statement is provided to the Opposition 2 hours before the sitting of the House. This practice is known to every honourable member in this House. It is an arrangement between the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and has been the practice for some years. However, this morning the Prime Minister came into the House well knowing that he had not given that statement to the Opposition. He feared that if he asked for leave he may be refused it on the ground that the statement had not been provided in accordance with the longstanding practice. Confronted with that the Prime Minister, when ray Deputy asked him a question unrelated in specific terms to the statement, said: ‘I will take advantage of the question having been asked in order to make a statement now, in question time, which otherwise I would have made after question time’.
When the Prime Minister sat down after making an answer to the question’ - in fact, what he did was read out the statement - I said to him across the table: ‘Will you give me a copy of the statement?’ He said to me: It is the only one I have’. I said: ‘Well, I will get it photocopied’. He said: ‘Will you do that?’ I went to my staff with the original statement - that possessed by the Prime Minister - gave it to my staff and asked them to make copies of it. I have in my hand a photocopy of the statement, copied even to the point of showing a bit torn out of the top of it.
I then handed the original statement back to the Prime Minister. He asked whether 1 would give it to Hansard. It was given to Hansard. I then said to him: ‘Will you give me leave to make a statement?’ He looked at the clock and said: ‘I have to leave here by 5 to 11 in order to say farewell to Hammer de Robert, the Head of State of Nauru’. The Prime Minister said that I could have leave to make a statement if we could get it through by 5 minutes to 11. I said that I thought we probably could get the statement through by 5 minutes to 11. At that stage I had not read it. I had heard the Prime Minister read it out. So the Prime Minister made an arrangement to give me leave to make this statement. Pursuant to the undertaking given by the Prime Minister to give me leave to make the statement I asked for leave of this House, having warned the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) through my Deputy that I would be asking for leave. The Leader of the House either of his own will or under directions from the Prime Minister, is abrogating that arrangement which was made by the Prime Minister with me this morning.
– Not the way that you described it.
– If the honourable gentleman is saying that he overheard the conversation, he has not only the wings of Ulysses but also the ears of a porcupine.
– Not the way that you described it a minute ago.
– I am saying that the Prime Minister undertook with me this morning that he would give me leave. He asked whether the statement could be finished by 5 minutes to 11 and I said that I thought it could be finished by that time. As a result of circumstances that occurred during question time we were still in question time until lunch, or perhaps even after. I have forgotten exactly whether we had question time after lunch.
– We did.
– We did. I am taking the first opportunity available to me after the cessation of questions. Since questions we have had a couple of second reading speeches and statements made by leave by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) and the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones). This is the first opportunity I get to ask for leave. It has been refused. It is quite clear that the Prime Minister wants only the Government view presented in this statement. It contravenes all principles and practices of parliamentary democracy which have been observed in this chamber heretofore, but of whose abandonment we have seen very real signs today.
The statement deals with a most significant public issue, so acknowledged by the Prime Minister. It is the only statement that has been made which in any way attempts to offer justification for the raid made by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy), preceded by a platoon of policemen, on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Apparently the Prime Minister wants only the Government view put. The statement purports to find that an ASIO officer made a wrong report. In other words, it convicts an ASIO officer, and that in itself is important. It does not deal with what was said at the inter-departmental committee meeting. It does not point out the true state of affairs. It says only that the ASIO officer made a wrong report of the meeting. The inquiry now having taken place, the statement does not explain why that inquiry could not have been the proper step to take instead of the raid on the ASIO headquarters.
It inferentially declares incompetent, or alternatively, engaged in a conspiracy to withhold information from their Ministers, senior permanent heads who are well known to me and for whom I have the utmost respect. Why could not a telephone call have been made to Sir John Bunting, Sir Keith Waller, Mr Harders of the Attorney-General’s Department, Mr Armstrong of the Department of Immigration, Mr Davis, the Commonwealth Police Commissioner, or Mr Barbour, the Director-General of Security? That is apparently what has happened now. Sir John Bunting, the permanent head of the Prime Minister’s Department, with the other permanent heads involved, has made an investigation, but inferentially the statement declares that they have been incompetent. It asserts that inter-departmental committees have not kept records and have failed fully, frankly and accurately to inform Ministers. It is an unwarranted attack on the Public Service.
The Opposition should be heard on these matters. If the Opposition is not heard on these matters the Prime Minister is not protecting his Party; he is leading his Party into a position where the public will know it for what it is - that is, when it is faced with a difficult issue it tries to silence anybody who would bring out the other side of the case. For those reasons - the method by which the Prime Minister did it, the undertaking he gave to me and the very serious nature of the matter - it is required to be subjected to examination by the Opposition. I have asked for leave. It has been known to the Government for some hours that I as Leader of the Opposition would want to make a statement. We have been open and frank about it. The Prime Minister chose to do it under the pretext of answering a question this morning. I believe that we should have leave. If we are denied leave, the Parliament will be a sadder place for the want of exposition of the subject.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. In speaking to the motion I emphasise, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has just indicated, that this is a very sad day for the working of this Parliament, lt is an equally sorry day for the parliamentary institution. At this stage the Leader of the Opposition is simply seeking to put an Opposition viewpoint on a matter which was well articulated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) during question time this morning - not, as the honourable gentleman knows, in response to a question which I posed to him. He ignored the question, just as he has ignored many other questions during the whole course of this very shabby episode in this Parliament. By ignoring the question he sought deliberately to misuse the forms of question time to bring down what virtually amounted to a statement of the outcome of the investigation of the report of the inter-departmental committee meeting of 2nd March 1973.
In the situation that has developed today it is proper that the Leader of the Opposition should have an opportunity to provide the Opposition’s view on this matter which is not only of importance to the national Parliament but of the greatest importance to people throughout this nation. In supporting the Leader of the Opposition I stress that it is not merely proper that leave should be granted. I believe that it is vital that the Leader of the Opposition should have a full opportunity to put the Opposition’s view on a matter of major substance, involving as it does so many issues of national importance. What is clear about the manner in which the Government has sought to deal with the issue is that the refusal to provide leave to the Leader of the Opposition, for reasons which are not comprehended at this stage, is part of a consistent and developed practice, not of the alleged open government about which we heard so much in such deceptive tones from the Leader of the Labor Party who is now the Prime Minister, but in fact of the application of the concept of closed government which the honourable gentleman seems so happy to seek to pursue in the national Parliament. As the proceedings of the House are being broadcast, I welcome the opportunity to say to people who are listening to this debate that this honourable gentleman in the House consistently and steadfastly is prepared to pursue a course of action during question time in seeking himself, and through the agency of his Ministers, not to answer questions which are properly asked by members of the Opposition Parties.
The questions are not simply matters of concern to those of us who sit in Opposition but also they are matters of concern to the Australian people. The episode in question really is a shabby episode of evasion, prevarication, concealment and failure by the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) in the Senate, by the Prime Minister in this place, by the Minister who represents the Attorney-General here and by other Ministers. They have sought not to reveal or comment on the facts but to conceal them. It is a shabby episode. My colleague the former Attorney-General in the Senate yesterday represented the Government’s actions as concealing the truth and not exposing it. The Prime Minister, in seeking to deny the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) an opportunity to speak out on this subject, is, of course, acting in a manner which is the complete antithesis of the action of any person who ought to be charged with the responsibility of open government.
If the Prime Minister has seen this afternoon’s newspapers he will know that this matter is front page news in every paper in Australia. He will have seen the statements made) by Public Service unions, presumably close to him and also close to public servants, which have well characterised the Government’s action as a Star Chamber approach which could destroy or hinder the careers of conscientious and able men who may well be entirely innocent of what have been classified as Mr Whitlam’s charges of conspiracy. I have seen in this whole episode a slur against the migrant community. I have seen the element of divisiveness which the honourable gentleman has sought to inject into the affair. In the Prime Minister’s statement delivered this morning there is equally a slur against public servants who are unable to defend themselves and unable to have the Opposition in this Parliament put their point of view. The Prime Minister denies this opportunity to the Federal Opposition.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Government will oppose the motion. I speak on this matter because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) asserted, I gather - I was at a Cabinet meeting and it has been reported to me - that I have broken an undertaking. The situation today was this: When questions without notice commenced the right honourable gentleman was not in the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) asked a question, I gave a relevant, factual and temperate reply. When the Leader of the Opposition appeared he asked for a copy of my answer. I gave him my copy. Later he asked whether I would give him leave to make a statement on it. I said: T have to leave at 5 to 11 to farewell a visiting head of State and Government. Can you get it through before then?’ It seemed at that stage that there would have been time for the Leader of the Opposition to make his statement. It will be remembered that due to the unruly conduct of 3 members of the Opposition proceedings were delayed to suspend them from the service of the House. Accordingly the time of the House was taken much beyond 5 to 11. As a matter of fact, I was back from farewelling the Head of State and in the House and the matter was still proceeding.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition then asked me whether I would give leave to the Leader of the Opposition to make his statement. I said: ‘No’. There was, of course, an opportunity for the Leader to speak in the Grievance Day debate this morning, if he chose to displace the rights of private members in that respect. Alternatively, he can make his statement in the debate on the ministerial statement on Croatian terrorism when that debate resumes next week. In either case, therefore, the Leader of the Opposition could have spoken. He and his colleagues consumed the whole of the time for Grievance Day debate this morning, so he could not make the statement this morning. He can still make it when the debate on the ministerial statement on Croatian terrorism resumes next week. That will be after honourable members on both sides of the chamber have had time to absorb the apologia of the former AttorneyGeneral, as reported in yesterday’s Hansard of the Senate.
The right honourable gentleman presumably has been able to say all that he feels he can effectively say on that subject. It will be remembered that he asked me whether I would table the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation report from which I quoted. I told him that I would show it to him. He asked me whether I would give the names of the public servants who had attended the interdepartmental meeting on 2nd March. I said that I would not give the names publicly but I would let him have them. Yesterday he wrote a letter to me asking for information on this and 2 other matters. I replied to the letter. He received my reply well before the House rose last night. He has not taken the matter up with me. It is fine for the right honourable gentleman to complain about not getting information, but I have offered to give him the information which he sought. He has had that opportunity for the better part of a day. He has not taken advantage of that opportunity. He knows that it will not suit him to know the facts.
I reiterate that on any matters concerning security I will make ali the information available to the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that whoever holds the position of Leader of the Opposition is entitled to know the basic facts concerning Australia’s security. I do not believe in treating the present incumbent as the previous incumbent was treated. Of course, it would suit many curious people to know who attended the interdepartmental meeting. I do not propose to oblige those curious people. If this information were stated and later people found out what the people named were doing, conclusions could be drawn from the result of the inquiries which were made. In these matters concerning public employees the Heads of departments or organisations concerned have certain statutory responsibilities. These Heads have carried out those responsibilities. The right honourable gentleman pays tribute to them. I concur with his judgment of them.
– If you agree with my judgment why did you vilify them?
– I vilified no-one. No Permanent Heads or Heads of organisations attended this interdepartmental meeting.
– This illustrates why I should have the opportunity to speak to your statement. You are now proving that you should give me leave to do so.
– The right honourable gentleman mentioned various gentlemen, Heads of departments and Heads of organisations. None of them was at the interdepartmental meeting on 2nd March, as the Leader of the Opposition would know very well if he accepted the offer which I made to him orally and which I repeated in writing to him. This offer however, he will not accept. It is clear from the statement I made and the answer I gave to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the ASIO report from which 1 quoted was a wrong report. It is therefore quite clear that there was no conspiracy as the Leader of the Opposition suggested in a question to me. If it was a wrong report there could have been no conspiracy between the people mentioned in the report. On the face of the report there could have been a conspiracy. There might well have been conspiracy. The fact is that the inquiries conducted in the course of their statutory duties by the gentlemen to whom the Leader of the Opposition pays tribute have disclosed that the report was a wrong report.
– In what way?
– I use words, particularly in writing, quite deliberately and quite carefully; it was a wrong report. The former Attorney-General, for instance, says that one of the gentlemen to whom the Leader of the Opposition has paid tribute was time serving. I am not going to make these aspersions. Because of my action it is clear now - it has been discovered, it has been reported, it has been reported to me and to other ministerial heads and it has been reported to the Parliament - that the ASIO report was wrong and therefore we now know that there was no conspiracy. There is only one head upon whom aspersions have been cast at all. They have been cast by the former Attorney-General who describes that person as time serving. I make no such aspersions on him or on any other head and I am not going to mention the names of the persons who attended the interdepartmental committee. If the Leader of the Opposition asks for their names he can have them whenever he wants them. He has been able to have them ever since I made the offer orally in answer to a question and ever since I confirmed the offer in writing. But I am not going to allow the procedures of the House to be used in this way to investigate individuals who cannot answer here or who cannot answer elsewhere. I have answered the questions. I have reported to the Parliament. The motion is frivolous in whatever whining and whinging terms it might have been moved and therefore my Government will vote against it.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
Order! The time allowed for the debate has expired.
That the motion (Mr Sneddon’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 27 March (vide page 687), on motion by Mr Enderby:
That a Joint Committee be appointed to -
examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on the nineteenth day of November 1925, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the committee by the Minister for the Capital Territory; and
examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the committee -
by the Minister for the Capital Territory; or
by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
That the committee consist of three Members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, one Member of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, one Member of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the House of Representatives, two Senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and two Senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
That every nomination of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
That the members of the committee hold office as a joint committee until the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.
That the Prime Minister nominate one of the government members of the committee as Chairman.
That the Chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.
That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament.
That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
That five members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee.
That in matters of procedure the Chairman or Deputy Chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the Chairman or Deputy Chairman have a deliberative vote only.
That the committee have power to consider and make use of the minutes of evidence and records of the Joint Committees on the Australian Capital Territory, appointed in previous Parliaments, relating to any matters which are again referred to the committee.
That the committee may proceed to the despatch of business notwithstanding that all members of the committee have not been appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy on the committee.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of its resolution and requesting that lt concur and take action accordingly.
– The Opposition will not oppose the motion to appoint the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital which will examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of the lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs, which was published in 1925. The Committee also will report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to it either by the Minister for the
Capital Territory or by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
A parliamentary committee relating to the affairs in the Territory has existed for many years. The first such committee was appointed by the Senate and was purely a Senate committee. Later this committee became a joint committee of both Houses and this practice continued up to the dissolution of the last Parliament. When the committee became a joint committee of both Houses the practice adopted was that 5 senators and 4 members of this House made up the committee and that chairman of the committee was always a senator. The present proposal is for a joint committee of 9, but on this occasion with 4 members from the Senate and 5 from this House.
One further matter which needs to be mentioned is that paragraph 5 of the motion to set up the committee provides:
That the Prime Minister nominate one of the government members of the committee as Chairman.
I understand that an amendment will be moved in the Senate to substitute a new paragraph. Without having the precise words to give to the House, the amendment will be to the effect that the Committee elect its chairman and that the chairman should be one of the members nominated by the Labour Government in the Senate.
– Does the honourable member intend to move the amendment in this place?
-I do not. I will not delay the proceedings by moving the amendment here. I foreshadow that this action will be taken in the Senate.
I think that because this amendment will be moved in the Senate I should make some comment on paragraph 5. The proposed amendment reflects 2 ideas. The first is that chairmen of House committees of this Parliament should be elected by the committees themselves and not, as it were, by the Executive. Secondly, following the precedent set in regard to earlier joint House committees relating to the Australian Capital Territory, the Opposition in the Senate will be seeking to continue the practice of having a senator as chairman of the proposed Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. Let me make it clear that no objection is being taken to the Government having a majority of members on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. That being the case, it might be said that we are not opposing the notion that someone from the Government side will chair the committee. That is not the point. However, I do stress to the House the principle involved that joint House committees should elect their own chairman. This has been the practice in the past. I think there were 3 occasions in 1941 when the House in appointing committees purported to elect the chairmen because there was an equality of members from either side on those committees. But otherwise, speaking broadly, the practice has been that it is not left to the Executive to appoint the chairmen of committees. The committees which represent the Houses of Parliament should appoint their chairmen. I ask that when the Government in the future is seeking the approval of the House to establish House Committees it should bear in mind these observations. As I have said, the Opposition does not oppose the appointment of the committee.
– 1 speak to the proposal to establish a Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory which will examine factors relating to the Australian Capital Territory. I believe that the opportunity that will be given to us to examine the various factors that relate to the development and expansion of the Australian Capital Territory is a very exciting one. This Committee will be able to examine the social factors which generate problems in the physical development of the Territory. I think it is interesting to put things in perspective and to have a look at the change in population that has taken place in Canberra over a very short period. In 20 years since 1950 the population of Canberra has increased from 22,000 to its present level of 154,000. We have seen the growth of a completely new city and the establishment of a reference point for the same sort of growth in other areas throughout the Commonwealth. I believe that because the growth of Canberra has been under some control and under the scrutiny of previous committees on the Australian Capital Territory, it has been possible to avoid many of the problems of growth that have occurred outside the Australian Capital Territory where there are conflicting areas of decision making and also where there are difficulties in resolving the conflicting demands of private and public enterprise.
In the case of the Australian Capital Territory many of these demands have been disciplined and it has been possible to offer residents of the Australian Capital Territory at very reasonable expense services which are superior to those available outside its boundaries. I think the committee we are now considering will have a new set of problems before it. The growth of the Australian Capital Territory has reached the stage where the city of Canberra is now a reality and where it is recognised as a city and an entity in its own right. We have to be careful that not only does the Commonwealth accept the responsibilities for the problems generated within the city of Canberra but that it also accepts the responsibilities for the problems that the very presence of the city generates around its periphery.
Previous joint committees on the Australian Capital Territory have issued reports on the milk industry in the Australian Capital Territory, the fruit and vegetable market and employment opportunities in the Australian Capital Territory. In each case these 3 reports represent opportunities for the hinterland around the Australian Capital Territory - opportunities for employment and market opportunities for fruit and vegetables and for milk. So, the contribution made by the ACT to the hinterland could be positive. On the other hand, without proper consideration of future developments by authorities both in the ACT and outside it, problems will be created for the surrounding areas because of the concentration of people that exists in the ACT. They must get in and out and that in itself creates problems for road facilities surrounding Canberra.
