28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into thelaw of this land a principle which violates a fundamental right - the right to life.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Enderby, Mr Lynch, Mr Anthony, Mr Sinclair, Mr Armitage, Mr Bourchier, Mr Corbett, Mr Fisher, Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Fulton, Mr Graham, Mr Hunt, Mr Kelly, Mr Keogh, Mr Kerin, Mr Luchetti, Mr Lucock, Mr McKenzie, Mr Reynolds, Mr Ian Robinson, Mr Staley, Mr Wallis and Mr Whan.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That grave concern is felt at the imminent introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament of legislation to permit abortion on demand.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the laws of this land a principle which violates a fundamental right - the right to life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hayden, Mr Daly, Mr Beazley, Mr Connor, Dr Everingham, Mr Adermann, Mr Ashley-Brown, Mr Bennett, Mr Donald Cameron, Mr Collard, Mr Cooke, Mr Cross, Mr Doyle, Mr Drummond, Mr Drury, Mr Erwin, Mr Fairbairn, Mr FitzPatrick, Mr Fox, Mr Giles, Dr Gun, Mr Halle tt, Mr Hansen, Mr Holten, Mr Hurford, Mr Jacobi, Mr Jarman, Mr Katter, Mr Keating, Mr King, Mr Lloyd, Mr MacKellar, Mr McLeay, Mr McVeigh, Mr Maisey, Mr Mathews, Mr Mulder, Mr Nicholls, Mr O’Keefe, MrOlley, Mr Peacock, Mr Riordan, Mr Eric Robinson, MrScholes, Mr Sherry, Mr Turner and Mr Viner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of ; he unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Daly, Mr Uren, Mr Stewart. Mr Morrison, Mr McMahon, Mr Armitage, Mr Ashley-Brown, Sir John Cramer, Mr Edwards, Mr Graham, Dr Klugman, Mr MacKellar, Mr Mulder, Mr Reynolds, Mr Riordan, Mr Turner and Mr Wentworth.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens (electors of the Division of the A.C.T.) respectfully sheweth:
That citizens of this Division place great value on the sanctity of human life, on the right to life of each individual, and on the physical, mental and social welfare of mothers and children;
Thatwe are perturbed by proposals to alter the law to allow termination of pregnancy for nonmedical reasons; and
That extension of the law to allow abortion on demand is totally unacceptable to the people of this Division.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will maintain the right to life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray- by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Martin.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens of New South Wales of various beliefs respectfully sheweth:
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable House will not extend thelaws governing abortion and will uphold the precious life of the unborn child.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Turner.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members ofthe House of Representatives assembled: The humble petition of certain nurses of Australia respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable House will not extend the Laws governing Abortion, and will uphold the right to life of the unborn child.
Your petitioners as in duty bound humbly pray. by Mr Mulder.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members ofthe House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens (electors of the Division of Hume) respectfully showeth:
That citizens of this Division place great value on the sanctity of human life, on the right to life of each individual, and on the physical, mental, and social welfare of mothers and children;
That we are perturbed by proposals to alter the law to allow termination of pregnancy for nonmedical reasons; and
That extension of the law to allow abortion on demand is totally unacceptable to the people of this Division.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will maintain the right to life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Olley.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members ofthe House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens (electors of the Division of the Eden-Monaro) respectfully sheweth:
That citizens of this Division place great value on the sanctity of human life, on the right to life of each individual, and on the physical, mental, and social welfare of mothers and children;
That we are perturbed by proposals to alter the law to allow termination of pregnancy for nonmedical reasons; and
That extension of the law to allow abortion on demand is totally unacceptable to the people of this Division.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable House will not extend the laws governing abortion and will maintain the right to life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Whan.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe that:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should maintain the existing laws covering abortion.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Snedden, Mr Bourchier, MrJarman, Mr Scholes and Mr Willis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned residents of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia shows that certain citizens are concerned that the Commonwealth Parliament may legislate to deny the right to life to a class of human beings.
Your petitioners respectfully ask that no steps be taken to widen the existing grounds for abortion and that efforts be made to enforce the present law. And your petitioners as in duty bound do ever humbly pray. by Mr Enderby and Mr Calder.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned residents of Katherine in the Northern Territory of Australia shows that certain citizens are concerned that the Commonwealth Parliament may legislate to deny the right to life to a class of human beings.
Your petitioners respectfully ask that no steps be taken to widen the existing grounds for abortion and that efforts be made to enforce the present law.
And your petitioners as in duty bound do ever humbly pray. by Mr Calder.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That grave concern is felt at the imminent introduction into the Commonwealth Parliament of legislation to permit termination of pregnancy on request within the first 16 weeks of pregnancy without the objective establishment of medical or psychiatric need.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into our laws the principle that pregnancy may be terminated in its earlier weeks on the request of the woman alone.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hansen.
The Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, each and every one of whom declares himself to be over the age of eighteen years respectfully sheweth:
That an estimated 100,000 abortions, many of which are illegal occur in Australia annually;
That most of these abortions take place under undersirable conditions.
That in our opinion restrictivelaws relating to abortion have proved ineffective in controlling it, but have been counter productive, causing unnecessary hardship and risk to the life and health of women;
That at least one third of pregnancies in Australia are unplanned;
That unplanned pregnancies frequently produce unwanted children.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Proposed Medical Practice Clarification Act will be passed as originally proposed with out amendment. Your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lamb and Mr McKenzie.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives assembled. We the undersigned citizens urge you to support the Medical Practice Clarification Bill as part of a program which we feel should include:
Adequate sex education
Network of birth control clinics
Readily available abortion counselling
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth that grave concern is felt at the attitudes of the churches and the do-gooders in the Canberra community (1) who appear to feel that they are the sole experts in all that is morally right or wrong and (2) who, to the uninitiated, might appear to be, through their active campaign in petitioning the House, representative of a majority of the people of Canberra.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House will recognise that the recent anti-abortion campaign by the do-gooders in the community is ill conceived and not representative of the community as a whole. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on 10th December 1948, Australia signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Artice 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in co-operation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care program to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the nonrepayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public inquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
- Mr Speaker, today’s proceedings are too important for me to be absent. I had no desire, yesterday, to challenge the authority of your high office as Speaker of the House but I wished to protest the Government’s restriction of today’s debate. I therefore apologise to you.
– Did the Minister for Labour see the report in this morning’s ‘Australian’ to the effect that major union leaders are putting heavy pressure on the Government over clause 50 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill? Was the matter raised at yesterday’s Labor caucus meeting? Did the caucus refer the issue to its industrial committee for reconsideration? Has the Minister written to the Australian Council of Trade Unions for its opinion? Will the Minister assure the House that he will stand by his announced commitment to ensure a system of democratic control of all unions allowing fullest participation by members in their affairs?
– It is true that out of 250 unions registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act I have received telegrams from 35 of the 41 officials who intend to send telegrams to me. The telegrams are respectfully worded.
– Do they conclude with a prayer?
– One actually ends with a prayer, although on reflection I think that was one advocating support for abortion reform - I cannot remember. But all the telegrams were very respectfully worded. The protests are against clause 50 of the Bill which prohibits future registration of any union rule which would have the effect of depriving the rank and file of that union of a direct vote in the election of the members of the union’s management committee. I must say that the telegrams are couched in pretty technical terms. They are fairly easy to read, however, because most of them bear the same wording, so this assists. The telegrams support the collegiate system of electing officials - a system which means that delegates elected by the rank and fi’e elect the officials or certain of the officials. The collegiate system does not allow the rank and file a direct right to vote for their paid officials. But another basis of the opposition is the cost of having a rank and file ballot of the whole of a union’s Australian membership. This is put as a very strong reason why the collegiate system ought to be permitted. I think this particular opposion to the Bill will disappear when it is understood that machinery is provided in the Bill to allow the cost of Commonwealth elections to be met entirely by the Commonwealth. Elections can be asked for, which will cost the unions nothing, but I dare say that part of the opposition to the collegiate system will disappear when the position is understood.
Clause 50 does not apply to existing union rules which permit the collegiate system for the election of federal secretaries. It is nearly impossible to draft legislation that would cover all the various kinds of collegiate systems already in operation. But we can prevent and we intend in the Bill to prevent any future registration of union rules that would have the effect of depriving rank and file members of a direct vote for their officials.
There is, as I said yesterday, a slight technical defect, not so much in clause 50 as in clause 5. I have mentioned this to my committee and we are examining this question before the Bill goes into the Senate. I have not written to the Australian Council of Trade Unions but I have kept in touch with the ACTU for several weeks. This Bill was introduced into the Parliament nearly a month ago. Copies of the Bill have been widely circulated. I must congratulate the 3 union officials who took the main brunt of organising the telegrams for the response they have managed to bring about because the campaign did not seem to get off the ground until yesterday morning and already 35 of the 41 telegrams that can be expected have come in.
The honourable member for Mackellar will be disappointed to learn that Laurie Car michael and Jack Mundey have not sent me telegrams of protest. He will be disappointed to learn that the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, the Seamen’s Union of Australia and the Miners Federation also have not yet sent me telegrams of protest. The honourable member will be surprised or, perhaps, pleased to learn that none of the trade union officials who normally support the Democratic Labor Party point of view has sent me a telegram but there has been a fairly broad spectrum of points of view represented in the telegrams that I have received. Some of them are from unions that are not even affiliated with the Australian Labor Party, but that does not matter. It is their right to send me telegrams and I welcome them. The Government will always lend a sympathetic ear to any reasonable request put to it by the working peop’e of Australia. There are 4.5 million working people in this country, 2.5 million of whom are rank and file trade unionists. They are our voters and that is why- we support the point of view they put, when it is a reasonable point of view.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The previous Speaker consistently chastised Ministers in the previous Government for giving long answers and the Minister for Labour has just created another record in this- Parliament.
-Order! He is one of Reggie Swartz’s pupils.
– What I have said does not mean that the Government gives an open cheque to the trade union movement. The Government cannot and will not do that. But the Government will support the trade union movement when it is right and, on the question of the amendments which it has asked to be made to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act with regard to penal clauses and other things in the Act. we believe that the unions are right. We will always support them when they are right as, equally, we will tell them when we think they are wrong.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented.
– Order! Personal explanations may be made after question time. The honourable member for Mackellar will be given priority then.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. Has his attention been drawn to today’s news headlines and report to the effect that the Town Clerk of the City of Knox in Victoria said that a survey carried out by his council had shown that the cost of a building block in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs is rising by an average $48 a week or up to 62.6 per cent a year? What action is intended by the Government, through the Minister’s Department, to ensure that this frightening land price inflation is curbed? What cooperation and initiatives have been indicated to him by the Victorian Government to bring about a situation in which young married couples saving for land as part of their land-home unit will not need to increase their savings by an almost impossible $80 a week to obtain their objective?
– My attention has been drawn to the statement made by the Town Clerk of the Council of the City of Knox. Land costs are spiralling in the south-eastern corridor of the Melbourne area as they are in all other capital cities. Action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government and there have been discussions between the Commonwealth Government and all State governments. In Victoria there are 3 areas under study for the development of new cities. There have been discussions also between the Commonwealth Government and all State governments in regard to Commonwealth-State land commissions as well as discussions between New South Wales authorities and the Commonwealth Government. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and the Commonwealth Government have had discussions about making money available to try to catch up with the backlag in the provision of sewerage services to unserviced land. It will cost in excess of $ 1,000m to catch up with the sew erage backlag that has occurred in Melbourne during the last 23 years of maladministration by previous Commonwealth governments. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works is paying at present, in respect of sewerage in Melbourne, interest at 58c in every dollar it collects. Therefore, if we are to stabilise the problem of rising land prices in Melbourne or Sydney in particular, we will need the co-operation of those State governments.
The New South Wales Government has stabilised land prices in certain areas under study - the Menai-Hols worthy-Campbell town corridor, the Gosford-Wyong area, the Orange-Bathurst area and the Albury area. The Victorian Government to date has stabilised land prices in only the Wodonga area. No indication has been given publicly of any intention to stabilise land prices in the other study areas. It is important that the State governments make clear their intentions about stabilising land prices otherwise there can be no hope of stopping land prices spiralling. I make clear that it is also very important to get the co-operation of the State governments because it is only through a co-operative effort between Victoria and the Commonwealth that we will be able to stop spiralling land prices in Melbourne. Unless we can do this, we will find that in a very short time land prices in Melbourne will be similar to those in Sydney. At present the average price of land in Sydney exceeds $10,000 and what is happening in Sydney today will happen in Melbourne tomorrow.
– Before asking my question I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister for Social Security, who is sitting at the table this morning. My question is addressed to the Leader of the House. 1 ask: Will he put aside the attitudes that he expressed yesterday in relation to the Medical Practice Clarification Bill which is due to come on this morning as a private member’s Bill? Will he overlook and forget the outrage felt on this side of the House, and perhaps on the other side of the House also, and come to the realisation that on this issue it is a matter of fundamental importance to every honourable member, regardless of which side of the House he is on in political terms? Irrespective of the Party to which honourable members belong, all members of this House will be expressing their view on the Bill according to deeply held views, whether those views arise out of conscience, ethics or religion.
It is necessary for every member of this House who wishes to do so to have the opportunity to explain why he is voting as he will vote because nobody in this House can avoid the vote today. Honourable members should not have to vote without the opportunity to explain their views, whether they are in favour of the Bill, whether they are against the Bill or whether they are in favour of one or other of at least 2 amendments that I know of. Does the honourable gentleman realise that, according to the Standing Orders, if 210 minutes only are allowed for this debate the mover could take 30 minutes, a person deputed by the Prime Minister could, under Standing Orders, take 30 minutes and a person deputed by me could take 30 minutes? That would leave only 120 minutes. That 120 minutes could be occupied by 6 separate honourable members with the result that there would be only 9 speakers. That would probably deprive honourable members of the opportunity to move amendments that they may want to move. In these circumstances, will the honourable gentleman, please, on behalf of all members of this Parliament who have a view to express, change the motion passed yesterday to suspend the Standing Orders to one which would say that the debate shall continue uninterrupted until a vote is taken after every member of this House has had an opportunity to express his view?
– May I say that personally I see no reason to change the views I expressed yesterday. I accept the Leader of the Opposition’s assurance that there is to be a conscience vote on his side of the chamber. I know that there will be on this side of the House. I did not know until he confirmed it that this was so on the other side. Yesterday the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party said that this was a Government Bill. That is completely false. This Bill is to be introduced by a private member. It is a Bill on which I now understand every member of this Parliament can vote as he thinks fit. The only thing that the Government has done has been to take effective action - a thing which was neglected by members of the present Opposition in days gone by - to come to a decision as to the. time for a vote. As to the question of extending the time for an unlim ited period, this is very strange coming from the Leader of the Opposition. Let me read the record of his Government in regard to General Business day.
– Can’t you wait?
– I can wait. Referring to the last Government and the number of times that Government Business was given precedence over General Business in 1972, I find that a resolution which was passed on 23rd August 1972, successfully excluded 5 Thursdays which normally would have been General Business days. The number of votes taken on General Business items in the 27th Parliament was five. All five were on motions for disallowance of an ordinance or regulation and were negatived. No items of which notice was given for General Business on a Thursday were ever taken to a vote. The time allotted for the debate today is one of the longest periods ever given to a debate of this kind. The longest time spent debating a private member’s Bill was 5 hours 50 minutes on the Banking Companies Reserve Liabilities Bill which was introduced into the House of .Representatives from the Senate in 1910. It lapsed and was resumed in 1911-12.
I have details of several other private member’s Bills. The Defence Bill (No. 2) of 1939 occupied 3 hours 57 minutes. That was in the time of a tory government. The Fire Insurance Bill of 1907 took 3 hours 40 minutes, while the Matrimonial Bill of 1957 took 5 hours 36 minutes. The latter Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives by Mr Joske and lapsed at the Committee stage. In 1907 the Public Service Appeals Bill was debated for 3 hours 50 minutes. They are the longest debates on private members’ Bills of which I can find details after research into the parliamentary history of this country. Today 3i hours have been allotted exclusively to the private members’ Bill on abortion.
Now the Leader of the Opposition is asking for more time for the debate. Yesterday honourable members opposite voted to reduce the time for the debate to 2 hours. We moved for a period of 3i hours because the time for the debate expires at a quarter to one if it is not concluded. Every honourable member opposite, including the honourable gentleman who asked the question, voted to reduce the time to 2 hours. Now they want unlimited time. How silly can you get? Before this debate was considered I saw the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and said to him: ‘This is an important measure on which emotions are roused and about which everyone has feelings. Could we not get agreement to have a reasonable time for debate? Could we cut out the formalities, suspensions and all that kind of thing? Let us have the debate in a reasoned way.’ The Deputy Leader of the Opposition reported to me that he had discussed it with his Party, or that members of his Party had discussed it. Quite rightly, I suppose in their view, evidently they said: ‘This is a private members’ Bill and there can be no interference’, and the Deputy Leader could come to no arrangements with me. Arising out of that discussion, members of my Party said that they would vole as a party to see that the forms were proceeded with as laid down.
If the Opposition had been reasonable and had been prepared to negotiate on these matters, possibly some of the difficulties being experienced would have been overcome. However, if honourable members restrain themselves, double the number of members will be able to speak. 1 am one of those fellows who say that your money is where your heart is. You can speak in this House one way and vote another way. Everybody should understand that he will be judged in this Parliament by the way his vote is recorded after the debate. It does not matter what he says or how he speaks. History and the people of this country will judge him according to how Hansard records his vote. The perfect way to handle legislation is to have a full debate right through on every Bill. We have a legislative program. People are interested in prices. They are interested in the cost of living and in the 50 Bills we have to pass. Honourable members opposite wanted to curtail debate. Earlier in the week we put up a proposal to extend slightly the sitting hours of the Parliament. Every honourable member opposite voted against it. I rest on that.
– We will sit tomorrow instead.
– When I was mentioning this matter in answer to a question by the honourable member for Bradfield the other day I challenged the Opposition several times. I asked honourable members opposite why they did not move for an extension. Only today, when you cannot make any arrangements they wake up that they want an extension. I say again: ‘While this Government is in office whenever possible we will have a vote on General Business day. Only the other day the honourable member for Mackellar would not allow me to move suspension of the Standing Orders to allow his private member’s motion to be debated for an extended time. It was not until the honourable member for Lyne moved suspension of the Standing Orders that he allowed us to debate his own motion on General Business day. I put that on the record. I am quite prepared to be ‘judged on this issue. I regret that the Opposition did not negotiate more on this measure. Probably we could have got further.
– May 1 have the indulgence of the House for 2 minutes on this matter? The Leader of the House said that if I had been prepared to negotiate we would have gained additional time.
-Order! Is this a personal explanation?
– No, it is in the interests of the conduct of the House.
-Order! This matter should be dealt with by making a personal explanation after question time.
– The Leader of the House referred to our being prepared to negotiate. We are prepared, and the negotiations can commence immediately with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and relates to valuations of and rentals on war service land settlement properties. When may we expect legislation in this House to implement Labor policy on war service land settlement with respect to valuations fixed to correspond with State valuations, ‘ess an amount for improvements and structures, with rentals based at 2i per cent of this figure? I might add that this is also the policy of the State Labor Government in Tasmania. If this legislation cannot be introduced this session, will the Minister make every endeavour to have it brought in during the Budget session so as to remove the injustices perpetrated for so many years by the previous Government on soldier settlers in the various settlements?
– I am aware of the serious injustices of the existing provisions of the War Service Land Settlement Agreements Act. The Parliament also is aware of the many speeches made by the honourable member for Braddon exposing these injustices. Members on the Government side, including the honourable member for Braddon, have repeatedly moved and supported amendments in this House for a select committee inquiry into the various aspects of the determination of rentals, valuations and the option price of properties. In every case such an inquiry was refused by the previous Government. A select committee of the Tasmanian Legislative Council inquired fully into this matter. Its recommendations were firm that in Tasmania soldier settlement valuations should be related to State valuations. This was accepted by the Tasmanian Labor Government. It has been accepted also by the Labor Party in this House, as was shown by our various amendments over the years. I can understand the honourable member’s concern in this matter because he, above anybody here, has made the greatest number ofpleas to do something positive. I can understand him also being very edgy now as to what the new Government will do because as he would know, I suppose - he is quite right in his implied criticism - up to the present time we have not done anything. I would suggest that as the Minister for Primary Industry is a Tasmanian the honourable member might give him a bit of a nudge, and 1 in my capacity will put his case again to the Minister for urgent action.
PACIFIC BASIN ECONOMIC COUNCIL: VISIT BY Mr K. T. LI
– In the absence of the Prime Minister and because of the urgency of this matter I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister in this place whether he is aware that the Prime Minister last week,if answer to a question from me relative to an application for admission into Australia by Mr K. T. Li, the Taiwan Minister for Finance, replied that he would undoubtedly be able to come to Australia under the same conditions as any other person who comes from Taiwan, that is, in an unofficial capacity. Is he aware that the Pacific Basin Economic Council meeting is scheduled to take place in Sydney next week and that MrK. T. Li has been advised in Hong Kong that his application on an ordinary passport and as a private citizen has been turned down? Has the Labor Government received representations from the People’s Republic of China about this application? Does this demonstrate that the present policy of the Labor Government with respect to domestic matters is to be determined by representations by the People’s Republic of China? If not, will the Minister ensure that approval is given in accordance with the Prime Minister’s reply to my question last week so that Mr K. T. Li can attend the meeting of the Pacific Basin Economic Council?
-I must point out that my elevation was rather sudden and I expect it will be rather short-lived. 1 am not aware of the details of the case and I am sure the honourable member would appreciate why I would not be. I can only undertake to draw the matter to the attention of the Prime Minister who, as honourable members will be aware, is with the Treasurer and the Minister for the Capital Territory at the Premiers Conference this morning.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Northern Development, representing the Minister for Primary Industry.I refer to the Government’s wool acquisition policy which, as the Minister is aware, has the approval and support of most wool growers? Is the Minister in a position to give the House some indication of when the scheme is likely to become operative and, if not, can he say what stage has been reached with regard to procedures which are necessary to bring the scheme to fruition?
– The honourable member for Kalgoorlie will be more than well aware of the policy of the Australian Labor Party with respect to wool acquisition. That policy was announced by the Prime Minister in his policy speech. It was repeated many times whilst we were in Opposition. Our policy is to establish a statutory marketing authority to acquire and/or market the Australian woo] clip.
– What was that?
– Never mind. It is bad enough as it is.
– The people have judged how bad you are. The position is that whilst the Australian Wool Commission Bill was being debated in this Parliament last year 1 moved an amendment which provided that the Australian Wool Corporation report to this Parliament, through the Minister, within 3 months on a comprehensive wool acquisition scheme.
– What has that to do with it?
– I am interested in that interjection because the honourable member for Wimmera and other honourable members opposite opposed that proposition. As was pointed out last year, in the Australian Wool Commission Bill there is no mandatory instruction to the Australian Wool Corporation to bring any wool acquisition plan before the Minister or before the Parliament. The Australian Labor Party moved the amendment that within 3 months a plan be made available for examination because the growers and most sectors of the wool industry wanted to see a plan. We still do not have it. I think all honourable members will agree that the most advantageous time to introduce stabilisation schemes is when wool prices are sound and certainly when they are high. It is obvious that the only time the Australian Country Party wants to introduce a stabilisation scheme is when wool prices or commodity prices are at bedrock. It is important that we do get a proposal from the Corporation. On behalf of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie I will bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether we can accelerate the objectives of the Australian Wool Corporation with respect to this proposal, if it is to present a proposal. If it is not to do so the Government will have seriously to consider amending the legislation to require the Corporation to present a report on acquisition to the House within a certain time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. Is it the Government’s view, as stated last year by the honourable member for Maribyrnong - now the Minister for the Environment and Conservation - that private hospitals and nursing homes are irrelevant in the Australian Labor Party’s health scheme?
– Throughout the 3 years preceding the last election I consistently said - I repeat it now, and if the honourable member for Corangamite agrees to consider the report of the Health Insurance Planning Committee, he will find further confirmation of the view - that private hospitals and private nurs ing homes will have a role to fulfil in the health program that this Government will apply.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Social Security been drawn to newspaper reports of likely chaos in private nursing homes because of probable substantial increases in costs arising from the impending wage increases? Is the machinery for the review of fees in nursing homes adequate to provide for an expeditious hearing of applications for such reviews? Will there be a review of the Commonwealth subsidy payable for patients in such nursing homes in the event of justified increases in fees?
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to question No. 485 on the notice paper.
– Mr Speaker, I submit that there is no relationship between the 2 questions.
-Order! I do not think the honourable member for Barton is actually seeking the same details as are sought in that question. I think that his question is in order.
– In anticipation of the effects of the wage increase on the costs of operation of nursing homes, last night I prepared a minute for my Department asking for careful consideration of what procedures could most effectively be applied to consider these sorts of effects. For precisely the reason the honourable member mentioned. I do not wish to see private nursing homes disadvantaged in any way. There is no proposal in the mind of the Government, at this stage at least, to increase nursing home subsidies.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I refer to the joint statement made recently by him and the Treasurer about the withdrawal of tax concessions and petroleum subsidies. Has the Minister considered the effects on bona fide Australian companies engaged upon mineral and petroleum exploration of the removal of tax concessions and subsidies for oil explorers? If so, what will the effects be? If he has not considered the matter, will be undertake a study as a matter of urgency?