Other problems also will be created, despite the fact that in the future the Joint Committee on the A.C.T. that we are now considering will be more involved in social problems generated within the A.C.T. than perhaps it has been in the past. Despite the fact that the A.C.T. is well equipped to handle social welfare and educational problems and various other areas of social activity, it still is true that difficulties are created in the A.C.T. which are unique to this area. For example, there are difficulties over rent which are created by regulation 97. Difficulties are created because of the high cost of land. The price for a restricted block of land in the one year period from May 1971 to May 1972 rose from $2,680 to $3,263 and for unrestricted blocks of land the price rise was even more spectacular. The average price rose from $3,478 to $7,244. These types of problems have been created in the A.C.T. and result in people moving across the border to find some relief from rent and land prices. In the main, these are people who live in domestic circumstances which do not have the proper margins for emergency situations. In the main, their domestic incomes are low. They moved across the border because they could not afford to pay the rent in the A.C.T. and because in Canberra they were unable to earn enough income to sustain a reasonable standard of living. So, when any social or domestic problems strike their families, they are particularly vulnerable. It seems that a culling influence is going on that aggravates the situation in the areas around the A.C.T. I feel that it is the responsibility of the Joint Committee that we are now discussing to consider the consequences of its actions in these areas in the light of the demonstrations that we already have of these consequences.
This is an exciting prospect. I do not subscribe to the oft quoted view that what we see in the A.C.T. is wasteful of money and that, because the rest of the country does not have these facilities, they should be denied to the people in the A.C.T. On the contrary, I believe that the A.C.T. represents what could be the lot of every citizen in this country if we were able to bring proper planning into the development of towns and cities and proper consideration to their welfare needs. It is because the Commonwealth Government has been in the position of making decisions in these areas that the facilities in the A.C.T. are as good as they are. Throughout the election campaign, I made no apologies to the electors of Eden-Monaro for the fact that my children enjoyed the facilities of pre-school education in the A.C.T. It was the policy of the Australian Labor Party to provide that same facility for the children in Eden-Monaro. I believe that we need this reference point to show the electors of this country exactly what can be done, given co-operation at all levels.
The Joint Committee on the A.C.T. which we are discussing has its functions completely restricted to what goes on inside the A.C.T. However, I have illustrated how its decisions can have an immediate bearing on areas surrounding the A.C.T. Of course, they also have a bearing on the country at large. Our capital city should be a showcase to the country and to the people who visit it. I believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that, when we have overseas visitors, whether they come on business or for pleasure, we show them the best that Australia can produce in terms of living conditions. It must impress people who come to Canberra that here at least we can approach them in a businesslike and efficient fashion and provide them with the facilities that are necessary - perhaps everywhere else but inside this place - to carry out business dealings. 1 believe, too, that the Joint Committee on the A.C.T., as it has had in the past, has a special responsibility to ensure that, when the people of Australia visit this capital, they are given proper hospitality and guidance, that our own citizens can understand the functions of government as easily and as comfortably as possible, that they are made familiar with al] the warts and advantages of government in this place and that they have a realistic appreciation of the fundamentals of government. I do not believe that this can be done unless the environment in which they appreciate these things is such that they can relax and concentrate on the matter in hand.
The Joint Committee has an exciting mandate, in my view, lt must be one of the few groups in Australia with the exciting prospect of considering the physical and social development of a city and with the ability to consider the implications of their decisions on the wider scale. As I have already illustrated, the effects of its decisions on the periphery of the Australian Capital Territory are rather serious. In regard to the wider area of Australia, its decisions are based on the need to show the citizens of this country what government is all about. In the international area, its responsibility is to create an environment in which and the facilities by which we can discharge our business responsibilities efficiently. I commend the Government for its proposal, for the way it has brought this matter before the House and also for the composition of the proposed Committee. I believe that its composition should reflect the opinion of both sides of the House, as it is designed to do, and that the Committee should be one in which all members have the opportunity, directly or indirectly, of participating in this exciting area of decision-making.
– The measure before the House at the moment is designed to establish what is known as the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. This is done at the beginning of each Parliament. The Committee has quite large responsibilities and is different from some of the other committees that are formed within this House and the Senate, being a joint committee. I note that on this occasion the number of members from this House who will be on the Committee will be larger than previously. Really, that is the only major change contained in this measure.
The responsibilities of the Committee are quite wide. It has a responsibility for examining variations in the original plan of Canberra which are brought before the Committee from time to time. In this regard, decisions have to be made and reported to the Parliament. This is becoming a major issue on the Canberra scene because our forefathers did not anticipate that the’ city of Canberra would grow to the size to which we now anticipate it will grow. Therefore, a problem exists in relation to area. It is quite obvious that, as the population and services of Canberra grow, the amount of land in the A.C.T. will not be sufficient to cater for all its needs. Therefore, one of 2 things must happen. Either more land must be acquired from New South Wales or there must be very close liaison between the responsible authorities and the Government of New South Wales and those responsible in the A.C.T. So the growth of this centre, if it spills out into New South Wales to any great extent - it is happening to some extent now - will be in conformity with the excellent plans which were laid down for this Territory.
Another very important responsibility of the Committee is to investigate various aspects of various industries in the Territory to see what the future holds. The previous Committee has been investigating the State and municipal costs and revenues within the Australian Capital Territory. This is a very important investigation because it will possibly be the base for future representation within the Australian Capital Territory. At the moment, as is well known, there is one honourable member in this House representing the Australian Capital Territory. There are no councils as there are in the States, apart from the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, nor are there any State instrumentalities. So the position is that the Australian Capital Territory with a population of over 160,000 has one representative in government. As the Territory grows obviously that situation must change. This inquiry is very important for the future of the Territory. I think the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) will agree with me that it is important that the inquiry proceed without any undue delay.
A lot of work will have to be done and a tremendous amount of evidence will have to be gathered. The formation of this Committee will give the people of the Australian Capital Territory an opportunity to present their views to an authority. This is important because, apart from the representative in this Parliament, it will be the only place where the public can come, where information can be gathered and presented in the form of a document and where progress can be made. In the investigation of costs and revenues it is important that we collect not only all the evidence available within the Australian Capital Territory but also relevant evidence from Australia and elsewhere to see what can be done to provide the best form of representation for the Australian Capital Territory in the future. I feel sure that the residents of the Australian Capital Territory are looking forward to the presentation of that document. I hope and trust that in the not distant future we will be able to resolve the problems associated with this area and come forward with a recommendation which will make it possible for the people of the Australian Capital Territory to have a greater say in what transpires in this Territory.
The Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has a reputation for watching the interests of those concerned within the Territory. J hope it will continue to do that. I am sure that all the matters brought before it will be investigated very thoroughly and reported upon. I hope that situation will continue until such time as the other points I have raised in relation to greater representation come into effect. I am not in any way reflecting on the Minister. He knows that 1 am talking about a broader representation for the people in line with that existing in the States. The representation does not necessarily have to be the same by a long chalk as that operating in the States. It will be the responsibility of the Committee to look very thoroughly into all the aspects of the situation which exists now and to bring down a report that will, I hope, be acceptable to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
The Committee which is selected on this occasion, following acceptance of the motion by both Houses, will have a lot of work to do and a lot of investigations to make. In the past the Committee has had tremendous cooperation from the officers concerned, and I have no doubt that that will continue. It is most important to have officers of high calibre and integrity such as we have had in the past. A tremendous amount of documents which have to be analysed are presented to the Committee. The Committee must have adequate staff to do this. I have no doubt that the staff will be available again to the Committee because this one inquiry - I know that others will come forward - will mean a tremendous amount of work. I support the reformation of this Committee.
– I will not speak for too long in view of the unanimous feeling amongst honourable members that the proposition should be supported. Perhaps the extent to which this House has plenary powers over the Commonwealth Territories is not widely known. It exercises not only the powers that are normally attributed to the national Parliament but also those attributed to the State governments and local governments. As the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) said, it is true that the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has enjoyed an unusually high reputation. It is an extremely efficient Committee. I think that everyone who serves on it or who has served on it has enjoyed the experience. I was a member of the Committee for only 2i years but it was an experience I value enormously, partly because on that Committee the party spirit that so bedevils this chamber on occasions - we saw it this morning - seems to be largely missing and this produces a greater sense of reward.
The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) foreshadowed a possible amendment to be moved in the Senate. It was my understanding that it would be moved here. 1 am pleased that it was not moved here and may possibly be moved in the Senate. The amendment relates to only one aspect of the proposal, and that is that the chairman of the Committee shall be nominated by the Prime Minister. That seems to me to be a distinction without a difference. In doing it this way we gave effect to what we understood to be a long standing tradition amongst the joint committees to which at this stage the Australian Capital Territory Committee was somewhat of an exception. It was in the interests of consistency that the proposal was made. It was to bring this Committee more into line with the other committees and also in recognition of the fact that, whereas under the old system the Senate had a majority representation and as a result a Government senator became the chairman, there is now general agreement that the Senate, through its developed committee system, is overworked and there is a great shortage of time for senators to serve on committees.
The thought appealed to the Government that, as the Government now operates out of the House of Representatives in the manner in which it does, the majority should be here. I did not hear any disagreement with that proposal. Indeed, the honourable member for Parramatta did not disagree at all that the chairman should be a Government member. We took the view on the basis that the chairman should be someone nominated by the Prime Minister. Of course, we took account of the fact that there is a longstanding tradition in committees that the chairmen be nominated by the Prime Minister. We all know how the parties work in their party rooms. They elect their members to serve on these committees. I suggest it would be obvious to anyone that the Prime Minister would almost certainly give effect to the majority wishes of the members of the Committee. So, as I say, it is really a distinction without a difference.
I thank honourable members for what they have said. May I finish on a note which has already been mentioned by the honourable member for Canning, that in the past one feature of the Committee has been the enthusiasm and the dedication of the officers who serve the Committee - the officers of this place. I commend them for it and I am sure that it will continue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27 March (vide page 689), on motion by Mr Enderby:
That a Joint Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on such matters relating to the Northern Territory as are referred to it -
by the Minister for the Northern Territory; or
by resolution of either House of the Parliament.
That the committee consists of three Members of the House of Representatives nominated by the Prime Minister, one Member of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, one Member of the House of Representatives nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the House of Representatives, two Senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two Senators nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
That every nomination of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
That the members of the committee hold office as a joint committee until the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.
That the Prime Minister nominate one of the government members of the committee as Chairman.
That the Chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to any such sub-committee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.
That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament.
That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that all members of the committee have not been appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy on the committee.
That five members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of that subcommittee.
That in matters of procedure the Chairman or Deputy Chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the Chairman or Deputy Chairman have a deliberative vote only.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders.
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.
– We are debating a motion moved by the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) to establish a joint parliamentary committee to inquire into and report on such matters relating to the Northern Territory as are referred to it by the Minister for the Northern Territory or by resolution of either House of the Parliament. It is intended that this Committee should have on it 3 House of Representatives members from the Government side, one nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, who would be a member of the Liberal Party, and one nominated by the Country Party, and 2 senators would be nominated by the Government and 2 nominated by the Opposition. This would mean a total of 9, of which the Government would have 5 and the Opposition parties 4. The chairman is to be nominated by the Prime Minister from one of the members from the Government side on the Committee. I will later be putting forward the same view that my colleague the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) put forward in relation to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, namely, that the chairman should be nominated by the Committee and not by the Prime Minister.
BasicallyI can say that the Opposition believes that it should accept this offer, subject to 2 matters that I will bring up. But I believe that some members have grave doubts as to how effective the Committee will be and how much it will achieve. I hope they are wrong. It can only be a worthwhile committee if it has referred to it matters of major importance for investigation and report. We recall that in earlier times the then Opposition refused to join the Foreign Affairs Committee because it did not have the right to initiate inquiries and could report only on matters referred to it by the Minister and - I am not certain of this - by both Houses. Certainly for some 6 years the Opposition took its bat home, if that is the right expression, and refused to join that Committee. That enabled the Government to have more members on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Of course nowadays it is an all party Committee. I do not think we should do what the then Opposition did, but I believe that the importance of the proposed Committee will depend on what it is asked to report on.
My colleague the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will later move an amendment on the grounds that there should be an advancement of political responsibility in the Northern Territory and that the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory should report on that advancement and on any constitutional reform, because one of the great problems in the Northern Territory is exactly where the Northern Territory Legislative Council fits into the whole set-up of government. As I say, I hope that this Committee will have referred to it matters on which it can make a judgment and that its function will not merely be a matter of studying what goes on in the Northern Territory but reporting on matters of importance. Of course there will be opportunities for Opposition reports or an individual member to make an individual report. There are a great many matters of major importance. 1 do not want to canvass all these, but I hope that some of the matters that will be brought before the Committee will be such matters as education facilities in the Northern Territory. I have already mentioned greater political autonomy for the Northern Territory and the position of the Legislative Council in particular. Mining leases and prospecting leases are causing certainly the miners great concern, because I understand that these will have expired by September this year, and people just do not know where they stand or whether they can work out a program or a budget for future prospecting. The sooner this matter is resolved the better.
The future of agriculture in the Northern Territory is a most important matter. My colleague the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), I am sure all honourable members will remember, was a member of the Foster Committee, which made a report on this matter, and he is extremely knowledgeable in this field. I think one of the conclusions he came to was that at Katherine the more peanuts fanners grew the more money they lost. I hope that things have improved in the Northern Territory since then. This is undoubtedly one of the major matters of importance. Another is the development of the Northern Territory section of the Ord River. It will not be verylong before water will be available from the major dam on the
Ord, and obviously quite a large part of the land which is commanded by the Ord River lies in the Northern Territory and it will be necessary to determine how this land is allocated and what is grown on it. This is again a major problem and obviously one on which this committee should report.
There is a vast field of Aboriginal problems and also the question of urban development. I understand that 232 square miles of land has been acquired just outside Darwin. One will want to know what it has been acquired for. Another problem is the development of the Royal Australian Air Force base. We in the former Government had plans in hand that we were looking at before we went out of government. Obviously there are problems as to whether the base should remain where it is at the Darwin Airport and, if it remains there, to what extent should it be developed as part of the major RAAF bases in Australia, with particular reference to whether Darwin would be a satisfactory place for stationing some of the fighter aircraft now in the RAAF. There are problems of electricity and water supply, especially in the small and remote towns and there are problems associated with roads. One could go on almost indefinitely.
The existence of these problems shows that a great deal of work will have to be done by this committee, so I repeat that it should not be just a study group to inform members and perhaps to praise the Government for what it has done. I hope it will do a lot more than that. We are fortunate in having in this House, and in particular on our side of politics, people with considerable experience in the Northern Territory. The honourable member for the Northern Territory has been in the Territory for more than 30 years and has seen virtually everything that goes on from farming and grazing to urban development. He is a person who I am sure could make a great contribution, particularly, as the Minister said earlier, as parliamentary committees tend to be committees which do not work on party lines or divide on party lines. I am sure that this committee will not; that it will look at these problems from the point of view of the best interests of the people of the Northern Territory.
We have on our side also 2 previous Ministers who were responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory - the honour able member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) and the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon). I have mentioned the honourable member for Wakefield, who has had considerable experience in the Northern Territory. I am afraid it is unfortunate that we are to be limited to 2 members of the Opposition from the House of Representatives on this committee, because there will not be room on the committee for all the members who have had considerable experience in the Northern Territory. I myself have taken a great interest in the Northern Territory, particularly when I was Minister for National Development and in charge of northern development, although I visited it on many occasions when 1 was Minister for Air, Minister for Education and Science and Minister for Defence. I believe that there is in this chamber a great deal of experience in this field, and I hope that this will be put to very good use.
The Opposition goes along with this motion, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Success depends on whether it is a committee which just studies and does not do very much more. If this is the case, I think some of our members might not want to continue to serve on it. If it proves to he more effective - I certainly hope that it does - and if it makes useful and valuable reports, I am sure all our members will continue to want to serve on it. One problem, of course, is that the Committee can operate really effectively only if it contacts the people of the Northern Territory. It cannot sit in Canberra, hear a few officials and decide what should be done. I believe there must be a free flow, firstly, of people coming to Canberra from the Territory to give their views and, secondly of the committee going to the Northern Territory to see people, interview them and get their views. This will pose a problem of time and travel. I should like the Minister to consider whether certain people from the Northern Territory should not receive financial assistance to cover fares and perhaps expenses when they come to Canberra, as undoubtedly they will. Among those people presumably will be Legislative Councillors, the Administrator and perhaps our old friend, the Mayor of Darwin.
– And the Mayor of Alice Springs.
– I do not know whether Alice Springs hai a mayor or a shire president.
– He is a former member of this House.
– Yes, of course, Jock Nelson. I am sorry, I forgot he is the Mayor. It will be necessary for people to meet the Committee and I suggest they should be given facilities to enable them to attend. I close by mentioning a matter that was referred to by the honourable member for Parramatta when the House was considering the motion to appoint a similar committee for the Australian Capital Territory, namely, whether the Prime Minister should choose the chairman of the Committee. This, perhaps, is a minor matter. In many cases the Committee would probably have the same chairman whether the Committee chose him or the Prime Minister did so. However, this may not always happen. In fact, I can recall when I was a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs I was elected as chairman. In those days the Government members elected the chairman and the Opposition members the Deputy Chairman. I was elected as chairman but I do not believe that at that time had the chairman been elected on the nomination of the Prime Minister the Committee would have had the same chairman. However, I will let that pass.
I was a little intrigued when the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby), in answer to my colleague the honourable member for Parramatta, said that by having the Prime Minister appoint the chairmen of the 2 proposed Committees it would be in line with all other committees. I have examined the list of committees which appear at the back of the notice paper to see what committees the Parliament has. A number of them have as a member Mr Speaker who is automatically chairman of those committees but every other committee, which does not have Mr Speaker as a member elects its own chairman. I have referred to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. I am not sure whether there has been any change in the form of procedure in electing its chairman. Someone said that there has been a change recently, but this has not been drawn to my attention. The Joint Statutory Committee on Public Works elects its own chairman. I think this is good, because the members know one another intimately and there is no chance of members of the Opposition ganging up with a Government supporter to appoint an Opposition member as chairman. It is always understood that a Government appointed member will be chairman.
The same situation applies with the Joint Statutory Committee of Public Accounts. In fact that Committee recently appointed as Chairman the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) who at present is sitting so much on his own on the back bench. The honourable member for Ballaraat (Mr Erwin) for many years was chairman of the Publications Committee. The members of that Committee have now elected the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) in his stead. The Privileges Committee has not yet elected its chairman but it has always been the practice of that Committee when a matter is referred to it to meet and elect one of its members as chairman. It seems that the practice in the past has been for committees to elect their own chairmen. There is ample precedent for committee members meeting together and electing their chairman rather than this appointment being made by the Prime Minister. From the Prime Minister’s point of view this practice could perhaps help him. Instead of his having to lay his hands on one of the members and give him his blessing he would not have the odium of electing one person perhaps in opposition to another. This matter should be left to the committee.