Does the Minister intend to provide replacement incentives to bona fide Australian companies engaged upon exploration, and incentives for Australians to invest in such companies?
– Part of the honourable gentleman’s question has already been answered by a statement made in this House by the Treasurer. Petroleum search subsidy payments will continue until 30 June next year. In the meantime the position will be reviewed. The Goverment has been extremely generous and tolerant. If we had applied the letter of the law strictly in respect of nominee companies, in many cases we would be asking for retrospective refunds. Be that as it may, there are other aspects to be considered. I refer the honourable gentleman to the statement which 1 made in this House on 12 April last. A very notable contribution has been made by the Government towards petroleum search and exploration in Australia. From memory the total contribution, direct and indirect, including tax concessions has been $419m out of a total search and exploration expenditure of some $843m. In return for that the Government has received precisely nothing by way of equity.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. The Minister has not touched upon mineral explorers. He has mentioned only petroleum explorers.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. As I have mentioned repeatedly in the House, it is not the prerogative of the Chair to compel any Minister to answer any question. The Minister may answer a question in the way he thinks befits the question.
– I address my question to the Minister for Science who represents the Minister for the Media in this place. Has the Minister seen the report attributed to the President of the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters in which he stated that ‘increased interest in radio by government, trade unions and other groups was damaging their industry’? Is it a fact that recent Federal Government regulations have reduced the freedom of commercial broadcasters and upset their very important programing, as claimed by the President?
– I have seen the reports. They are serious reports but I suspect they are over-dramatised. The honourable member will know that the only stipulation contained in the relevant Act is that 5 per cent of the broadcasting time should be allocated to Australian composed music. We recently have introduced a stipulation that 10 per cent of the time be by Australian performers. I do not think that this can be regarded as being an unnecessarily harsh requirement. In the future the requirement may be strengthened on behalf of Australian performers. I shall undertake to refer the honourable gentleman’s question to my colleague, the Minister for the Media, and let him have further advice.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that the application of Mr K. T. Li to enter Australia has been refused. If it is true, in view of the answer which the Prime Minister gave to my question last week in this case, will the Minister say on what grounds the application has been refused?
– I must inform the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party that there has been nothing before me at all in relation to this application. When the Deputy Leader asked his question of the Prima Minister I did mention to him that I had nothing before me. Like my colleague I will make immediate inquiries following the honourable member’s question. I will let him have advice as soon as possible, directly and personally.
– Will that be done today?
– 1 ask the Minister for the Environment and Conservation a question. Is it a fact, as has been alleged, that, of the steel cans collected for recycling by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd only a minute fraction are recycled? ls this necessarily inconsistent with the statement that all cans actually returned to the steel works are recycled? In view of the fact that many people, having been encouraged to do so, go to the trouble of disposing of cans in a way which allows recycling in the belief that they are assisting the environment and the conservation of resources, will the Minister investigate the allegations and expose the practice if it proves to be nothing more than an advertising gimmick?
– I cannot give a specific answer because frankly I do not know. I have seen the allegations and I have seen the refutation on behalf of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. The matter is being investigated by a committee of the Australian Environment Council and when we get an answer everybody shall be informed.
– As a preface to my question which I direct to the Minister for Health, I would like to say that I wanted to direct this question to the Minister for the Capital Territory to try to put his previous answers and statements into perspective. But the Minister for Health is responsible for the administration of health laws. Will the Minister inform the House how many people in the Australian Capital Territory have been sent to gaol for being involved in abortions?
– These figures have not come to my notice. I will make inquiries and let the honourable gentleman know. I understand that there have been no prosecutions of women involved in abortions.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. Has his attention been drawn to a recent resolution by the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association indicating that in future the AMA would advise the Government of fee increases only after the increases had been decided? Has the Australian Medical Association expressed any interest in prior consultation with the Government to help the setting of medical benefits? If not, is this a departure from previous AMA policy?
– I am very well aware of the attitude of the Australian Medical Association on this subject. In fact, on Friday last I spoke with federal officials of the AMA in Sydney about this matter. As honourable members will know, because the AMA has not been prepared to participate in prior consultation the Australian Government is now in the position where the AMA is proposing unilaterally to apply fee increases for medical services as from 1 July this year, a matter of a few months off. If the Australian Government and the health funds are properly to assess the fee increase proposals in terms of any proposed increases in Commonwealth medical benefits, a minimum period of 3 months is required for this sort of consideration. That period does not include any additional time that may be necessary for further consultation about particular medical service items.
It is most unfortunate that the AMA has adopted this attitude, which is a departure from its attitude in t<he past. In 1971 the then Government had the opportunity of 5 months consultation with the AMA prior to the introduction of fee increases. The AMA has arranged for the printing of the schedules of increased fees, so there would have been no problem, at least in terms of machinery matters, for the AMA in providing the Australian Government with an advance copy of the fee schedules. Accordingly consultations could have been proceeding now on the increases. They could have commenced much earlier than at this stage. As honourable members appreciate, a difficult problem has arisen. When I raised the issue with the AMA last Friday the representatives indicated no enthusiasm about re-establishing consultation procedures with the Australian Government. They indicated that their reasons for this were that they were unhappy with the experiences they had had with the previous Government in relation to the way in which it had treated confidences and information passed on in the course of consultation. I am not able to comment on that other than to say that that was the reason they asserted. I suspect, however, that a far larger influence in making their decision is the problem of the medicalpolitical struggle that is currently going on between the. General Practitioners Society and the Australian Medical Association. It is most unfortunate that the threats and the tough line adopted by the General Practitioners Society forced the AMA to take this most unco-operative attitude which in the final result will be most disadvantageous for the Australian public.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In question time today the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) said that I would be, I think, surprised and delighted in regard to certain correspondence he had received from certain trade unions. I was neither surprised nor delighted and in fact 1 deprecate the sarcastic levity with which the Minister approaches these important matters of democracy in the trade unions.
– For the information of honourable members I present a report on an assessment of Tasmania’s interstate transport problems. This report was prepared by the Bureau of Transport Economics. It may be of interest to honourable members that the recommendations of this report will be taken into consideration in the preparation of the Budget.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report on secondary education for Canberra. This is the report of the Working Committee on College Proposals for the Australian Capital Territory.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act of 1969-1972, 1 present the report rel ating to the following proposed works:
Wellington Telephone Exchange at Perth, Western Australia.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Time for Debate
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a motion being moved to vary the decision of the House to limit debate on the second reading of the Medical Practice Clarification Bill so as to give an opportunity to all members, if they so wish, to express a view on the second readingstage of the Bill. 1 have moved the motion because this is a matter of great significance not only to every member of this House but to the entire Australian public. The social mores of this country will be very greatly affected by the decision taken in this House today. Under standing order 91 the times given for debate read as follows:
Other Bills (Private Government Member) - and the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) is a private Government member-
Indeed, I will be deputing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) to represent me. Standing order 91 continues:
Any other Member…… 20 minutes
The mathematics of that show that if all those speakers take up their time, and 1 am sure all of them could take up their time in order to express their views properly and adequately, it would leave only 120 minutes for20-minute speeches by other members, which wouldbe time for only 6 speeches, a total of 9 speeches in all. If this debate were extended for, say, 6 hours, the mathematics would enable extra speakers to enter the debate.
The Leader of the House (Mr Daly) said that we should discipline ourselves and each speak for only 10 minutes. In fact, I will be speaking only for that amount of time but that is because I have had the opportunity of deputing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to speak for a much longer period. But there are other members on my side of this House who would want a great deal more time than 10 minutes to make clear where they stand on this very deep issue and it would surprise me if there were any member on the Government side who could satisfactorily express his views in that time. If we were allowed the extra time I am quite sure that everybody would want to co-operate - not with the Government, but with each other - so that as many people as possible could speak. I believe that in this way honourable members would feel that Parliament was doing its job better.
This is a fundamental issue for the Parliament to decide and it will be decided today.
It has raised so much interest that into my office in Canberra since Easter have been coming at least 500 letters on the issue each day. These are not letters which have been printed and to which a signature has been appended; these are all personally written letters, some of them extending into 3 pages. There is no similarity between any of them. They are quite clearly letters that are not part of a campaign.
– Ha, ha!
– The honourable gentleman laughs. He is permitted to laugh; he has some strange ideas and a strange sense of humour. These letters are not part of a campaign as we ordinarily know it.
– Who are you trying to kid?
– Ordinarily, as we know it, the documents are typed out, printed, or something of that kind, but there is a very real difference between the letters which are coming in now and the campaign as we have known it in the past, when printed forms have been used. The letters coming from those people who support the Bill are coming in on printed forms.
However, the purpose of the exercise is not to decide this issue on how many letters one gets, or whether they are handwritten or typed. This issue must be decided on the basis of the views of the people of this House, who were elected into the House to express their views. They have the responsibility to express their views and cannot avoid that responsibility. They must not avoid taking a decision. The Leader of the House talked about the amount of time that had been allowed in the past for private business as though there were any relevance in that matter.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday certain suspensions of Standing Orders were proposed and certain arrangements were made. A decision was made by the House. I ask whether it is in order to canvas those issues and start that debate again.
-Order! No, it is not in order to canvass the substance of any motion that is on the business paper. However, I do not think that the right honourable gentleman has gone beyond that at present though I ask him to bear in mind the reason it is suggested that Standing Orders be suspended.
– I am very well aware of what the House did yesterday, and it is because of what the House did yesterday that I have moved this motion today. The time that has been allowed for private business in the past has no relevance whatever to the issue before the House today. There has never been an issue of such deep social conscience in the Parliament in the period I have been here. There have been major national issues of policy but no issue of such deep and abiding social consequence. The Leader of the House spoke in terms of our refusing to sit beyond today and so on. He knows that this side of the House - I am sure I speak for every member on the Opposition side - would be prepared to sit here tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, if necessary, to allow every honourable member who needs to speak on this issue an opportunity to express his view. In terms of what the Leader of the House has said about our being prepared to sit tomorrow, last night there was a statement issued by my deputy in which he said: ‘The Opposition is prepared to meet on Friday to allow the Bill to be fully debated’. That statement was not only made last night but was also specifically and officially drawn to the attention of the Leader of the House.
The whole fact of the matter is that there is a major Bill before us. It may not be long in clauses but already we know that very many different versions of amendments have been proposed. We have before us on our desks today a proposed amendment from the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) that all words after ‘that’, the question being That the Bill be read a second time’, be deleted and that his proposals covering 2 pages be inserted in lieu thereof. He will have to explain that amendment and I do not believe that he can explain it in 10 minutes. He may have super capacity to explain it but I doubt that. He will need more than 10 minutes. Then the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) has 2 amendments to move, one being to the motion for the second reading of the Bill. Looking at the amendments of the honourable member for Casey and the honourable member for Prospect, both require the consideration of this House. What the outcome will be I do not know, but they must be considered. The honourable member for Prospect also proposes amendments to clauses 7, 8, 9 and 11 which will need to be considered in the Committee stage if the Bill is given a second reading. I am sure that the honourable gentleman would need to explain those amendments in some detail to make his own position clear and to attempt to lead the House into supporting his points of view.
The question of the time available for debate has arisen out of a caucus decision that the time allotted will be 3i hours. The Leader of the House does not have the willingness to say that when caucus reached this decision of 3i hours it reached the decision incorrectly, not realising just how much time honourable members would be deprived of in which to express their views. 1 suggest to the Leader of the House that on this issue there is likely to be a great number of people in his own Party, whether they oppose or support the Bill, who are not prepared, now fully understanding the circumstances, to gag their friends and members of their own Party. I can understand the Government wanting to gag the Opposition. It happens every day. It happens so frequently every day that the Opposition knows what it is all about. But when did the Leader of the House start gagging his own Party members? It is a most remarkable thing for him to do. It is depriving the House of a proper opportunity for debate.
-Order! The right honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. During the time that my friend and leader was speaking, that honourable and Christian gentleman from Wilmot (Mr Duthie) interjected and said: ‘You are a humbug and a hypocrite’. That interjection is offensive to me and to every honourable member on this side of the House, and I ask that, it be withdrawn.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. I ask for a withdrawal by the honourable member.
– I did say he was a humbug -
– I did not say he was a hypocrite.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I can assure the honourable member for Hotham that if ever I hear such an interjection I will certainly ask for an immediate withdrawal from whoever made it irrespective of from which side of the
House he comes, but I assure the honourable member that I heard no interjection of the kind. I call the honourable member for Wilmot.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I did call the right honourable member a humbug but I did not call him a hypocrite.
-Order! Is the motton seconded?
– I second the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) that honourable members be given reasonable time to present their points of view on the Medical Practice Clarification Bill which has become such an emotional issue and an issue of such great conscience throughout the Australian community at present. lt is not an issue on which all opinions are on one side. It is not an issue in respect of which anybody would agree that all the rights or wrongs are on one side or the other. However I believe that a lot of honourable members in this House feel that they need to explain how they will be voting. Within their electorates and their own organisations there are diverse points of view, and to vote one way without some clarification of why they voted in that way will put them in a rather embarrassing and invidious position. So I humbly ask the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) to reconsider what he has said previously and enable this House today to debate fully this very important national issue. Because the Opposition is asking for more time, because this will interrupt the program to which he has tried to adhere rigidly, and speaking on behalf of all members of my Party I say that we are prepared to sit tomorrow to deal with normal Government business.
Yesterday in his rantings and ravings - I do not want to refer unduly to this because I will get emotionally upset myself - the Leader of the House said that if the Opposition wanted to debate this matter it would do so by sitting on Friday or Saturday. I conferred with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) immediately after the Leader of the House made that speech, and said that my Party would be prepared to sit on Friday. I also asked the Deputy Leader of the Opposition whether he would consult with his Party to see whether it was prepared to do likewise and then to notify the Leader of the
House. This he has done. This is a reasonable request and I ask the Leader of the House to reconsider it. I see no reason why caucus should have the right to determine the time allotted to debate an issue of conscience of the magnitude of this issue. Let us have a free vote on the question of how long this House really wants to debate this matter. Let Government supporters be free to decide whether the whole of today can be put aside for this debate. I am not saying this with the intention that we should just talk it out and have no vote. I am in favour of having a vote. I would say that there should be some time limit. Make it 10 o’clock tonight or 6 o’clock tonight. But at present there is no possible chance of a debate adequate to enable the views of private members of this House to be presented.
In my own Party we have a list on which honourable members are asked to put their names if they are interested in speaking. When we had our Party meeting yesterday there were 13 names on the list of those wishing to speak to the Bill. Apart from myself the names were: The honourable member for Northern Territory (Mr Calder), the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann), the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) and the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). All those people have their own points of view as to why they want to speak. It may not be possible to give them all a chance, but as the procedures stand at the moment our Party will be lucky to have more than two or possibly three speakers. I consider that to be quite inadequate. I would imagine that private members on the Government side must feel equally deficient in regard to having an opportunity to express their points of view and explaining their reasons for voting as they do. So I request back bench supporters of the Government to consider the whole aspects of this debate and not just be led along by the hysterical remarks of the Leader of the House.
– Like the honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony), I hope to bring a bit of sanity back to what is an emotional issue and one which, as the honourable member has said, is a matter of great interest. Honourable members must excuse me when I say that I am unmoved by the crocodile tears of the mover and the seconder of this motion. Let us look logically at the motion. This is it:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a motion being moved to vary the decision of the House to limit debate on the second reading of the Medical Practice Clarification Bill so as to give an opportunity to all honourable members, if they so wish, to express a view on the second reading stage of the Bill.
I remind the Opposition that honourable members on that side do not have a mortgage on special conscience opinions on this issue. Honourable members on this side of the House - and they all have points of view on this - were prepared in the caucus to forgo expressing their views in order that the Parliament might have an opportunity to have a debate. Does the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) who moved this motion think it logical to give every honourable member the opportunity to talk? That is what the motion requires. Let me tell the House what it means. If we give effect to this motion it will mean that there will be 42 hours for the second reading alone, plus the Committee stages of the Bill. The total sitting time spread over a week now totals roughly 29 hours. In other words, the Opposition is asking us to have 14 weeks on the second reading of this Bill, and in that time nothing else would be done. There would be no questions, no adjournment debate and no other business. This is on the basis of our extended sitting hours, which the Opposition opposed. The Leader of the Country Party, who has just begged for extra time, is listed amongst all honourable members opposite as voting yesterday, when we moved that the time for the debate be 3i hours, to reduce the time for debate to 2 hours. Had that motion which I moved yesterday not been carried the time for this debate would have expired in 2 hours. I extended it to 34 hours and the Leader of the Country Party and every honourable member on that side of the House who is crying out is recorded in Hansard as wishing to talk for only 2 hours.
I repeat for the nation to hear that I conferred with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) about this Bill coming on.
Every honourable member who sits behind me in this place will confirm what I told the caucus. I said: ‘This is a Bill on which we have to get some kind of arrangement to save the time and to give members additional debating time.’ I went to my Party. I asked the members to pass a motion to give me the right to ensure that the business of the House could proceed if I could not reach agreement with honourable members opposite. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition reported back to me that members of his Party, quite rightly, had lots of views on it. Ultimately they all decided it was a private members Bill and there should be no interference whatever in sitting times or the time for debate. Consequently the motion which I brought in had to be introduced. I did everything possible–
– Well, why did you challenge it?
– I did not challenge it. I will read the Hansard for the honourable member. This is what I said yesterday:
Why did not some democrat opposite move that we sit on Saturday, Sunday and Monday? Why not sit for 2 or 3 weeks?
But nobody moved a motion to that effect yesterday. But today, when honourable members opposite know that there is no hope of a motion like that being carried, they are playing politics on a great emotional issue. That is the situation. A motion for an extension of the sittings could quite easily have been moved earlier but no member of the Opposition has taken that step until this very moment.
– I rise to order. I feel that I have been deliberately maligned by the Minister in suggesting that we acted only today when the Minister knows very well that we acted last night on this.
-Order! No point of order is involved.
– I remind the House that honourable members opposite have resisted even an extension of time on General Business today and embarrassed me the other day when they refused to let me move a motion to suspend Standing Orders to allow my good friend the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) to continue long into the afternoon on a private member’s Bill. This is the situation in respect of which I have been asked tedious questions. The Leader of the Opposition asked me a question on it at question time this morning. I am merely repeating what I told him earlier in order that the situation may be clarified. I a:!< members of the
Opposition: Do they not think that the price of things that people have to pay for, legislation dealing with social welfare and the numerous Bills that we have before the Parliament are equally as important as this issue. I am as involved in this as they are. Am I now to understand from honourable members opposite that they would be prepared to sit for an unlimited time on this matter but would not be prepared to sit for an unlimited time on any other measure? Do the members of the Country Party think that questions relating to primary producers are not so important as this, in many respects?
The fact of the matter is that it is not practical for everybody to speak on every issue. It is true that everybody wishes to speak on this. Do honourable members know that when people want to know what members views are on a Bill or a resolution they do not look up the record and read what has been said; they have a look to see where the member’s name is recorded in the vote. If honourable members want to explain their situation on this Bill they should do as I have done - make a statement on it and let the public know. That is the way in which honourable members can protect themselves with respect to the vote which they make in this place, if they feel so inclined I agree that it is a difficult matter. I will not go over what I have already said. But when I hear honourable members opposite telling me today that we are limiting the time I will refer again to what they did on General Business days when they were in power.
– It is prostituting Parliament.
– The honourable member who interjected would know this because he was either the assistant Leader of the House or the Leader of the House when in 1971 we got 1 hour 11 minutes 30 seconds for General Business. On 1st April that year we were allowed 1 hour 22 minutes. On 29th April we were given 1 hour 38 minutes. On 19th August 1971 we had 1 hour IS minutes. On 25th November of that year we got 1 hour 41 minutes 30 seconds. On 9th December we had 1 hour 16 minutes 30 seconds. In 1972 we were allowed 1 hour 23 minutes on 2nd March and 1 hour 33 minutes on 23rd March. On 20th April that year we were given 1 hour 16 minutes. On 11 th May we had 1 hour 50 minutes. In 1970 it was 47 minutes 30 seconds on 23rd April, 1 hour 45 minutes 30 seconds on 14th May and 1 hour 28 minutes on 4th June. On 20th August in that year we were allowed 2 hours 6 minutes. We have extended and doubled the time for General Business. I am one who believes that ultimately this Parliament might set aside a full day for this kind of thing when we can revise the Standing Orders. But with the business of the House as it is, we on this side have done everything possible to get agreement with the Opposition on these matters and the business of the Government must go on. As important as this Bill is, there was no alternative other than to limit the time for debate.
-Order! The time for debate has expired.
- Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.
-Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. I do not intend to extend this debate for many minutes because of the matters which are shortly to come before the House. However, the general tenor of the comments made by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) indicate that I as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in conjunction with my colleagues behind me, was not prepared to co-operate with the Leader of the House in relation to arranagements to be made for the debate on the Medical Practice Clarification Bill. The simple facts are that I informed the Leader of the House that the Opposition parties regarded this matter as one for a conscience vote, therefore speaking in the House would not be subject to party discipline. But I make it perfectly clear, lest there be any doubt on either side of the House, that at all times the Leader of the House knew full well that the view privately expressed by all of the members of the Opposition parties with whom 1 had discussed it both formally and informally was that the amount of time which was to be allowed by the Government for debate made it a complete farce and a mockery. That was consistently made clear. I am sure the Leader of the House would accept that as putting the matter in the right context. He will also recall that yesterday when this matter was the subject of debate I commented in relation to the shortening of speeches. It is recorded in Hansard. The Leader of the House will also recall that the question of-
– I rise to a point of order. The honourable member is really debating the issue before the House and taking up time unnecessarily. I believe that he is completely out of order.
– Order! I think the Leader of the House is about to follow on another point of order which could adequately explain the position and overcome any misunderstanding.
– The simple fact will not be lost on you, Mr Speaker, that it was quite clear yesterday that the Opposition parties were prepared to meet on Friday and beyond that time.
Mr DALY (Grayndler - Leader of the House) - I wish to say briefly, and every honourable member sitting-
-Order! Is this a point of order?
– I have been misrepresented.
– Then it is a personal explanation.
– Nobody knows better than I that the Medical Practice Clarification Bill should have been debated without any of the restrictions of Standing Orders or procedures of that nature. I reported to my colleagues that I had seen the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and that he had reported that there had been about 2 hours of discussion on the matter within his Party; his colleagues had decided that it was not a party matter and that they would not be tied to any arrangements. It was impossible on that basis to arrange for the debate to finish at a specified time, particularly having in mind my friend the honourable member for Mackellar, unless we had some form of discipline or arrangement. Consequently, negotiations fell through. Had the Opposition been prepared to negotiate T think we could have arranged a more reasonable time. That is all we could do.
Question put -
That the motion (Mr Snedden ‘s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill presented by Mr McKenzie, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has excited a great deal of comment in the Australian community; it has excited a great deal of comment in thisParliament. I think I should first of all explain why I have introduced this Bill. During the election campaign I made various statements - that I believed this was a matter of conscience; It was a matter primarily for the woman and her doctor; it was primarily a matter of choice. I believe that when I was given an opportunity to present this measure I, in my conscience, could do nothing else but move it.
I believe that these sort of things ought to be discussed in this Parliament. I believe they ought to be discussed in the way in which I hope this debate will continue. I believe that on a matter on which opinions between parties and within parties is so deeply divided there ought to be an opportunity for an expression of conscience. During the course of this present campaign when I was asked how so-and-so on the other side of the House stood on this matter I refused to give any information whatsoever. My reply on those occasions was: ‘This is a non-party issue. It is up to the members on the other side of the House, if they so wish, to express an opinion; otherwise I respect their privacy I hope this debate will be conducted in a manner befitting the dignity of this chamber. I realise it is a very emotive issue, but there are important factors involved and I hope that we would all have sufficient maturity to be able to discuss the matter in a befitting manner.
This is a very complex problem. Law reform will not settle it. It will not be solved by that sort of approach but it is part of the approach. I see it as really one of the sides of a triangle. The first side is the need to have proper laws and proper procedures to regulate the matter. One other side of the triangle is that we ought to have much better sex education by properly qualified people and we should have adequate education in the use of contraceptives. The final side of the triangle, as I see it, is the question of social welfare - how the community supports those people who are less fortunate than others and how we tackle it at that level.I think it is appropriate to quote some of the clauses of the Bill. 1 suppose he most contentious clause from the point of view of the framework of the Bill is clause 7, which sets out in the first instance the conditions for the lawful termination of pregnancy. It states:
Subject to this Act, it shall be lawful for a person to terminate the pregnancy of a woman who is not more than twelve weeks pregnant provided that the person-
I will be making some more comments on the rationale behind that later. During the course of the discussion, public debate and letter writing my seconder and I have received a number of suggestions for and against the Bill, expressing different points of view. We listened to the suggestions that were made and we made changes. Anyone who thinks that he or she has all the answers on this, I believe, makes a big mistake. First of all we reduced the period mentioned in the clause that I just read out to the House from 16 weeks to 12 weeks. This was done on the very best of medical advice. We included an advice provision, which I read out as part of clause 7. We believe that women ought to know precisely what the situation is. We made it obligatory that information about contraception be provided by the doctor. Last of all we strengthened and made even clearer the clause relating to conscientious objection. I think it is so important that 1 should read it. Clause 1 1 (1) state:
No person shall be under any duty whether by contract or by any statutory or other legal requirement to participate in any termination of pregnancy to which in the circumstances he has a conscientious objection or about the wisdom of which he has a doubt founded on medical grounds or in which he for any other reason declines to participate.
Sub-clause (2) states:
No person shall be liable to any penally, disadvantage, handicap, discrimination or proceedings of any kind whatsoever by reason of that person failing or declining to participate in a termination of pregnancy, and evidence of such failing or declining to act shall not be admissible in any proceedings or otherwise taken into account. 1 ask the critics of the structure of the Bill to consider that particular clause because I believe it is a great deal stronger and affords much more protection than any similar clause in any other legislation in Australia, England or. I believe, the United States of America. The history of the law on this matter, of course, is long. There have been legal codes on this right back through civilisation. But with English law, from which our law is derived, the situation is that until 1803 England had no specific law on abortion. In that year, as part of an Act which contained provisions as to a wide number of offences including, for instance, defrauding of insurance companies, there was a mention of procuring a miscarriage. lt is quite evident from the wording of that Act that the intention was to preserve the life of the woman involved in an abortion. It must be understood that in those days any operation was extremely dangerous due to likely infection and particularly so in such operations as abortions. Because of the high mortality rate of women involved in abortions it was found necessary to pass this particular Act. This legislation was later redefined in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This Act was the basis for the law on abortion in Australia and remains the basis in all States and the Territories except South Australia.
Of course, there is a difference between statute law and case law. Recent rulings in Australian courts, such as the ruling given by Mr Justice Menhennitt and the ruling by His Honour Judge Levine, make it clear that when an abortion is performed by a qualified medical practitioner and the doctor claims that the operation was performed in the interests of the patient, conviction is very unlikely. Unfortunately the situation in practice means that those women who are well informed about the necessary procedures and/ or have sufficient money are more likely to be able to obtain a termination of pregnancy than a woman less well informed and/ or who does not have sufficient funds. I believe that this is discrimination of the worst type. We have a responsibility to do something about it. As I said before, it is not a matter of whether one agrees with abortion - I do not, and very few people do - but whether, when it does happen, it happens under the most favourable conditions. People who have enough money can get an abortion on request, but what about other women? This situation has gone on for many years. It is about time we stopped it. The present law in the Australian Capital Territory is derived by ordinance from the New South Wales Crimes Act of 1900. Clauses 82 and 83 are the main clauses and attract the major penalties. They state:
This is a very repressive piece of legislation but, as I pointed out, by the rulings by case law it has been quite modified. However I do not believe that answers the situation by any means. I do not believe that women ought to have to go through a series of legal and medical gymnastics in order to obtain something that they have chosen to obtain. I believe it is truly a matter of conscience. It is unfortunate that due to the present structure of the law in the Australian Capital Territory it is not possible for the people of the Australian Capital Territory to consider this matter fully; nevertheless through the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council they have expressed an opinion on a number of occasions. On one occasion the Council stated:
The Council is of the opinion that the present laws “applicable to the A.C.T. relating to ‘attempt to procure abortion’ are no longer in accord with the community’s views and attitudes on this question and specifically make no provision for the special circumstances under which abortion should be permitted by law.
This has been a traumatic point of discussion in just about every country. The United States of America, which also derived its law initially from England, has over recent years drastically revised its approach to the problem. In September 1969 the Supreme Court of California, in the first decision on the constitutionality of any anti-abortion statute, invalidated the pre-1967 anti-abortion law of California. In a 4 to 3 decision the Court held the statute unconstitutional on 2 principal grounds: Firstly, that the phrase ‘Necessary to preserve life’ was so vague as to be violative of the due process requirements for a criminal law, and, secondly, that the law was in violation of a woman’s fundamental rights to life and to choose whether to bear children. The latter follows from the United States Supreme Court acknowledgment of a right of privacy or liberty in matters related to marriage, family and sex. The critical issue defined by the California Supreme Court was whether the state had any legitimate interest in the regulation of abortion which would justify so deep an infringement of the fundamental rights of women. The Court held that the state had no such compelling interest.
Later, on 22nd January of this year, this was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court. It is a long decision but basically, by a majority of 7 to 2 the Supreme Court laid down that in the first 3 months of pregnancy the decision whether or not to abort is a matter between the woman and her doctor and the state cannot interfere with their judg ments on the matter. In the second 3 months of pregnancy the state may regulate abortion procedures in ways that are ‘reasonably related to maternal health’, such as the licensing of doctors and clinics. When the foetus becomes ‘viable’, that is when it could exist outside the woman, that state has an interest in protecting the unborn child and ‘may go so far as to prohibit abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother’.
I point out to the House that this Bill follows closely the decision handed down by that Court in January this year. In fact, because of the various clauses that have been put into it, it is much better defined and in many ways more restrictive. The British position has been quoted a great deal. Towards the end of last year Sir George Godber who is the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health and Social Security in a letter appearing in the British ‘Medical Journal’ complained that there has been selective and incomplete quoting from his report on maternal deaths. He wrote:
It is beyond dispute that deaths attributed to abortion are now at a sustained low level compared with the years 1961-66.
He also wrote:
Deaths attributable to illegal abortion have fallen from a level around 50 per year through the early 1960s to IS in 1969 and 11 and 6 in the 2 subsequent years.
It is interesting to note that these figures from Britain show an improvement in the position despite the fact that if a woman applies to an unsympathetic doctor she may well find that she cannot obtain an abortion under the national health service and subsequently is forced to go outside the law. During the course of the public debate many statements have been made to the effect that reform of repressive abortion laws leads to dangers. In the English context the Wynn report is said to give most support. I believe that this report has been circulated to all honourable members. However, the report has been described by Dr Malcolm Potts, the Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, as ‘biased, highly emotive, and in at least one of its statements totally incorrect’. However, illegal and badly performed terminations conducted relatively late in pregnancy can have serious after effects. The Wynn submission to the Lane Committee is in reality a good argument in favour of legal and controlled procedures rather than illegal ones.
Medical opinion, as is the case with other opinion in the community, is divided. The following motion was carried at the May 1971 General Council Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists:
That a majority of the membership of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists supports the view that there should be an alteration in laws on abortion so that legally qualified medical practitioners are free to exercise clinical judgment in this as in other matters.
Perhaps at this time it is appropriate to quote from a book by Daniel Callahan titled’Abortion: Law, Choice and Morality’ which has just been reviewed in Australia. He says:
Abortionis a nasty problem, a source of social and legal discord, moral uncertainty, medical and psychiatric confusion, and personal anguish. If many individuals have worked through a position they find satisfactory, the world as a whole and most societies have not. There is scarcely a nation in the world which believes it has discovered the perfect solution to the legal, social and medical problems of abortion. On one point only is there a global consensus: the medical danger of underground abortions.
A week ago today the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church agreed to a motion in the following terms:
The rest of the motion went on to refer the matter to the various States. At this stage I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the report that went before the assembly.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
(Convener 20, Seconder 10 minutes)
The Committee has given further attention to this question during the period since 1970. It has become an ever more vocal matter since then, and will continue to increase in tempo until it is taken seriously and with the objectivity it deserves by all responsible people.
British and Continental reforms, despite soma opposition mainly of a religious nature, appear to be permanent, with the possibility that the very term abortion’ may be expunged from statute books in some countries in the forseeable future. It is perhaps not sufficiently known that there was no statutory legislation on the subject in England until the 19th Century.
The Committee is not requesting the Assembly to assert that abortion is ever a good thing. It is requesting the Assembly to recognise that abortion in certain circumstances may be the right action, and to seek the lifting of legal sanctions from State criminal laws. Undeniably, a great many abortions occur in Australian society every year, perhaps as many as 100,000. Our present political arrangements discriminate against the poor and the ignorant. The Church has an obligation to redress this imbalance and to enhance the value of human beings.
Further to the statements made by this Committee in B.B. 1970 Pages 104-105 the following considerations should be noted:
Thus there is a biological mechanism for determining and guarding the quality of life. It is a human privilege and responsibility to assist nature by exercising judgement and decision to further enhance the quality of life. Thus abortion is not a monstrous act of murder, but an act in which natural processes are directed and controlled by submitting them to the processes of rationality and human decision.
These considerations reinforce the conviction of the Committee that the State criminal laws relating to abortion should be amended to make it possible for women to undergo abortion on the advice of their duly qualified medical practitioner. B.B. 1970 Min 120 (4) deals with approval of agencies giving help and advice to those contemplating abortion. Counselling resources need to be supplied for those requiring these services.
– As is the case with other denominations, many Catholics take the point of view that it is wrong and dangerous to use the machinery of the state to maintain a particular view of morality. One Catholic to express this point of view is Father Robert Drinan S.J. who has said that he prefers complete repeal of abortion laws which would keep the state out of the business of decreeing who is to be born. A statement issued by the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales in 1966 - this was before the English law was passed in 1967 - was as follows:
Catholics do not demand that their own convictions should be imposed by law on all citizens but they are concerned that doctors, nurses and others who may be affected by the proposed legislation should not be forced to act against their own consciences.
I agree with that statement. I think it is adequately covered in the Bill.
Father John Reedy C.S.C., in the United States of America, a respected American theologian, said:
The religious simplists who reduce all efforts at liberalised abortion laws lo ‘anti-life propaganda’ do a disservice to us all. We know loo many good, sincere, responsible people who seek the liberalisation of these laws precisely to improve the quality of life. They recognise the outrage of bootleg abortion rackets; they know that existing laws have not prevented desperate girls from submitting themselves to dangerous, degrading treatment at the hands of criminally incompetent quacks. They know that single and married women are at times so threatened by the thought of bearing a child that their own welfare - possibly the welfare of a family- is seriously threatened. I’m not arguing that this judgment is right . . . simply that unworthy motives should not be irresponsibly attributed to the people who defend it. This will make me unpopular with many Catholic spokesmen, but I believe that a Catholic, after serious examination of facts, theology and his own conscience, could responsibly support some liberalisation in abortion laws. (For example, on the assumption that the present laws produce greater evils).
There is clear evidence that in France, for instance, which has repressive laws, there are two and a half times as many abortions performed as in England. This is despite the fact that England has a reasonably liberal law while France has a repressive law. The main difference between the 2 countries is that the British are well advanced in their use of contraceptives and the French are not. Italy is estimated to have as many abortions as live births.
The arguments about repressive laws reducing the number of abortions is nowhere supported by the facts. In fact there is much more correlation between education in the use of contraceptive measures in a community than there is between permissive or restrictive laws. Of course, the law is only part of the problem. Regardless of whether a country has a permissive law, as in Hungary, or a repressive law, as in Italy, the number of abortions, illegal or legal, is directly related to the use of contraceptives. Statements that liberal abortion does not reduce maternal mortality are not supported by the facts. In New York the maternal mortality rate fell from 5.3 per 10,000 to 2.9 per 10,000 in the interval spanning the repeal of the previous law. Most of the arguments I have heard during the public debate are arguments against abortion, not arguments against abortion law reform. I think we should differentiate between those two.
There is the intellectual dishonesty of those who talk about alternatives to abortion and fail to mention the only real alternative - practical and effective contraception. It is interesting to note that many of the same arguments were advanced against contraception as are being advanced against this Bill. One has only to go back in history to see that this is true.
I do not believe that abortion can ever be thought of as desirable from the point of view of contraception, but it is really a question of how the law is operating and how it should operate in the future. One of the big problems is that many women do not understand the difficulties associated with contraception. Unfortunately, no contraceptive is 100 per cent safe. The failure rate varies between 20 per cent over the period of use for the safest methods lo 80 per cent for other methods. The real problem here is not with unmarried women but with married women. Family planning facilities must not only be readily available but also be known to be available. Every effort must be made to make them work. Statistics in England show that there has been an increased usage of contraceptives since the passing of the. present legislation. Any Act which does not give the woman concerned a reasonable amount of choice during the early stages of pregnancy is doomed to failure. It just will not be obeyed.
Some people claim that adoptions are the answer to the problem. Statistics show that much greater psychological damage is done to the woman who is forced to have her baby adopted than is the case with an abortion. Many women become pregnant again shortly after consenting to an adoption. Some never get over the sense of loss. I believe that a woman has the right to choose. In response to a survey of over 2,000 women conducted in Sydney and Melbourne by the Women’s Electoral Lobby, an overwhelming number of women answered in the affirmative the question: Do you believe a woman has a right to an abortion if she wants one? The use of the term ‘abortion on demand’ has been an obvious ploy to discredit this legislation. It is a statement which is not supported by the facts. I hope that this debate for the remainder of the time allowed will be conducted on a calm and rational basis. I realise that this is a highly emotive issue. However, nothing will be gained by this Parliament considering it on an emotive level. Whether they hold one point of view or another, the great majority of Australians would wish to hear the debate conducted in a rational manner.
There will always be some risk in abortion, but the risk of continued pregnancy is often greater. I am strongly of the opinion that the state has no right to compel a woman to accept that risk. We ought to do something positive about the problem. Leo Tolstoy once said:
I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and with to lighten his load by all possible means - except by getting off his back.
The legislation is to try to do just that - to take the power of repressive laws away from women in this community.
Abortion is always the last resort. It may be the last resort due to all sorts of factors but it is nevertheless a last resort. I ask those people who are so loud in their criticism to show real compassion for women in this situation. I believe that no one, least of all any member of this House, can ever really understand how a woman feels in this situation. It is a terrible choice for her to make. I do not believe that the law should interfere overtly in this situation. In effect, what those people who oppose the Bill do is to force those women who have already decided that an abortion is the only solution to the situation they find themselves in to delay until there is a real possibility of complications. The earlier a pregnancy is terminated the better.
I respect the opinion of those who hold a contrary point of view but to me and to most people there is a great difference between a fertilised ovum and a foetus of 6 months gestatation. I thank the people who have written to me. I may not agree with ali the letters but I have read them. I appreciate why they have written them. I just hope that this Parliament will be able to resolve the matter either today or at some other time either by passing the Bill or by way of some other amendment to do something positive about this problem. Never again I believe after this debate will we be able to sweep this question of abortion under the carpet. The community must make a series of choices. Not all of them are pleasant choices because we are all individuals, we all have different points of view and we all suffer under different circumstances. I ask that this House give very serious consideration to this Bill. I know that it will. I ask that the House consider it in a spirit of compassion and in a spirit of trying to alleviate what is a very difficult problem.
-Order! Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion. For too long, abortion along with the ugliness that is associated with it has been ignored as if by tacit agreement. Abortion is an emotional subject for it touches upon the whole process of life, the quality of life and involves not only citizens but doctors, theologians and legislators. The present law concerning abortion is in urgent need of reform. Consider a law that deprives women, of whom half are married, legal abortions on request and so causes untold misery, hardship and exposure to squalid dangerous surgery at the hands of ‘backyard’ abortionists. It is a notorious fact that women determined to have an abortion will not be deterred from their objective in spite of its illegality, after being refused by a doctor. They will risk legal penalty and even death to rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy.
It is said that any woman who wants an abortion can obtain one under the present law. It is true that women with money and connections can obtain an abortion from a competent and cautious doctor operating in an efficient suburban clinic. However, the majority of women are forced to go to the unqualified ‘backyarder’ abortionist who profits on the restrictions of the law at the expense of these women. We should not allow the health and the lives of women to be threatened by these people. We cannot allow the reproductive capacities of these women to be destroyed or damaged by bungled abortions. If there is any amendment to this Bill I would like to see the penalties against these unauthorised abortionists increased. It is impossible to make any accurate estimate of the number of induced abortions performed in either the Australian Capital Territory or Australia. However, calculations based on police and hospital records, comparative figures from overseas and local surveys on the incidence of abortions indicate that about 75,000 to 100,000 abortions are performed yearly in Australia. Most of these abortions are illegal.
Consider a law that allows this number of illegal abortions to take place without any prosecutions. It is an unenforceable law because most peope do not regard abortion as murder. Juries refuse to convict as in the recent ‘Heatherbrae’ case decided in Sydney in October 1971, and State governments make no move to tighten the law. Society does not equate abortion with murder. Probably the most extensive survey done on attitudes to abortion in Australia was carried out by Caldwell and Ware of the Australian National University during 1971. They concluded that, in their metropolitan survey, 32 per cent supported abortion on demand, and that, after analysing the results of other questions, more than half of the community clearly approved of abortion on request. Furthermore, adamant opposition to any legalisation of abortion was maintained by no more than 14 per cent of the sample. This study seems consistent with both an Australian national opinion poll of March this year and this week’s gallup poll in which 23 per cent favoured abortion on demand and 86 per cent favoured abortion on demand or under certain circumstances. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the great majority of people consider abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor, and that the law has a limited place in the matter.
Consider a law so vague and in need of clarification that it does not allow a doctor to carry out his medical and clinical judgment. Afraid of prosecution and uncertain of their rights under the law some doctors are refusing women an abortion when they are in need. This is also the situation in the United Kingdom. In their submission to the Lane Committee during the inquiry into the workings of the 1967 Abortion Act the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, in section 68 of its report, requested clarification of the law concerning abortion so that gynaecologists can continue to apply their knowledge and skills to serve their patients as they think best, and this without fear of litigation unless they are professionally negligent in the ordinary sense of the term’.
Clarification of the law as it operates in the Australian Capital Territory is the major purpose of the Medical Practice Clarification Bill. Members of the medical profession can no longer be placed in the position where they may confuse law with ethics. Furthermore this Bill provides that no doctor may be forced to carry out an abortion against his conscience, judgment on evaluation of medical ethics. This Bill is truly for abortion on on request and not abortion on demand. Consider the hypocrisy of a society that expects a woman to bear children against her will and then does little to support those children if in need or even suggests adoption so that other women can be happy at her expense. Most unwanted pregnancies result in an unwanted child - a child subjected to emotional and material deprivation and one more likely to develop into a deprived and unwanted adult. Social workers inform us that every child who is born unwanted is more likely to swell the ranks of the social misfits. Who would argue with the moral slogan ‘Every child has the right to life’. I venture no-one, least of all members of this House. But who would look beyond the rhetoric of what is implied in that slogan by anti-reformers and ask what is meant by ‘child’ and what is meant by life without quality? That same moral slogan can be better and more accurately expressed as Every child has the right to be wanted’.
Bad laws, unenforceable laws, unpopular or unworkable laws all contribute to making the law ‘an ass’. The present law on abortion is such a law - unrealistic and hypocritical, and should be reformed. Parliaments have not faced up to their responsibility to society in ignoring the ugliness of abortion. Parliaments have not protected all the rights involved when they force women to bear children against their will. Currently a woman can have no ultimate choice on this matter unless she breaks the law. This lack of freedom of choice cannot be accepted by people who respect basic individual rights. Governments which deny their responsibility by failing to provide efficient family planning programs and then prohibit abortion on request can only be described as architects of double standards. I warn this wholly male House that it is because we are males there is a great danger that we will ignore the needs and rights of women in this matter. Laws are made by men, sanctioned by a male dominated church hierarchy and imposed largely by policemen, and yet we will never bear children ourselves.
I warn those who oppose reform that they must show beyond doubt how they will enforce the law and charge those whom they consider as thousands of murderers, how they will prevent the tragedies of illegal abortions and how they will demonstrate their concern for the child batterings that result from unwanted children. They must also show beyond doubt that they can better the benefits to society and individuals that have accrued overseas following the liberalisation of abortion laws. Statistics show that, following reform to abortion on request in the early stages of pregnancy, the incidence of morbidity and mortality due to abortion has dropped because abortions are now carried out under proper conditions. Illegitimacy has declined. Because abortions are more likely to be carried out earlier in the pregnancy there are less mental and physical complications for the woman and backyard abortions have almost ceased to exist. They must convince society that they will eradicate police corruption associated with illegal abortion such as that uncovered in Melbourne during the Kaye inquiry.
There is not necessarily an increase in the number of abortions following abortion law reform. The main increase in legal abortions results from the transfer to open and legal abortions from illegal abortions, and from overseas or other areas where the law is less liberal. Sir George Godber, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health and Social Security in the United Kingdom, published a letter in the British ‘Medical Journal’ of 18th November 1972 in which he stated: the number of legal abortions has increased greatly but seems to be reaching a more stable level.
But total abortions will not drop until reform is linked with an adequate and coherent family planning policy. This is the main criticism that can be levelled at the United Kingdom legislation. Family planning by way of contraceptive advice is part of this proposed legislation. The Bill is unique in that it provides that following termination of pregnancy it shall be incumbent upon the doctor to advise the woman of the use and availability of contraception appropriate for her.
But the responsibility of the state should go much further, for the incidence of abortion is a function of the use of contraception rather than of morals or laws. The state has a responsibility to ensure that abortion is a last resort. Barriers to both the knowledge and practice of effective birth control in Australia have meant that 50 per cent of pregnancies have been unplanned, and some of these unwanted. Religious proscription is not the greatest barrier to effective contraception. Anachronistic laws that still restrict the advertising of contraceptives and limit sterilisation procedures play a greater part. Sluggish action by governments has meant that only recently has the sales tax been removed from contraceptives and the ‘pill’ been made available as an item under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Educational sex programs involving contraceptive techniques are greatly lacking in school curricula. There is a severe shortage of family planning clinics in local communities. However, despite the widespread availability of contraceptives the state is unable to police their use, or guarantee their complete effectiveness. Not every woman or man can use contraceptives due to aesthetic, religious or physical reasons. Unwanted pregnancies will still occur. Full government responsibility suggests that special abortion clinics in teaching hospitals are needed to provide education of doctors and students in how best to counsel women concerning unwanted pregnancies, to set standards for the Australian Capital Territory and to carry out research, particularly in the follow up of patients.
At the centre of the abortion debate is the controversial ‘right to life’ of the foetus. But to confine one’s thinking to this single absolutist principle is to ignore the many other rights inherent in the situation, such as the rights to health and welfare of the mother and her existing family, the rights to choose whether to bear children or not and the right of the child to be wanted. But the principle of ‘right to life’ must be established and not shirked in this debate. Those who accept without question the ‘right to life’ of the foetus must examine their consciences and answer for the desperate misery and hardship imposed upon pregnant women, the existence of illicit abortionists, the hypocrisy of a law that is different for rich and poor, and the confusion that faces doctors as to their medical rights.
Those who oppose law reform must prove their charge that liberalisation undermines public and private morality and is the first step that leads to a total disrespect for life. And those who deny the rights of life to the foetus at any stage of its development without thorough examination and conviction do so at the peril of encouraging disrespect for life, legalised by the state, which is the most fundamental of al) rights and which is basic to all other rights. Translating principles into law against a background of public opinion is a most complex and responsible task. The principle of the right to life and its relation to other rights is the reason why there is so much emotion and controversy in the abortion debate.
Life is a continuum that began well before man’s consciousness and for the individual began at conception. It finishes for the individual at death. There is however a sea of controversy amongst theologians, the medical fraternity and the public as to when, during that continuum, the foetus should be granted rights. When should the law grant the right to life to the foetus? The validity of rights is only as strong as the powers that protect them. Rights can only be realised when they are exercised, and the state, once it grants rights, is obliged to use its full power to enforce and protect those rights regardless of sex, colour, race or creed, or even financial standing.
To many the view that abortion if the death of a human being is untenable for many reasons. The law does not regard the foetus as a human being and bestow it with full rights of citizenship, otherwise the state would not condone the ‘murders’ that pass as abortions. The state cannot bestow the right to life unless it is prepared to enforce that right. It cannot grant rights cheaply. When prosecutions do not take place, when juries do not convict, and society does not condemn the taking of the life of the foetus then the state cannot guarantee the right to life to the foetus. Defence of the right of life of the foetus must rest on the conscience of every individual and I would join those who place that right high in their conscience.
The church operates on the theological assumption that the human entity becomes a person at the moment of conception yet does not afford it funeral rites or baptism. The pastoral view is that the right to life exists at conception. Strongly religious or moral people do not need the force of the law to uphold their convictions, and in a pluralist society they do not have the right to impose their religion or morals on the rest of society by way of the law. At the same time the church believes in religious and moral freedom for others including even atheists. Followers of any church have not only the right but also an obligation to their beliefs to persuade others by reason and faith to share their view, but they cannot do this through the law.
The position of the law was well expressed by Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University, when he said:
The criminal law is a clumsy device of social regulation. It works passably well, and better than any alternative when the acts punished are universally condemned and plainly destructive. When the immorality is controversial however and the harm speculative, the punishment will depend upon the chance who tries and judges the accused, and chance will sometimes assign that role to self-styled moral crusaders.
When that happens then the criminal law will divide rather than unite the nation and do more harm to the social fabric than the evil it tries to prevent.
The legal process is a most inadequate tool to decide the legitimacy of abortions. It should be a moral-medical one, that is, a matter between a woman and her doctor. Then each citizen is able to act according to his or her conscience. Faced with a similar question of rights, including the right to life of the foetus, the United States Supreme Court laid down rules for all abortion laws. Abortion on request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when carried out by a qualified medical practitioner, was to be legal. For the next 12 weeks or so conditions may be imposed to protect the woman, and after this abortion may be forbidden except to save the life of the woman. Our Bill is guided by these rules and the common law as they relate to the protection of the life of the woman and to the developing rights of the foetus as the gestion progresses.