Having said that, I, and the Opposition, support this motion generally. However, we believe that the effectiveness of the Committee will depend very much on how the Committee works and what work it is given to do. 1 understand that my colleague, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will make a strong plea that the first work the Committee should be asked to consider is the advancement of political responsibility and constitutional reform for the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. He will be moving an amendment along those lines. I had intended to move an amendment, which I had shown to the Minister, that the Committee, before the commencement of business, elect one of its members to be Chairman, but I do not think it is necessary to move the amendment and press it to a vote at this point. This can be left to the Senate, if it is so minded, to consider.
– I have much pleasure in supporting the motion for the appointment of a joint committee on the Northern Territory. I think the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) can be assured that his experience with the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs to which he referred will not occur again. I am quite sure that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) will be given a far greater forum for the electorate he represents than he has ever had. There seems to be a large measure of unanimity between the parties in this House on this matter. This augurs well for the deliberations of the Committee. Despite this, I have decided, with great originality, to give a lecture sub-titled ‘The Sins of the Past Government’, for a short time anyhow. I have observed that this theme is a great favourite in this House and has many allusions to a continuing Victorian melodrama. We are, of course, provided with so much ammunition on this side, as the actions and thinking of the previous Government was indeed Victorian - and I do not refer to the dominance of the Liberal Party by members from the State of Victoria. The Northern Territory will be well served by this Government. For the first time it has a full-time member.
– What are you talking about?
– I am sorry. I meant to say ‘a full-time Minister’.
– He is not a full-time Minister; he is part-time.
– I will concede that he is a half-time Minister. It will make a lot of difference to the people of the Northern Territory to have a Minister who goes to the Territory to talk to them. It is a very large area. In his recent foray over a period of days the Minister met many people. This was the first time they were met by a Minister - a half-time Minister. The only Ministers I associate with the past Government’s duration of office are those Ministers and priests in the many religious orders who care for and educate so many of the Northern Territory Aboriginal population. Of the Northern Territory population of 72,000 about 22,000 are Aboriginals. The way the previous Government avoided its responsibility and acted to back overseas owners in the exploitation of these people will no longer continue because this Government also has a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant). The Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) will be increasingly concerned with development projects in the Northern Territory. We all trust that the only future initiatives in development will not be made on behalf of those who are after a fast dollar. I need refer only to the submission made by Mr J. N. Kelly, a pastoral consultant, to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control on 7th August last year. Mr Kelly strongly criticised ownership of Northern Territory cattle stations in his submission to that Committee. In referring to pasture improvement he said that the record was not good.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I hesitate to do this to a new member whom I respect but I am frightened that he is spoiling his own reputation in the House. My point of order is that he is not dealing with the matter before the Chair. If he will take some fatherly advice from me I think it would be far better if he were to confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair.
Order! The honourable member has made his point of order. Fatherly advice is outside the point of order. I invite the honourable member for Macarthur to continue his address on the motion before the House.
– I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am referring to these matters because they are all matters that can be referred to the proposed Committee. I have pointed out that now quite a few Ministers will be associated with the welfare of the Northern Territory. I was quoting from a submission by Mr Kelly to a Senate Committee. He was referring to pasture improvement in the Northern Territory and said that the record was not good. He said that this was due largely to the failure of the large overseasowned stations to develop productivity. He said that despite all the funds invested in beef roads, pastoral research and tax exemptions there had been no significant increase in cattle numbers. He put this down to cases of severe erosion on overseas-owned properties, saying that the reason had been the tendency for these stations to be run on a low investment open range system in which profits were high in relation to the low investments made.
Profits are not a result of increases in productivity, but of a system of land use which is shortview in outlook and becomes exploitative of the soil,’ Mr Kelly said in his submission to the Committee.
The beef cattle industry needs its interests looked after and I am sure that the Minister for Northern Development is well aware of them. The turnoff in 1969-70 was 260,000 head of cattle with a value of $22m. Seasonal factors caused a drop in the value of output to $ 18.6m in 1970-71. Beef is the second most important industry in the Northern Territory after minerals. Of interest are the plans for the development of buffalo farming on the coastal plain area.
There are also many problems in primary industry which are peculiar to the Northern Territory and which could be referred to the Committee. The Minister for Minerals and Energy also will be concerned with some aspects of mineral production which was worth some $38. 6m to the Northern Territory in 1969-70. A slight drop is expected in 1970- 71. It is estimated that the value of mineral production will be $200m by 1980, most of which will be earned by bauxite, manganese and uranium. I used to think that the agricultural potential of some parts of the Northern Territory was symbolised by the presence of the world’s biggest rock. But the Northern Territory does have a vast tourist potential and I am sure that the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) will optimise opportunities available on behalf of all Australians. Alice Springs is the hub of a secrets industry but increasingly, I think, the Northern Territory will assume more defence importance. As I understand the decision of the past Government, the stationing of Fill aircraft at Amberley means that we will be able to attack Townsville. We could do this equally well by stationing aircraft and Air Force units at Darwin. I believe the Northern Territory will assume greater defence importance.
The Opposition may claim that this Bill is only a question of degree but I doubt whether this can be said. The Committee will be referring more proposals to the Minister. In October last year the former Minister for the Interior transferred a wide range of functions to the Northern Territory Legislature and Executive. These functions included a wide range of community services and State functions and a lot of control over many forms of social legislation including, for example, workers compensation, gambling, censorship, consumer protection, the rights of women, the rights of minors, daylight saving and control of firearms. A wide range of measures was referred at that time. What the present proposal seeks to do is set up ways and means whereby the Parliament can be informed of the needs of the Northern Territory, discuss any matter referred to the Committee and report on all matters for further action. The Northern Territory legislature is still absorbing the last range of propoals and the proposed Joint Committee will in no way inhibit further rapid progress. There are many projects on which the Northern Territory legislature is well equipped to pass judgment and these include development projects involving public expenditure which can be referred to the Minister for the Northern Territory. At present most functions of the legislature are related to legal-governmental decisions rather than works programs.
There are many future development projects which I can see being referred to the Joint Committee quite apart from the many other projects being carried out by various other Commonwealth departments as at present. However, the most important matters which the Committee will be discussing will involve many social problems in the Northern Territory, problems such as education and Aborigines and problems intrinsic to the Northern Territory such as land tenure, mining leases and other related matters. Darwin provides a study in itself in social integration and much can be learned by all Australians from the harmony of its inhabitants. I commend the motion to the House and am sure that we all look forward to the result of this Committee’s deliberations as part of the advancement of the Northern Territory.
– As was foreshadowed by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) I move the following amendment to the motion:
In paragraph 1 after the words ‘report on’ insert the advancement of political responsibility and constitutional reform for the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory’.
Paragraph 1 would then read:
That a Joint Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the advancement of political responsibility and constitutional reform for the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory and such matters relating to the Northern Territory as are referred to it . . .
I will speak to this amendment now unless, Mr Deputy Speaker, you consider that the amendment should be seconded immediately.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)The honourable member for the Northern Territory may proceed.
– I was not going to comment on what was said by some of those honourable members who are somewhat ignorant of the Northern Territory but who unfortunately get up in this place and display their ignorance. I would welcome the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin) whenever he came up to the Northern Territory because he might possibly find out something about the place. The same invitation goes for any other supporters of the Government, including the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford).
– You know 1 have been up there many times.
– And the honourable member has never said anything correct about the Northern Territory since. I would like to mention the reference the honourable member for Macarthur made to the book by Mr Jack Kelly. This book was first published in 1966 and was reviewed by a man well versed in pastoral affairs. He said that there were so many errors in the book that it should be re-written. Yet this is what honourable members opposite base their criticism on and call on for their knowledge of the Northern Territory and its pastoral affairs. This Committee if it does nothing else will give members of the Government party an opportunity to go to the Northern Territory and find out something about a place about which they know nothing now. I moved the amendment because this Government either deliberately or in ignorance has misinterpreted the situation which exists in the 2 Territories. The 2 motions which have been moved are almost exactly the same as this motion we are discussing. One seeks to establish a Joint Committee of the Parliament on the Northern Territory similar in all respects to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Capital Territory administration is virtually a city administration. The Australian Capital Territory covers 950 square miles surrounding a city. Might I add that when Mr Jack Kelly was around the place I was running a cattle station of twice that size. The Northern Territory, of course, comprises 520,000 square miles so I do not think we can have exactly the same sort of committee to investigate the problems of the Northern Territory as we have for the Australian Capital Territory. That is why I moved the amendment and I am sure that the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) will take it seriously. I hope that he will accept it because the people in the Northern Territory and the Legislative Councillors would be right behind it.
The 2 territories are vastly different areas. One cannot assume that identical committees could really serve the same purpose. There is a different approach to life in the Northern Territory. There are different sorts of incomes. The honourable member for Macarthur rattled off some statistics so I will not bore the House with those. However, the Northern Territory relies on mining industries, primary industries including cattle and, to a great extent, tourism. Before seeing the terms of reference of the proposed Committee one could not be blamed for imagining that it would be of some help to the Northern Territory. In a small way it might be. But now when we look at the terms of reference we find that the Northern Territory Legislative Council, the governing body and the body which prior to the elections was considering an offer made by the previous Government to enlarge its area of responsibility, is being reduced to the status of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. If my amendment is not carried the Council will not feature at all in a greater administrative role. The proposed Joint Committee will deal only with matters referred to it by the Minister for the Northern Territory or by resolution of either House of the Parliament. In this respect also the Legislative Council does not feature at all.
The Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has to examine and report upon proposals and modifications and variations of the plan and layout of the city of Canberra which are referred to it. Surely the Government could have included in the matters to come before the Committee the most outstanding necessity, as set out in the words of my proposed amendment. I repeat that the Committee has no such reference.
The proposal has not been welcomed with enthusiasm by members of the Legislative Council. The proposed Committee has nothing on its plate. It has no recommendations before it and it could be used to stifle the Council. The Minister has said that he has discussed the proposed Committee with members of the Legislative Council. I do not know whether he is aware of what members of the Legislative Council have said about it. One legislative councillor said:
It is clear that the job of this Committee would be to consider the situation in the Northern Territory and to make recommendations to the government concerning the type of constitution which should be created by the ‘Federal Parliament for the Northern Territory. I can see no value in such an investigation. Undoubtedly, when the time comes, the decision will be made by the Government and I would think that the honourable Minister would have on file, after the last 3 years of close association, all the possible ideas that could be used. I suspect that he would find that the joint parliamentary committee’s investigation would take them no further. . . . One wonders whether the Government will accept the advice of back-bench members. … I would have thought that direct negotiation with a committee consisting of 2 or 3 or 4 Ministers to obtain the thinkings of the Government itself and not (the thinkings of a parliamentary committee would be a more appropriate way of conducting negotiations.
The legislative councillor went on to mention that the power grabs of Ministers in Canberra have resulted in the diminution of the effective operations of the Department of the Northern Territory and have finally removed from the Northern Territory the opportunities which were there for the provincial government to participate in decision-making in the Northern Territory. Other legislative councillors referred to the matter and I think the Minister should know what they said. One urged the Minister to consider very carefully what had been said to him on that day. I have no doubt that legislative councillors spoke to the Minister and he spoke to them. This legislative councillor also urged the Minister to honour the pledge which was made by the Labor Party when it was not in office and to seek Cabinet’s approval to commence immediate negotiations directly with members of the Legislative Council. They are some comments that were made when the proposal for the Committee was thrown into the ring.
I imagine that the legislative councillors are seeking negotiations along the lines of the proposals made by the previous Government. Another member saw disappointment on the faces of members while the Minister was speaking to them. The disappointment may have been because of Australian Labor Party promises to the Northern Territory concerning political and constitutional reform, back in the days of Arthur Calwell who referred to a fully elected Legislative Council having referred powers. Mr Calwell said:
This body could then have absolute power over local authority such as estimates and laws leaving the broader aspect of development to a commission. Having set up the basis of government, additional powers could be transferred to it from time to time until ultimately self-government is obtained.
That is what was said by the famous leader of the ALP of a year or so ago. But within 3 months of the Australian Labor Party’s coming to office there has been a conference between some legislative councillors and the Minister. Possibly he has not had direct discussions with the Legislative Council. He may have had discussions with some legislative councillors, with members of his own Party, but it is obvious that he has not had discussions with the greater number of members - with the 5 Country Party members and 2 or 3 of the Independent members. I urge the Minister to heed my argument because members of the Legislative Council are disappointed that the Government has come up with the suggestion only that this Joint Committee be formed.
There has been no mention in the three or four months that the Government has been in office of discussions which were under consideration at the time of the election. When the Minister visited the Northern Territory before the election he said that he saw future political independence in the Northern Territory as being part of its relationship with the Federal Parliament, but that this would only be defined after talks with local elected representatives if Labor won power. Labor has won power. He said that the talks would begin as soon as possible. I ask him whether they have begun.
– I do not want to have an argument with the Minister across the floor, but my information is that he has had no real discussions with the ‘Legislative Council as such. Possibly he has had discussions with members of his own Party. I have been informed by the Leader of my Party in the Northern Territory that no discussions with the Legislative Council have taken place. It is a matter of whom one believes. A Labor man in the Territory has said that there is considerable merit in appointing a joint committee. He has said that its prime term of reference would be to consider the ways in which the Northern Territory could most quickly be given autonomy. The Minister probably knows who said that.
– It was said by Mr Ward. Is the proposed Committee committed to .that course? I do not think it is. It is not committed to anything at the moment. I have mentioned only 3 of the 1 1 elected members of the Legislative Council. I have no doubt that some of the Minister’s Labor colleagues in the Northern Territory would support him on party lines, but I am telling him here and now that other members have made some interesting comments. One said: ‘I had intended to move that the Minister’s statement be forgotten’. Another one said: ‘We are being treated as though we did not exist’. Another legislative councillor said: ‘I find it hard to line up what has been said by the Government now as against when it was in Opposition’. Those statements make clear why I urge the Minister to take cognisance of the terms of the proposed amendment. That is what the legislative councillors really want. They want some positive action by this Government to increase the political responsibilities of the Council, to increase its autonomy and to introduce constitutional reform.
If the Minister is really working towards giving the Council greater autonomy, he has acted in a strange way. He has removed 3 government members from the Legislative Council and replaced them with 3 other government members. I thought that the idea was to work towards having a fully elected Council. I just wonder where the Government thinks it is going. It cannot really fob off responsibility for the Northern Territory by burying it in the proposed Committee. I am conveying to the Minister the thoughts of the people of the Northern Territory, the legislative councillors and-
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment. I do not oppose the establishment of the proposed committee but I do support the amendment. I contend that it would be most unwise simply to apply to the Northern Territory a parliamentary formula that has been tailored to meet the needs of the Australian Capital Territory until such time as a form of local government has been devised to meet the needs of the ACT. I do not believe that there is any substitute for progress towards constitutional and political advancement. I say to the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin) that the Northern Territory has an elected legislature capable of setting up its own committees of inquiry. I do not oppose joint committees. I do not oppose inquiries of any sort because I believe that generally in the long term the community benefits from them. I think they help to inform members of Parliament of the problems of the Northern Territory. I think they provide to the people of the Northern Territory an oppor tunity to participate in progress and policy objectives generally.
But I warn the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) and the Government against the dangers of trying to compare the situation that exists in the Australian Capital Territory with that which obtains in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is in an entirely different category. It is a vast Territory of more than 500,000 square miles. It already has a legislature. The Northern Territory Legislative Council has 11 elected members - not enough - and 6 appointed official members. It is more than 2,000 miles from Canberra. One of the most consistent complaints which I received in the 20 months that I was the Minister for the Interior was hat Canberra was too far away from Darwin. I certainly was very conscious of this problem of communication. I understand that there has been a growing fear since this Government has taken office that instead of there being progress towards constitutional advancement in the Northern Territory, there are indications of a more fragmented bureaucratic control from Canberra. This is in spite of the fact that the Minister has taken what I regard to be a sound step, namely, the setting up of the Department of the Northern Territory in Darwin. I would hate to think that this step will become a token measure. I think it was a step in the right direction.
The new Department takes over from the Northern Territory Administration, which was situated in Darwin and was responsible through the Administrator to a Minister of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Northern Territory Administration was decentralised to some extent in that it had regional offices in Alice Springs. But I believe that this was not enough. In such a vast territory I think there need to be more regional locations of departmental administration in all the major community centres. But what has taken place since 2nd December, as I said earlier, is that the Department of the Northern Territory has been established in Darwin. However, the responsibilities of this Department appear to be narrow and limited. The Minister for the Northern Territory has been limited to a narrow range of responsibilities. If some of these responsibilities had been transferred to a local Northern Territory executive I would have had no complaint with this breakdown of the Department of the Northern Territory.
But to establish a joint committee in the terms of the motion, I believe - unless it is given a specific charter to try to achieve advancements in the sphere of constitutional and political reform - will not please the people of the Northern Territory. Indeed, I do not think it will achieve its total objective or the objective we should be setting out to achieve.
As the honourable member for Macarthur observed, on 25th October on behalf of the previous Government I announced proposals for the transfer of a range of functions to the Northern Territory Legislature and Executive. The functions offered to a new executive were: Total responsibilities in the areas of electricity, water and sewerage operations, housing, the Northern Territory Public Service, Treasury, personnel administration, the Northern Territory Police Force, the Northern Territory Government Printing Office, prison administration, State-type taxation such as stamp duties, succession duties, acquisition of urban land, the allocation and sub-division of land within the control of the Northern Territory Executive, urban arterial roads, and urban traffic, including motor vehicle registration. Transfer of responsibility was offered also for a range of Northern Territory statutory authorities, including the Housing Commission, the Tourist Board, the Museums and Art Galleries Board, and the Reserves Board but not including the Port Authority. The Northern Territory Administration was offered also responsibility for the functions of varying forms of community services such as libraries, fire brigades, building standards, bus services, cemeteries, inspection of scaffolding and machinery, and a range of other things of that nature.
We decided also to transfer to the Northern Territory Administration control of a wide range of social legislation. This offer was a firm proposal that had been worked out within the Government among the various Departments and agreed to by a number of Ministers. It was the result of joint discussions that had taken place between members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council and responsible Ministers and officers of the various departments over a period of 2 years. I said at the time, and it was generally accepted, that this was a far reaching, genuine and historic proposal towards the advancement of constitutional and political reform for the Northern Territory. It was the most important step towards executive autonomy in the history of this vast Territory. The offer was made and there was no attempt on the part of the Government to impose this proposal upon the people or the Council. At the time I asked the Council to give consideration to the proposal. I invited the Northern Territory people to debate the proposal, to think about it and to come back with a decision as to whether they were prepared to accept the proposal or whether they wished to put forward a counter-proposal. I have not heard whether the present Government is prepared to stand by this offer and whether it is prepared to go beyond the proposals that have been put forward. I hope that the Minister will allow discussions to take place between the Government and the elected members of that Council to enable further progress from where the previous Government left off.