But what of public morality? A reverence of foetal life does not guarantee a reverence for all life. Hitler made abortion a capital offence yet he authorised the killing of 6 million Jews. Stalin repealed the abortion laws just prior to the purges he led. Convicted murderers are still hanged and wars still fought by governments who proscribe abortion. When there has been no comparable organised campaign against the atrocities committed in Vietnam, against capital punishment, against nuclear testing in the Pacific or against an infant mortality rate amongst Aborigines that is 17 times higher than for the general community, one can be excused for thinking that among those who now campaign so strongly against abortion law reform there are many who have a great feeling for foetal life but once it stops being a foetus their respect for human life stops well short of that concern. One would also be excused from thinking that extremists of both sides of the argument sadly lack compassion for all those involved in the matter of abortion.
The State that can confer the right to life and honour that right without question, such as to the viable foetus, will also honour that right at all times. The obligation is such that the principle be enshrined in law and capital punishment repealed and euthanasia continued to be made illegal. For, once the right to life has been conferred, life should not be taken unless by consent or when it can be proven beyond doubt that the taking of life was essential to protect the equal rights of another. The principle of right to life should not be granted cheaply and unless the right life can be protected, its consistent application is the greatest legal protection against a government or a society developing a disrespect for all life. There is no credibility in the moral domino theory.
I believe the Bill shows more understanding of the totality of the issue of abortion and its legality than any other comparable Bill. It provides a unique advice clause that ensures that every woman who requests an abortion is made fully aware of all the private and government family support programs available to her during and after her pregnancy, and of adoption facilities. This procedure will allow a woman a meaningful choice and help to ensure that abortion is truly a last resort. It will place the responsibility on the government to provide all clinical, medical and social and financial assistance possible to the woman so that she may bear her child whether that pregnancy was planned or not. No government should command a social or economic system that does nothing to prevent the need for abortions.
The Bill ls an attempt to rationalise the law on abortion, eliminate the back-yard abortionist, reduce the number of abortions and recognise that an abortion is, first and foremost, a matter between a woman and her doctor. Perhaps John Stuart Mill best put the essence of our proposal when he said:
Anyone who causes a life to come into being without the means to guarantee it normal expectations of happiness commits an offence against that being.
This Bill aims to ensure that happiness.
– The question of abortion is one of the most sensitive and fundamental issues to come before this national Parliament. At the outset I make my position clear. As a matter of deep personal conviction J am opposed to the Bill and to the other amendments which have been foreshadowed. This Bill purports to clarify and remove doubts concerning the position of doctors with regard to abortion. It attempts to deal with a question of major social importance - a matter with a wide range of associated questions of medicine, social welfare, the physical and mental health of mothers, basic human rights, and the rights and freedoms of doctors, nurses and hospital staffs. It is therefore an attempt at major social legislation.
But I believe it to be entirely misleading to entitle this Bill a ‘clarification’ measure. As the Medical Association of the Australian Capital Territory has pointed out:
Medical practitioners see no need for clarification of their position. To that extent the title of the Bill is misleading. In fact, the Bill creates confusion.
The public, I believe, should not be led to think that this legislation is simply a clarification of the existing law and practice when, in fact, it goes so much further and seeks to implement what I regard as abortion on demand. It is significant that this Bill to make abortion easily available on demand is offered to this national Parliament and the Australian people when other countries, with long experience of legal abortion and its harmful consequences for the individual and society, have either restricted their earlier laws or are moving to restrict. Romania has already done so; Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Japan are moving towards this. Britain’s Abortion Act is under serious review, because of the abuses that have followed legislation. Sweden is severely restricting the application of its abmtion law
It is significant that the content; of this Bill ignore the medical evidence of the harmful physical effects of abortion evidence now coming from so many countries. The New York State Medical Association, in common with the observations of other medical bodies, warned doctors in 1970 that abortions after the 12th week ‘are fraught with tremendous danger’. Yet this Bill provides for abortion well beyond this time and on the same grounds, which, under the United Kingdom Abortion Act, have been used for abortion on demand.
This Bill has been brought before the Parliament before the Lane Committee of Enquiry into the working of the United King dom Abortion Act reports to the British Parliament. The evidence, medical and other, submitted to that Committee, is an indictment of abortion on the basis proposed by the mover and seconder of this Bill as a means of solving pregnancy problems. Medical associations have not been consulted on the Bill, especially the obstetricians and gynaecologists who will have to perform abortions if this Bill were to become law. I believe there can be no valid reason for failing to consult medical opinion in the Australian Capital Territory. Those responsible for the Bill may have been constrained from the necessary consultative processes in view of the fact that 92 per cent of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Britain, with experience of legal abortion, reject abortion- on demand.
The Bill’s provisions appear to take little account of the evidence of the coercive effect of abortion laws on doctors. The Royal College of Obstetricians, in paragraph 20 of its evidence to the Lane Committee, notes proven cases of duress on doctors, nurses and theatre staff - and Britain’s law is more restricted than that which is proposed here in respect of doctor’s rights. The official South Australian Statutory Committee examining the operation of that State’s Abortion Act note that the law did not provide adequate protection for doctors’ rights and convictions but that it was, in practice, coercive of doctors. I say without in an? sense seeking to impugn the motivations of those who brought forward this measure that the inept drafting o the legislation repeats the confusion of the United Kingdom and South Australian abortion laws, and adds to that confusion additional uncertainties. It is an attempt to use the medical profession and the subterfuge of legal clarification to introduce a major change in social legislation, which would have far-reaching effects on the future status and health of women, and on the basic civil liberties of all citizens. It is a Bill that has grown large on the massive ignorance of its assumptions. It should be clear that a private member’s Bill is a totally inadequate legislative approach to the major social issues involved in the question of abortion.
Let me turn briefly to the appeals for a royal commission to inquire into this whole question. I am aware that an attempt has been made to associate my name with calls for such an inquiry, when in fact I spoke some week or so ago about a study of expectant mothers’ economic and social welfare needs. I have not suggested a royal commission into the question of abortion. I believe such a commission is unnecessary and its adoption will simply defer the rejection of the Bill before the House. lt should be stressed that a royal commission into abortion - this is my opinion; of course, every member will take his own view in relation to this question - is not justified when there is ample international evidence to reveal the full extent of its harmful effects - of the toll on the woman’s health, especially on the health of young women, as the College of Obstetricians’ report evidenced in detail to the Lane Committee; of the psychological damage done to abortees; of the disruption to hospital facilities and services; and most importantly of the steady erosion of civil liberties involved in destroying the life of the unborn. I reject the concept of a commission, while respecting the views of those who seek to support that concept, because of the ample evidence which is available not only in Australia but also in so many other countries. I also reject the idea of a commission because very many people in this Parliament have such deep personal and moral conviction that their views will not be changed by further inquiries, having regard to the evidence which already exists. Nor do I believe that a referendum is desirable. It is, after all, the duty of this national Parliament and its members to determine an issue in which civil rights and the welfare of the mother are involved.
It is important to examine some of what I believe to be the myths that have been widely represented as fact in seeking legislation to provide for abortion on demand. This Bill, like its predecessors in Great Britain and elsewhere, has sought the respectability of fact while being based on myths. One continually repeated myth restated in this House today is that legal abortion will remove the incidence of illegal criminal abortions. However, in the United Kingdom, the evidence of the Royal College of Obstetricians to the Lane Committee, the study by John and Hackman and the Wynn report all show that there is no noticeable drop in the incidence of illegal abortions. Frederickson and Brackett studied countries with all types of legal abortion laws. They concluded that not only is there no evidence of a reduction in illegal abortions, but in East Germany the wide abortion laws were accompanied by an increase in criminal abortions. The studies by Dr Christopher Tietze and a 25-year survey by Dr Sundberg both found the same result for Scandinavia. Dr Muller and Dr Mall-Haefele having surveyed 12 countries with legal abortion, concluded in a report to the 5th World Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1967:
There is also the myth, restated here, that legal abortion will dispose of the unwanted and illegitimate child problem. But the College of Obstetricians, the John and Hackman report and the Wynn report all demonstrate the converse to be the case.
There is the myth that abortion is not the killing of human life, that the foetus is just an appendage of the mother. This is asserted - I put the theological viewpoint to one side - without regard for scientific evidence of the development of the foetus. It ignores the statement of the world leader in foetal medicine, the man who first completely transfused a foetus within its mother. Dr. A. W. Lilley, who said:
Biologically, genetically and physiologically, mother and foetus are two separate individuals.
The journal ‘California Medicine’ commented in September 1970 that there has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception. This is the point that I take in this context not on a theological basis, which I also accept, but on the scientific evidence available in so many countries. The same journal derided what it called ‘the very considerable semantic gymnastics required to rationalise abortion as anything but taking a human life’ and called this ‘a schizophrenic subterfuge’. It explains why the professor of gynaecology at Leeds University remarked in the United Kingdom publication ‘Social Science and Medicine’:
The most important fact that gynaecologists know, and the most understandably suppressed, is that performing an abortion . . . involves the destruction of a clearly recognisable human being.
There is the myth that it is a woman’s right to have an abortion in order to control her fertility. It can be no one’s right to take the life of another human being. The basis of law in a democratic society is that its provisions must apply equally to all members of that society. It is a woman’s right to control her fertility, but once she becomes pregnant it is my personal view there is a new human being with an equal legal right to life. The notion that a woman has a private, right to abortion, asserted here today, cannot be legitimately advanced. Even when she does have an abortion, she automatically involves the rights and consciences of a large number of other people - her doctor, the gynaecologist, the nursing staff, the theatre staff, the anaesthetist, and many others. These are people who are personally involved and whose rights must also be recognised and protected.
There is one myth which has had serious consequences for the woman who is aborted and suffers harmful complications. The British ‘Medical Journal’ remarked in an editorial on 20th January this year that many women have been misled toy pro-abortion propaganda to believe that an abortion is as simple and as safe as having a tooth out. That journal, which is a distinguished journal in its field in Britain, condemned this frivolous approach, and added that doctors are becoming increasingly aware of the hazards of legal abortion, especially for girls pregnant for the first time. There is good reason for this warning. The Royal College of Obstetricians, not a body to be lightly set aside in this debate, reported to the Lane Committee that the mortality rate from legal abortion over the past 3 years is almost certainly greater than the total maternal mortality rate. The same report lists the growing evidence of physical complications in abortions, even those done by specialist obstetricians. Many of these are permanent disabilities that lead to chronic illness and lasting psychological disturbance. The Stallworth study in Britain mentioned the disquieting incidence’ of complications. Another study cited by the Royal College of Obstetricians showed a 20 per cent complication rate as a result of abortions. The official New York study of 43,000 abortions revealed a complication rate of 12.6 per cent. South Australian medical studies show complication rates of 18.5 per cent. For instance, a study by Dr Miller in 1973 remarked:
The individual patients exhibiting significant complications totalled 170 out of 348 or 49 per cent. Ninety-three out of 170 operations were performed by specialists.
Dr Miller concluded that:
Dr Picker and Dr Pfanner reported on their experience with the vacuum aspiration method of abortion - the latest method of abortion - at a Sydney hospital, and found an 11.2 per cent complication rate. They gave this warning:
Recently in the thinking of the general public there have been moves to suggest that abortion should be freely available on demand and that this procedure is without significant risk. However, recent papers . . have emphasised that therapeutic abortion is not without significant risks. Our series confirms these views.
The Czechoslovakian official study of the use of vacuum aspiration with 100,000 legal abortions found permanent complications in between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of all women aborted, with the rate higher in women pregnant for the first time. When evaluated with the risk of subsequent pregnancies, and with the incidence of incapacity for a woman to have a child or retain a pregnancy, the complication rate rose to between 30 per cent and 40 per cent.
This report concluded with the statement:
We realise we have to alter our existing law . . . to restrict legal abortion.
These facts are put down in simple and brief terms because one cannot, during the course of this very restricted debate, deal really fundamentally with the issues involved. This is only scratching the surface of the information which is readily available, but it further supports the point that I make concerning the question of a royal commission. In the name of liberation it imposes new burdens on women, and for the unsuspecting single girl who is aborted those burdens in ill-health can be life-lasting. The people of this country have the right to know these facts.
Abortion is a totally inadequate solution to a pregnant woman’s economic and social needs. It is a short term view of the surface symptoms of a woman’s problems. It leaves the aborted woman to pay the price, sometimes with physical and psychological illhealth and, at the same time, fails to resolve her basic problems.
It is a solution which is promoted by some under the guise of a new liberation for women. In fact, in my view it treats women as second class citizens, not worth the proper care of society and the Government.
What we are being asked to agree to is the legalised destruction of human life. A substantial number of side issues are raised, a series of attempts are made to divert the debate about abortion from the central issue: Legal abortion gives formal approval to the destruction of life for the social, economic and often trivial convenience of our society. It is a matter of concern in an age of advanced technology and achievement where modern medicine has accomplished such wonders in curative and preventative control of disease and illness, that the best we can do as a society for the expectant mother and her child is to bring the force of that technology and medical achievement to destroy human life in the womb. If that is the best we can offer, I say that we are bankrupt of true humanitarian values that should characterise any modern democratic society.
What is at stake in this issue is also the rights and civil liberties of everyone in this nation. If we agree to invoke the legal approval for the breakdown of the unborn child’s right to life, then we are beginning to break down that basic right to life which we all possess. And because it is the basic right in a democratic society, all other rights and the exercise of our civil liberties rest on that fundamental proposition. What use are our other rights and civil liberties if we cannot be assured of the basic right on which they all rest? Yet that, I believe, is what we are being asked to do, to shake the whole structure of rights and civil liberties by agreeing to the erosion of that basic right. No society can do that and avoid further breakdowns of the democratic structure that recognises the equality of all its citizens.
This Bill which seeks to provide abortion on demand meets none of the requirements of enlightened and progressive legislation. It is contrary to the human rights and humane values which must be the fundamental concerns of a democratic society. Under the pretence of liberating mothers, it discriminates against them, offering them, I believe, a spurious benefit at a price they themselves may well pay for the rest of their lives. Under the pretence of clarifying the position of doctors with existing law, it makes new inroads on their rightful professional and conscientious judgment. Under the pretence of being a humane solution to genuine human problems it seeks the law’s seal on the systematic discrimination against one group of the human family, the innocent and defenceless. Under the pretence of appealing to indi vidual rights it attacks the whole structure of rights and civil liberties.
I believe that this Parliament has a clear obligation to reject the terms of this Bill and the amendments which have been foreshadowed.
– The House should reject this Bill. The scope of this Bill is confined to the Australian Capital Territory, so it will not touch police corruption in Melbourne. Nor is there anything in the Bill which makes a difference to the factor of poverty or the factor of wealth in a woman being able to pay for an abortion. It is unfortunate that the royal commission proposal, while it has very great merit in itself, is moved today because inevitably it will be interpreted as an attempt on the part of those who support it to evade a decision on the central issue, and that is unfortunate because the proposal has merits in it.
Innocent human life, in whatever stage of development, should be secure from the very first moment of its existence from any direct and wilful attack. This is the essential right of the human person, without which obviously no other rights will exist for that person, lt is as valid a legal and human right for the life still hidden in the womb of its mother as it is for the life already born and proceeding with an existence independently of the mother. It is not a matter of belief that the embryo is a human person, lt is a matter of knowledge that the embryo state is a part of human growth. If I had had my eldest son aborted in the first 12 weeks of his existence he would not now be here.
Whatever reasons there may be for drawing legal distinctions between human rights and human responsibilities at different phases of life, abortion used as a deliberate means of destroying a life, and not as a means of saving a life, is a grave attack upon the inviolability of human life, and ought to be an unlawful attack on the inviolability of human life. I will not discuss the side issues, important though they are, of justifiable abortion. This Bill does not seek any grounds of justification. It authorises the intentional destruction, ultimately on simple request, of unborn children in the first 12 weeks of their existence. The mother may be healthy and wealthy and the child in perfect development. It is enough that the woman wants it destroyed. If she is married there is no provision for consulting the husband as to whether he wants it destroyed. The widespread assertion of the need for such methods of contraception-by-killing is the measure of the degree to which social values have become callous and ruthless.
In the Bill a ‘female1 can be any age. If she is a girl of twelve or thirteen there is no provision for consulting her parents, who might surround her with protection and care, and who might find what undesirable associations have led her to grave difficulty. To the malice of an assault on innocent life the Bill in its present form adds the malice of assault on marriages and families. The humane sound that has been uttered in its defence of groundless abortion is the suggestion that it will get rid of backyard abortions. All other utterances are the utterances of a campaign to turn the law to support the malice of assault on human life, and to leave the law not fitting together, with jagged inconsistencies about honestly reporting causes of death and still births. And the Bill does not dare to utter in law what it will force in practice, namely, that the obligation to endeavour to resuscitate the life of an infant no longer rests on nurses or doctors. They are both turned by groundless abortion from being healers to being killers. From a purely medical viewpoint abortion conflicts with the only valid ideals and principles of the medical profession, namely, that it exists to protect life.
Not the slightest evidence has been produced that Canberra has such a problem of backyard abortion that this Bill was needed to solve that problem. The Bill is not presented to solve a problem of backyard abortions in Canberra. It is presented to use Canberra as an ideological sounding board to affirm certain principles, no doubt believed to be progressive, but which in fact are utterly retrogressive. As this campaign for abortion has proceeded, it is notable that concern for child endowment, maternity welfare, reduction of neo-natal, infant and child mortality of Aborigines have all been played off the stage. The slogan has been uttered that people are pollution. This emanates from Professor Ehrlich, whose intellect was admired by some Australians recently when he visited the country, and his stated aim is compulsory abortion after the second child. Such a thing would be a logical step from this Bill. That stated aim is in his book.
Compulsion in the first instance, however, will press on the nurses and doctors - or at any rate a pressure great enough to amount to compulsion will apply to nurses, for nurses who will not perform abortions soon find they are out of a job wherever abortion is legal. The views of the union most directly involved - the Australian Capital Territory Branch of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation - deserve consideration. The President wrote to me saying she had been instructed by her council to voice strong opposition to the proposed Medical Practice Clarification Bill and affirmed, inter alia:
It is the traditional role of the nurse to assist at surgical procedures and to dispose of the product of such procedures. Experience in other countries indicates that nurses, involved in abortion procedures such as those outlined above, where the product requiring disposal is living tissue with complete identifiable human form, have suffered marked anxiety and conflict due to dichotomy of standards concerning preservation of life.
Nurses in the ward situation delivering pre and post-operative care experience similar anxiety in attempting to fulfil their role of supplying emotional support to the patient who is frequently herself involved in conflict.
We would remind you that ‘A foetus of twenty weeks or more or weighing over four hundred grammes must be registered as a live or still birth*.
Further, we see this Act as being detrimental to future nursing recruitment. Already we have been questioned by prospective students and concerned parents regarding the role of the nurse in this situation.
What the Royal Australian Nursing Federation Branch here in Canberra, which is facing the possibility that the Medical Practice Clarification Bill might become an Act, says confirms experience overseas. In March 1970 Hawaii became the first State of the United States to legislate that abortion should be a personal matter to be decided between a woman and her physician. The American Journal of Psychiatry recently published an article by Walter F. Char, M.D. and John McDermott, M.D., in an article entitled Abortions and Acute Identity Crisis in Nurses’ wrote:
Within 6 weeks the authors were urgently consulted by 2 hospitals regarding the acute psychological reactions their nurses were having in response to their abortion work.
The article goes on to comment that the symptoms were due to an acute identity crisis regarding their nursing roles caused by their abortion activities. Putting this more simply, this is an utter contradiction between the ideal which took people into nursing - the ideal to heal and save life - and being required to terminate life in a recognisable human being. An embryo of 20 weeks or more or weighing over 400 grames must be registered as a live or still birth. It is not uncommon at 23 weeks or more for the embryo to breathe and attempt independent life. The question then arises: Should the medical officer take measures to resuscitate the child or just let it die? If the child should survive, is a birth certificate to be written out, and if the child dies what is the cause of death to be inserted in the death certificate? The nurses of Canberra want to know whether a deliberate abortion is to be registered as a still birth.
We are taking very seriously the views of unions which point out the possible dangers of fallout from French atomic tests to unborn Australian children - a danger by radiation. That danger is a matter of speculation, and estimates of the degree of possible harm vary from nothing to something formidable. It is one of the possibilities which has caused the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to organise a world boycott of France. The Australian Capital Territory Branch of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation does not have to speculate on the consequences of the proposed Medical Practice Clarification Bill. The Bill involves the slaying of recognisable human beings. This is fact, not speculation. The nurses’ organisation is the union concerned and it points out the known consequences in nervous breakdown to nurses who are called on to repudiate the fundamental motive which led them into the profession - the motive to save life. I believe that women who happen to be nurses should be liberated from this prospective violation of their nature as women and this repudiation of the very raison d’etre of the nursing profession.
The title of the Bill is quite misleading. It does not seek to clarify the law. It seeks drastically to amend it and to legalise the destruction of healthy embryos in healthy mothers. It does not pretend that there need be any ground of poverty, bad heredity, likely impairment because of such factors as rubella, or any other ground. Five years ago when the Attorney-General, the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H, Bowen) gave an answer to a question asked on 4th
April 1968 in this House of Representatives. He commented concerning abortion:
It would be undesirable to have the position in this Territory so different that it might become a place of resort for people who wished to procure abortions.
This Bill makes Canberra such a place of resort and its tendency must be to overstrain the medical facilities of Canberra. In the first weeks of pregnancy the justification for abortion under this Bill is simply demand. What is involved is a deadly form of contraception at enormous expense - contraception after conception. It is birth control literally by killing. If Parliament legalises this, it must logically provide for it under national health legislation. There is very little doubt that the Government will be called upon to pay for this most expensive form of contraception. A considerable number of women come back for several abortions. I doubt if they would be less than $150 a time in operation fees alone, let alone the social cost in hospital or clinical organisation.
The Bill is very difficult to discuss because it has gone through constant changes. It has nothing positive to say. It is quite, uncreative to produce a Bill on abortion causing that subject to stand in isolation. Admittedly this procedure sweeps away all pretences of a humane concern for the child. Such concern would be to find why people are pressured towards abortion; how unwed mothers might have proper care and hospital attention to give natural birth to their children; the procedures of adoption; the provision of government subsidised day care and after school centres for children of working parents; payment of equal tax rebates for dependants, rather than the present system of concessional deductions; increased welfare benefits for deserted and/ or unmarried mothers; removal of legislative discrimination and positive action to suppress social and commercial discrimination against unwed mothers, de facto wives and illegitimate children.
There are a number of disastrous consequences arising from legalising the slaying of unborn children. I mentioned the objection of the Canberra nurses to the undermining of the laws regarding the registration of birth and death. It is one of the features of our society - and wherever this feature exists it is a very vital step in progress - that all births and deaths must be accounted for. The legalisation of abortion in Britain has provided infant bodies as raw material for scientific experiments. The more developed the unborn child the more certain laboratories seek the child’s body for experiment. No pretence is then made about the. fact that this is human tissue, though in other contexts there is the attempt to suggest that the embryo is not human.
Nazi Germany used Jews and Russian prisoners of war for extremely cruel experiments. These experiments are detailed with the. greatest care in a book entitled ‘Doctors of Infamy’, by A. Mitscherlicke and F. Mielke The book points out that none of these experiments in Nazi Germany were worth anything in advancing medical knowledge. What they did was to debase, utterly medical standards and the medical profession. It is interesting that Sir Alexander Fleming and Lord Florey of Adelaide discovered penicillin in a mould and this has saved millions of lives. No knowledge and no medical advance comparable to this came out of experiments in Nazi Germany.
Abortion deaths are deliberate, deaths, not still-births. Deaths without accountability are the quintessence of social reaction and decline. It was a marked advance in social accountability for the wellbeing of every member of society when the British Anatomy Act was passed. The abortion laws in the United Kingdom now enable the provision of subjects for medical experiments and anatomical study by artificially producing death. If it has been true, as has been stated in the Press, that crying unborn infants have been taken for destruction in furnaces, or embryos in an advanced stage of development are used for experiments, the advances in the Anatomy Act have in truth been destroyed, and I do not want them destroyed in Australia.
There is no rational ground for creating a special abortion law for the city of Canberra. Its tendency must be either to overwhelm Canberra hospitals or to make it a city of special abortion clinics - a grave departure from the idea of a civic and social excellence as a model for Australia. Canberra is significant, however, as an ideological model. If this law is once passed for Canberra, intense pressure will be exerted in the States to follow the Canberra model. The prestige of Canberra as the model city will thus be put to a disastrous use. All of these features are insignificant, however, compared with the view of man which inevitably develops. First and foremost he is expendable. The Bill provides for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks; abortion on the opinion of 2 medical practitioners between 12 weeks and 23 weeks. You will observe that quite logically the Bill does not evince any great excitement about the misdeed of terminating a pregnancy after 23 weeks.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– The idea of the sanctity of human life is, in fact, the mainspring of all social advance. I am currently trying to speed the development of child care centres. In the Northern Territory these can mean the saving of Aboriginal child life, for children in such centres are seen by infant welfare sisters and, as a consequence, their health problems are treated. Otherwise Aboriginal neo-natal infant and child mortality is as much as 10 times that of Europeans. There is less and less community passion involved in changing this situation as convictions about the sanctity of life diminish. The abortion campaign diminishes such conviction. Recently unmarried girls who have Commonwealth tertiary scholarships and who have become mothers have, by my decision, had a dependant’s allowance extended to them. This is a declaration of the sanctity of life and an affirmation that the mother should have no pressure upon her, through economic need, to destroy life.