I turn now to the fragmentation which has taken place since this Government was elected to power. In the Northern Territory there is a multiplicity of departments involved with administration. No less than 13 departments and 13 Ministers have administrative and policy responsibility for the Northern Territory. Even urban lands now involve the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). The Northern Territory Police Force is now to be responsible to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy). This has been fiercely opposed, and rightly so, by the elected members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. It is being opposed generally by the people of the Northern Territory. They have been hopeful that their Territory would move towards a more autonomous situation.
The Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) was to have responsibility for most of the developmental projects, but it now appears that his responsibility has been reduced to beef. I am not so sure that he has influence even in beef matters now because the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) surely comes into this area in some way. I think this is a great pity because the Minister for Northern Development is a dedicated and knowledgeable man in the area of northern development. I sat where the Minister for the Northern Territory is sitting now and in debates in which I had to front up to him I must say that I was never a great deal at variance with a lot of his proposals. I have a tremendous respect for his sincerity and dedication to northern development. I think it would be a tragic thing if he is squeezed out of any responsibility in this area. He has devoted a great deal of his life to advancing the cause of the north.
I make no reflection on our worthy Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). But where does the responsibility of the Minister for Northern Development end and where does the responsibility of the Minister for Minerals and Energy begin in this new arrangement? There are very difficult and complex administrative problems in this matter that have yet to be worked out. When one really looks at the situation one comes to the conclusion that the Department of the Northern Territory is a misnomer. What is its role? Has it administrative and policy responsibility in respect of urban and rural land? I ask the Minister for the Northern Territory to listen carefully to this. Is his Department responsible for minerals and energy, forestry, beef, education, health, environment, conservation, beef roads and development? His answers to those questions would enable me to assess just how effective this new Department to be based in Darwin is going to be. Unless it has a wide range of responsibility surely it will be undermined by other departments based in Canberra which will take responsibility away from the Minister’s worthy new Department being set up in Darwin.
I hope that the Minister will fight vigorously to ensure that his new Department is not eroded because of its establishment in Darwin until such time as he comes to an arrangement or agreement with the members of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory and the people of the Northern Territory to transfer executive authority and constitutional authority over to the people of the Northern Territory. I look forward to the day when, regardless of which party is in office, the Northern Territory assumes its own full State rights and becomes the 7th State of the Commonwealth of Australia. I hope that we do not have to wait too many more years before this comes about. The discussions over which I presided in a period of less than 2 years have borne fruit and on 25th October I felt that we had reached the stage when the time was not too far off when we would be able to salute the people of the Territory as people with the same State rights as those in the other States of the Commonwealth.
– I am delighted to be able to support the new
Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) in his proposals before the House to set up a Joint Committee to inquire into and report on such matters relating to the Northern Territory as are referred to it by the Minister for the Northern Territory or by resolution of either House of the Parliament. I have read that part of the motion because nobody who listened to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and indeed the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) could be blamed for not knowing what we were debating this evening. I congratulate the Minister and the Government not only upon this proposal but also upon a number of measures which can do nothing but improve the lives of those who are living in the Northern Territory.
We all know - already sympathy has been expressed from both sides of this House in this debate - that tremendous disadvantages are suffered by the people who live in remote areas. Remoteness is the No. 1 disadvantage. We must confess that their representation is something from which they have suffered. In spite of what may be thought by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) who is seeking to interject, I am not reflecting on the type of-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins) Order! I ask the honourable member for Adelaide to direct his remarks to the Chair.
– Through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, may I say that I am not reflecting on the honourable member for the Northern Territory. I am referring to the fact that that part of Australia is a couple of thousand miles away from Canberra and that most of the decisions which are taken in relation to the Territory are made in this Parliament. Not every honourable member has the advantage which, for instance, I have had as the member representing Adelaide to visit that part of the country often and to know the sort of problems which exist there. This, of course, is the main reason why the proposed Committee is to be formed. Many more members of this House will be able to visit the Northern Territory. The Committee will have before it important issues affecting the Territory and its members will become informed so that when debates take place in this House we will have more information and education on the subjects under discussion.
I know that the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) is to follow me in this debate. The honourable member’s activities as Chairman of the Public Works Committee in the last Parliament enabled him to make frequent visits to the Northern Territory. Other members of the Public Works Committee are in the same category. I am very pleased to say that the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) also will participate in this debate. He is another honourable member who has detailed knowledge on the Territory. But he would be one of the first, as would the honourable member for Wakefield, to understand that the more honourable members who know about the problems of the Territory the better. As I said, this is one of the many advantages in setting up this Joint Committee.
I also have said - and I want to follow this argument through - that this is only one of a number of things that this Government has done in order to improve the lot of those who live in that part of Australia. Let me mention the fact that we do have a Ministry for Northern Development. In spite of the remarks of the honourable member for Gwydir surely he understands that when it comes to Cabinet decisions we now have not only a Minister for the Northern Territory but a Minister for Northern Development. Both are interested in that area. We do not now suffer from an inner and outer Cabinet. The previous Minister for the Interior, who had many other duties to perform in addition to looking after the Northern Territory, was not even in the inner Cabinet; he was in an outer Cabinet where he seldom had a say as we can see from the results as they have affected the lives of the people of the Territory.
I turn now to the amendment which has been moved. If this amendment were passed the advancement of political responsibility and constitutional reform for the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory would be one of the main issues to be examined by the proposed Committee I feel that this is a very appropriate issue to be discussed; but it is not appropriate that it should go into a motion setting up the Committee. I believe that there may be difficulties about this amendment at this time. It would be unfortunate if we jeopardise the chances of this sort of development taking place in the Northern Territory by giving this issue as the (first job to this Joint Committee too prematurely. I believe that this is the wrong time to include this in a motion for the setting up of this Joint Committee. I know that the Minister will have more to say about this. I give notice that the Government will not be accepting this amendment on this occasion. I repeat that it is not an issue which must be discussed as a first issue.
The honourable member for Gwydir has explained what attention he has already given to the matter. I know there are many members of the Legislative Council who are extremely interested in this issue and if and when it comes before the proposed Committee they will have a vehicle whereby they can express their views to a wider audience. The only vehicle they have had in the past was a deputation of a few of them to this Parliament to see one Minister.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
- Mr Speaker (Quorum formed). I want to complete the remarks that I was making on the motion to set up a Joint Committee on the Northern Territory. At this stage I would like to say how pleasant it has been to take part in this debate in which there has been a great deal of unanimity on both sides of the Parliament in contradistinction to the shocking episodes we witnessed earlier today when members of the Opposition abused the forms of this House. Even the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), as has been his usual practice since we returned to this new Parliament, has called quorums causing members to be taken away from other important business, committee work and so on. The honourable member, of course, is feeling very disappointed that he polled so badly in the Opposition leadership contest. I notice that the honourable member is now conferring with the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland), another disappointed member who also has been abusing the forms of this House in every way possible in recent weeks. I make these remarks only to distinguish between the sort of debate we had earlier today and that which took place prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner during which the problems of the Northern Territory were discussed.
Before the suspension of the sitting I congratulated the new Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory on what he has achieved so far. It is wonderful for the people of the Northern Territory to know that they have a Minister who has to divide his time only between the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister for the Interior in the previous Government had many other duties to perform, such as dealing with services and property, police matters and many other areas.
– Perhaps I could make a helpful interjection. Actually the honourable member is wrong because by some strange method the present Minister is also administering Norfolk Island.
– I thank the honourable member for Kooyong for advising me that the Minister is also administering Norfolk Island. I congratulate the Minister on the work that he has done there because I know for a fact that he has visited Norfolk Island and applied his attention to that important area as well.
I support the motion and I have no sympathy with the amendment, which represents an attempt by the honourable member for the Northern Territory to get into the act, if I can use that common expression. This Labor Government has done much already for the Northern Territory. As I have said, it has a Minister who is dividing his time only with the Australian Capital Territory. In addition the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) is interested in that part of the world. I made the point before the suspension of the sitting that both of these Ministers and others are in the one Ministry as opposed to the performance of the previous Government where the Minister for the Interior not only had to divide his time and responsibility among so many other duties but was, of course, only in the outer Ministry.
I will not detain the House any longer on this matter because I covered most of the points prior to the suspension of the sitting. I end on the note that I trust that all members of Parliament who serve on this Joint Committee will spend much time in the Northern Territory. I trust also that the establishment of this Committee will mean that more members of this House will be able to educate themselves in the affairs of the Northern Territory and will thereby be able to make recommendations to the Government which will result in policy decisions that will improve the lives and the standard of living of those who live in the Northern Territory.
– I want to give my blessing to the formation of the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory. I think that the formation of such a Committee is a sensible arrangement and I am glad to say that it is receiving the support of both sides of the House. I had a particular interest in the Northern Territory, as the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) was kind enough to remark, as a member of the Forster Committee in 1959. I had the responsibility with Professor Forster and Dr Williams of trying to draw up an agricultural blueprint for the development of agriculture in the Northern Territory. This gave me an intimate and continuing interest in the area. As a member of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Advisory Council I have had again many opportunities of going to the area and seeing the problems in the raw and at first hand. As a member of the Public Works Committee I have been in the Northern Territory continually over the years. For these 3 reasons I have a very intimate and urgent interest in the development of the Northern Territory. As I understand that the proposed Committee will be engaged in furthering that development, I am very glad to give my blessing to the establishment of the Committee. 1 am sorry that there has been far too much party political discussion on the appointment of this Committee. 1 refer particularly to the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Kerin) who has come to this place with a considerable reputation. I was sorry to see the honourable member engage in this kind of discussion so soon after his entry to this House. One piece of fatherly advice that I would give the honourable member is that he diminish his reputation by engaging in this kind of party political debate on a subject that should be non-party political. This brings me to the real nub of the question. As a member of the Public Works Committee for some years I have been privileged to serve with the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), who I understand is to follow me in this debate. The example set by the honourable member for Hunter of looking at technical things from a non-political point of view would be an object lesson to many people in this House. I pay a tribute to the honourable member for Hunter for the dedication he has shown in his work on the Public Works Committee. 1 am sorry to see the standard that he and others have set diminished by some of the speeches that we have heard tonight. 1 would couple with that criticism the speech that I heard from the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). I am sorry that evidently the standard of behaviour of members of the Public Works Committee and members of the Public Accounts Committee seems to be different in this regard. Members of the Public Works Committee seem always to have regarded that Committee as a non-political organisation. In my time on the Public Works Committee there never has been a party political division and it is a matter of great grief to me to see this attitude introduced into the debate on the appointment of the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory - a committee that can work effectively only if it works on non-party political lines. I am sorry that the standard that has been set by honourable members such as the honourable member for Hunter on other committees will be departed from on this occasion.
Having delivered that little homily, I should like to refer to the particular problem that I wish to raise with the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby). I do this in the hope that he will take this criticism by me as criticism by a person who has a very real interest in the way the committee system works. I think that it is a grave mistake for the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to have the responsibility of appointing the chairman of the Committee. I say that because only the committee members - only the members who have worked together - know the value of the man who is elected as chairman. I was proud to be able to second the nomination of the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) for the chairmanship of the Public Works Committee. I seconded his nomination because I have worked with him for a long time. The Prime Minister may have laid his hand on some other member, but the members of the Public Works Committee who have worked with the honourable member for Leichhardt are the only ones who know the quality of the work that he does. I think that it is a grave departure from the high principles that we always have held to allow the Prime Minister to select the chairman of a committee.
The members of the committee should be the ones who know what person will serve them best as chairman. I am sorry to see this proposal come into the House in this form. I think honourable members will agree that it smacks of a laying on of hands - of an edict from on high. How can the Prime Minister, however clever and able, know the workings of a committee and who has served the committee best? Perhaps it is not very important in this case, but it is an important principle that if the committee system is to work well it will do so because the committee members examine matters from a non-party political point of view. I do not think that anybody in the House will disagree with that.
If the selection of the chairman of the committee is to be made by the Prime Minister, it inevitably will smack of party political preferment or something like that. The objectivity of a committee and its ability to make non-party political judgments will be destroyed. I believe that this is vital to the committee system. I hope that the Minister for the Northern Territory will take what I am saying as a sincere expression not of anything party political but merely as expressing one thing - that if this system is to work well, and we all hope and indeed know that it can, it should be divorced from any political influence. I beg the Minister to have another look at this proposal when the matter goes to the Senate. My suggestion may be put forward in the Senate. The proposal contained in the matter we are discussing is a departure which I regret. Those of us who have worked on committees and who have a standard to maintain, and indeed, are maintaining it, regret this departure.
As the honourable member for Leichhardt is in the chamber, I say again how much we appreciate his ability, courtesy, kindness and efficiency on the Public Works Committee. The honourable member may not have been the one upon whom the hands were laid. If that had been the case, it would have done the Public Works Committee great damage. So, I ask the Minister to ensure that when this matter is considered in the Senate the Government has a careful look at the departure from the previously adopted method of selecting the chairman of a committee, which departure I regret. The proposal before the House is to establish for the first time a Joint Committee on the Northern Territory. It would be quite easy for the Prime Minister, if he wanted to have a direct voice, to pass the word along that a certain honourable member was his selection for the position of chairman. Then, after the committee had worked for some years, it should be the responsibility of the members of the committee to select their chairman because they and they alone know the efficiency and effectiveness of the chairman.
– I think we know what you are trying to say.
– 1 am glad that I have thumped it into the honourable member’s head. One other point that I should like to raise is that the chairman of the committee should be responsible to the committee and not to the Prime Minister. I believe that this is vital to the health of the committee system. I beg the Minister to examine this criticism, as it comes from a person who has had an active interest not only in the Northern Territory but also in the health and welfare of the committee system.
– Mr Speaker, 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by implication by the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). During his remarks he referred to the pleasure that he had in seconding the nomination of the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) for the position of Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Works. 1 think it only fitting for me, as one of the members of the Public Works Committee from this side of the House - I speak on behalf of ail members of the Labor Party on the Public Works Committee - to point out to the honourable member for Wakefield that the honourable member for Leichhardt was the unanimous choice of the members from the Senate and the House of Representatives as our nominee as Chairman of that Committee. He was selected only in that way and not in any other fashion.
- I am privileged to join in this debate, which is creating history for the Northern Territory. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby), who is at the table and who is one of the hardest working Ministers in the Government, seeks a mandate from the Parliament to establish a joint committee to inquire into and report upon matters relating to the Northern Territory. Like my colleague the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), as a result of my parliamentary activities taking me to the Northern Territory on numerous occasions in recent years I have developed some knowledge of the Territory and its problems and some degree of affection for the Territory and its people. I would say that at least one-third of the work performed by the Joint Committee on Public Works in recent years has involved its members in inquiring into, inspecting and taking evidence from numerous important people in the Northern Territory in connection with proposals relating to the Territory. We have had either the pleasure or the displeasure of visiting places such as Snake Bay, Alligator Creek and Elcho Island and a place called, I think Gundabluey. We have been practically all over the Territory.
The Northern Territory has its problems but it is overcoming them. I recall that when I came into this Parliament in the early 1960s the Australian Labor Party was thundering at the Government of that day to develop the north and it had some effect on the then Government. The Government responded to a degree which, one could say, was to its credit. Due to the logic and forcefulness of its arguments, the Labor Party Opposition brought about the beef roads in the Northern Territory. It also brought about improvement* in the electricity supply and sewerage systems of Darwin and Katherine. In the latter years that the previous Government was in office we saw the installation of a rather modern sewerage system at Tennant Creek, a sewerage system which many people in my electorate would be proud to have. We also saw an improved sewerage system - at great cost to the Commonwealth - in Darwin. It was during the hearings concerning that sewerage system that I found that some of the people of Darwin were not appreciative of the generosity of the taxpayers in the eastern States and what they were prepared to concede to the Darwin people by putting into Darwin an ultra-modern sewerage system which many of the important towns and cities in the eastern States have been wanting for years but have not yet in sight.
In my view the Committee to be created should and will act in the interests of all the people of the Northern Territory on a nonpolitical basis. I believe that the Minister for the Northern Territory will use his influence to see that the Committee functions similarly to the Public Works Committee. I felt that the honourable member for Wakefield was a little extravagant in his praise of me and the duties that I performed as a member of the Public Works Committee. Without taking any advantage of my colleagues on the Public
Works Committee let me say that I was the sole dissentient - not that I feel honoured to have been the sole dissentient; my decision was dictated by evidence and conscience; I take a good look at myself when I find that I am in disagreement with the rest of my Committee - over the site of the Palmerston freeway. I think that time will tell whether I was hard to get on with or whether my logic was sound and true, because this Parliament has referred the matter of the Palmerston freeway back to the Public Works Committee for reconsideration. I believe that a majority of the Committee will come down in favour of the route which originally I alone supported. When 1 say that I am conscious of the fact that when God created man he gave him no third hand with which to pat himself on the back.
Let me turn to the more serious problems of the Northern Territory. I think that the people of Darwin are inclined to be more bitchy than the people of Alice Springs. The climate promotes disagreement in Darwin. I found that it was easier to argue with my colleagues on the Public Works Committee when we were in Darwin than when we were in Alice Springs because of the inclement weather. But it is an Australian privilege to have a bit of a bitch or a disagreement - to have a bit of a go - and they certainly do in Darwin. As I said before, they have an ultramodern sewerage scheme. 1 asked the experts who testified before the Committee: If they put the sewerage outfall a mile or two out into Darwin Harbour, what would be the degree of pollution of the Darwin Harbour compared with that of Bondi Beach? The experts said that it would be infinitesimal and that it would be negligible compared with Bondi Beach. However, I found that I was in the minority on that occasion. I was not in sole disagreement. And at much more cost to the taxpayers throughout the nation, the ultra-modern scheme for land treatment of the sewage at Darwin has commenced operations. Good luck to them. They won the day and they got an ultra-modern sewerage scheme.
On the serious side of things, what concerns me most in the Northern Territory is that the previous Government, due to agitation from the Australian Labor Party, raised the social services for the indigenous people in the Northern Territory, to the great acclaim of all Australians. Late last year T was very happy to hear the honourable mem ber for Bradfield (Mr Turner) mention a case in the region of the Oenpelli Mission. Thi? concerned excessive drunkeness and the exploitation of Aborigines. While I am on this subject I want to mention a case that was brought to my attention by a most reliable source of information concerning the Bamyili Mission outside Katherine. The natives there are deprived of a wet canteen. On the day when the natives receive their rather - to them - substantial social service payments, a fleet of taxis pulls up at the mission and ferries them about 50 miles into Katherine. On one occasion the Katherine Hotel sold out of wine and all types of bombo - cheap wine or hooch. These social services were provided by this Parliament when the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) was the Minister for Social Services. He displayed many good qualities in his administration of Aboriginal affairs. I accept full responsibility for saying that. I believe that he was one of the best Ministers that the Liberal Party could produce as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. But I would have admired him more than ever if he had tackled these problems of the Europeans exploiting the natives and a fleet of taxi drivers running the natives into town the moment they receive their social service payments to buy the hotel out of hooch or cheap wine. Whether the missions like it or not, they must face reality. They must consider permitting the sale of beer of low alcoholic content on the missions.
The same thing happened in the defence forces many years ago when they had dry canteens. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) will probably agree with me. When the young recruits in the Navy, the Army or the Air Force did not have drinking facilities at their units they went into the local hotel. They were exploited. On some occasions when they were half intoxicated they were sold soapy water for wine or beer. They disgraced their uniforms until the progressive thinking heads of the defence forces realised that they had to face common sense and reality and put wet canteens on the Army and Air Force establishments where these young men could be supervised by long term serving officers. They were taught when to cease drinking and how to behave when they were drinking. I believe that this is urgent and imperative for the Northern Territory missions. I feel confident that the progressive thinking Minister for the Northern Territory will keep these facts in mind and that the missions will have to face the reality that liquor of a low alcoholic content should be made available on the missions where the natives cannot be exploited by white Europeans, publicans or taxi drivers. I hope that the proposed Committee when created will regard this matter as of top priority, because the brewery interests do not care as long as lucrative returns are flowing in for their shareholders. We must provide drinking facilities and properly trained people who will say to the Aborigine: ‘Sambo, you have had enough. How much have you given to Mary and the kids?’ He has to pull, if I may use the vernacular, some of his social services money aside and say: ‘This is to buy food for Mary and the kids’. This is the practical approach we have to take. I believe that the creation of this Committee will be a step in the right direction. T believe that it will be a committee of a non-party political nature from which the people of the Northern Territory will derive great benefit, particularly the Aborigines, who will be saved from exploitation in the fields on which I put my greatest emphasis.
– This motion, which provides for the appointment of a Joint Committee on the Northern Territory, deserves the commendation and support of all honourable members. It is pleasing to know that those who have made contributions to this debate have indicated their support. Perhaps they have expressed some reservations - an amendment has been moved - but nevertheless they have agreed that there is a need to look at the problems affecting the Northern Territory. This motion provides for the establishment of a committee to inquire into and report on matters relating to the Northern Territory and to carry out research into all aspects and problems concerning this important area. The Northern Territory remains the challenge of the people of Australia and the responsibility of the national Government of Australia. I welcome the proposal to form the committee, to which both sides have agreed, and upon which both sides of this House will be represented.
There are historic problems and accumulated grievances in regard to the Northern Territory. There is the immediate problem of 23 years of non-Labor administration, of neglect of the affairs of the Northern Territory and the need immediately to deal with these problems. It is regrettable therefore that we have had during the course of this debate some churlish reference to what has occurred over the past 4 months since the Labor Government came to office. I commend the Government for paying attention to the requirements of this great area, considering the needs of this area and having regard for the problems of the people to see what can be done in the development of the area. Let us look forward in a realistic way to the future of the Territory. There is nothing to be gained by merely going over the trails and tracks of the past, thinking of what might have been done and what should have been done. We have to go forward and prepare for the development of the Territory and its future form of government - perhaps statehood, regional or provincial government and above all local selfgovernment - so that the people of the Territory themselves may be given the opportunity to declare the type of government they want and to exercise their franchise in giving effect to their desires. It has been easy over the years to say that all these responsibilities reside here in Canberra, that the experts of the Public Service can determine these matters. This is not good enough.
I believe that there is an obvious need for regionalism in the Northern Territory, because the vast land mass of the Northern Territory differs fundamentally between Darwin in the north and Alice Springs in the centre. The people in these different areas have different problems and different approaches to the questions they meet from time, to time, from day to day. So therefore it is necessary that the people at Alice Springs under the leadership of a former distinguished member of this House, Mr Jock Nelson, who is Mayor of Alice Springs, be given an opportunity to express themselves. I would not expect any honourable member of this place to say an unkind word about Jock Nelson, the Mayor of Alice Springs, and those he is serving there at the present time. I mention his name because it is known here. He is a territorian true, one who has represented the people of the north in Parliament and who is now serving them effectively and faithfully in local government.
I want more than that to be done, and I look forward to an examination of all the problems of the Northern Territory. 1 am particularly concerned about the action that might be taken to stimulate not merely the export potential of ports and opportunities for overseas trade in the north but also development of the north in a realistic way which will help the people of this nation. With the co-ordination of the activities of the members who serve the north in a variety of ways I believe this can be achieved. 1 would like to think that with the establishment of this Committee we will be able to achieve that union of co-operation between the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson), one who is so well versed in the problems of the north - the questions of development and the economy, rural and otherwise - the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) and the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) so that each may play his part in building up the north in an effective way so that it will be able to make a contribution of outstanding dimension to the development of this nation.
The Committee should examine all aspects of development in northern Australia. The broad questions of national development, minerals, natural gas, oil and all the other agencies of power and resources should be considered by this Committee. I believe that if this is done in association with the Minister for Transport we should soon see some speedy action in building the north-south railway, which is a fundamental necessity for the north of Australia. In addition to that I would like to see another trans-continental railway built from somewhere in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, through the centre of the Northern Territory into Queensland, so that the resources of the north-west of Queensland and the Centre might be joined in an effective way in building this nation. For too long we have been inclined to allow this sort of development to go without action, without thought and without coordination.
The north remains for us the great national challenge. It remains for us the great area for development. If we fail to accept our responsibility in this regard we are failing Australia, for the development of the north can bring great prosperity to the people of northern Australia; indeed, it can also secure the defence of the people of the southern parts of Australia. These are vital questions that should be considered by the Committee and for that reason, among many others, including the welfare of the people, I consider this as a vital matter. 1 believe that with adequate transport we should be able to co-ordinate the needs of the people of northern Queensland with those of the Centre and Western Australia and we should be able to blend our rich resources in one of the most imaginative and most spectacular developments that has ever occurred in this country. A Labor government can achieve this because it believes in the development of this nation. I look forward to the Minister for Northern Development, the Minister for Transport, the Minister for Min: erals and Energy and the Minister for the Northern Territory engaging in this great and wonderful development.
Welfare must be taken into consideration - the welfare of the people of the north and of our original Australians, the Aborigines, who have a special claim for attention and consideration by the Committee. This will be one of the great responsibilities of the Committee. It will not be handing over something - some give-away gimmick - but encouraging the people of the north in the practical development of their own area so that they might enjoy those things with which they have lived throughout the years it will help to make a fundamental contribution to Australia’s development. Other people in the north also need consideration. I refer to those who have gone to the north to engage in developmental projects, whether they be related to minerals, harbours, mines or like projects, or in the rural industries of cattle and pastoral pursuits. These people are entitled to the consideration of the Committee and of this Parliament. All of these things will count for nought unless the Parliament is prepared to back the proposals of the Committee with finance for great and wonderful development. I hope that the Parliament will heed the Committee’s reports and take those steps which are necessary for the expansion and development of this great area - a wonderland, a great wealth resource for Australia.
– I think it can be said that there is almost unanimous support for this measure which provides for the setting up of a Joint Committee on the Northern Territory. The message running through some speeches is that some honourable members have misgivings about some formal aspects of the Committee, but I did not detect any reservations about the importance of it. I regard it as an extremely important and valuable step forward. The Government already has taken some steps to improve the relationship that should exist between the National Parliament and the Northern Territory. This has been touched on by some speakers. The Government based the new Department of the Northern Territory in the Northern Territory, in part to overcome the criticism that existed under the previous Government that the administration was Canberra based and that Canberra obviously was a long way from Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine, Gove and elsewhere in the Northern Territory. I do not think anyone would argue that that was not an extremely popular and good step.
The Government also looked at the 6 official members of the Legislative Council and, against the backdrop that it thought the Northern Territory should have a much greater degree of attention than it has been given before, the Government decided that rather than have the 6 official members from the Department of the Northern Territory, and as the new approach is specialisation with special attention being given to health, education and Aboriginal welfare, that each of those specialised departments should be represented on the Legislative Council. This, I believe, is a great step forward.
I turn now to two of the points in respect of which some misgivings were expressed, although not with any great degree of force. The first misgivings were expressed by the honourable members for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) and Wakefield (Mr Kelly) about the decision to give to the Prime Minister the right to nominate one of the Government appointees to the Committee as chairman of the Committee. This decision has been taken in accordance with research and advice that I caused to be undertaken. It is my understanding that this is a practice that was initiated by the previous Government in respect of select committees. Although the standing committees and statutory committees elect their chairmen, for committees like the proposed committees for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory the practice was different. My information from the Clerks and the advice that I have gathered in the Parliament are that what is now proposed has been the practice. That is why this proposal has been incorporated in this measure. I should add that when the honourable member for Wake field suggested that it might lead to some kind of patronage it was obvious that he did not know how the Labor Party worked.
– Who does?
– I cannot speak of how the Liberal Party acts within its Party room but I can tell the honourable member that the Labor Party Caucus will elect its members to the Committee. The longstanding practice has been that members will nominate the persons they would like to see as chairman and the Prime Minister will be brought in in a consultative fashion to make the appointment, but he is apprised of the opinion of members. This is only giving effect to what in other quarters would be called a constitutional convention. The honourable members’ reservations speak really of a distinction without a difference. The Government is seeking only to regularise what ] understand was a practice introduced by the previous Government, and in the interests of consistency the Government has proposed this measure. Personally I think it is a good step. If it was the practice - my advice is that it was - I congratulate the previous Government for having implemented it when it did. The other point concerns the subject of the amendment which the Government cannot accept and which was touched on by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder).
– 1 did not touch on it; I moved it.
– Well, moved it, touched on it, described it and debated it. The amendment deals with what is sometimes called autonomy, sometimes territorial government, sometimes responsible territorial government and sometimes, as the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) called it, regional government. It goes by different names. There are various ways in which this can be brought about. Some honourable members referred to fragmentation. They spoke of fragmentation in the context of the area known as the Northern Territory now being the subject of these specialised departments - Education, Health, Aboriginal Affairs, Minerals and Energy - with the extremely important co-ordinating role with the Department of the Capital Territory with its other areas of concern as well. Some people say this is fragmentation; I regard it as specialisation and not fragmentation. If one sees it against the backdrop of Australian government as a whole, one sees it in the sense of the constitutional framework and one must ask oneself what should be the relationship between the Australian Government - this Parliament where we stand now and talk - and the various parts of Australia. Historically we have States. I venture to suggest that if we could go back to the conventions of the 1890s no-one would support an . Australian federation such as we have today. People would argue with great force, conviction and persuasion that the present federal system with its States is fragmentation of the worst kind. H is terrible fragmentation and it holds back the progress of this country.
The question arises: What relationship should exist between the Territories of Australia and the Australian Parliament and Government? Should the Northern Territory be a State in the sense in which we have States today? The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) spoke as though it should be. Indeed, he said he looked forward to the day when it would be the seventh State. On the occasions I have been to the Northern Territory in the past I have said that I would regard that as a disaster. A better relationship is open to us. A much better way is open to us whereby we can satisfy the natural yearnings and proper demands of the people who live in a far flung area - the Northern Territory - with all its problems of vastness, which were so properly described by the honourable member for the Northern Territory, and remoteness from the Australian Government in Canberra. This can be done in a variety of ways and it is partly for this reason that the Government cannot accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for the Northern Territory. It is not good enough and it does not go far enough. It does not touch on any of the possibilities that are opened up for a new kind of relationship that will satisfy this proper and legitimate yearning of people who live in these areas to have a say in their own affairs, to participate in decisions which affect them, to be involved in them and to feel that they are not ignored by a government 2,000 miles away. (Quorum formed) This new relationship will avoid the disadvantages of the relationship that exists between the Australian Government and the States. Let us look at one of the most powerful States and ask ourselves: Do we want the Northern Territory to move in that direction? Look at one of the richest States, New South Wales. It cannot provide sewerage for the people in the outer suburbs of Sydney, cannot really run its own railway service, cannot really run its own public transport system. That is the way the Federal system has operated in the past. Given the rigidity of our Constitution, in co-operation with the States we are engaged in an effort to overcome those disadvantages which exist in the Australian federal system. But there is no reason in the world why we should foist those disadvantages on the people of the Northern Territory and there is no reason why we should foist them in that form on the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
I have not much time left to speak but I want to touch on a point referred to by the honourable member for the Northern Territory. There have been discussions between representatives of the Legislative Council and me on at least 2 occasions. I have met its various committees and only 2 days ago I wrote to the President of the Legislative Council, Mr Greatorex, suggesting that I meet the Council at its convenience and my convenience as soon as possible. So there is no real conflict between us. This Committee is a great step forward. It can look into the subject which the honourable member for the Northern Territory has raised in his amendment. There are other competing subjects into which it can look. But if it is to do anything in the sense of giving the Northern Territory autonomy then the Government’s view is that the amendment moved by the honourable member does not go far enough, is not good enough, ties the Committee to an outmoded form and is so wide that the Committee would not know what it was required to do. This Committee is a great opportunity to take a step toward the advancement of the Northern Territory and the people who live there.
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Calder’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . ..11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 1069), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Loan Bill 1973, as the Treasurer (Mr Crean) pointed out in his second reading speech, is a machinery measure required to meet the legal and constitutional requirements associated with the Government’s end-of-year financing transactions. Because of adjustments to taxation rates in the last Budget and increases in expenditure in the Budget and since that time, it is anticipated that there will be a deficit in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Unless action is taken there will be an excess of expenditures in the Fund which will not be the subject of formal appropriations.
Therefore, the purpose of the Bill is to provide authority for the charging of some expenditures to the Loan Fund which otherwise would have been charged to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This is achieved by borrowing up to$300m, the amount required to complete financing of the deficit in 1972- 73 and to expend the proceeds of the borrowing for defence purposes. Thus, what is involved in this Bill is, in essence, an inter-fund transfer. The Bill is essentially a machinery measure to enable the Government to carry out policies approved under various Acts authorising expenditure and the raising of revenue and financial transactions. It is to be emphasised that no additional expenditures are proposed. The Bill does not authorise expenditures which have not already been authorised by Parliament. It is merely proposed to charge expenditures already approved by the national Parliament to a different part of the Commonwealth public account.
The Bill provides for expenditure on defence services which have not already been authorised by Parliament in the Appropriation Acts to be charged to the Loan Fund instead of to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Provision for charging part of our defence expenditure to the Loan Fund has been made in previous years when the net amount available from loan proceeds and other financing transactions has not been adequate to finance the deficit. It is relevant background that similar accounting procedures have been involved in the 4 years up to and including 1971-72. Very similar Loan Bills were introduced and passed into legislation in each of those 4 years. The present Bill is very closely modelled on the Loan Act 1967, Act No. 72 of that year.
As things stand, funds will be available in the Loan Fund and no additional loan raising activity will be required as a result of this action. With no additional loan raisings above what is already in view and no additional expenditure, there will be no change in the effect on the economy of the Commonwealth’s financial activities. However, without seeking unduly to delay the passage of this measure I would like briefly to point out that there is a very urgent need for the Federal Government to take action on a number of fronts in order to curb the inflationary spiral.
Our inflationary problem today is undoubtedly being markedly aggravated by the implementation of the Government’s package of very expensive election promises, plus the grants, handouts and spending program which the present Government has announced since the election late last year. As a result, we believe, of the Labor Government’s greatly increased expenditure the rate of inflation for 1973 is now expected to reach between 8 per cent and 9 per cent. That figure is intolerable for any Australian and for any significant sector of the Australian economy. We believe thai a true measure of a successful government is the manner in which it structures priorities into its spending program and the way in which it then exercises responsibility in dovetailing those resources into the expenditure list.
Tragically, in the view of the Opposition parties, the present Government appears to have no basic priorities. Since it came into office it has been spending as though money was going out of fashion and, above that, promising far more. A government which spends the country into serious inflation can, on no criterion of responsibility, be seen in the Australian community to be successful. It is fair to say. and it is a matter of record, that the former Liberal Party-Country Party Government handed to the new Labor Administration a sound economy and a program of anti-inflationary policies which were at the time of the election seen to be successful. But in less than 4 months the new Administration has upset both those fundamental factors. If we have regard - as I am sure honourable members on both sides of the House do - to the problems of the man in the street, we will know that he is already feeling the pinch because of the Government’s lack of sensitivity to the inflationary problems which the Australian economy is now experiencing in a very marked fashion because of the expenditure programs of the new Administration. The value of his earnings have been whittled away by price rises of hundreds of essential items on the supermarket shelves.
Of course, the people who are hardest hit in any period of inflation are those people concerning whom the Labor Party has always alleged a monopoly of concern. I think here of pensioners, superannuitants and those on fixed incomes. Those are the people who are hardest hit by the impact of the inflationary spiral. The Government has a responsibility to these people and to every person in the Australian community to return sanity to the area of Government spending. We recognise, in assessing the Government’s expenditure and inflationary programs, that the Government appears to believe that the only response to the problem of inflation should be set in the context of the price arena. But as honourable members on this side of the chamber certainly appreciate - as I hope that honourable gentlemen on the other side certainly will come to appreciate - any attempt to curb inflation by introducing measures into the price area, without at the same time introducing measures into the area of wages and salaries, is doomed to disaster.
Such a policy treats the symptom rather than the cause. Any approach to inflation, which in terms of the formulation of Government policy seeks to ignore pressure from wage and salary earners - and, indeed, a government which heavily supports these pressures - we believe will never be effectual because.it treats only part of the essential problem with which we in this Parliament are confronted. But these are only passing observations. I do not introduce them into this debate in depth. However, I commend them to the attention of the Federal Treasurer, who I know bears a very heavy responsibility for the expenditure programs of this nation. His view may differ from the Opposition’s but I am certain that he has a very full understanding of the need to curtail expenditure. As we have seen from recent Press reports an interdepartmental committee has been set up to consider the expenditure programs of the new Administration. I commend the Bill to the House on the basis of what has been put forward. The Opposition does not oppose the measure because essentially it is a machinery Bill. It will be supported by the Opposition Parties.