Recently Mr Bob Hawke on television said that the whole of the French trade was not worth the life of one Australian unborn child. The whole of the French trade is worth $197m, so Mr Bob Hawke has certainly valued - and I think very rightly - every unborn Australian as a royal soul and I cannot imagine that anybody could justify the destruction of children of that value nor justify their use in experiments where they are regarded merely as human tissue. It is not enough simply to oppose abortion, we need to affirm the sanctity of life in many practical ways. We need a major effort to reduce Aboriginal neo-natal infant and child mortality. We need a major effort to help handicapped children. We need a new concern for assistance to children in poor families. We need realistic assistance for unmarried mothers - not merely the assistance of social security payments but advice about their children, advice about employment, advice about child care centres, advice about the education of their children. We need the development of community services to help the child who is battered or harmed in unsatisfactory homes. In short, we need a total program on the sanctity of child life. It is a tragedy, I think, that our attention is being diverted to how children can be eliminated when the attention of this Parliament is very much needed to how they can be advanced.
– No one would deny that the matter we are debating today is a complex one, a serious one and one which gives rise to the expression of very strong and widely divergent views. Every member of this House is aware of the depth of feeling this Bill has aroused. The Bill deals with a matter which goes to the basic philosophical and religious beliefs of the community. In my opinion, but perhaps not in the opinion of others, it raises matters of law, of health, of responsibility, of social justice, of ethics, of morals and of personal and community standards and values. Extreme points of view are taken. On the one hand, for example, we have the view that abortion is wrong in every case and the other view that abortion should be available whenever requested. I think we would be wrong to place ourselves at the end of either of these extremities.
Whether we start from the point of a strongly held personal view, as I do, and as many others of us do, or whether we have not such a firm point of view*, we all have a responsibility to look at the whole range of arguments with great care and in the knowledge that we are dealing with a matter that goes to the foundations of the attitudes to life and freedom held by the people of this nation. No doubt much of what I say and what other honourable members say will be unacceptable to people whose views are based on quite different premises. I think all of us, if we are honest, must admit that we can readily imagine situations in which we would find it difficult to resist the idea that an abortion should take place. Faced personally or through family associations with a situation in which a decision must be made, I think most of Ug could find ways of justifying in our own minds that an abortion should be performed. But what we have to keep in mind here is that we are looking at this Bill not from a purely personal viewpoint but as legislators charged with enacting laws for the good of our society. We must have in mind the needs and the good of the community at large and we must look at this Bill not only as individual members of the community but as people whose job it is to enact the community’s laws.
As to whether the law should have a say in the matter at ail, I will say something later.
It is impossible in the few minutes available to me to consider all the arguments in detail, and in any case I want to raise some considerations which I think should be discussed even though they do not involve the more direct legal and medical questions related to abortion. Before I speak about what I believe to be the principles involved in the matter we are discussing I want to say something about the Bill itself. The title of the Bill is misleading. I do not think anyone really believes the objective is to clarify the law. It is to secure the introduction of abortion on request. 1 am advised that under the law as it exists in the Australian Capital Territory almost any request for an abortion based on medical, psychiatric or socio-economic grounds is given proper and serious consideration by the appropriate authorities and most are agreed to. I am disturbed that the Bill is such a slipshod one. To state that it has been hastily prepared with little research is understating the situation.
We have had, in fact, a series of drafts of the Bill as it has been amended to take account of objections raised to its provisions. Despite improvements, there are still disturbing provisions in it. To take one example, the Bill defines a medical practioner as a person registered under the laws of the Commonwealth, of a State or of a Territory and permitted thereby to practice medicine for reward in a State or Territory. I can see nothing in the Bill to prevent any such person from anywhere in Australia coming to Canberra and bringing his patients with him and performing abortions here. I can see nothing in the Bill to require that such an abortion or in fact any abortion is carried out in a hospital or operating theatre. There is nothing in the Bill to say that a doctor, faced with a request from a girl of say 12, 13 or 14, need consult the child’s parents. I can see no provision for the father of the unborn child to exercise his responsibilities or his rights. In fact, the father is denied any legal right in determining the fate of the unborn child.
I think the main point put forward to support the concept of abortion on demand or on request is that the matter is entirely private between a woman and her doctor. On the face of it, this seems a reasonable thing to say, and it would be reasonable if the matter did concern only the woman and her doctor; but it does not. There is at least one other life involved - that of the unborn child. I know there is a lot of argument about the point at which an unborn child becomes a person in the legal sense, but my own view is that when we are considering abortion we cannot leave out of that consideration the unborn child, no matter what stage of development it has reached.
I mentioned a moment ago the question as to whether there should be any laws relating to abortion. This point of view is put forward again on the ground that the matter is a private one between the woman and her doctor. But if it is accepted, as I accept, that a third person is involved, there must be laws to protect the rights of that person - a person incapable of defending his or her own rights. If it is accepted, as I accept, that society is involved then laws must be framed by society for its own good. I see the fundamental right as that which has been described as the right to life of the unborn child. Others will argue that if there is a fundamental right is belongs to the woman. Much of this argument rests on whether a foetus becomes a human person at the moment of birth, at the moment of conception or at some point in between. These are matters on which it is very difficult for the layman to express a viewpoint, but my own view tends towards the belief that definable life begins - certainly the potential for life is established - at a very early stage in pregnancy, though I think it might be taking too extreme a viewpoint to say that it begins at the moment of conception. However, there is a very strong body of expert medical opinion which adheres to the view that human life begins with the implantation of the fertilised ovum.
If we look for some legal guidance on the status of the unborn child, we find that in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1971, in the case of Watt v. Rama, it was held that where a child had suffered injuries in an accident or had suffered grave disabilities as the result of her mother’s injury, the defendant had owed a duty of care not to cause injury to the child. The child in this case was bom on 4th January 1968 and the motor accident in which the injuries were suffered occurred on 15th May 1967 - almost 8 months before the child was born. It seems that the court had no doubt that this child - although only a matter of a few weeks past conception at the time of the accident - certainly had the legal rights of other members of the community.
The question arises as to whether abortion is always wrong, or is acceptable in some circumstances. I think all of us would agree that there are circumstances in which the judgment has to be made as to whether first consideration must be given to the life, or health of the mother or that of the unborn child. The purely medical decisions can be made only by an expert in the form of a doctor. But there are other circumstances when some people incline to the view that abortion is justifiable, such as when pregnancy results from rape. The view of the Australian Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists can be summarised as follows:
Rape and incest, socio-economic factors, illegitimacy or the simple fact that pregnancy is unwanted, are not, on their own, indications for the termination of pregnancy.
However the flexibility of the present legal system in Canberra would permit a gynaecologist, after consideration of these and other factors, and after proper consultation, to terminate pregnancy when he considered it to be in the best interests of a woman and her potential child. I think the point at issue here for many people is whether the circumstances of conception can affect the Tightness or wrongness of abortion. Another of the arguments revolves around what has become known as the quality of life. It seems to me that there is a real question to be dealt with here - whether the right to life of the unborn child can be subordinated to the quality of life of the existing family or the community. Is this an attitude of selfishness or an attitude of realism? Is it right to see abortion as the answer to quality of life problems instead of the greater acceptance of responsibility for providing for the needs of a family and the community? Again, we are told that there are many children born who are unwanted and because they are unwanted they suffer. It seems to me that if a child is not going to be wanted, there is a very heavy responsibility resting on those who have the power to set the life process in train to take steps to prevent conception.
In the first 2 years of the South Australian experiment, of those women having pregnancy terminations only one in eight had employed contraception. I know that to talk of responsibility will be seen by many people as an easy answer - an answer which does not take into account the many difficult and different practical matters involved. Nevertheless, I do not think we should look upon abortion as a substitute for lack of responsibility at an earlier stage, or as a substitute for knowledge of and education in contraception and, also, an understanding of the principles on which our society is founded. I believe we are on a dangerous course if we see abortion simply as an alternative to contraception. We must ask ourselves whether the attitude represented by this Bill could lead to a lessening respect for life not only of the unborn child but also of people who have far less potential for usefulness in society. This is one of the great questions we must think about very carefully. I believe that in a democratic society the emphasis must be placed on the rights - including the right to life and the right to fulfilment - of the individual. This is in contrast to a totalitarian society in which the right of the individual is subordinated to the rights of the state.
I am concerned that we should not allow ourselves to move, perhaps unwittingly and certainly not consciously, into a kind of society which accepts the subordination of the rights of the individual, including his most fundamental rights. I believe the demand for abortion on request is part of the manifestation of the change of values occurring in our society. J cannot help seeing this trend as one which raises a serious threat to the continued existence of the basis of our society - the family. I know this view will be challenged but it is a view that I hold strongly. The trend of which I speak is evident in such matters as call for the legalisation of homosexual acts, for the making easier of divorce, for legalisation of the use of soft drugs and, in some cases, for the legalisation of euthanasia and infanticide and relaxation on controls of pornographic matter. To me, these trends must result in a weakening of those institutions - marriage and the family - which provide the best environment for the upbringing of our children.
In an age when the setting in train of the life process can be managed and controlled, and even prevented, it seems to me an abrogation of our responsibility to ourselves and a betrayal of humanity to claim that abortion, except where justified on grounds already provided for in the law, is an acceptable and appropriate alternative to the exercise of the control which an acceptance of responsibility would suggest should be exercised. It seems to me. to be not an expression of the liberation of a woman but an affront to her womanhood and a denial of her rights if it is suggested that all responsibility for avoiding or terminating an unwanted pregnancy should rest with that woman alone. If a man now is permitted by society to avoid responsibility in these matters, to what greater extent will he be encouraged to avoid responsibility in these matters if women are called upon to accept an even larger part of what should be. a dual responsibility on those who have the power to start the life process?
If we declare that abortion must not be seen simply as an alternative to responsibility or to education in contraception, should we not be making sure that such education is freely available? Should we not be doing all we can to ensure that adequate sex education is given to our young people? Should we not be seeing to it that mothers of young children are given the help they need in caring for them? Should we not examine our attitudes, both as individuals and as a community, to the unmarried mother, to the illegitimate child and to the deserted wife? Should we not be moving more quickly to the establishment of family planning clinics? Whether this Bill is passed or not, might it not be worth while to consider the establishment, perhaps in the Australian Capital Territory for a start, of special clinics to deal not only with family planning, .education and similar matters but also with abortion legally performed under the existing law?
I think it might be well worth while asking a committee consisting of, say, representatives of the Department of Health, the Department of Social Security, the various hospitals, the Australian Medical Association, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and other appropriate people to look into this matter. We cannot avoid the problem of backyard abortion, but legislation has not cured this problem. I believe that we should take a more positive step to make people aware of the provisions of the existing law before we think of making dangerous changes to that law. As to the suggestion for an inquiry, I do not believe that putting the responsibility on a judge will change the basic underlining principles. I am afraid that I will have to oppose the amendments foreshadowed and oppose this Bill.
– I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House is of opinion that a royal commission, of which the Chairman shall be a Supreme Court Justice and a majority of members shall be women, should enquire into and report within 12 months upon:
I had not thought to hear a man of the admired integrity of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) suggest that a proposal in which he saw considerable merit should be rejected because of what other people might think about it. I had not thought to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) depart so quickly from the call for an inquiry on which he was quoted - not just reported but quoted - throughout the daily Press of Australia only 10 days ago. The remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) bore out clearly the need for an inquiry. Both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country Party said that changes in the law on abortion would not affect the incidence of illegal abortions. Both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country Party quoted from the Medical Journal of Australia’ of 28th April but I find it strange that both failed to quote the conclusion reached by that journal and, presumably, by the medical profession in the matter of South Australia. It said:
The number of abortions performed has been a little higher than the proponents of the legislation expected, but it is not nearly as high as pre-existing practice was stated to be by antiabortionists who opposed the Bill.
I come to the crucial point -
There is no factual evidence of non-medical abortionists continuing to practise in South Australia at present - the admission of patients with septic and incomplete abortions to public hospitals fell dramatically after legalisation.
I find it strange that the honourable gentlemen omitted to mention that conclusion.
Royal commissions are a means of obtaining information which would otherwise be unavailable, of drawing to public attention facts which would otherwise be neglected, and of reconciling points of view which would otherwise remain opposed. In this country not even basic information such as the number of abortions which are performed legally in public hospitals is available. Available information about contraception, abortion and the risks of abortion, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made very proper reference, and about alternatives to abortion is unfamiliar to the women upon whom ignorance can impose such heavy penalties. Reason has given way to recrimination, and opposing factions revile each other respectively as ‘murderers’ and ‘bigots’. We must become accustomed again to reasoning with one another and a royal commission will provide an appropriate agency for that purpose. Honourable members may vote in good conscience to reject the Bill which is before the House but nobody can vote in conscience to sweep under the mat once more the fact that the experts estimate up to 120,000 abortions are performed annually in Australia.
– Which experts?
– The figure of 120,000 comes from the professor of political science at the University of Sydney who has gone into the matter in some detail. Political science is a relevant discipline with a statistical basis for the inquiry. An overwhelming majority of these abortions are being performed under conditions which exacerbate the dangers to life and health and future fertility which are associated inescapably with all abortion procedures and which, as I said, were very properly outlined by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. An overwhelming majority of these abortions are being performed on a basis which corrupts our law enforcement agencies and brings into disrepute the rule of law itself. I have moved my amendment to ensure that attention will be paid to these matters. I have moved it to ensure that, as a nation, we face up for the first time not only to the prevalence of abortion under our present laws but also to the disastrous shortcomings in fertility control and other social policies of which abortion is merely a symptom. It is only by supporting this amendment that honourable members can be true to themselves, to the electorates they represent in this House and in particular to the women in those electorates who will bear the burden of whatever decision is reached in this place.
I have said that experts estimate up to 120,000 women are aborted each year in Australia. If the total were only half as great, the problem would still be most significant. This is the incidence of abortion, not in any hypothetical situation which might emerge if this House were to pass the Bill before it, but in a situation which exists today and has existed for years. That situation has been created not by permissive abortion laws or by abortion law reformers, but by the apathy which keeps us from facing up squarely to the challenge of family planning or taking seriously the breakdown in fertility control and other social policies to which I have already referred.
Seventy-seven per cent of all the women who were aborted in South Australia in 1971 had not used any form of contraception on the occasion on which they became pregnant, and 90 per cent of the women under 20 years of age - a good deal of attention has been focused on them - had not used any form of conception on the occasion on which they became pregnant. As the Leader of the Australian Country Party said, there is an appalling irresponsibility involved on the part not only of the women concerned but also of the community to which they belong. The ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ - and I will quote frequently from this publication because it has gone into the matter in some depth over a number of issues - pointed out on 3rd February:
The vast majority of young girls seeking an abortion had had sexual relations for some months at least before conception occurred, and some had tried to obtain help, but had been refused by the medical profession. Others had not sought advice because they did not know to whom to go for assistance.
Is it any wonder that in these circumstances the proportion of women seeking abortions in South Australia who were under 20 years of age increased between 1970 and 1971 from 20 per cent to 30 per cent? As Professor Wood has pointed out:
Women, married and unmarried, religious and irrelegious, rich and poor, young and old, will risk death and legal penalty to rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy.
A quarter of the women who were aborted legally in South Australia in 1971 gave their religion as Roman Catholic, although only 20 per cent of the population of that State are members of the Catholic Church. One in every 3 of the women who applied for and were refused abortions in that State was subsequently aborted on an illegal basis.
Variations between countries in the incidence of abortion - and they have been clearly documented - demonstrate conclusively that the ratio of abortions to live births depends not upon the flexibility or rigidity of the laws by which abortion is governed, but upon the initiative which governments show in providing proper sex education and family planning services and the support that is given by public opinion to governments in the provision of these services and their use by the community. In Britain where abortion laws are relatively permissive and in Sweden where abortion laws are relatively strict, widespread use of family planning keeps the rate at which women are aborted to between 12 and 15 abortions for every 100 live births. Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, where abortion is permitted and family planning is neglected, have between 30 and 35 abortions for every 100 live births. France, which endeavoured until recently to suppress both abortion and family planning, has 50 abortions for every 100 live births, and Italy where both abortions and family planning are still suppressed has abortions and live births in equal numbers.
I have already quoted to honourable members the conclusions reached by the medical profession in regard to South Australia. The acceleration in the development of fertility control services in Britain since 1967, the appointment of Mrs Justice Lane’s committee of inquiry - and I emphasise the word Mrs’ - into the operation of the Abortion Act, the quality of evidence presented so far to the Lane Committee and the public backing for the Committee’s work all support the view that nations such as our own will rise to the challenge of fertility control if the abortion problem is brought home vividly enough to them. A royal commission would be the proper and productive way of bringing home to the community the facts. Can anyone doubt that the sort of commission which would be conducted in the months ahead of us after approval by this House would attract the full glare of public attention and scrutiny? What better occasion and what better way would there be of bringing home to the population of this country the inaccuracy of the assumption that being aborted is no more difficult than having a tooth out; the need for proper contraceptive procedures; or the need for us to get behind sex education programs in the schools. Are honourable members generally aware that only in the last week or so the Australian Science Education program, to which attention was directed in this place by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) some 12 months ago, has been adopted in the States with the omission of those sections on contraception which were originally written into it? I find it ironical that this omission should have been authorised at a time of national debate on this abortion issue. We will not begin to reduce the frequency with which women are aborted until we establish clearly in the public mind that there is a connection between abortion and the inadequacy of arrangements under which sex education is provided in our schools; between abortion and our shortage of family planning clinics, pregnancy support agencies and adoption agencies; and between abortion and our tradition of treating as outcasts from society the unmarried mother and her child. I believe that a royal commission along the lines outlined in my amendment will identify clearly the deficiencies in all these areas and mobilise behind its plans the weight of public opinion required to see them put into effect. If measures of this kind had a fraction of the support mobilised to defeat the Medical Practice Clarification Bill, the circumstances in which that Bill was introduced might never have arisen.
I hope that honourable members will not be influenced in their attitude to this amendment by the anathemas that have been pronounced upon it by the Right to Life Association. We al] have received in the last few days letters from that Association condemning the establishment of a royal commission as ‘a clever device by the pro-abortionists to save from defeat a Bill which deserves, by reason of the iniquity of its measures, and the huge volume of public protest it has generated, to be overwhelmingly defeated’. I am sorry to hear members of the Country Party say ‘Hear, hear’ to so gratuitous an attack upon the freedom of inquiry in this country. We all have had letters in which a royal commission - the highest form of inquiry that can be instituted in this country - is stigmatised as ‘a device to enable the concept of abortion on demand to be brought again before the Parliament’. I say to the officers of the Right to Life Association that this attack upon open inquiry exceeds the mandate made available to them by their members and supporters. It is one thing to articulate the conscience of a community and another to exploit that conscience. It is one thing to oppose changes in the law on abortion and another to oppose investigation of ways in which the prevalence of abortion under the law might be reduced.
I find it ironical that at a time when I was getting many hundreds of letters urging me to be present in this chamber to cast my vote on this matter, members of the executive of the Right to Life Association were at the same time urging me to stay away and not to vote. The establishment of a royal commission on abortion and related issues-
– Can you prove that?
– They are honourable men, and I doubt therefore that they will deny it. The establishment of a royal commission on abortion and related issues has been supported by the leader of the Catholic community in Victoria, Cardinal Knox, by the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Woods, and by the Leader of the Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, Mr Clyde Holding. It was supported, until his arm was twisted, by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this place. It is not for nothing that the honourable member is becoming known as ‘Instant Lynch’.
Backyard masters of the knitting needle, doctors of the sort who have been known to charge up to $2,400 for a single abortion and zealots who believe that abortion can be legislated out of existence, all are eager to see this amendment defeated and the underlying causes of abortion once more swept under the mat. Honourable members I think need acknowledge no obligation to this unnatural alliance. The blood, mutilation and mental agony attendant on 60,000, 90,000 or 125,000 abortions annually demand the attention of this Parliament. We should not allow ourselves to be guided in this matter by the example of Pontius Pilate or by the example of the Pharisee of the parable of the good Samaritan. We can neither wash our hands of the. matter nor can we pass by on the other side of the road. This place will have reached a sorry pass if sound proposals are ever swept out of it on a wave of telegrams.
-Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– Yes. I am very glad indeed to have the privilege of seconding the amendment moved by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews). I want to pay my tribute at the outset to my friend and colleague the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp). He was equally ready and indeed anxious to second the motion and I am indebted to his generosity of spirit that the privilege has fallen to me. I should also like to pay a tribute to those who have produced this Bill in the House, because they have faced a real issue that exists and will continue to exist no matter how this House votes and because they have obviously put so much effort and research into their contributions. The House is indebted to them for this.
One does not make up one’s mind on an issue of this kind without very deep and anxious thought. Indeed, I have not had occasion for a very long time to give my mind so unremittingly to a problem as I have to this one, and at last I have come to a conclusion. Should one put one’s own views as an individual or should one defer to those whom one represents? We have all had literally hundreds of letters, mostly on one side. Are we to assume from this that these are the views of our constituents and have we any right to fly in the face of the views so expressed?
T believe that it is the responsibility of a member to make up his own mind, but not to ignore c- ompletely the wishes of the community. I have not tried to ascertain these by counting letters. I have in my hand the result of a gallup poll published in the ‘Adelaide Advertiser’ on 8th May 1973 - 3 days ago. From this poll it appears that 23 per cent of the people polled believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, that is, abortion on request. Twenty per cent believe that abortion should be legal in cases of exceptional hardship, either physical, mental or social. Twenty-one per cent believe that abortion should be legal if the mother’s health, either physical or mental, is in danger. Nineteen per cent believe that abortion should be legal only if the mother’s life is in serious danger, and 13 per cent believe that abortion should not be legal in any circumstances.
It is quite clear from this that with various gradations an overwhelming majority of people believe that there should be some provision for abortion, running at one end of the scale from the mere wish or the request under any circumstances to a much more restrictive point of view. I merely mention this from the point of view of my own conscience as to whether I should fly in the face of my constituents’ views. I, myself, have no doubt at all that there should be provision for abortion under proper circumstances. But I am glad that I do not have to fly in the face of my constituents and this community as a whole. I mention it for that purpose only - not that it determines my vote but it leaves me free to exercise my own judgment.
What are the courses open to all honourable members in this House? Firstly, we can vote for the Bill. Secondly, we can vote against the Bill. Thirdly, we can vote for an amendment. Indeed, in the time available to us probably there is only one choice as regards amendments, namely, to vote for that moved by the honourable member for Casey. I cannot vote for the Bill, basically for 2 reasons. First of all, I cannot accept abortion on request, which is provided for in the first part of the Bill. It may be that a time will come when the mores of the community are such that it would be regarded as an antisocial act for a woman to seek an abortion unless for due and proper reason. For example, a thoroughly healthy woman with a small family and more or less unlimited financial resources would not dream of seeking an abortion simply because she would prefer to have, say, a Mercedes car.
But for the time t=ing it may well be that there should be some brake upon abortion on request. In another generation this may be unnecessary; at present it may be essential. The second reason why I cannot accept or vote for the Bill is because it deals with only one aspect of the problem; that is, abortion, which I regard as a failure of contraception.
The former English Lord Chancellor, Lord Gardiner, was in Australia a short time ago.
He said that while he had supported a similar Bill in the House of Commons he felt that every case of abortion amounted really to a failure to use contraceptive measures. I take the view that the Bill does not deal really seriously with this matter at all. I know there are one or two clauses which deal with this aspect but the provision is not enough. However, the amendment moved by the honourable member for Casey covers all the associated problems that are the very essence of the whole problem. What these are I shall come to shortly.
I come to the second choice. I would prefer not to have to vote against the Bill because if the Bill is defeated it could well mean the sweeping of this problem under the carpet for a long time to come. This was my first belief, that it would do so. But my second thoughts on the matter suggest that the question will not indeed be swept under the carpet. Those who think that they can remove the matter from the business paper today, I think, will find that it persists and haunts them in the end. It cannot be avoided. The problem is there and it will remain. It cannot, by a clever vote, simply be swept under the carpet in the House or in the community. But I would rather not vote against the Bill because it would indicate that I had no thoughts about doing something in regard to this problem, and I do wish something done about the problem.
Unfortunately, if the amendment is defeated then I am confronted with voting for or against the Bill, which is a false antithesis for me. I shall now try to explain the amendment so that honourable members may understand it. It provides for a royal commission. A royal commission has power to summon witnesses and call for papers. It can obtain all the evidence it requires. The chairman is to be a Supreme Court justice. First - I think the honourable member for Casey does not mind my saying so - he was considering a royal commission that would not include a judge. I felt that a judge was essential because we are concerned with ascertaining facts. I will come to this point in a moment. The royal commission is to have a majority of women members. After all, this matter affects women.