-1 support this Bill which follows a practice which has now become almost time honoured by successive Governments and Treasurers. The legislation is derived really from 2 provisions, the Constitution and the 1927 Loan Agreement. They provide that if there is any surplus in the Consolidated Revenue Fund the Government is obliged to divide the proceeds among the States. An allied provision under a similar agreement and provisions provides that the Commonwealth Government does not have to submit to the Loan Council for approval amounts to be spent for defence purposes. This sort of legislation has become a convenient device to use, particularly if there is a surplus in the Consolidated Revenue Fund that might have to be distributed. This year, far from there being a surplus, there is, if it can be put this way, a very considerable shrinkage of Consolidated Revenue.
But in supporting this Bill - noting as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) said that it does not alter anything from a material point of view - I comment that it just shuffles balances among existing accounts. Therefore it should be supported as a very necessary and, as I have said, time-honoured device. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned also that there are certain things which must give us all some misgiving about the way our finances are developing. I recognise that no figures alone can outline the complete story. Figures themselves are subject to constant revisions. However, some things running together form a pattern which is cause for concern. For instance, only yesterday, 4th April, a report which is issued monthly was published showing that the progressive deficit for this financial year has increased very heavily. Compared with a similar 9 months last year the running deficit has risen from about $l,236m to $l,684m. This is a very considerable increase in the running deficit. Other oddments give us slight concern. For instance, the issue of Treasury notes, which are used to finance Government operations and to lessen the deficit, has more than doubled. Whereas last year the notes were at $494,000m, they have risen from this figure to well over $1 billion. The doubling of the Treasury note issue must make everyone wonder and look further into the accounts.
These Treasury matters must cause overall concern. But worse than that is what leading members of the Government have said as to what is intended in government expenditure. It is perhaps a curious practice but while the Treasurer (Mr Crean) was overseas - I am sure he was giving a very distinguished performance - the important Treasury portfolio was left in the charge of a Minister who by profession is the largest spender in the Government, namely, the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). He is likely to add more to the Budget deficit than any of his colleagues. Also, the Treasurer himself has given us concern in this matter. He mentioned in general terms - I hope he was not wrongly reported - that there will be new expenditure under social services legislation. He said that social improvements should not be retarded because they might cause some large measure of inflation. This is a very unfortunate attitude on the part of a Treasurer. It indicates a carelessness of thought and a lack of worry about the central financial problems. As anyone knows, the major causes of inflation historically have been the development of uncontrolled government deficits and the carelessness and lack of control of government finances.
In other respects there are one or two things which in themselves, of course, can be explained away. I refer as an example to the increase in the volume of money in circulation in the same 9-month period as reported by the Reserve Bank of Australia Statistical Return. In July the total volume of money supply was $17.8 billion. By January the volume of money rose to $20.79 billion. This is an increase of 15 per cent in the total money supply in the course of just a few months. When one adds Government deficit financing and increasing commitments in Government expenditure, plus this enormous increase in the volume of money, this in itself must give considerable cause for worry and alarm.
The Government is in the course of introducing legislation to set up its prices justification tribunal. There are, of course, many reasons for price increases and price control. One can point to very many factors but there are certainly 2 major factors in this equation which the Government not only does not recognise but does not really seem to care about. Firstly, there is the tremendous cost push which is coming from constant and overrapid increases in wages. Most of the members of the Australian Labor Party would probably deny that this has anything whatsoever to do with prices and that this large element of cost could be ignored. Of course some increases in prices may or may not be justified. Mention has been made of the powers that State governments might exercise in this field. But however good this tribunal may be, however carefully the price increases are investigated, it will be sabotaged underneath from outside because price control has no chance of working when the money supply is increasing at such a rapid pace and when Government deficit financing is constantly on the increase. I hope that the Treasurer will exercise a suitable discipline upon his free spending colleagues starting with the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) whose one reaction to every national problem is to pull a large cheque book out of the breast pocket, write a cheque and think that the problem is solved. I think that this House will support the Treasurer if he, in conjunction with the other more responsible members of the Government, starts to impose some discipline to limit the kind of deficit which this Government is producing and also take a very close look at and maintain close control over the total money supply. This Bill in itself is a mere device, and like other members of the Opposition I support its use.
– I agree with the remarks that have been made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and by my colleague, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury). I will not go over the ground which they have covered, but 1 take this opportunity in this debate on what is an important finance Bill to refer to what ] believe is the principal economic problem facing this country. It is a problem which will grow as the days go by. I refer first to what I regard as the extravagant spending by this Government, not merely in the months that have passed since it took office, but also in the proposals which it has put forward and the programs which it has foreshadowed which will make a vast increase in expenditure. I make the basic point that any government has an economic responsibility to ensure that factors in the economy are balanced and that we do not allow, for instance, inflation to run away. The former Government, which has been criticised so much by this Government and its supporters because of its policies, would naturally have had great delight in spending money in many areas and directions. A government will not lose votes because it spends money. That is all too easy.
The previous Government saw itself as having a responsibility in order to achieve a balance in the interests of the people oi this country because if inflation runs riot, as ] believe it is starting to do now, every person in the community suffers, and some more than others. My colleague the honourable member for Wentworth mentioned those on fixed incomes. Let us not forget the trade unionists who are in unions which are not in a position to bargain as strongly as are others and, therefore, their rises take place at a slower rate. They fall behind the average. All these people suffer from inflation. A budget, in fact any package of economic policy, is a compromise between, on the one hand, the amount that a government would like to spend and, on the other hand, the minimum amount that it must raise in taxation. That is a compromise, lt is a balancing. The amount of that balancing is most important. 1 have referred to the evil of inflation and to the people who are hit by it. There are some people in this country - some in business, some in other fields - who believe that they can live with inflation, that it will not hurt them and they can accommodate themselves to the situation. They are the favoured ones who feel the impact least. Every honourable member knows as I do that the people who are the most defenceless and the ones who need to be defended the most are those who most feel the effects of inflation. The inflation we have had in this country - perhaps we still have it; perhaps it has recently ceased to be the only type - has been a cost inflation. It has been caused by rising costs and mainly increases in wages. I do not know how many times I have heard Government supporters say that honourable members on this side have maintained that the inflation has been due always to wages. I do not believe I have heard anyone on this side make such an exaggerated statement. But I am saying I believe that the great majority of the economists would suppport that statement - that Australia has at present serious cost inflation moving at an increasing rate, and it has been caused mainly by excessive wage rises and by the cost of improved conditions.
I believe that because of the extravagant spending of this Government to date and the proposed expenditure on its programs, we are about to add demand inflation to that cost inflation. Perhaps we have reached that state in the last few months. The figures that are to be published soon will indicate that. It will be either now or very soon. The Government’s answer to this so far has been to mention one or two restraint policies, the most recent of which is the move towards a price justification policy. I will not go over all the ground which was traversed in the debate held in this House recently about why that is a one-sided policy. It is a one-sided policy because it makes no attack on excessive wage costs; it attacks only prices on the assumption that prices can be restrained because they are excessive. That is an assumption which has yet to be shown.
– That is a paper tiger.
– That is a paper tiger, as m> colleague has said. That point was made very strongly and, I believe, convincingly in the debate last week. I carefully pose this question: What policies of restraint on inflation has this Government imposed and what policies does it propose to impose? What are those policies? There are no policies of restraint on wages; none at all. We have heard suggested such policies as the abolition of restrictive trade practices and the so-called tariff review, although in this context it means a lowering of the tariff, not just a review. Those are very long term policies. In my view, in the main they are admirable ones in principle. I do not speak of the detail. But the effect of those policies will take a long time to be felt and we have in this country an urgent and an increasing problem. In this context we have had reference to revaluation. I clearly state, as unequivocally as I can, that I believe that the effect of revaluation on inflation in this country will prove to be negligible. Much has been said about its effect in order, 1 believe, to try to support the Government policy of revaluation. But I will not go into that subject in general.
I take the opportunity to say that I have the highest respect for the personal integrity of the Treasurer (Mr Crean), who is now sitting at the table. It seems to me, however, that he has relegated this problem of inflation, which is growing in this country, to that of a second class problem because he has made a number of statements, the gist of which is that the Government will not let inflation prevent it from getting on with the welfare programs that it thinks are important. There are a large number of these programs and large amounts of money are being spent on them. He has said the level of inflation will not even - I think I am right in saying this - prevent the Government from making an income tax reform, and I presume the word ‘reform’ means lowering of income tax. So it seems to me that the Treasurer is saying that the problem of inflation is to be addressed after the Government has done those things it thinks ought to be done, and they are all things that will result in demand inflation being added to our existing excessive cost inflation.
– in reply - I thank the 3 gentlemen who have spoken in this debate, all of them former Ministers of the Crown at various times, for their support of the measure. I am somewhat astonished that they seem to think that inflation is a new problem. I would remind them that over the whole life of their Government inflation existed at an average rate of over 2i per cent. What happened in the last few years of their term in office, according to the Consumer Price Index and taking December as the reflex point, in 1969 inflation was running at 2.8 per cent, in 1970 it was 4.9 per cent, in 1971 it was 7 per cent and when the previous Government left office in December of 1 972 it was still running at 4.6 per cent.
– It was coming back under control.
– Well, it was coming back, but it had gone a long way. I am intrigued by the way honourable members opposite sought to extrapolate on the basis of the March figure, that is to be announced next week, which could well be 2 per cent. They are prepared to accept that that means, multiplying that figure by 4, that inflation is now 8 per cent to 9 per cent a year. I think, to begin with, that that is a gross distortion of statistics. As those honourable members know, there are very good reasons for the figure rising in the March quarter. This has a lot to do with the prices of foodstuffs, particularly the price of meat. These movements will be reflected in the figure for the March quarter which will be released shortly. But there is no suggestion that that necessarily will continue in the June quarter or the September quarter.
I suggest with all respect that those honourable members are being a little glib in suggesting that inflation is now running at 8 to 9 per cent a year. If it is it is little worse than it was 2 years ago when it was running for a complete year at a rate of 7 per cent. I, like everybody else, believe that inflation is a serious problem. As I have said in this place on several occasions when I have had the opportunity to do so, 1 think this problem demands the co-operation of the Opposition and the Government to try to solve it. One can be clever and suggest that all of the fault is with wages and none of the fault is anywhere else. I think that is an over-simplistic description of the situation. As I said yesterday, rightly or wrongly the public believes that governments can do something about the price situation.
May I just ask for a little less noise from the Opposition side of the House, if honourable members over there do not mind. The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) has his back to me and is talking to his colleagues. I find this a little irritating. If honourable members want to talk they should do so outside the chamber. I suggest that members of the Opposition in particular ought to be listening to what I am saying. I have listened to them and I think I am entitled to a certain amount of courtesy in endeavouring to give them a reply.
– You sleep all the time.
– I do not sleep. If the honourable member slept it would not matter; if I sleep it does. I listened to what was said by the honourable member’s 3 colleagues. If he wants to be cheap and try to score that way he should at least be honest.
I was endeavouring to say that the problem of inflation is a serious one and that the public believes that governments can do something about it. When the public is asked which government, they believe it is the Federal government. I repeat again that inflation is not a new problem. I suggest that attempting to grapple with the regulation of prices is a new approach to this problem. The previous Government did not adopt this measure. I say again that rightly or wrongly the trade union movement in Australia believes that wages are regulated. If one works for General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd one cannot fix one’s wage and one has to go to arbitration about it. But those who make the motor car can fix their own price without having to justify that price to anybody. At least this has been the case.
I believe that ultimately all western capitalist societies will adopt what is called an incomes policy. I agree that the introduction of an incomes policy in Australia will be a very difficult matter. But the minimum condition of getting agreement on the introduction of such a policy is that the trade union movement be willing to accept it. The trade union movement believes that the first condition for any acceptance on its part of such a move is that something should be done about fixing prices. Starting ab initio since the war, we find that except for the States, South Australia in particular, which has done better than anyone else, and except for certain rudimentary arrangements in the fixing of prices of products such as milk, bread and to some extent even beer, there has been virtually no systematic attempt to fix prices in Australia. Because we are a federal system we have constitutional difficulties. But we are approaching this matter on a 3-tier basis. We are attempt-, ing through the prices justification legislation, which I hope will be in this House after the Easter break and which has been much more difficult to draft than we had imagined, to look after what might be called the big boys as far as price fixing is concerned.
– That is the tribunal.
– Exactly; that is the tribunal, and it will be concerned with prices that have the effect of flowing on into the economic structure. One pretty good example of this is the dry run we had before the legislation in relation to the price of steel. Secondly, the Government will set up in this House the mechanism of a committee that will be a sounding board and a channel of communication from the public to the Parliament and from the Parliament to some sort of solution of the difficulties. Thirdly, we believe that something must be done at the retail level. The best means of doing this is for the Commonwealth to provide finance, for the States to strengthen their agencies of consumer protection and to have voluntary bodies in the community which can help to monitor the system. In the end, the main complaint about prices comes from the housewives and shoppers of the nation and, mainly, from the 2 capital cities of Melbourne and Sydney.
It is a reality that two-thirds of the population of Australia is in the 2 States of Victoria and New South Wales, with nearly half the population living in or within 50 or 60 miles of the 2 big cities of Sydney and Melbourne. To some extent the problems in those 2 States are different. We believe that, for there to he effective regulation of prices, it is necessary to have co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. I have said repeatedly in this House that I hope we will get the co-operation of the 2 States of Victoria and New South Wales in this matter, even though politically they happen to have governments of a different complexion from this one. They are the central areas and I make the plea, believing that the public wants something done about it.
I realise, as a student of economics over a good number of years and now as a very serious practitioner in a very particular place, that there are difficulties in regulating prices. But on the other hand I believe that those who claim to support market mechanisms in the interests of justice have a lot to answer for in regard to the present situation. If those people will heed and listen to exhortation and do justice as well, we may not need as much regulation as now seems necessary. A few days ago I came back from that great countryand it is a great country and it is still the strongest single economic entity in the world - the United States of America, which claims still to be almost the apothosis of what is described as free private enterprise. Even in the United States there now exists a demand to return to what was termed’phase 2’, and even to return to price regulation.
Again, I indicate to those on the opposite side of this Parliament who may want to be sceptics on the subject that there is a very real belief on the part of the public that something must be done about prices other than letting market forces determine them. It may be a difficult task, but merely because it is a difficult task is no reason why we should refuse to take it on.
– An amendment will be moved in the Senate.
– I hope you do that, and I will be interested to see the attitude of the Opposition when an amendment comes back from the other place. If honourable members opposite just want to play politics in this matter, fair enough. But I would have hoped that that motion on the prices committee would have been through both Houses by now. It is through this House but it is not through the other place because members of the Party to which the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) belongs have chosen to side with a minority group in trying to play politics. The politics that are being played are to try to insert into that motion the requirement that something should be done about the pricing of public enterprises. I make the point that, after all, public pricing is subject to examination in the parliaments of the nation. The Post Office tariffs cannot be altered without the alteration coming here. The electricity tariffs in Victoria cannot be altered without the alteration going to the Victorian Government. But for some curious reason, again in the name of thinking that ‘private’ should be treated in the same way as ‘public’, members of the Opposition want to add a rather curious amendment to the motion for the prices committee that the Government intends to set up.
I say in all seriousness that public pricing is subject to some sort of scrutiny, but private pricing is not. That is the purpose of the proposed prices committee. Someone else earlier this evening-I think it was my friend, the
Treasurer of some years ago - spoke about the vast increase in the volume of money in the community, again implying that such an increase had taken place only since 2nd December. Some people seem to think that that is the day that inflation started. 1 have been trying to suggest that inflation has been with us for a long time and that this Government is the first one that has tried seriously to grapple with it. I notice that one of the newspapers this morning was trying to quote the latest monthly figures from a Treasury document and, as often happens, the newspaper misquoted them, saying that the amount of money in the community was now $ 1,684m, while 12 months ago it was $l,206m, implying somehow that that indicates an increase in inflation of about $400m and suggesting that it has all happened in the last 2 or 3 months.
I point out that the biggest single figure contributing to that situation is the issue of Treasury bills and again I would suggest that those who want to read the figures honestly should have a look at the figures at least since the beginning of the current financial year,1st July 1972. They will see that that vast increase in Treasury bills began under the previous Government, as did the vast increase in the volume of money. It is a serious problem to regulate an economy in total and it is always a serious problem when the biggest single means of income distribution in a community is the wage system. If we did nothing about prices, it is inevitable that wages at least would try to keep pace with prices. If we believe, as everybody does, in raising standards and in something called productivity, the only way in which we can maintain the standards of the wage earners and give them their share of productivity in the face of prices not falling is to increase wages.
In the ultimate, the greatest problem that a democratic community must face is the problem of equity in the distribution of the total resources that the economy is capable of generating. Insofar as the majority of those who take a share take a share as wage earners, the greatest single problem in the economy is the relationship of wages and prices, or the social equation. It seems to me that this is the problem that we have failed to grapple with in the economy in recent years. To expect that miracles are going to happen overnight to solve this great problem is flying in the face of reality. No Western economy has satisfactorily solved the problem of full employment and inflation.
I am humble enough to accept that I do not have a simple, single solution to that great problem. But I believe that we will not achieve social cohesion and social cooperation unless it is acknowledged that something has to be done about prices. In our own groping way we are beginning to do that. We have great difficulties in our path. 1 said the other day that it is not much of a defence afterwards to say that when you saw a lion in your path you did not recognise what it was, particularly when you might be finishing up inside it. There are great problems that beset us. We have to acknowledge what they are and we have to begin to grapple with them. That is why I plead with the Opposition to appreciate that we are serious about endeavouring to do something about prices. I hope that we receive co-operation and not sheer politicking in the Opposition’s approach.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 March (vide page 292), on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron:
Thai the Bill be now read a second tine.
– The Opposition is not opposing this Bill. By Act No. 48 of 1971, the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1971 which came into force on 25th May that year, the old law relating to compensation for Commonwealth employees was repealed. The original Act passed in 1930 had been amended from time to time. Inadequacies had been found in the old Act and, although it had been amended in this way, the system for compensation to
Commonwealth employees was unsatisfactory. For one thing, a delegate of the Treasurer would determine certain facts. Very often the employee was not aware of the total basis of information on which the decision was made. Any opportunity for him to contest the decision was slight. The 1971 Act which followed quite long investigations by a sub-committee of Cabinet - of which, incidentally, I had the honour to be a member - brought into effect a new system which established the Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation. This gave the employee the right, after the Commissioner had made a decision, if the employee was dissatisfied with it, to call for a copy of the documents including medical reports before the Commissioner and to take his appeal to a tribunal to which he had a right of appeal. He had not had this right previously.
The 1971 Act greatly improved and modernised the law relating to compensation. I think it is fair to say that at the time it was passed, taken by and large it was in advance of almost every other piece of workers* compensation legislation in Australia. In saying this I feel bound to add that some of the matters which were included in it then were matters for which the present Minister for Labor (Mr Clyde Cameron) had at one time or another been contending. As far back as 1964 he had been suggesting some of the things that found their way into the 1971 Act. In 1970 when he was in Opposition he had produced a Bill which included some of the matters which found their way into the 1971 Act. I do not seek to take away from him the fact that the matters he was putting forward were taken into consideration by the sub-committee of Cabinet when it was working on what eventually became the 1971 Act. The Minister has taken an interest in this matter for a long time.
The Bill presently before the House represents a further movement along the road upon which we set ourselves in the 1971 Act. In principle, I find myself unable to disagree with it. At the same time it should be pointed out that one of the restrictions upon the previous Government and upon any government in introducing reforms which give benefits to a section of the community is the state of the economy and the effect that what the Government is doing is going to have on the generality of people in Australia. This involves a question of equity between different sections of the community. It involves a question of timing. Perhaps only time will tell whether the certainly beneficial improvements in compensation which are made for Commonwealth employees by this Bill have been properly timed, will preserve equity and will not contribute to what undoubtedly will be one of our increasing problems - that of inflation. The risks are that it will flow on to the State systems. Already the Commonwealth has one of the best systems. There is a tendency for it to flow on and to multiply the benefits in that way. There is a tendency for it to flow on to workers whose compensation is payable by private employers. This multiplies the cost to the community and in the case of small businesses may lead, in relation to rates of insurance, to problems for them in maintaining their viability. These problems have to be faced inevitably in a reform of this character and are part of the. reason why the previous Government stopped at the point it did in exercising the sense of responsibility which it brought to the matter. This Bill is the choice of that present Government. It is its responsibility and choice. J only announce that inevitably this warning has to be given.
In his second reading speech the Minister suggested that to some extent acknowledging the increased cost involved in these measures could be a counter to this. It could in some way be balanced by improving the provisions relating to the prevention of industrial accidents. He said he had decided to recommend to Cabinet the establishment of a representative committee to draw up a uniform code of safety standards for adoption by all the departments. I think that anyone with a knowledge of this general subject would agree that there is room for improvement in taking steps to reduce the incidence of industrial accidents. There is room for improvement.
I think too that the Minister will agree that when he was speaking on our legislation in 1971 and 1972 he complimented the Minister in charge of the Bill on the steps he had taken in regard to vocational training and rehabilitation to meet this very problem. He then expressed a degree of criticism of the then Minister for not having introduced into his Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill provision for regulations to lay down standards of industrial safety and the like. Yet here the Minister in introducing his Bill is not able, to bring forward a power in the Bill to regulate this by a regulation-making power. He too is deferring it to a later day. lt is a difficult problem, as I think now, when he has to tackle it with responsibility himself, he would be inclined to agree. One can only hope that when he brings forward this machinery for the enforcement of a new code of safety standards for adoption by departments it will make some impact on this question of cost, because unless there is this counterbalancing factor, the effect so far as inflation is concerned will be significant. It will be multiplied by the flow-on effect of this legislation and therefore in the long run it will have the ill-effects which inflation has when it takes over control.
– The matter before the House is the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Bill 1973. It is a matter that has been of great concern - not so much the Bill as thelack of provisions in past Bills. Workers compensation is a term of which personally I am not very fond because it carries with it a connotation I will elaborate on later. Compensation for workers when they are injured is a matter that has been of great concern to workmen and to those people in the trade unions who manage the industrial affairs of workmen. It has always been the practice in the past for employers to regard compensation as something that was handed out to a worker almost in terms of largesse. I think nothing would be further from the truth. In fact all that has ever happened in the past until the introduction of this Bill by the Labor Government does not amount to very much.
The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) tried to make the point that this Bill was the culmination of a train of events that was put into effect by the previous Government. I happened to be here when the previous Government amended its workers compensation legislation. On 2 occasions it brought the matter before this. House and on 2 occasions, as I remember, there was long and very involved debate in this House around the matter that the Government was introducing. Even at that time it was the first amendment to the Act, which could not by any standard be regarded as a good Act, for a very long time. The Australian Labor Party, having taken office only quite recently, has now put into effect those things we told the former Government it should be doing to the Bill it had before the House to amend the Act. In all fairness to the former Government, some notice was taken of the propositions we put to it, and they were incorporated in the Act, but Commonwealth workmen have had to wait until now for the needed innovations and the bringing up to date of the legislation and before they could see before them a Labor Government, which, of course, is pledged to bring about these reforms.
I mentioned before that I was not very fond of the word ‘compensation’. I would not be prepared to put forward another word, but the word ‘compensation’ seems to carry with it a connotation that it is something less than a right. All work by its very nature is hazardous because it takes a man away from the things he would wish to do or the things he would probably normally do, and in order to satisfy the economic needs of his family he engages in activities that are not necessarily familiar to him. He does this work for a short period of the day and he does not always do it with a great deal of pleasure. If during the course of that work he becomes injured and places himself in a worse position than he would have been in had he not been so engaged, it seems to me that we then say: We will give the fellow some compensation*. It is not a fair deal because there is no way to measure in money some of the inconvenience that workmen and workwomen will suffer in this situation.
It is also fairly well agreed that people do not of necessity purposely injure themselves but rather that they become injured because of something that is beyond their control. Once again I bring myself back to the position of somebody doing something which he does not necessarily feel like doing but must do in order to satisfy his economic needs. If he becomes injured in such circumstances, my Labor Party colleagues and I cannot understand why such a person should be disadvantaged. Yet that is what has happened in the past. There is no guarantee that it will not happen in the future, but at least we are taking every reasonable step, so far as we can see, to ensure that it does not happen. I can cite other Acts in other Parliaments that are alleged to deal with this matter of workmen’s compensation, and I can cite cases of people in Victoria who come to my own office - workmen who have been injured on the job, workmen who have suffered most decidedly because of an injury they have incurred during their employment and who are reduced to an income of about $41 a week. It is a very small payment. They have a long uphill battle. Some of the cases take 6 months, 1 year, 2 years or even 3 years to be determined, and the workman suffers a disadvantage through all that time.
The Bill that is before the House, so far as is possible at this time, brings the matter into proper perspective in that the disadvantages that a workman, or a workwoman for that matter, may suffer as a result of injuries are minimised. The purpose of the Bill is to make a number of important amendments to the compensation legislation, and these involve a change in the conditions relating to eligibility for compensation in disease cases and some significant changes in the rates and amounts payable under the Act. As well as injury that can occur to a workman, scant attention in the past has been given to industrial disease. In fact there has been very little definition of industrial disease and very little research into it and understanding of it
– Hear, Hear!
– Thank you. My learned colleague, who is a medical practitioner, agrees with that. It is true, and it is generally conceded, that people, particularly workmen, die because they have reached a state of old age or from some other cause. Nobody ever seems to take into account the things which occurred to them during perhaps half a century in the employ of another man. Their whole routine has been upset and they have been caused to do things they would not normally do. These men may come down with a disease, perhaps not as exotic as most of the diseases we know, but an industrial illness brought about by their employment, for which of course there is no compensation because we blithely accept the fact that the men were going to die anyhow and that if their work accelerated their death it did not matter.
As the Treasurer (Mr Crean) was saying in a previous speech tonight, wages and the work force generally are the accepted system through which the wealth of the community is distributed and redistributed. Because of that these people form a very integral part of our economy. Of course it would be quite wrong, both morally and I believe in every other way, to regard a workman as a painter might regard his overalls - in other words, he is there to do a job when a job of work is to be done and, having done the job, he may be cast aside and be expected to remain available until once again it is time for him to be used.
In this new Act eligibility will be established if the disease or aggravation, etc., arises out of or in the course of the employment, and with any injury a temporary connection with an employer will be sufficient. Adverting to what I said a few moments ago, rather than a situation where the onus is placed on the workman to establish that his injury was caused by his employment, it should be prima facie evidence that his injury or his illness was caused by his employment and it should be the responsibility of some other body to prove otherwise. In other words, he should have an automatic entitlement and not something for which he has to fight.
The main changes in the rates and amounts of compensation payable under this Act are in respect of compensation for total incapacity where the amount will be increased to the level of the employee’s average weekly earnings and will continue at this level during the entire period of the incapacity leaving the worker at no time disadvantaged financially; and in respect of partial incapacity where the compensation will be a weekly amount equal to the difference between the employee’s average weekly earnings in his pre-injury employment and the weekly amount he is earning after the injury without any limit on the amount so payable. The Commonwealth will be obliged to provide suitable employment to a partially incapacitated employee or to continue weekly payments on the basis of total incapacity. The payments may be suspended if the employee unreasonably refuses or fails to accept or satisfactorily undertake suitable employment when it is provided.
Mr Speaker, the hour is late and there are speakers to follow me. It is not my intention to delay the House any longer than is necessary, especially as the practice of the House provides that the motion for the adjournment will be moved at 10.15 p.m. 1 will limit my remarks to the remaining two or three minutes available before 10.15 p.m. The Bill contains many advantages for employees. An employee who is already receiving superannuation or a defence forces retirement benefits pension will be given the right to request a lump sum payment in redemption of the Commonwealth liability to make weekly payments even if he is totally incapacitated. Many advantages will now become available to the Commonwealth employee. I finish on that note.
Debate (on motion by Mr Holten) adjourned.
Death Duties - Maximum Security Veterinary Laboratory - Residents in Country Areas: Australian Labor Party Policy - Vietnam: Prisoners of Conscience - Hire Purchase Company
Motion (by Mr Clyde Cameron) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, you may be assured that I am not ashamed to rise and participate in this debate because I want to relate to the House some matters on which I have deep personal convictions - matters which cause great concern to many Australians. One of the issues on which one often hears discussion - discussion which in the enlightened and fair mind always leads to the inevitable expression that they should be abolished - is the vexed question of death duties, probate and succession, both Federal and State. I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that Senator Negus does not have the same concern about the people of Australia as do honourable members who sit on the benches occupied by the Australian Country Party. Permeating all sections of our society and inflicting hardship on many, these duties should be abolished forthwith. The Government is challenged to state where it stands on this issue. The Country Party attitude on this is, as it is on all issues, crystal clear and definite in its expression, namely the complete abolition of these duties in both the Federal and State spheres.
It is true that some movement towards these aims has been accomplished in Queensland, obviously because of the influence of the Premier of that State, the honourable Joh Bjelke-Petersen and his Country Party colleagues, and in the Federal sphere due to the efforts of the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party which are aware, as they have always been, of the grave injustices caused by these savage duties which owe their existence to tradition and the vagaries of Federal-State relations. The duties were introduced to facilitate the redistribution of rural lands in the days when the land policy was to supplant squatters with agricultural settlers.
This proved quite successful, and to our credit, in developing our pioneering industries. But the situation is now vastly different. We have rural reconstruction schemes to build up farms, legislation to prevent foreign takeovers and suggested legislation to prevent and prohibit foreign ownership of our land. Honourable members on this side of the House wish to retain Australia for Australians. That is our clarion call.
The States entered the field of death duties in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s and the Commonwealth in 1914. Thus, as one would expect, we have 7 different forms of death duties operating now, with the relative impor tance as a public revenue source greater in the States than in the Commonwealth. Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the House to have incorporated in Hansard a table indicating the amount of State and Commonwealth Government collections of probate, succession and estate duties for the years 1960-61 to 1969- 70, and also a statement indicating these duties expressed as a percentage of government taxation revenue for the years 1969-70 to 1972-73.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– I thank the House. These taxes play a large part in the revenue of the States, but the amount involved in the Commonwealth sphere as a percentage of total revenue is 0.79 per cent. In short, it is not a matter of great significance as a percentage of the total Commonwealth revenue but to the people involved - the people with untimely deaths in the family - it is a major factor. Families are forced to sell their properties and their businesses to pay these arbitrary and capricious taxes. No taxes have as great an economic and social effect as these taxes which should no longer be with us. Governments have carried on from generation to generation with these insidious taxes - a veritable cancer in our society - without any deep thought being given to any detailed review of their success for the purpose for which they were introduced, which was redistributing wealth between generations.
In this survey ‘A Distribution of Personal Wealth in Australia in 1967-68’ - the reference is third ANZ AAA Congress, May 1971 - R. Guyton indicated that 10 per cent of all estates owned 57 per cent of the total wealth held and that the bottom 50 per cent of all estates owned 9 per cent of the total wealth held. Similarly, a survey carried out by N. J. Thomson - The Incidence and Effects of Death Duties on Wool Growing Properties in South Australia’ - discovered that, though generally considered to be an equity tax designed to fall heaviest on those with the greatest wealth, death duties, in fact, proved to be regressive.. In general, wealthy families were able to avoid the payment of death duties more effectively than the less wealthy.
This was due to the fact that the more valuable the farm the more likely it was that the family would seek professional advice in order legally to avoid the burden of death duties. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table indicating this fact.
-Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– 1 thank the House. Insofar as the experience of these 58 wool growing properties is representative of the burden borne by primary estates generally, it is evident that death duties are a decidedly inefficient method of redistributing wealth. The burden of death duties seems to depend as much on the ability to plan as the ability to pay. Primary industry has benefited from specific concessions in recent budgets which have been necessary because economic pressures in the rural sector are causing capital to replace labour as an input in production.
These continuing pressures also are causing farmers to increase their capital stock so that the benefits of scale can be obtained and credit facilities utilised. These economic forces are operating whilst political parties espouse policies designed to maintain the viability of the. family farm. The policy of the previous Government - which I commend for going part of the way - on farm estate duties can be summarised as the desirability of providing assistance to discourage the breaking up of economic rural holdings because of the need to pay estate duty.
Those in a position to plan their business enterprises take out life assurance, form gifting partnerships and companies for the purpose of bypassing death duties and are able to bypass the payment of death duties. But we in the Country Party are conscious of the great personal hardship caused to those ordinary families where the farms, the businesses or the homes have all been established by unrelenting application to work and self-sacrifice by the whole family over a period of years. In an unselfish manner and often for a minimum of wages, with no 35-hour week and no 4 weeks’ annual leave, these people have contributed to the establishment and continuation of a family heritage. Owing to an untimely death, everyone loses. It is a tragedy, a veritable disaster, because the business has to be disposed of, the family farm or home has to be sold to meet the estate duty of Commonwealth and State governments.
These duties no longer justify their existence by fulfilling their original objective satisfactorily. From the point of view of tax authorities - and surely our Public Service is big enough already and some members of it could be more gainfully employed in productive work such as social work than in tax gathering - the taxes which cost the Commonwealth most to collect are death duties. In 1971 their collecting expenses amounted to approximately 1.5 per cent of the total collection as against 1.1 per cent for personal income tax and 0.6 per cent for sales tax.
The Country Party has never been ashamed to state where it stands on issues. We are prepared to put up with the sneers and gibes and hisses but we do not sacrifice on principle. We stand for and uphold not only the dignity of labour but also the right of private property so that the family farm, business and home can be handed down for the future use of the family generations to follow. We stand for security of tenure and pride in ownership, the very antithesis of the socialistic policies of those opposite in a minority government which upholds a policy that the Government should own everything - anathema to the average Australian and the very antithesis of our way of life. Our aim is a virile Australia where the reward for initiative is still the greatest bulwark against the spread of the various ‘isms’. I ask, therefore, that death duties be abolished forthwith on the Commonwealth level for their is no justification whatever for their retention.
– -I propose to speak on the need for a maximum security veterinary laboratory in Australia. I asked a question of the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) on Tuesday of this week and I am encouraged by his interest in this matter. My question supplemented one asked last week by the honourable member for Patterson (Mr O’Keefe). I consider this matter to be one of the most important issues facing Australian agriculture. There are many major livestock diseases exotic to Australia which, if introduced, could have devastating consequences for our livestock industries and for the economy in general. The quarantine service operated by the Commonwealth Department of Health has so far proved a remarkably effective barrier against the accidental introduction of these diseases, but no quarantine service, however efficient, can hope to provide forever an absolute guarantee against their entry. With the rapidly increasing sea and air traffic between Australia and the rest of the world, the risk of exotic diseases penetrating our quarantine barrier must inevitably grow stronger each year.
Although a number of exotic diseases have considerable potential for harming our livestock industries, Australia has most reason to fear foot and mouth disease and blue tongue. The effect of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease on livestock production would be seriously damaging and its effect on trade would be disastrous. Much of our overseas trade in livestock products would be brought to a standstill overnight. Moreover, the suspension of trade would remain not merely until the disease was eradicated but until such time as Australia was able to prove this to the complete satisfaction of its trading partners.
We can roughly quantify the potential losses in monetary terms. Australia’s 150 million sheep, representing an investment of $5,000m and ah annual income of $ 1,000m, plus or minus, are particularly at risk with respect to blue tongue. The insect which spreads the disease is present and all that is needed is the virus which could kil] 50 per cent of our flock. Our beef cattle industry is now worth $2,000m and our dairy industry not much less. The United States of America is our main beef market and in the absence of any other evidence, the United States would normally require that a country remain free of foot and mouth disease for some years before resuming imports from that country. If the worst came to the worst, a maximum security diagnostic laboratory would reduce this period.
In the event of a major exotic disease entering Australia, veterinary authorities would be severely handicapped by the absence in this country of a laboratory with a great enough degree of microbiological security to enable highly infectious material to be handled without any danger of the disease agent escaping and causing further outbreaks. Such facilities, which exist in all of the countries constituting the principal export markets for our livestock products, can play an important role in the initial diagnosis and are absolutely essential for the enormous amount of diagnostic work associated with eradication campaigns. Should vaccination be adopted for control and eradication, maximum security facilities would be essential for testing and potency and safety of the vaccines used. Moreover, if it became necessary to vaccinate livestock against foot and mouth disease, maximum security facilities would be required for both the production and the testing of a suitable vaccine.
Although eradication may be achieved in a matter of days or weeks, an extensive testing program would be required for some considerable time afterwards in order to demonstrate that the disease had been eradicated. This testing can be carried out only in a maximum security laboratory. The Department of Health is currently investigating the establishment of a quarantine station on Norfolk Island so that livestock can be imported into Australia to improve the productivity of our animal industries. If the station is to draw livestock from countries where diseases such as foot and mouth, rinderpest and blue ton gue are endemic, separate maximum security laboratory facilities must also be provided in which special tests can be carried out to ensure that livestock held at the station is completely free from exotic diseases before being allowed entry to Australia.
A maximum security laboratory would, in addition to facilitating the importation of livestock and acting as an insurance against the introduction of exotic diseases, provide a valuable and much needed facility for research on virus diseases already endemic in Australia. Research on these viruses; several of which affect man as well as livestock, has been hampered to date by a lack of a maximum security laboratory. Because of the inadequacy of our knowledge of endemic diseases, virologists would in many situations be unable to differentiate quickly between an endemic and an exotic disease. Any such delay in diagnosis could have severe economic repercussions. If time permits, 1 will expand on what I have said on the functions of diagnosis, vaccination, vaccine production, testing and research.