Here we are, a Parliament of all men; there is not a single woman in this chamber. Yet women are obviously intimately concerned with this matter. So the amendment provides for the royal commission to have a majority of women members. For those who say that this amendment is a cunning device to sidetrack the matter, I point out that the proposed royal commission is to report within 12 months. So those honourable members who say that this proposal is just a trick so that the matter is disposed of should remember that the matter will come back before the Parliament. In the end a report has to be presented and again they will have to face the issue, not in ignorance but with knowledge. I hope that no members of this House will take the view that they ought not to be confused with facts. Let us look at the details of the amendment proposed. Firstly how many abortions are performed each year in Australia and what are the characteristics of the women who are aborted and the circumstances in which abortions occur? We have no knowledge of these things. Why are they aborted? Is it because of poverty, because they are not married and a child would cause them embarrassments or because they are married and have too many children? What are the reasons? We do not know and we do not know how many abortions take place, either. Surely it would not confuse us very much to know the facts, for a start. What are the dimensions and the characteristics of the problem?
Secondly, what are the consequences of abortion for women who are aborted? Do they become, as some have suggested, neurotic people because they have been aborted? As a matter of fact, most of the evidence is the other way. What is the effect on medical practitioners performing abortion procedures? Gynaecologists do not like abortions, of course. What is the effect upon the police of inquiring into alleged abortions? Does it corrupt them in enforcing the law? What is its effect upon the community as a whole? Does it mean, as the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley ) has suggested that the community becomes so callous that it becomes like the German doctors who operated upon living adult people? I do not believe that it does, but we should look at the consequences of abortion. Is it going to make the entire community callous? Personally, I do not believe it will, but let us find out what has happened in countries where such things have happened.
Thirdly, what are the courses open to women who carry through unwanted pregnancies and what are the consequences of each course for the mother and for the child? The woman may be married or unmarried, but she keeps the child. What happens then? Does she find the struggle for existence such as to be almost intolerable? She could have the child adopted. How does she feel about that? Does she forever afterwards feel a sense of guilt that she has not kept the child or is she quite happy about it. Supposing the child happens to be a child of mixed race and nobody wants to adopt it and it goes into an institution and the mother has to think of what happens to an unloved child in an institution. These are factual matters. Fourthly, how effective are the laws on abortion in the Australian Capital Territory, in the States and in countries comparable with Australia? What alternatives to the law of the Australian Capital Territory are offered by laws in other places and what are the likely medical, social and economic effects associated with each alternative?
I have in my hand a book by a psychiatrist, Anthony Horden, entitled ‘Legal Abortion: The English Experience’. It is the most objective and informative book on any subject that 1 have found for a very long time. Now there is to be a report by a Mrs Justice Lane of the English High Court - from the old probate, divorce and admiralty division of the High Court. 1 have not had time to read her qualifications here, but her report will be issued within the next 2 months. Are we going to legislate without paying regard to the experience that the British people have had over four or five years and to the review by a woman of that kind regarding the operations of that Act? I hope not. “Fifthly, in what ways can the incidence of abortion be reduced by improving services and facilities, such as sex education in schools, family planning clinics, supply of contraceptives, pregnancy support agencies, adoption agencies and social security payments? Most of these were mentioned by the Minister for Education and have been mentioned by other members in the House. They go to the very heart of the matter. Are we going to pass a Bill dealing purely with abortion and not consider all these related subjects which might induce a girl to keep or not to keep her child? I would hope not. I would hope that this House would not be so irresponsible. I could refer to other matters that may be thought to be relevant.
I want to make this perfectly clear: Of course there are some things that a royal com mission can do and some that it cannot do. I have spoken about the things that it can do. These are factual matters and deeply relevant to the question in hand without which, 11 suggest, nobody can reach a proper conclusion based on realities and on facts. But I acknowledge that there are other things that a royal commission cannot do. There are 2 extreme views on this issue. One is that the foetus is a human being from the moment of conception. I do not know when an acorn becomes an oak and I am not going to enter into debate on that kind of issue. No royal commission can call evidence or reach conclusions on a matter of that kind.
On the other extreme there are the people who say that a woman has an absolute right to have pregnancy terminated, even for the most transitory reason of selfish personal convenience. I do not think any of us are permitted to do that kind of thing. I do not think even men are permitted to do whatever they like without proper reasons if their actions affect other people. There are some things a royal commission can do and some that it cannot do. I acknowledge the things it cannot do. These will be matters of belief or conviction on different sides. But is this any reason why nothing should be done at all that can be done? Is it any reason why those things that can be ascertained should not be ascertained and why members should not be able to come to a conclusion on the basis of such relevant facts as can be ascertained? As the honourable member for Casey said very rightly, a royal commission of this kind can educate those who have open minds on this matter - that is, those who do not start with some a priori conviction, but who still have open minds as to how and to what extent the popular will can be carried into effect in this matter - the guidelines that should be laid down and the ancillary provisions about which I have spoken. Such a royal commission can inform the public.
In England the Bill was introduced at a certain time and it did not become law until, I think, 15 months afterwards. In the Committee stage alone - I hope that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) is listening to this; I do not know where he is - they had 15 meetings twice weekly and they finished with a 27 hours continuous session, the longest for 30 years in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, during that 15 months from the time the Bill was introduced until it received the royal assent, there was public debate. The medical people, the social workers and everybody with special knowledge or interest was able to discuss these matters in the Press and the learned journals. Here we are reaching a decision in 3i hours. There is only one way in which there can be proper public education so that everybody, including members of this Parliament, knows what the Bill is all about, apart from those matters of fundamental belief which no royal commission or anybody else can influence. This is the only way in which that process of education can be carried out in this country, as it was done in England by another means.
– I thank you for the call, Mr Speaker. I will keep my remarks short because I know that other honourable members wish to be heard and I am mindful of your own thoughts in that regard. I have no prepared speech to make. I will adopt what I sense was the method of presentation adopted by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) and the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and not be so much an advocate* for the cause- which I accept or believe - but rather try to describe the problem as I see it. Indeed, I have been identified, I believe, with this issue for some time and I can only repeat things that I have said before and which probably are well known.
– Why did you not bring in the Bill yourself?
– Order! I have appealed to all honourable members to hear speakers in silence.
– 1 should like to put some opening remarks as part of the backdrop of the scene as I see it. I would urge upon honourable members the view that we live in a pluralist society. It is a society that should, as it is developing, place a high emphasis on tolerance and accept divergent points of view in the community. As far as is possible people with one point of view should not insist that their points of view be followed and accepted by other people. One group should not have to live by the standards of another. It seems to me that this debate highlights that issue. I should also like to put another thought which goes back to the 19th century in British philosophical thinking and criminology thinking. I refer to the thoughts of Jeremy Bentham, the school of utilitarianism, Picaria in Italy, Mill and Romilly - that school which led to the great reforms of the 19th century in the United Kingdom. This is the school of thought that started with the proposition that all criminal law on the face of it is bad and can be justified only if it seeks to overcome a social evil. In other words, put in different ways, they said one legislates to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. It was utility they sought to bring about in their somewhat primitive attempts at scientific legislation. If one applies those tests here one sees the existing law as being criminal.
In answer to a question from an honourable member the other day I said that it was remarkable that a criminal offence could bring 10 years imprisonment in the Australian Capital Territory and a life sentence in the Northern Territory. Those are maximum terms of course. The laws are unenforceable. What social cost does society pay for having these unenforceable laws on its statute book? The honourable member for Casey talked about 120,000 people who might be aborted every year. I do not think anyone knows the precise number. It is often said that the number is 100,000 while some say it is lower. It depends on which side of the fence one sits. If one is trying to make a good case for one side of the argument one puts the figure high, for the other side one puts the figure low. This is the difficulty of the situation. I am sure that every honourable member here has known women who at some stage in their life have found themselves in the situation of considering abortion. I am sure every honourable member has known women who have decided to have an abortion and some who could not have one perhaps because of fear. Many honourable members would know the social cost in terms of neuroses when women for one reason or another do not have an abortion. Perhaps it is because of fear of the consequences and the pain and suffering they would undergo.
We also know in terms of social cost what this unenforceable law produces in the form of pressure on policemen who are called upon to enforce what is an unenforceable law. Those honourable members who have had experience with the law must know this. We have seen it referred to in the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Victorian police force. One honourable member referred earlier to the corruption in high places in the Victoria police force which can result from the temptations and the pressures that this sort of law places upon police officers. Anyone who has had experience of the New South Wales police courts knows that this occurs in New South Wales. I do not want it to occur in the courts of the Australian Capital Territory as the Territory grows bigger. So there is that sort of cost. There is also the inequality of the present system. A woman who is educated, who can gain access to good advice through a sympathetic doctor, coupled with financial means, who can shop around for the right doctor can have an abortion or, if you like, terminate her pregnancy or procure a miscarriage. It can be done. She can fly to Japan if she wants to do so or to the United States of America.
– Hong Kong.
– Or Hong Kong, I am reminded by an honourable member. The poor woman who is not so well informed and who does not have the money, cannot do any of these things and worries herself sick as does the man who is involved with her, and her parents and her family. The present situation works in that way. This Bill seeks to do away with that. The sentiments I am expressing have already been reflected in different ways by the United States Supreme Court which in, I think, a 5 to 2 majority decision - this kind of issue reflects a divided community - brought down a 3 part decision on how this problem should be treated, in much the same way as this Bill seeks to do, firstly, on request up to a certain number of weeks; after that a second period because a degree of viability has been achieved and in that case a different and more difficult test has to be satisfied; and after that a much more difficult test to satisfy. It seems to me that that accords eminently with common sense for those people who do not accept that it is murder. I accept that there are people in the community who do think in that way. I do not, and I feel confident that a lot of honourable members on both sides of this House also do not feel that it is murder. It is a dishonest argument to suggest that it is murder. It brings emotion into the debate and into the argument. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has been called a murderer. I have been called a murderer. What sort of argument is that?
I am mindful of your caveat on time, Mr Speaker, but I come back to the fundamental issue which I do not think any of us is prepared to accept at this stage - what can be loosely called the civil liberties issue. If a responsible woman, accepting that we live in a pluralist society, wants to have a pregnancy terminated at an early stage why on earth should she not have it done? Is she not the best judge? If she is forced to carry the child because of some specious argument that it can be adopted out, what sort of penalty is that to impose on her, that she has to carry this foetus, to use a word, until it becomes viable and is born and then give it to someone else? What sort of a penalty does that place on her to make her do that? Why on earth should she not be allowed to terminate the pregnancy at some reasonable time? Yet the level of the debate that has been waged in the community is such that abortion on request, which should be the simplest, most honest, cleanest and best way to describe the situation, has been made into a dirty expression as though it were a crime. We insist that she go to a psychiatrist. We know the figures in this respect in the Australian Capital Territory. I think 70 per cent of abortions are done on psychiatric evidence. A woman can complain of a few headaches and things like that and if she has a sympathetic psychiatrist the abortion can be done with assistance and sympathy. There is a double standard all the time.
There is a sign on the lawns across the way belonging to one of the groups - I can imagine which one it is - which says: ‘You don’t need a psychiatrist to have a vasectomy’. Is that not a reminder of what the honourable member for Bradfield said, that we sit here as men making decisions for women when there is not a woman amongst us? I accept the division of opinion in the community on this issue. However, surely we have reached the stage in a pluralist society - I am using that word in the best sense - involving tolerance of different points of view, a society in which those who take a different view should not force their view on people who support abortion on request or the liberalisation of abortion laws. I am not opposed to the inquiry. It is probably a good idea. I do not see it as in any way an excuse. I support the Bill.
– I hope to confine my statement to a brief compass. I oppose the Bill. Because I oppose the Bill no inference should be drawn that there is in any way a an attitude within my Party. My Party has decided, consistent with our attitudes, that every member of it should vote on this issue according to the way he feels morally bound to vote. I oppose both the amendment to the motion that the Bill be read a second time and the amendment which may be moved later. One amendment has already been moved and it had as its purpose the establishment of a royal commission. The other amendment, which may not be able to be moved, would seek a referendum in the Australian Capital Territory. I will vote to defeat both amendments. One amendment having been moved, the question which I understand you will be putting to the House, Mr Speaker, is: That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question’. To defeat that amendment I will vote yes as it is necessary to do in order to defeat it. If the majority of honourable members votes in the same way as I do, the further amendment which has been circulated in the name of the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) will not be able to be moved. The question which will then be put to the House, if I understand it correctly, is: That this Bill be now read a second time’, and on that question I will vote no. It needs to be understood that I will firstly vote yes, and secondly vote no. That is necessary because of the procedures of the House. It needs to be understood that that is the way in which the defeat of the Bill will be effected.
– Write it out.
– It is not necessary to write it out. There may be some people in the House who would like to put forward the proposition that it can be done another way. If they put that proposal forward they are attempting to mislead and I think it is most important-
– Or ignorant.
– Or ignorant, yes. This needs to be made clear to honourable members and it needs to be made clear to the listening public. In as short a time as possible I shall state my reasons for opposing the Bill. But first let me say that I have received many thousands of letters in opposition to the Bill and I have received many hundreds in favour of the Bill. I have read most of the letters or, at any event, a very great number of them. I have read a great selection of material - of which there is a very great amount - which argues the case for or against abortion. But the attitude I hold today is not different from that which I have held for a long time.
We all know that it is a complex society in which we live today. We know that there are ever-changing social attitudes - social values even - questioning constantly in our community such issues as, for example, the age of majority, equality of opportunity - which is an extension of the already achieved right of equality of rights - and freedom of individual expression. There is questioning about divorce and about homosexuality, and even questioning about marriage as a social institution in our community. One area of ferment is the role of women in our community and, of course, when considering the role of women in our community the question of sexual relations comes up. As soon as that question is discussed it is necessary to consider contraception. I do not believe that abortion can be seen as an extension of a contraceptive device. It cannot be seen as a fail-safe contraceptive. It must be seen in a quite different light for contraception is very much a part of our lives. It is, always has been and will be in the future. We should not be afraid about contraception or about speaking of it. Different people will have different views about contraception and they will have different preferences for the methods. But quite clearly the oral contraceptive taken by women is the most common form of contraception and there should be no social stigma about its use.
The right to prevent conception is the right of men and women in our community and cannot be changed by edict. But what we are dealing with in this debate is the postcontraception situation, that is, of conception. It is my belief that after conception a life commences. Pregnancy is an imperative situation. We have all heard that old joke about pregnancy, that you cannot be a little bit pregnant. That is because of our belief, our understanding and the reality that after conception a life commences. So the issue before us in this Bill can simply be stated in this form: Is it acceptable in our society, with our moral and ethical values, to end that life in the way contemplated by the Bill? My answer to that question is no. Essentially the reason for my answering no is that I have a revulsion to the taking of human life. My revulsion can be overcome in some limited circumstances. The mother can find her life threatened or her health very seriously threatened by a number of medical causes, the 2 obvious ones being cardiac or renal disease, of her life can be threatened by her own hand in some circumstances. Essentially that amounts to balancing the health or life of the mother against that of the unborn child. It is a difficult decision, but difficult as the decision is it is not adequately answered by what may be described as abortion on demand or on request - I do not see any difference between the words; it is an element contained in this Bill before the House - at earlier stages of pregnancy, or by the provision relating to the later stages which, while containing conditions, are to my mind quite unacceptable.
An additional reason why I would not want by my vote to pass this Bill is that I would not want to contribute to a situation in which young men and women may take a decision which could haunt them with guilt for the rest of their lives when a chance event brought back to their recollection the decision which they took many years ago and which deprived them of the opportunity of a child - stifled a life at a time when there were on them great pressures which they could not withstand at the time. The pressures could be economic, social and so on. It can be a cruel and uncompromising world in which young people live and we need to be more compassionate and understanding as a community, but this Bill does not contribute to that compassion or to that understanding. It obliterates the fact and pretends that it does not exist.
Most abortions take place between 6 to 8 weeks when the mother realises her pregnancy and seeks medical or other intervention. The intervention of a doctor in sterile surroundings or the unqualified practitioner in the squalid surroundings are both unacceptable in my argument which is based on the preservation of human life. The first type of intervention is the social apologia for the second. I feel deeply for women who undergo abortions. I feel angry about crude abortions for profit. My attitude is consistent when carried through to capital punishment, sex education, access to professional social welfare workers, child care centres, community assistance programs and so on. This is not the time to debate those matters, but we must in the future tackle those problems and debate them. This is a time for a solemn appraisal of our responsibility as elected members of the people. My view does not arise from any adherence to an unbinding moral philosophy.
My view has arisen because I have thought hard and long. Others have thought equally seriously and reached a different decision. But. I am morally committed to vote against this Bill and the amendments.
– I support the Bill. What I have to say will be said quickly so as to use up a minimum of the rather scarce time that is left for this debate. There are 3 main arguments which are used against abortion and which it seems are being used against this Bill. These are the arguments: First, that abortion is murder; second, that the foetus has the right to continue in existence; and third, that to allow people to be able to choose whether or not to have an abortion would lead to infanticide, euthanasia and so on. This latter argument, which has previously been referred to as the domino theory of abortion, does not argue that the foetus has a right to survive, but rather argues that to allow people to choose whether or not to have an abortion would in itself bring about a disregard for human life and hence, in a society where people had this choice, regard for life would become so debased that the weak would be destroyed at whim. This argument is as obviously spurious in the moral context as it is in the political context and just as it has proven historically to be a disastrous basis for a reasoned foreign policy, so too in this case it would be a disastrous basis from which to reject the Bill. This argument presupposes that the decision to have an abortion is a decision lightly taken by those involved. But the reality is that it is a decision made after deliberation, taking into consideration the whole situation as it affects one’s life and those lives affected by one’s life. The very essence of this decision is regard for the life of others. The domino argument, therefore, does not suffice as an argument against this Bill.
The second claim is that the foetus has a right to survive. However, if the foetus does have such a right as the right to survive, this right must be grounded in those characteristics which make a living tiling a person. For if it makes sense to talk about rights at all, they can only be attributed to an individual which has certain characteristics, namely, those characteristics which make a person a person. Two such characteristics which have been suggested in the propaganda from those opposed to the Bill are the existence of a heart beat and the existence of a human-like shape. But nothing as superficial as a shape or heart beat can be used in deciding the question of whether or not a foetus is a person who has rights.
What are the characteristics that make a living thing a person? The Vatican 2 Declaration on Religious Freedom dennes a person as a being endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility. Thus a person is a moral agent with intelligence, aims and goals; who has the capacity for reasoning, willing, desiring and loving; who has the capacity to relate to and respond to others, lt is the existence of these characteristics which gives rise to rights, that is, a person has rights just because he has his own personality, because he is a mora) agent. A foetus has none of these attributes; it has none of those characteristics which distinguishes a person from other living things.
In the current debate, the attribution of rights to a foetus has been thought to be justifiable on the grounds that a foetus is potentially a person. This can only mean that this right, namely the right to survive, is primarily a right that a person has but which flows back to something that could become that person. Thus unborn children have been recognised as acquiring rights or interests by way of inheritance or other devolution of property, but the existence of these rights is contingent upon the child being born alive; that is, these rights are retrospective rights. Thus, if the foetus dies, it can have had no rights as a person and thus no right to survive. This leaves us then with seemingly the most powerful of the moral arguments against abortion, namely, that abortion is murder. The only justification offered for this claim is that the development of a foetus from conception through birth into childhood and thence to adulthood is continuous. The foetus is continuous with the adult human and hence is itself human.
However, a proper justification of the claim that the killing of an innocent human being is wrong must be based on just those characteristics of a person that make him a person, namely, that he is a being endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility. But, it is not these characteristics which are being used by those people who argue that the foetus from conception is a human being. The only characteristic used to justify this claim is that the foetus is continuous with the adult human and hence, they conclude, it must itself be human. But the possibility of development along a biological continuum does not by itself guarantee that the foetus is a responsible moral agent capable of living a full human life.
One suspects that behind the claim that abortion is murder lies the theological question of when precisely the human soul is infused into the matter of the body. Neither Aristotle nor Saint Thomas Aquinas was persuaded that the life of the embryo or the foetus was a full human life. Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe, the official theological line was that the soul entered the body at the moment of quickening. This was based on the belief that the soul is the first principle of life, and life is shown by 2 actions - knowledge and movement. Abortion before ensoulment was contraception and hence, for Aquinas, sinful; it was not murder.
Our society recognises that there is a difference between the foetus, the young child and the adult human being. In fact, laws differentiate between the young baby and the adult. Seldom is infanticide punished as murder. If the people opposing this Bill sincerely believe that abortion is murder, they should not be content with merely opposing the Bill, nor indeed should they be content with the existing laws, but rather they should feel themselves morally compelled to bring about laws to make abortion the serious, and seriously punished, crime that they claim it to be. But, of course, they have not and they will not. Their claim that abortion is murder is thus not something that they are morally committed to, but just an effective means of marshalling support against this Bill. Furthermore, they know that to introduce laws making an abortion such a serious crime would quickly reveal the strength of the commonsense attitude to the status of the foetus mentioned above and already incorporated in our laws.
Abortion at present in Australia is a minor crime carrying little social disapproval. The question now being debated is whether it should be a crime at all. Describing abortion as murder, that is, as a major crime, is simply playing on our emotions and fears. Hence there seems to be no possible justification for the existing legal position, no arguments which show conclusively that to let a foetus die is murder. However, many of our moral beliefs spring not from argument, but either from a deeply held but irrational conviction or from revelation. But, neither conviction nor revelation can form the basis of a law in a society where not everyone shares that conviction or belief. This truth was well enunciated in the Vatican 2 Declaration of Religious Freedom where it was stated that truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth; that is, one can seek to impose truth, not by the force of the law and the power of the state, but rather by the force of its own influence on the mind.
The problem of the limits of religious freedom, which Vatican 2 argues must exist for all - believers, non-believers and aetheists - is parallelled by the legal problem of the appropriate limits of the criminal law. Both Bentham and Mill held that the use of the criminal law is an evil which could be justified by only showing that the conduct punished was either directly harmful to individuals or their liberty, or jeopardised the collective interest which members of a society have in the maintenance of its organisation or defence. The same philosophy of law was enunciated in recent times by the Wolfenden Committee, which argued that the function of the criminal law is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation or corruption of others. They further argued that there must remain a realm of private morality which is not the law’s business.
Australia is hopelessly divided on the important questions of morality and in particular on the question as to whether a person should be free to choose, in consultation with a medical practitioner, whether or not she has an abortion. Our society is morally a pluralist structure comprising a number of different and at times incompatible moralities and hence there can be no justification for the existence of a criminal code which reflects any one of these moralities. The question of abortion should notlie within the realm of the law. The moral question would not ipso facto cease to exist. What would happen within our pluralist society is that individuals and groups would differ as to what considerations should be taken as relevant to deter mining the morality of the act. This is as it should be.
I support the Bill. In order to help my colleague the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman), who will be deprived of an opportunity to speak in this debate, I seek the leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard the amendments which he has had circulated in his name.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Amendment proposed to motion for second reading. That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof:
This House is of opinion that the Government should submit, by way of referendum, the Medical Practice Clarification Bill 1973, to the electors of the Australian Capital Territory.
Amendment proposed at Committee stage.
(1) Clause 7, page 2, lines 8-20, omit the clause, substitute the following clause: 7. Subject to this Act it shall be lawful for a medical practitioner to terminate the pregnancy of a woman provided that - (a) the person acts at the request of the woman; (b) the person is of the opinion that the continuance of the pregnancy would Involve greater risk to the life of the woman, or injury to the physical or mental health of the woman than if the pregnancy were terminated; (c) there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped; and (d) the person exercises professional care in performing the termination.' (2) Clause 8, page 2, lines 21-40, omit the clause. (3) Clause 9, page 3, lines 1-6, omit the clause. (4) Clause 11, page 3, at the end of the clause add the following sub-clause: (3) However if the medical practitioner's refusal is on the basis of conscientious objection, he shall notify the woman of this at the time of his refusal.'
– The Bill before the House has caused a great deal of concern throughout the community. I submit that the fundamental issue in this debate is whether an unborn child has a right to life. I contend that the unborn child has that right. Under the law at present the life of a mother is given preference over the life of an unborn child. The position in that respect is defined. Doctors may differ in degree in interpreting the law, but I submit that the rights of a mother are well protected. This protection would be all the more assured where a choice of medical opinion was available. While thelaw provides for protection of a mother’s life, under these circumstances the rights of an unborn child normally would still remain. That an unborn child has rights is widely recognised despite comments that have been made in the debate. Even in the Bill the rights are preserved when pregnancy has reached a period of 23 weeks, in the second term. Some rights are given earlier than 23 weeks in the Bill, except where the life of a mother or serious permanent injury to her is threatened.
I repeat that the fundamental question before the House is whether the rights of an unborn child should be recognised during the whole or only part of a pregnancy. Surely there is logic in recognising that right during the whole of the pregnancy. It is true that an unborn child is at an advanced stage at the period suggested in the Bill as the time when the rights of the unborn child are acknowledged by the honourable members who are proposing the Bill. But obviously the life had begun at the beginning of pregnancy, and a decision to terminate that life in early pregnancy does not alter the fact that such action is the deliberate destruction of human life, and that surely cannot be tolerated simply to serve the convenience of another individual.