The rapid detection and diagnosis of an exotic disease can be the single most vital factor in its successful control and eradication. Once a disease is suspected in the field it must be confirmed in the laboratory. Australian laboratories currently hold diagnostic reagents for a very limited number of exotic diseases, including Newcastle disease and swine fever. But in most cases confirmation of a field diagnosis cannot be made in Australia. Since vaccination may be necessary at some stage of a control or eradication cam.pign, it is important that the diagnosis reveals not only the virus responsible for the disease but also the type or strain of the virus. For example, 16 different types of blue tongue virus and 7 types of foot and mouth disease virus have been identified so far. The picture is further complicated by the fact that the 7 foot and mouth disease virus types can be subdivided into at least 80 different subtypes.
At present Australia is entirely dependent on the Animal Virus Research Institute at Pirbright in England for any diagnoses of foot and mouth disease. As the world reference laboratory for foot and mouth disease, Pirbright receives from all over the world specimens from animals suspected of having been infected by the disease. As a result, foot and mouth disease virus types not present within England or Europe are investigated at the institute. Other arrangements exist whereby Australia can have specimens of suspected rinderpest examined at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory and specimens of suspected blue tongue and African horse sickness examined by the Division of Veterinary Services at Onderstepoort, South Africa. There are many other exotic diseases which have to be diagnosed overseas, however, where there are less firm responsibilities. In these instances there have been very serious delays. For example, a suspected Newcastle disease-like virus isolated in Australia in 1968 was confirmed in the United States only after several months delay. By comparison, the CSIRO Division of Animal Health, because it possessed the necessary diagnostic reagents, was able to confirm the diagnosis in 12 hours. Material from a suspected outbreak of rinderpest from Papua New Guinea was immediately incinerated on arrival at an African diagnostic laboratory because at that time they had begun to make rinderpest vaccine from attenuated strains and could not permit virulent virus into the laboratory. Uncertainties and delays in diagnosis as a result of dependence on other countries are no longer tolerable.
Livestock can be rendered immune to most, but not all exotic diseases by vaccination. Although vaccination of susceptible animals might sometimes be used to help eradicate an exotic disease, it would, in most instances, be used as a control measure only when eradication measures proved unsuccessful. For example, if an outbreak of foot and mouth disease was detected in Victoria before it had much of an opportunity to spead, there would be a good chance that an extensive slaughtering campaign would eradicate the disease. If, on the other hand, an outbreak occurred in northern Australia, it might be some time before it was detected. It might then be so firmly entrenched that it would be necessary to try to confine the outbreak within a buffer area in which all susceptible livestock were vaccinated prior to eventual slaughter for eradication. However, the chances of eradicating an insect transmitted disease such as bluetongue once it entered the country would be remote and a policy of control by vaccination would then be necessary. This is the disease that threatens 1 50 million sheep.
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is currently building high security not maximum security facilities that will enable it to produce live attenuated vaccines for use against a number of exotic diseases including bluetongue in the event of their entering the country. These facilities will not be suitable, however, for the production of foot and mouth disease vaccine since this involves handling large quantities of live, highly virulent virus. Because of the risks involved, only maximum security facilities can be used for foot and mouth disease vaccine production. At present the only place in the world where Australia could have an acceptable foot and mouth disease vaccine prepared to combat the outbreak would be at Pirbright, England. Too much reliance should not be placed on the availability of these facilities.
If the laboratory is to deal effectively with any exotic disease that might be introduced, it needs to be manned by a permanent team of highly trained and highly competent virologists who are well versed in security procedures. The only satisfactory way of ensuring the presence of a team of the calibre required would be for the laboratory to engage in research. This would also mean that the laboratory, which would represent a considerable capital investment - some estimates go as high as S30m - would be used effectively at all times. I believe that a study on some of the matters I have mentioned will soon be completed. I trust that we will act to ensure that Australia has a maximum security veterinary laboratory and avoid potential disaster.
– As the honourable member for Fisher I represent a country electorate. It is one of the fastest growing electorates in Queensland. It has almost every form of rural production; it has a number of very fast developing provincial cities; and it has the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I am rising tonight to protest at the deliberate attacks that have been made by this Government on the interests and rights of country people. Countless attacks have been made in this House, ostensibly on the Country Party; but I claim that they are directed not against the Country Party but against everyone who lives in the country. Not only have the attacks been made; there has been an indifference and callousness directed against country people. I believe that this is because the Labor Party’s policy has largely been rejected in the country areas of Australia.
I want to instance this policy because the Labor Party says that it cares for people. We care for people, too. But the Labor Party does not appear to care for country people. I want to refer to a number of legislative measures which have been introduced by this Government and which, I believe, are not only directly contrary to country interests but are directed at and against country interests. The first concerns revaluation, a subject on which I have spoken in this House on a number of occasions. Honourable members opposite have even told us that it has been good for us. I refer to the dairy, sorghum and mining industries, to name just 3 that are in real trouble because of the appreciation of the Australian dollar and the failure to follow the American dollar down. The effect for the moment has been masked in some areas because of the good world prices for beef and sugar, and up to now for wool, but I note that today wool prices dropped by 45 per cent. The sugar producers of Queensland have absolutely no illusions about what revaluation will do. That was made evident at a recent conference of sugar producers in Queensland. Revaluation is a direct thrust at the rural producers and country people.
The second piece of legislation I have in mind is the Remuneration and Allowances Bill which represented an attempted denigration of the Country Party and an absolute non-concern with the difficulties that country members have in respect of allowances. Again this was not so much an attack on the Country Party as an attack on country people, and it has been interpreted that way, at least throughout my electorate. I refer next to the Electoral Bill which was passed by this House yesterday. Just about every Government speaker attacked the Country Party by name with some of the unkindest cuts I have ever heard. The Country Party had advised that a number of our members would speak on that Bill, but they were gagged despite what the Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House. (Mr Daly) had told us.
– Nine of us were gagged.
– My colleague is right. The Minister assured us that we would all get a turn and then gagged us. He said: ‘You will get a go at the Committee stage’. But we were gagged again. This was a silencing not of the Country Party but of the country voice.
-Order! 1 remind the honourable gentleman that in the debate on the motion to adjourn the House he is not per mitted to refer to a debate that took place in this session.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will turn to another aspect about which I am very concerned and on which questions have been asked in this House. When answers have been given, they have not been satisfactory. I am referring to the operations of the Postmaster-General’s Department in country areas. I have made representations galore to Directors of Posts and Telegraphs and to the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) on behalf of country people who urgently need telephones connected. These people have virtually no amenities. In a number of cases 1 have forwarded medical certificates that to me, as a layman, appeared to necessitate urgent action. Yet the answers given in this House are that such connections are not economic. Has the concept of providing a service been thrown overboard for the sake of economics? I know of people with telephones connected on party lines who were assured that, if they erected and maintained those lines, when the time came for renewal the service would be renewed by the government. I am speaking of services that were installed much longer ago than 23 years, so 1 hope I will not get the usual cry back at me. It looks as though those people will not have the promises made to them honoured.
I have had numerous complaints about mail deliveries in the country that are being reduced from 6 days a week to as few as 3 days a week. Not only does this cut out essential mail services but also it reduces their newspaper deliveries, which often are associated with the delivery of other things. We read that there is to be a declassification of 300 official post offices to the status of nonofficial post offices. I guarantee that none of those post offices will be city post offices and I guarantee that this is a step towards the closing of more non-official post offices in country areas. My Party, when it was in Government and since it has left office, has fought to maintain these non-official post offices.
The next point I turn to is the report in today’s newspapers about the establishment of what is called a ‘new task force’ to look into a number of matters. But right at the top of the agenda of things to be examined are primary industry subsidies and tax concessions to primary industries. I guarantee that there is no thought of increasing the subsidies or concessions. This is another thrust at the primary producer. The Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) has said that he will not allow primary industries to have unwarranted protection and that rural industries will not be allowed to soak up funds which would be better applied to some other causes. So this is another real threat to the country people. I could not notice the name of any representative of rural interests listed as a member of that task force.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) appointed a Minister for Primary Industry from the Senate and this Minister has been so outspoken in the ways I have mentioned that the rural people are really concerned. They are concerned that the Government has no thought or care for the primary producers of Australia. Recently in this House I heard an honourable member talking about the phenomenal bank balances of farmers. These are not the farmers whom I know in my electorate.
– They have to pay back $4, 000m to financial institutions.
– That would be right. Their balances are in the red and if this Government continues their balances will never be anything else but in the red. To cap it all off we had the announcement of the Prime Minister in this House yesterday that while the Minister for Primary Industry is overseas his representative will be Senator Cavanagh. The reception that the announcement received in this House will be equalled by the reception it receives in the country areas of Queensland.
– This evening I wish to bring to the attention of the House and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in his capacity as Foreign Minister, a matter about which I have received a large number of communications in recent months. These communications deal with the imprisonment of 5 Young Christian Worker leaders in South Vietnam. Many of these communications were received prior to the recent election. I appreciate that there was little chance that the previous leadership-lacking Government would take action on the matter. I appreciate also that the Prime Minister might normally be reluctant to interfere with the internal affairs of another country. However, I believe that this matter goes beyond the cat egory of internal affairs and really should be judged in terms of international concern for inhuman treatment of man against his fellow man.
The sequence of events which led up to the arrest in Saigon and subsequent imprisonment is as follows: On 30th April 1972 at about 2 a.m. the Saigon police searched the National Headquarters of the Young Christian Workers Movement and arrested all the young people who were there. Thirteen young workers and 5 national leaders of the YCW were arrested. On 1st May the National Chaplain went to the chief of police, who said that a boy who admitted to taking part in an attack on a police station had said that his 3 collaborators lived at the YCW house. The chief of police said that those who were not guilty would be released at once. On 3rd May the National Chaplain again asked the police for an explanation. The police said that they had found those who were guilty, but that some antigovernment tracts were found in the YCW house, although the author of these had not yet been discovered. The chief of police promised to settle the affair the same day.
On 4th May further inquiries from the police brought the answer that the YCW leaders had been transferred to the central police of Saigon. The central police refused to give any information. On 5th May a telegram was sent to the international YCW to inform it of the situation. The telegram was not received. On 16th May the information reached the international office of the YCW. Since the arrest the police have refused permission for a visit by friends and other YCW members to those imprisoned. No charge has been made against them. At the time no-one knew where the prisoners were. On 7th August last year a letter was sent by the YCW leaders in Australia to the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen), who was the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, requesting information on the imprisonment. His reply of 29th August confirmed the news. In reply he said:
According to the information I have received, Nguyen Viet Tuan and 17 other youths were arrested on 1st May at the headquarters of the Catholic Worker Youth Movement, which was raided under martial law procedures on the grounds that an unauthorised meeting was being held.
On the basis of documents found during the raid, 16 youths were charged with having been implicated in the lire bombing of a police station in the 2nd district of Saigon on the previous day, 30th April.
The remaining 2 were released. Those charged are being held in Chi Hoa prison in Saigon and are believed to be in good health.
Amnesty International -
A movement formed to fight persecution and protect human rights - an organisation affiliated with the United Nations and concerned with the release of political prisoners . . . have taken up the case of one of the YCW members Nguyen Viet Tuan, as a ‘prisoner of conscience’.
I also understand that Amnesty groups in other countries have adopted the cases of the other 4 in the hope that our combined efforts . . .
It was hoped that they might secure the release of these young people. (Quorum formed) Mr Speaker, it seems strange that members sitting to your left are not prepared to listen to an account of atrocities that are carried out in countries such as South Vietnam. It is only natural to expect that attitude from supporters of the Rhodesian regime. I was attempting to bring this matter to the attention of the House despite the concern of honourable members opposite that such matters are being aired in this Parliament. I will continue my remarks. The 4 people who were tried at the court martial on 18th November 1972 were Nguyen Viet Tuan, Nguyen Van Hau, Tran Chi Vien and Nguyen Van Ngoa.
– Your pronunciation is not very good.
– They were found guilty of being implicated in the fire bombing of a police station on 30th April 1972. Despite the verdict of not guilty, those 4 people are imprisoned on the island of Paulo Condor. Their health was so bad that they had to be carried on stretchers to the prison. A fifth member of the national team, Doan Xhao Xuyen who was held at Tan Kiap, was not tried with the others and was transferred without trial to Paulo Condor on 26th December. The nature of the atrocities that have been inflicted on these young people do not permit me to state them in detail. Might I say in reply to an earlier interjection that whilst my pronunciation may not have been perfect, I am sure that the names of the people will be correctly recorded in Hansard and that my pronunciation of the names will not detract from the fact that a true record has been made of the atrocities that have been perpetrated on these people.
As I said earlier, interference in matters such as this normally might be unwise but I submit that in this matter we should consider the cause of democracy in South Vietnam, a cause for which over 450 young Australians sacrificed their lives and on which the Australian Government expended countless millions of dollars of this country’s money. In the interests of the preservation of democracy, if it exists in that country today, and more so in the cause of humanity, I urge the Prime Minister and this Government clearly to express their grave concern for the outrageous injustices suffered by these 5 young people and to initiate every possible action to arrange with the South Vietnamese Government for the release of these young prisoners of conscience.
– I raise a matter tonight which concerns a very reputable hire purchase company Custom Credit Corporation Ltd and a client of the company, a Mr Edward Wells who lives in my electorate at 283 Newcastle Road, East Maitland. I received a letter today at my Canberra office from Mrs Joan Wells, the wife of Mr Edward Wells, concerning a transaction which they had with this company. Mrs Joan Wells has written on behalf of Mr Edward Wells concerning the repossession of a motor car which was under hire purchase to Custom Credit Corporation and was repossessed by this company. This case was highlighted on the television program This Day Tonight’ last Thursday night. For a company of the substance and standing of Custom Credit Corporation, the action taken by it seems to be very harsh. Mr Edward Wells purchased in March 1970 a 1970 model Morris 1500. The purchase of the car was financed through Custom Credit. Mr Wells had purchased several new cars through this organisation prior to purchasing the Morris. He previously had had satisfactory hire purchase dealings with this company in the purchase of those cars.
It is estimated that Mr Wells had paid to Custom Credit about $6,000 to $8,000 for the 2 new cars he had previously purchased through the company. His repayments on the latest purchase went along satisfactorily until 28th June 1972 when unfortunately he was stood down in his job, along with many others, because the firm which employed him had lost contracts and had gone out of business. This was a severe blow to him. He had been employed in this industry for about 9i years. He was out of work for about 2 months before he found suitable employment. When he became unemployed he went along to the company to find out about his car payments.
At that time he was 2 months ahead of his repayments under the contract. He went to see the credit manager at the Newcastle office of Custom Credit Corporation but he could not find him on that day. While he was there he paid an instalment of $27 which brought him right up to date in his repayments. The very next day he left for Mount Isa where he was employed in that city with an engineering firm for some time, and then was transferred to a job in Victoria. When he was in Victoria he received a letter from the hire purchase company concerning this transaction.
When the car was purchased he was living at Morisset but later he moved to an address in East Maitland which is in my electorate. He answered the letter which he received while he was in Victoria. He informed the company that he was 2 months behind in his car repayments and he asked for an extension of time to pay as his financial position was temporarily embarrassed. No answer was received to that letter but the company sent a one-ton truck to pick up the car. What a lovely Christmas present this was. When they arrived back at East Maitland for their Christmas vacation, it was interrupted by a one-ton truck from Custom Credit picking up their car. They received no notice of the intention of the company to repossess the car. One month later a letter was received to the effect that the company had sold the car for $300 and that they were liable for the loss of $563 on the sale. The company graciously added in that letter that it might be prepared to enter into an agreement to allow them to pay this amount of money by instalments. An amount of $2,069 had been paid off the car. These people had never missed a repayment until the unemployment situation arose. This was the third car which they had purchased through this organisation. It was 3 years old and it had only 19,000 miles on the clock. It was repossessed by Custom Credit Corporation Ltd and sold for $300.
Anybody who was watching ‘This Day Tonight’ last Thursday night would have been informed that the car was worth between $700 and $900 and yet this company sold it for $300. It is a reputable company. I have known it in the business world for a long time. To me it is a remarkable situation that in these circumstances, dealing with somebody with whom it had had very satisfactory dealings before, the company should act in the manner which it did. I think that this company, Custom Credit Corporation Ltd, should have a look at this deal and that it should compensate Mr Edward Wells for the problem which has arisen. I know that legally the company is right. Under a hire purchase contract it can repossess a car or a machine when repayments fall behind. But surely when a person, through no fault of his own, becomes unemployed and cannot meet the repayments some consideration should be given to him. I hope that Customs Credit will have a look at this matter and deal sympathetically with this client who has been a faithful client of the company for many years.
– I will not detain the House for long. I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) whose electorate adjoins the electorate of Hunter. I endorse his remarks wholeheartedly and congratulate him on bringing this tragic case before the national Parliament. I long for the day when this progressive Labor Government, to which I am proud to belong, will introduce moratorium legislation to prevent hire purchase companies doing this sort of thing.
-Order! It being 1 1 o’clock, in accordance with the order of the House, the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 10th April 1973.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
What sums were expended on advertising by the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1972.
– I am advised that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
An amount of $29,922 was expended on advertising by the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1972.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question:
implicit price deflator’ for each year is shown in the total column of the table in the answer to part1).
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
What was the (a) actual and (b) percentage of the wages component of the Gross National Product at factor cost for each calendar year from and including 1966.
– The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question:
Annual national accounts estimates for Australia are published for financial years ending June, and the table has been prepared accordingly.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
What are the details of adjustments in (a) wages and salaries and (b) hours of work in all Federal Awards made since 4 December 1972.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Television Programme: ‘A Current Affair’ (Question No. 324)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Media has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Can he say which Premiers have expressed agreement with the proposal that Local Government should be represented at the foreshadowed constitutional convention with full voting rights.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
My Government’s support for the direct representation of local government at the proposed Australian Constitutional Convention was clearly stated in the election policy speech. On 15th March 1973 I wrote to all State Premiers re-iterating this support and foreshadowing that we shall be seeking acceptance of our views at the forthcoming meeting of the Steering Committee of Delegates on 12th-13th April at which the manner and extent of local government representation is to be considered.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will he answer each of the questions I put to him in Question No. 205 (Hansard, 6th March 1973, page 277) instead of referring me to an unofficial document in which answers to most of the questions do not appear.
– I have nothing further to add to my answer to Question No. 205.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 April 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730405_reps_28_hor83/>.