Despite what I have said, the problem of unwanted pregnancies must be faced and every moral action taken which will reduce the number of them and alleviate the difficulties associated with those that occur. For example, I believe that even the churches could give greater opportunity to young people to learn what is available and allowable within the teaching of the church to which individuals belong as far as family planning is concerned. It might well be that churches generally can review this matter within their teaching. J feel that that would be a desirable course. I freely acknowledge that efforts have been made in this direction, but 1 suggest they could and should be expanded by qualified personnel. Similar work could be done by State authorities, but a program for this work should be defined and this work, I repeat, should be done by qualified personnel and the program defined should be strictly adhered to. Among the advantages that I see from a program of this kind would be. that an unmarried pregnant woman would be advised as to what help was available to her. She may know at the present time, but this information needs to be much more widely disseminated.
A major factor in considering this Bill is to consider prevention rather than cure, and not enough has been said about that angle in this debate so far. I submit that the energy, the capacity and the (finance of this community should be marshalled and directed to that end. Even the proposers of the Bill, the 2 new Labor members of the House, have shown a good deal of incompetence because of the changing of the Bill and a good deal of impetuosity because they are new members. They have been the subject of a Press release which states:
By bringing this important issue before the public it was hoped by the proposers that the Commonwealth and the States would take action to see that unwanted conceptions were discouraged and single and married women were not forced by social and financial pressure to have abortions they do not desire.
That was stated in a Press release concerning the Bill that the 2 honourable members intended to bring forward. The Bill as designed and presented to this House is diametrically opposed to that objective, as it would offer a feeling of security, to young people particularly, that if a pregnancy occurred an abortion would be available and consequently encourage rather than discourage unwanted pregnancies. The fact that 2 new members are introducing this Bill makes one wonder why so soon after their election they should decide to take this action. It also poses the question: How did this matter arise? I think we can find a summing-up of the origins of this Bill in the words of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), the then Leader of the Opposition, when on 25th June 1971 at a Labor conference he said:
I believe in abortion on request, if you want a neat phrase. And on a sensitive issue like this, a free vote in Parliament is the way to get it.
He went on to say:
There would be no reform unless there was a free vote.
So today we are debating a Bill which would provide for abortion on request, and there is to be a free vote on it. Further evidence that neither this Bill nor the amendment is necessary for the Australian Capital Territory is provided by a comment from no less an authority than the Australian Medical Association. A publication by the Association states:
The Bill purports to ‘clarify’ the legal position of doctors, nurses and other persons. So far as doctors in the A.C.T. are concerned, they have not sought any clarification. The A.C.T. Medical Association considers that the legal position is clear-
So much for the medical clarification - and that arrangements presently available, within the law, care adequately for the interests of patients and the community as a whole.
I wanted to make one or 2 points in connection with a matter that was mentioned previously in the debate. I understood the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) to say that Cardinal Knox was in favour of a royal commission. In the ‘Advocate’ of 10th May, printed under the heading of ‘Clarification’, appears this statement:
In view of the misleading statement published in an evening paper I wish to state categorically that I have not given support to the idea of a royal commission on abortion.
I put that in as clarification of that particular claim. Another point that I wanted to make in connection with this debate and what has happened previously is that my Leader referred to a number of Country Party members who were on a list of members who wanted to speak. But in addition to those speakers there are a number of others who have since returned from interstate to keep faith with their constituents. I know that the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher), the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) and some other members have expressed their willingness or desire to speak in this debate since that list was drawn up.
– And the honourable member for McMillan.
– And the honourable member for McMillan, and possibly there are others as well. I do not have the complete list. Let me get back to the position in regard to the Australian Capital Territory, and let us bear in mind that that is what this Bill refers to. It may be used elsewhere but in the main it refers to the Australian Capital Territory. Let me quote what the people in the Australian Capital Territory have to say about this Bill. The Australian Capital Territory Medical Association states:
The Association wishes the community of Canberra to know how abortion is dealt with in Canberra at this time. When a patient who wishes to have her pregnancy terminated consults her doctor, he will referher to a gynaecologist. If the gynaecologist thinks the termination is justified he will seek another opinion, often that of a psychiatrist. These opinions, applying medical, social and psychiatric criteria, are referred to a5-member committee of Canberra Hospital. The Committee comprises a general practitioner, a gynaecologist, a psychiatrist, a physician and a member of the medical administration. This Committee determines the case on the merit of the opinions.
The Association considers that this system adequately cares for the interests of members’ patients and for the Canberra community as a whole. The system also provides adequate safeguards for the patient and the doctor under the present law.
So much for those people who claim that abortion is available only to those people who have the finance. It is available to others, and they can obtain it by the action that is recommended by the Australian Medical Association of the Australian Capital Territory. I understand that these views were the unanimous opinions of the 40 doctors present at a meeting to consider this matter. In fact, the degree or extent of a doctor’s discretion in performing the legal abortion operation is illustrated in the judgment of His Honour Judge Gray in a Melbourne county court at the trial of Doctors T. C. Wall and Szwede on abortion charges in which he directed the jury to find the doctors not guilty of the abortion charges. Judge Gray in this judgment relied on the fact that the police surgeon when cross-examined admitted that it would be difficult not to justify a therapeutic abortion if a patient was in a state of depression, contemplating suicide and determined not to go through with the pregnancy.On this evidence the woman in question could have had a lawful abortion. I cite this as an example of the breadth of discretion that applies at the present time, and because it applies the Bill is not necessary and the amendment is not necessary.
Liberalisation of the abortion law does not solve the problem of deaths from abortion. The Royal College of Gynaecologists in London, in evidence submitted to the Lace Commission observed:
The number of deaths from abortion of all kinds in England and Wales is as high now as it was before the Act. Any decrease in the number of deaths from criminal abortion is matched by a rise in the number of deaths from induced abortion.
The College further stated:
So long as termination of pregnancy involves an operation it must mean a risk to life and health.
Finally it said:
It is as yet impossible to assess the long term physical ill effects, let alone the psychological sequelae of induced abortion.
To my knowledge there has been not one word about this sort of thing from either the supporters of the Bill or the honourable members pressing the amendment. The suggestion is that a woman can have an abortion and that is the end of it and no ill effects follow it. This is completely wrong. I oppose the amendment because I believe that the Australian people want to know and are entitled to know where the national Parliament stands on this issue, one of the most strongly debated issues that has ever been introduced into this Parliament. The issue is generally described as abortion on demand, or, in other words, where an abortion for any reason is made legal on request without any regard to the rights of the unborn child. Unless the amendment is defeated this issue will not be decided in the clear cut manner in which I believe the majority of Australians want it to be decided.
So far I have concentrated on showing that there is no need for this Bill or an amendment to it. No change in the law is necessary to enable a woman who has a justifiable case for abortion to have that abortion performed lawfully. But in this debate one cannot dodge the mora] issue involved. I would concede that the morals of the individual are a matter for the individual concerned, but the moral fibre of this nation is a matter which should seriously concern members of this national Parliament. Any person making a frank and honest assessment of the position must agree that there has been some drift, many would think a considerable drift, towards what is sometimes loosely called the permissive society. I submit that this drift has weakened and will continue to weaken the moral fibre of this nation. History consistently has shown that the downfall of countries has resulted from the lowering of the moral character of the community. We, in this Parliament today, have the opportunity to decide where we stand on national moral values and in protecting the unborn, helpless child.
Let us reject completely the device of abortion on demand to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies and concentrate on an educational system which alone offers real hope to the community and would make a real contribution to the strengthening of the character of our great Australian nation. I should have liked to have said much more, but I will limit my remarks at this time to opposing the amendment and the Bill in order to give other honourable members an opportunity to express their views.
– I have been asked to correct a statement that was made by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) who said that Cardinal Knox of Victoria is in favour of the establishment of a royal commission to investigate the subject of abortion. I am told, and the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) just confirmed it, that Cardinal Knox has issued a statement saying that he is not in favour of a royal commission. I should like to make a couple of comments on the speech of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden), who delivered a homily on when a baby becomes a baby. I ask the Minister whether when his wife was carrying their children and they knew she was pregnant did they refer to that baby as a blob of jelly or did they refer to it, from the time that they knew she was pregnant and they were going to have a baby, as a foetus or any other name but baby? Did they expect at any stage during that pregnancy that 3 white mice or a kangaroo was within his wife’s body?
The Minister for Social Security has disregarded statements that have been made all round the world by leaders, both civil and religious, about the rights of the unborn child. We all believe that human life is precious and should not be lightly destroyed. The unborn child is worthy of the same protection the law gives to the infant after birth. Some of the statements that have been ma:e about the rights of the unborn child appear in the Declaration of the Rights of a Child, United Nations General Assembly, 20th November 1959, which reads:
The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.
The World Medical Association in its declaration asserts that it will preserve the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception. The code of ethics of the Australian Medical Association states:
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life, from the time of conception; even under threat I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.
Statements have been made by the Vatican, by the Orthodox Jewish Church and by various other churches and I concur with most of those statements. I believe that a child when conceived is a human being and I have a great regard and respect for human life.
Because the time for this debate has almost expired I will not deal with the subject matter of the Bill. It seems to me that the proposal to establish a royal commission - the amendment that was moved by the honourable member for Casey and seconded by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner)is now the matter that needs some consideration. I am opposed to the amendment calling for a royal commission. I ask all honourable members to oppose not only the amendment but also the Bill. The institution of a royal commission or a comittee of inquiry in the terms proposed can serve no other purpose than to delay the inevitable defeat of this Bill. The people of Australia do not want abortion on demand and now, rather than face a decision, the subterfuge of an inquiry is being used. My Government has already instituted over 30 committees of inquiry of various types to investigate matters of government policy. We have before us now a proposal to institute a royal commission into the need for abortion on demand in Australia.
For more than 2 years in the United Kingdom the Lane Committee has been taking evidence on this very subject. The United Kingdom has had experience of abortion on demand. since 1967. It is the first time, so shortly after the introduction of a Bill, that the United Kingdom Government had need to set up such an inquiry. It has had experience with an Act similar to the Bill that we are now discussing. What is the purpose of our duplicating an inquiry which has been in operation for 2 years - an inquiry, as the honourable member for Casey said, presided over by Mrs Justice Lane? If an inquiry is needed let us wait until Mrs Justice Lane brings down her report. Let us consider such a proposal then. At present the Government has more than 30 various committees of inquiry investigating matters of government policy.
The honourable member for Casey became rather emotional about a statement that the Right to Life Association had written to him. I draw his attention to a statement which was made before the enactment of the United Kingdom Abortion Act. The Secretary of the British Abortion Law Reform Association, Madeleine Sims, and a co-author Keith Hindell, state in their book, ‘Abortion Law Reformed’, at p. 243:
Three postures may be distinguished in the abortion debate: The extremist, the middle-of-the-road and the hypocritical.
Dealing with ‘the hypocritical’ the abortion on demand people say:
They retreat behind the device of a ‘royal commission’ or an ‘independent inquiry’ or some other time-consuming device that will postpone the day of reckoning on which they will have to declare themselves publicly.
This Bill and this amendment must be defeated. I am one who openly admits that it should never have been presented. One can only regret the incredible amount of time wasted and energy consumed over this issue which has stirred up such deep and latent passions.
Our Government has undertaken to reshape Australian life to make this Australia of ours a better place for all of us to live in. There are numerous social welfare, economic and industrial problems that cry out for urgent remedy. We are getting our priorities all wrong by even dealing with this Bill, by promoting yet another manifestation of permissiveness to such an unreal pedestal. It would be a tragic day for Australia if we submitted to the hysterical and uninformed pressure of a minority clamouring for abortion on demand as part of human rights. If human rights are involved in this, let me invoke the supreme right of all - the right to life. On all counts possible - moral, ethical, medical and economic - I want to repeat and stress my strongest possible opposition to this Bill and to the amendment.
– I thank the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) for cutting his speech short so that I could speak in this debate. I know that he had a lot that he wanted to say. I will be the last speaker in this debate. If I am cut off halfway through my speech or halfway through a sentence, the people listening to the broadcast and the people who will read Hansard will know that I have been cut off because of the gag put on this debate by honourable members on the Government side who are so embarrassed by this issue that they are stifling all debate on it.
-Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to remember that that has nothing to do with the matter before the Chair.
– I was just explaining that, if I am cut off in the middle of a sentence, that will be the reason. Before the last election the Australian people were assured by the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that abortion on demand was not an election issue. Yet within the first 6 sitting days of this Parliament 2 newly-elected Labor members from Victoria - the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) and the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Lamb) - gave notice thai they would introduce this Bill to legalise abortion on demand. We have all heard the story around the lobbies that this Bill is really the brainchild of several Ministers of this Government and that, in order not to involve the Government as such, 2 front men had to be found to do the hack work of proposing and seconding the Bill.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. The honourable gentleman has cast aspersions on Federal Ministers, including myself, as being in some way involved in this Bill. I want to refute that and say that he has no right to cast those sorts of imputations in this debate. I ask him to withdraw his remarks as far as I am concerned.
– Order! As everybody would know, this is a non-party Bill. I keep my ears pretty close to the ground and I know that what the honourable member said is incorrect.
– This Bill has the support of no less a personage that the Prime Minister himself. I am sorry that the Prime Minister was not able to speak in this debate.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you have pointed out, this is a non-party issue. The honourable member is endeavouring to make it a party political issue and I submit that he is out of order in doing so.
– Order! There is no sub stance in the point of order.
– All of the things I have said are facts and, as you have ruled, Mr Speaker, there is no substance in the point of order. The fact is that the Prime Minister supports abortion on demand. I am very sorry that, due to the Premiers Conference today, he has not had the opportunity to speak in this debate. It is not only here that this matter will be propounded. In Victoria we could very well have a similar Bill coming forward after the next State election if the Labor Party should win. Mrs Coxsedge, a Labor Party candidate for Balwyn, has stated she would introduce a similar bill if elected.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker.
– Order! If the honourable gentleman persists in going outside the motion before the Chair I will ask him to resume his seat.
– 1 am aware that some Labor Party members oppose this Bill, but the Bill emanates from 2 members of that Party. I do not think there are many people who would deny that, if a mother’s life is in serious danger, the mother’s life must be saved. The law relating to abortion is already sufficiently clear in that regard. Death due to childbirth is a very rare occurrence in these days of modern medicine. Under the ruling of Mr Justice Menhennit, abortion can be legally carried out by a qualified medical practitioner if the life or mental or physical health of the mother are in danger. The proposed McKenzieLamb legislation is far wider and far more extreme in its provisions.
Originally the Bill provided for abortion on demand up to 16 weeks of pregnancy, not on medical grounds, not to save the life of the mother, but for no other purpose than that for some reason or other which she need not disclose, the mother did not want to go through with the pregnancy. Because of the vast outcry from concerned citizens throughout the Commonwealth the Bill was at first watered down to allow for abortion only up to 12 weeks instead of the 16 weeks originally planned. But it soon became obvious that a sufficient number of members was not prepared to fly in the face of public opinion to enable the passage of the Bill. So another subterfuge had to be found to get around the defeat of the Bill, and one perhaps senses the astute hand of the Prime Minister here. It is the old story of 2 steps forward and one step back. But one is still one step forward after the procedure. Even if this Bill is not passed - I sincerely hope that it will not be passed - and if a committee of inquiry is set up. that would be one step forward towards the situation which the abortion on demand people wish to achieve.
The Melbourne ‘Age’ published a letter to the editor the other day from a person called K. Shaw of Carlton. It said:
Sir. It is very infuriating to realise that it is men who are largely responsible for the campaign opposing the Medical Practice Clarification Act, and men who will vote on the Bill. The person whom this Bill will affect most, the woman, has almost no say in deciding what control she has over her body.
I would say only this in reply to K. Shaw of Carlton: There is someone whom this Bill concerns and will affect far more than the woman, and that is the child who will have his or her life denied under the provisions of the Bill. There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of most doctors that the baby’s life commences and that the baby begins to grow from the moment of conception. Even the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) admitted that last night on an Australian Broadcasting Commission program on which we both appeared. At 4 weeks after conception the heart of the baby is beating. At 7 weeks his face is completely formed; he has 20 milk teeth buds; he has eyelashes and eyebrows. At 10 weeks the baby can move himself, and at 11 weeks he can even suck his thumb. It is at about this stage, and even later, that this Bill will allow the life of the baby to be terminated, for no other reason than that the mother does not want to go through with the pregnancy.
I cannot see how any Christian who purports to believe that God creates life can believe that anyone other than God should take that life away. Not even the mother should have that right. Even the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) who is a doctor of medicine and the Minister for the Environment and Conservation in the Federal Government and a strong supporter of the Bill, has been honest enough to say in the Press on 17th November 1972:
Some people say abortion is murder. I am inclined to think it is. I can see that it is destroying life.
Yet, this Minister supports abortion on demand and he will apparently be voting for this Bill today. He even called on the proabortionists in a Press release last night to harass members who vote against it. There has been an attempt by some sections of the Press and some pro-abortionists to brand the anti-abortion on demand movement as some sort of sinister plot by the Roman Catholic Church. It is true that Catholics are concerned at the provisions of this Bill, and rightly so. But so too are the Anglican archbishops, the Baptists and people of many faiths. Onlylast Thursday the Presbyterian Assembly, the Church of which I am a communicant member, rejected a recommendation for the liberalisation of the present laws relating to abortion.
The statement made by the honourable member for Diamond Valley in his speech that the position was otherwise is not correct. The report of the sub-committee was rejected and sent back to that committee for further consideration. Fifty-nine Church leaders of all faiths have signed a statement appealing to politicians, organisations and citizens to protest against this Bill. The feeling against the Bill is not confined to any one section of the community; it runs high and wide, and is shared by all concerned - men and women, labourers and professional men, doctors and lawyers, rich and poor and young and old. Let us look at some of the arguments raised by those who are in favour of abortion on demand. They talk about unwanted children. There are no unwanted children; there are only unwanting parents. Even if the parents do not want them, there are thousands of childless couples crying out to adopt children in the hope of building a family. Recently an article appeared in the ‘Melbourne Herald” which stated: ‘The adoption list to close’ and went on to say that there were not enough children to meet the demands of parents who wanted to adopt them.
We have been told that as illegal abortions occur we might as well legalise them. This argument is as specious as saying that as pot is smoked or as burglaries or murders occur, we might as well legalise them also. The figures in fact show that since the legislation of abortion on demand in Britain the incidence of backyard abortions has shown no decrease. Then we are told that only women should be responsible for the decision to destroy the foetus. What about the father? It is his child equally with the mother. What about the child who may be a mother or father one day if allowed to live out the span of her or his natural life? To say that women should have the say as to whether abortion on demand is legalised is as ridiculous as saying that only criminals should say what facilities should be provided to prisoners in gaols.
– Order! The time allowed for the debate has expired.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Mathews’ amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority .. ..38
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 75
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to establish a comprehensive system of supervision of general insurance.
The present system under the Insurance Act 1932-1966, which allows persons to open insurance businesses on payment of a small deposit and leaves them free of any real supervision thereafter, is quite inadequate and ought to have been reformed years ago. I will be seeking leave to introduce the Insurance (Deposits) Bill to rename the Insurance Act 1932-1966 and to allow for its place to be taken by the extensive measures embodied in the Bill which is now before the House.
Under the Bill, those wishing to commence new insurance businesses in Australia will need to be bodies corporate which can meet the minimum standards of financial soundness laid down in the Bill. Existing insurers, that is, those carrying on insurance business in Australia on 9th December 1971, will be required to meet the same standards, except in special circumstances provided for in the Bill to meet the particular situations of some existing companies which are financially sound, existing insurers who do not wish to continue business or who cannot meet the financial tests will be subject to transitional provisions, which could include investigations, for the purpose of their orderly withdrawal from the business, special provisions have been made for Lloyd’s underwriters, who are not bodies corporate, to carry on Austraiian business subject to prescribed conditions.
After receiving an authority, an insurer will be obliged to maintain the prescribed standards and will be subject to continuous supervision. An authorised insurer who fails to maintain the required standards, or appears to be in danger of falling below the standards, will be subject to investigation. ‘Following investigation, directions may be issued to the body corporate as to the future conduct of its business.
The Bill incorporates a number of improvements on the Insurance Bill 1972, which was introduced into the House on 28 th September 1972 but which lapsed when Parliament was dissolved. The style and presentation of the Bill has been improved in many ways, for example, by the inclusion of a table of provisions, rearrangement of clauses and textual improvements which make the Bill easier to understand. Some changes of substance have been made after review in the light of comments received on the earlier Bill. In addition, the Bill contains a new part to provide for the appointment of an Insurance Commissioner by the Governor-General subject to statutory terms and conditions of appointment.
The scope of the Bill is limited to the purpose to which I have referred, namely, the setting up of an effective system of supervision. There are various other aspects of general insurance which the Government wishes to look at more closely. They include the supervision of insurance brokers, for which legislation is being prepared, overseas ownership and control of insurance companies, which is at present under study, and the general question whether more needs to be done to protect policy owners and to safeguard the community’s interest in general insurance. It will, however, take time to complete the necessary investigations and the Government has decided that meanwhile the introduction of this Bill ought not to be deferred.
In this connection the Government has received a proposal from the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) that a committee of experts be established to examine ways in which the insurance legislation can be strengthened and improved. I pay tribute to the honourable member for Hawker for the considerable amount of interest and acumen that he has displayed in this important field. The question of establishing this committee is currently under examination and when a decision is made, I will inform the House. I shall now outline in more detail the main provisions that are embodied in the Bill.
Part I of the Bill defines insurance business and the scope and application of the Bill. Provision is made for parts I and II to come into operation on royal assent and for the remaining provisions to come into force by proclamation. The definition of ‘insurance business’ is similar to that in the Insurance Act 1932-1966, but specific reference is made to reinsurance to avoid any doubts as to coverage, and there are some additions to the types of business excluded from the definition in that Act.
The conduct of insurance business by State government bodies will not be subject to the provisions of the Bill. The liabilities of those bodies are guaranteed by the respective State governments. I mention, however, that the State governments have agreed that their insurance offices will co-operate in furnishing statistical information to the Insurance Commissioner.
Part II of the Bill provides for the creation of the statutory office of Insurance Commissioner whose duty it will be to administer the Act, subject to the direction of the Treasurer. Creation of this new office will necessitate an amendment to the Life Insurance Act 1945- 1965 and I will be seeking leave to introduce a Bill to amend the name of the office under that Act to Life Insurance Commissioner. The Insurance Commissioner will be appointed by the Governor-General and the terms and conditions of this appointment and the provisions for termination, suspension and resignation are spelt out in detail. Provision is also made for an acting commissioner and for the Commissioner’s staff.
Part HI provides for the granting of an authority to a body corporate and prescribes the conditions of financial soundness which must be maintained by an authorised insurer. The Part prohibits the carrying on of insurance business other than by a body corporate authorised under the Act or by a Lloyd’s underwriter. I shall refer later to special conditions that will apply to Lloyd’s underwriters. In relation to the operation of bodies corporate, one of the main conditions of financial soundness is that the company must have and must maintain a margin of assets in Australia over liabilities in Australia equal to 15 per cent of premium income in Australia during the preceding financial year or $100,000, whichever is the greater. Provision is also made in this Part for the cancellation of authorities in specified circumstances.
Part IV of the Bill requires accounts to be kept and audited accounts and statements to be furnished in prescribed form. It also deals with the appointment and duties of auditors. This is an important part of the legislation. The scope and accuracy of the information to be provided to the Commissioner will be important to the fully effective operation of the system of supervision. The information furnished to the Commissioner will be processed and published as aggregates for general information. This will be an important byproduct of the legislation because comprehensive statistical information on the general insurance industry in Australia has to date not been readily available.
Part V provides for the making of inquiries and for investigation of a body corporate where it is doubtful whether the body corporate can continue to meet its liabilities or to comply with the requirements of the Act. The investigation provisions are modelled on the corresponding provisions of the uniform companies Acts. Following an investigation, the Treasurer may issue directions to the insurer as to the further conduct of its business. The intention is that every effort will be made to avoid the failure of a company. Part VI establishes an insurance tribunal to hear appeals against administrative decisions under the legislation. These provisions are an important feature of the Bill. They give valuable rights to an insurer or auditor to have a rehearing of decisions taken by the Administration. Provision is also made for a question of law arising in proceedings before the tribunal to be referred to the Commonealth Industrial Court.
Part VII authorises the carrying on of insurance business in Australia by Lloyd’s underwriters, subject to compliance by the Society of Lloyd’s with the provisions of this Part and the schedule. Lloyd’s underwriters, being individuals with unlimited personal liability who operate in syndicates with other Lloyd’s underwriters, do not fit into the general supervisory scheme of the Bill which relates to bodies corporate. Accordingly, special provisions are included for this class of insurer. The main requirements are that the Society of Lloyd’s will lodge Commonwealth securities with the Treasurer to the value of $500,000 and will also lodge a covenant or covenants by an Australian bank or banks in favour of the Treasurer equal in amount to the annual net premium income of Lloyd’s underwriters from their Australian business. These amounts will be available to satisfy final judgements obtained in Australia against Lloyd’s underwriters. Provision is also made for the Society of Lloyd’s to furnish such accounts and statements as the Treasurer determines, corresponding as far as practicable to the accounts and statements to be furnished by bodies corporate under the legislation.
Part VIII provides for the protection of State legislation on insurance. There are many State laws which contain insurance provisions incidental to the main purposes of those laws and it is not intended to disturb the provisions in question. The protection does not, however, extend to allowing the States to make laws to authorise persons and bodies corporate to carry on insurance business generally. Part IX protects existing State legislation which controls the whole field of general insurance, for transitional periods, to allow the Commonwealth legislation to take full effect. The only State which has such legislation is Queensland and under Part IX Federal supervision of insurance companies will take the place of State supervision in Queensland in stages over a period up to 2 years. This
Part also makes transitional arrangements for those currently carrying on insurance business who will not be able to meet the requirement of the Bill or who do not apply for an authority to carry on insurance business. These provisions, which aim at the orderly withdrawal of such persons and companies from the insurance market and include power to investigate where necessary, will be very important during the early years of the operation of the legislation.
As honourable members are aware, the Australian Labor Party has been pressing for many years for reforms in the general insurance legislation and I am confident that this Bill will achieve considerable improvements in the industry and help to restore the public’s confidence after the unfortunate and unnecessary failures of recent years, I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to change the name of the Insurance Act 1932-1966 to the Insurance (Deposits) Act 1932-1973, to provide for the termination of the deposit requirement after the new system of supervision provided for in the Insurance Bill becomes fully effective and to provide for other matters consequential upon introduction of the Insurance Bill. Other than some minor drafting and printing changes, the Bill is the same as the Insurance (Deposits) BiN 1972, which was introduced into the House on 28th September 1972, but which was not debated and lapsed when Parliament dissolved. The Bill is commended to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the BUI be now read a second dme.
The purpose of this Bill is to change the title of the statutory office in the Life Insurance Act 1945-4965 from Insurance Commissioner to Life Insurance Commissioner, to avoid confusion with the statutory office of Insurance Commissioner provided for in the Insurance Bill 1973. Two minor technical amendments are also included which are designed to bring the legislation into line with current practice. The Bill is commended to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This BUI proposes amendments to the export incentive grants legislation to remove some disabilities affecting statutory marketing authorities. Under the present law a marketing authority which acquires ownership of goods it exports or sells for export may, within 60 days of coming into existence, make an election which gives it the right to have these goods taken into account for the purpose of ascertaining its export grant. These requirements have been judged to be unnecessarily restrictive. In practice they can mean that exports made by the authorities on behalf of suppliers are not reflected in export grants. The proposed amendments will enable an election to be made by an authority whether or not it acquires ownership of the goods it exports and will also remove the 60-day limit for making an election. An election made after the commencement of the amending Act may, at the option of the authority, apply from as early as the commencement of the 1971-72 grant year. These amendments will also permit a marketing authority, by the issue of export certificates, to pass part or all of its grant entitlement for the 1971-72 year or a subsequent grant year to licensees associated with it in the marketing of Australian produced goods.
Other provisions of the Bill will permit wider participation by gold producers in the export incentives scheme. It will enable the Gold Producers’ Association to pass on to gold producers the benefit of export certificates received by the association as a supplier of gold fabricated into goods for export. These provisions will apply as from the 1971-72 financial year. Apart from the amendments relating to marketing boards and gold producers, the Bill does no more than continue the present export incentive scheme for another year. What will happen after 30th June 1974 has yet to be decided, so it cannot yet be said whether the present scheme or some other scheme will operate or even no scheme. That will he decided later, in the light of a number of relevant factors. In the event that there were no schemes, consideration might be given to the need for hardship relief, but if that proved to be the situation such relief would not, of course, provide tinder a different name concessions as generous as the present incentives. These questions about the position after 30th June 1974 will be examined and the decision announced later. A memorandum providing detailed explanations of the provisions of the Bill is being made available to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will make amendments to the Payroll Tax Assessment Act corresponding with those proposed in relation to gold producers in the Export Incentive Grants Bill which I have just introduced. The Exports Incentive Grants scheme is the successor to the payroll tax rebate scheme adopted when payroll tax was transferred to the States. The amendments will apply in respect of the financial years 1968-69 to 1970-71 and will enable the actual producers of gold to receive export certificates under the payroll tax rebate scheme as suppliers of components where, after having been sold by a prescribed company for industrial use in Australia, gold has been fabricated into goods and exported. The memorandum explaining the provisions of the Export Incentive Grants Bill also contains explanations of the provisions of this Bill. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Bonnett) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Connor, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the ‘Bill be now read a second time.
I introduce this Bill, as announced by His Excellency the Governor-General in his Speech at the opening of the current session, to remove any doubt about the exclusive right of the Commonwealth to sovereign control over the resources of the seabed off the coast of Australia and its territories, from the low water mark to the outer limits of the continental shelf. The Bill, in addition, provides the legislative framework to govern the exploration and exploitation of the mineral resources, other than petroleum, of these submerged lands. The history of this legislation is remarkable enough to dwell upon it for a moment. Over three years ago, on 16th April 1970, the former Government presented its Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill. The then Minister for National Development said, when introducing that Bill on behalf of the Acting Minister for External Affairs, that in the Government’s view it would serve Australia’s national and international interests to have the legal position resolved as soon as practicable.
One would have thought that the whole House was in agreement with that point of view. Everybody who spoke on that Bill agreed that it was urgent and that it was in the national interest. Indeed we - while in Opposition - gave the Bill our full support. But, having introduced that important and significant legislation, the former Government lost its vision and its courage. In spite of all our efforts and - let it be said - in spite of the efforts of some gentlemen now sitting on the Opposition side, there followed 2) years of stalling and procrastination. In the end that vital Bill was disowned and frustrated by the very people who had sponsored it.
We now propose to put that matter right. In this we follow the line we have consistently taken in debates on this matter in this House, we follow the principles laid down in the platform and resolutions of the Australian
Labor Party, and we follow the promise, made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his election speech, for early passage of this legislation. As matters stand now, the question of jurisdiction and ownership in offshore areas is in doubt. With the State governments claiming sovereign rights in some of the same areas as the Commonwealth, we find ourselves in the absurd position of having one of the longest coastlines and most extensive continental shelves of ail littoral nations, without a clear decision on this most important matter.
There are also a number of moves about to take place on the international scene which are of great concern to us - the Law of the Sea Conference, determination of the width of the territorial sea, negotiation of sea boundaries with our neighbours. Although the Commonwealth’s legal power to negotiate international treaties and to enter into agreements and conventions has not been disputed, an intolerable situation may yet arise if we should have to seek State agreements before ratification. There have, in fact, been instances in the past, when the States have not agreed to the Commonwealth ratifying international conventions or have imposed extreme delay on such action, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister on 18th October last, when he spoke as Leader of the Opposition on the earlier legislation to which I have referred before.
The natural resources of seabed areas and their exploitation or potential exploitation have become increasingly important in recent years, and with advancing technology that trend, no doubt, will continue at an accelerated pace. In the past, off-shore activities have been dominated by the search for oil, while in respect of most other mineral resources we are only at the beginning of development. Even in respect of the more traditional resources, such as sand and gravel dredged from the sea, new problems arise requiring new methods of handling and control. There is a greater awareness these days of the need for conservation of our resources and preservation of our environment, and there is much more urgency to find and adopt suitable methods to prevent or control pollution. All these aspects require careful consideration - consideration on a uniform national level. Moreover, some of them may require quick and decisive action, as in the case of a major pollution threat, with little time for lengthy consultation or for passing of special legislation, as has been necessary in the past, for example in the case of the stranding on a reef in our northern waters of the tanker Oceanic Grandeur*.
The off-shore problems I have indicated are national problems and require national solutions. It is for us - here in the national Parliament - to provide the legislative framework which will enable the national Government to exert its sovereign national rights and to speak with authority in national terms on these matters. If there are parties - individuals or governments - who would dispute our right to take the course I now propose, let them challenge this legislation in the courts. We take this stance not in an attitude of provocation, but in the confidence of doing what is clearly right and necessary. Where before in Australian constitutional history could a government rely on a pronouncement by the Chief Justice on issues vital to proposed legislation? Where before has there been the backing of one of his brother justices, who fully agreed with bis sentiments? I am referring to the case of Bonser v. La Macchia which has been discussed in detail in this House before. I do not propose to go over the whole ground again, but one brief quotation may be worth repeating. This is what the Chief Justice of Australia then said, in part:
It is quite clear historically, if one examines the descriptions of the territory placed under governorship, that the territory of the original colony of New South Wales except as to certain islands of the Pacific did not extend beyond low water mark. . . .
The same can be said of the other Australian colonies. If anyone wishes to take the matter further, there are the views expressed by no less than the former President of the International Court of Justice, Sir Percy Spender.
The Bill now before the House differs in one important aspect from the Bill introduced during the previous session of Parliament. This is the inclusion in Part III of the Bill of provisions relating to off-shore mining, which together with the associated Royalty Bill will enable the Commonwealth to exercise control over exploration and mining activities for all minerals other than petroleum on the seabed and in the subsoil of the whole area to which the authority of the Commonwealth extends. The Bill will not affect the existing agreements between the Commonwealth and the States concerning off-shore petroleum however, or the legislation giving effect to those agreements, which will continue to operate for the present time.
I now turn to some of the specific matters which are set out in this Bill. Part I of the Bill cites its title, states that it shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the royal assent and extends its provisions to all the Territories other than the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea. Part II of the Bill, which deals with sovereignty over the territorial sea and sovereign rights in respect of the continental shelf, is based largely on the earlier Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill which has been discussed previously in this House at length. I do not propose to go over that whole area again and I suggest leaving until the Committee stage any detailed examination of its various clauses. However, I would like to touch briefly on the main aims this Part is intended to achieve.
Firstly, the Bill states the law as we understand it exists in 3 areas, so as to remove any possible doubt in this direction. Clause 6 makes it clear that sovereignty over the territorial sea, including the airspace above and the seabed and sub-soil below, is vested in and exercisable by the Crown in right of the Commonwealth. Similarly clause 11 makes it clear that the sovereign rights of Australia in respect of the exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of the continental shelf are vested in and exercisable by the Crown in right of the Commonwealth. And further, clauses 10 and 14, taken together, make it clear that sovereignty over the internal waters of Australia (including their airspace, bed and subsoil) is also vested in and exercisable by the Crown in right of the Commonwealth, with the exeption, however, of those waters which were internal waters of a State at the time of Federation and which still remain within the limits of the State.
Secondly, the Bill provides, in clause 7, for the delineation of the territorial sea, including determination of the breadth of the territorial sea and of the baselines from which such breadth is to be measured. This is necessary as the claims made by maritime states regarding the breadth of their respective territorial seas vary enormously and range from 3 miles to 200 miles. The disagreement on this point is so great, in fact, that all attempts for the adoption of a uniform distance for inclusion in international conventions have so far been unsuccessful. Although at present a 12-mile limit seems to be most widely favoured, Aus tralia still asserts a 3-mile claim, as do the United Kingdom, the United States and a number of other major countries, and Australia is therefore not bound to recognise wider claims by other states. The territorial sea is measured outwards from baselines along the coast, normally the low water lines. Since most coasts are cut by indentations of varying widths and depths of penetration, however, rules have been established to use as baselines in such cases straight lines drawn from headland to headland along the coast rather than following the twists and turns of the low water mark. The Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, in Article 4, lays down that such straight baselines ‘must not depart to any appreciable extent from the general direction of the coast’. A copy of the Convention is attached to the Bill as Schedule 1. Clause 8 of the Bill makes provision for the proclamation of historic bays and other historic waters while clause 9 deals with the issue of official charts. Both these matters are also referred to in the Convention at Schedule 1.
Thirdly, the Bill contains, in Division 3 of Part II, certain saving provisions to ensure that the assertion of Commonwealth sovereign rights in the territorial sea will not invalidate existing property rights in wharves and other installations or works, nor limit or exclude the operation of any law of the Commonwealth, a Territory or a State in force at the date of commencement of this legislation or coming into force after that date. This exemption will not extend to any State law in so far as it is expressed to vest any sovereignty or sovereign rights, or to make these exercisable otherwise than provided in this Bill. These provisions will allow, as already mentioned, the continued operation of the offshore petroleum arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States for the present time.
Part III of the Bill will apply a mining code to the off-shore areas, in respect of which Part II of the Bill established Commonwealth authority. It will enable us to apply the rules under which off-shore mining titles are to be issued and under which the exploration for and exploitation of minerals, other than petroleum, are to be carried out.
World-wide in the off-shore scene, petroleum has dominated both exploration and production. There is, however, increasing interest in other mineral resources of the seabed.
Deposits so far identified include construction materials (sand, gravel, limestone, and so on), detrital minerals (tin, gold, platinum, diamonds) and the beach sand minerals (magnetite, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite) and phosphorite. Deposits of this nature have all been identified on the continental shelves of the world. In addition, on the abyssal floor of the ocean, manganese nodules, which in addition to manganese contain significant amounts of copper and cobalt, also have been found in widely dispersed areas. In Australia there has been a similar trend with increasing interest in off-shore mineral resources and some exploration work already done and continuing. The value of production of minerals recovered from the seabed so far is small when compared with that of oil and natural gas. It is also interesting to note that taken on a world wide basis, the lion’s share of this value has been contributed by the least glamorous of the minerals concerned ‘sand and gravel’ for which there is a growing and increasingly urgent demand in Australia, as onshore sources of such building materials within economic distances of many centres are becoming depleted.
I must emphasise here that an enormous effort will be required to realise the potential of marine mineral resources of Australia’s offshore area. Mineral discovery and development has always been a slow and difficult process, requiring both imagination and courage in prospecting coupled with a willingness to risk large sums of money in exploration and development. Mineral exploration and production have to be based on a foundation of sound knowledge of local geology and geophysics and the development and application of new technology. The need for this as a base for marine operations has been recognised by the Government and to this end the Division of National Mapping of the Department of Minerals and Energy expects to complete a systematic bathymetric survey of the continental shelf by 1980, while the Bureau of Mineral Resources has already undertaken a geophysical survey of the continental slope.
The mining code under which companies can be granted titles to explore for and exploit minerals other than petroleum in the submerged parts of the Australian continent is bsased to some extent on the principles of the offshore petroleum legislation and the experience gained in its administration. In contrast to that legislation provision has been made, however, to enable the Commonwealth itself to administer the mining code, and allowance also has been made for differences in the technology and in mode of occurrence between offshore petroleum and other offshore minerals. In addition to a mining code, it is of course essential to apply a general body of law to any offshore mining operations, such as an appropriate criminal code, navigational safety regulations, and workers’ compensation, provisions. In these respects it is provided in Division 2 of Part III that the laws of the Australian Capital Territory in force from time to time should also apply in the offshore areas.
Particular attention will be directed towards ensuring the conservation and preservation of our natural resources and of the marine and associated environments. To that end, clause 88 empowers the Minister to cancel any permit or licence if he considers this to be in the interests of the safety of navigation or the conservation of natural resources or otherwise in the public interest. There is a provision that compensation may be sought in the Courts in appropriate cases by the title holders affected. In accordance with modern mining practice the Bill provides for a 2-stage system of titles. An exclusive exploration title, referred to as a ‘permit’, may be followed by a production title, referred to as a ‘licence’. In addition, provision has been made for 2 other, short term, titles. The first is a reconnaissance authority which will allow its holder to explore specified areas for up to 12 months on a non-exclusive basis. The need for such a title is particularly important in the search for minerals in a relatively new and unknown environment. It will enable operators to carry out the necessary preliminary surveys and testing of techniques before deciding whether an area is worth an application for an exclusive exploration title - a permit. This type of non-exclusive title has been used and found to be effective in Canada. The other short-term title is the access authority which will authorise a title holder to have limited access to areas outside his title area if the Minister is satisfied that this is necessary or desirable for the more effective exercise and proper performance of the rights and duties of the title holder.
Provision is made in clause 33 of the Bill for the Minister either to invite applications for exploration permits or to issue permits without invitation. If an application is received other than in response to an invitation the Minister can grant a permit on such application, or he can reject and publicly invite permit applications. Such a permit grants its holder an exclusive right to explore for specified minerals in an area not exceeding SOO blocks, that is an area of approximately 575 square miles. The initial permit term is 2 years, and there is provision for renewals, for periods of 2 years each, subject to the permittee’s compliance with the permit conditions and the legislation. Upon each renewal the permittee must relinquish at least one-quarter of the area previously held.
– Does that mean he will be out in 8 years?
– No, progressively. He would still have a residue. It is a matter of compounding in reverse. Because of the many unknown factors in off-shore mineral technology and different environmental aspects it is not possible to specify precise permit conditions in this Bill. The Minister will therefore need to determine the conditions of each permit according to the circumstances of the case.
Upon discovery of a mineral deposit, a permittee may apply for a production licence, covering no more than 50 blocks, that is an area of approximately 58 square miles, of his previous permit area, as stated in clause 42. If the permittee has complied with the permit conditions and the legislative provisions he has a right to a licence with an initial term of 21 years. Thereafter renewals may be granted at the discretion of the Minister for periods each not exceeding 21 years. It is a requirement of production that a holder shall annually expend on exploration or recovery operations an amount calculated at $2,000 per block,, that is, for a maximum licence area of 50 blocks a total of $100,000 must be spent each year. If minerals are recovered in the licence area in any one year, the value of the minerals recovered is offset against the required expenditure for that licence area for the succeeding year. Any short-faR in the required expenditure or production value is a debt due to the. Crown and is recoverable at law. It is to be noted that under part 4 of clause 51, the Minister may grant an exemption, in whole or in part, from this provision. There is a diversity of minerals and the mode of occurrence of marine mineral resources, and it could eventuate that in some circum stances the level of expenditure required by clause 51 is too high. This is recognised by part 4 of clause 51. I emphasise, however, that this clause requires the Minister to be satisfied that special circumstances exist to justify his doing so’ before he exercises this power of exemption.
It is an important feature of this Bill that applicants, permittees and licensees will be required to provide adequate information and reports to the Commonwealth. Applicants for the grant or renewal of permits and licences and applications for registration of agreements which create new interests in a title will be required to provide information on Australian equity participation and the involvement of Australian management in the venture. Permittees and licensees will have to make available to the Government proper and regular reports on exploration and production activities and adequate portions of cores, cuttings and samples of the seabed obtained during such activities. The overall geological knowledge of the seabed obtained is important to the Government in its systematic assessment of mineral resources. This store of knowledge is also important to all explorers in that it will avoid the need to duplicate surveys previously carried out. Clause 90 gives the Minister certain discretions regarding the release of information furnished to him. I would point out that the provisions concerning the release of information apply to basic information only and that interpretative data can be released only with the consent of the permittee or licensee concerned.
In accordance with Article 5 of the Convention on the Continental Shelf there is a provision in this Bill - clause 84 - for the Minister to consent to mineral exploration in the course of scientific investigations. Such a consent will be subject to such conditions as the Minister thinks fit. Clause 85 is another example of the way in which the Bill ensures that Australia’s obligations under the Convention are properly observed. Article 5 of the Convention requires that operations on the continental shelf must not result in any unnecessary interference with navigation, fishing or the conservation of the resources of the sea and seabed.
Included in the Bill, in clause 111, are provisions for the making of operating and safety regulations. The art and technology of off-shore minerals exploration and exploitation are comparatively new and still developing. It is not intended to promulgate regulations immediately because the Government desires to draw on any experience gained in off-shore operations before preparing the proposed regulations in detail. Some companies have already had practical experience in offshore minerals activities, and the Government feels that such industry experience could contribute materially to the content of the proposed regulations.
Pending the promulgation of regulations, the Bill, as does the petroleum legislation, gives the Minister the power under clause 74 to issue directions on any matters with respect to which regulations may be made. The Minister will be required, however, to table in Parliament any ‘direction’ given by him which is inconsistent with the regulations. A further requirement set out in clause 110, is the preparation and tabling in Parliament of an annual report, on a calendar basis, on the administration of this legislation.
Included in this Bill are transitional provisions which enable holders of certain current State or Territory off-shore titles to apply for comparable titles under this legislation. The grant of such a title by the Commonwealth will be subject to such conditions as the Minister thinks fit but it is intended to match as far as possible the conditions of the current titles for the unexpired portions of their terms. As the conditions attached to permits following transition could be somewhat different from those envisaged in the mining code of this Bill, such permits will not be renewed, but after expiry of the remainder of their current term an application may be made for a new title under this legislation.
The Bill provides for the normal requirements associated with mining administration such as keeping a register, the appointment of inspectors, and for courts of competent jurisdiction for the prosecution of offences and other proceedings. There, are also the usual provisions in the Bill for the variation, suspension of, or exemption from conditions of a title, and for the surrender and cancellation of titles.
I would now like to touch briefly on some financial aspects of this Bill and its associated royalty Bill. It is our aim to encourage, under Commonwealth control, off-shore minerals exploration and exploitation. We realise that these are costly operations and therefore intend to keep fees for such activities at a reasonably low level. Application fees only will be payable and there will be no annual fees on any titles granted under this legislation. This will also simplify its administration. Application fees for reconnaissance or access authorities will be $100 each, while $1,000 will be required for a permit, a licence or a renewal thereof. Because of the wide variety of minerals, their value and mode of occurrence it has been necessary to provide for a range of royalty rates. The royalty Bill accompanying this measure therefore lays down that the royalty to be paid to the Commonwealth is to be at a rate to be determined by the Minister and specified in the production licence. Such rate is to be not less than 1 per cent or more than 10 per cent of the value as agreed by the licensee and the Minister or determined by the Minister, usually the gross or mine-head value, and will be subject to redetermination upon renewal of a licence, in the light of the legislative provisions at the time of renewal.
I would like to say that we believe this Bill to be an effective and workable piece of legislation. (Extension of time granted). We believe that it incorporates the most important features of a mining code, which are that the rules should be fair, that they should be as explicit as possible, that they should be consistent without being inflexible and that they should be such as to encourage exploration for and exploitation of off-shore minerals under Commonwealth control and supervision. To that end we are endeavouring to enact a code in which the basic parameters are clearly set out. We realise, however, that the art and technology of off-shore minerals exploration and exploitation are still comparatively new and at a stage of development. We will not hesitate, therefore, to submit amending legislation for consideration by Parliament if we are satisfied that changes or improvements need to be made. Our main aim will continue to be that this legislation shall encourage efficient and adequate exploration and exploitation of our off-shore resources and at the same time control operations in such a way as to ensure the conservation of our natural resources and the preservation of our marine environment to the common good.
I commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Connor, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is consequential upon the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill which has just been introduced and I commend it to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Connor, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Governor-General’s Speech foreshadowed that, in pursuit of its policy for maximising Australian ownership, control, use and development of Australian resources, the Government would introduce legislation to establish a Pipeline Authority. This concept of a national pipeline system also takes account of wider issues - of defence, of decentralisation, of population growth, of national development, of the importance of interconnected supplies to meet increasing long term demands, emergency situations and the exhaustion of particular regional energy sources, and the possible export of liquefied natural gas.
This Bill seeks to establish the Authority for the transmission of petroleum, natural gas and other hydrocarbons, by interstate ringmain pipeline systems. With the aim of ensuring continuity of supplies and uniformity of price, the Authority will have trading rights to buy and sell hydrocarbons. In addition to its role of being a common carrier, the Authority naturally will sell for reticulation to appropriate authorities and corporations.
In establishing the Authority the Government is following the well established and highly successful precedent of the former Labor Government which created the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. This will be a project of at least equal magnitude. The project provides for the linking by a continental pipeline of the city of Sydney with the Gidgealpa natural gas fields in the Cooper Basin in South Australia, with an early extension through Wagga to Albury and Wodonga with later extensions to Melbourne and the Bass Strait reserves.
From Gidgealpa the pipeline will be linked to the Palm Valley field in the Amadeus Basin of the Northern Territory. From there it will continue to Dampier on the north-west coast of Australia where the resources of the North-west Shelf will be available. The proposed pipeline route will also traverse and serve the Pilbara region of Western Australia. There will also be a spurline to serve the Northern Territory. The first stage of the project will be from Sydney to Gidgealpa ensuring that there will be no delay in planned supplies of natural gas for Sydney under the long standing city of Sydney gas franchise legislation. Extensions will also be built to the Newcastle and Wollongong-Port Kembla areas.
Because of the lack of indigenous on-shore fuel supplies in Western Australia, a pipeline link between Palm Valley and the Kalgoorlie mineral province and Perth will be an early priority. The Commonwealth and the Western Australian Governments have already agreed to a feasibility study on this section of the project. In view of the limited reserves of the Moonie field, an additional spurline wil be built between Sydney and Brisbane with extensions to coastal Queensland cities. The total concept will provide a completely interconnected grid system, ensuring back-up supplies in case of interruption by natural calamities or exhaustion of supply from an individual source.
I should mention that the construction and operation by East Australian Pipeline Corporation Ltd of the Gidgealpa to Sydney pipeline would have pre-empted the Government’s concept of, and decision for, a national pipeline system. In taking over responsibility for that pipeline and to obviate unnecessary delays, the Government has undertaken that it will stand in the shoes of the pipeline company; observe contractual commitments entered into by it, including the retention of the project managers already retained by the company; and reimburse expenditure already undertaken and committed on the project. The Government will enter into a contract with the Australian Gas Light Co. Ltd to carry the gas for the company and, in general terms, it is the Government’s intention that the replacement of the company’s proposed pipeline by the national pipeline system will not disadvantage the company in respect of the transmission of the gas which it has contracted to purchase from the South Australian field. Arrangements with the company are continuing.
The Bill is not a complex one. It is simple and has the clear and definite purpose to set up an authority with adequate powers to construct and operate a major public utility having the responsibility of making one of our greatest natural resources available to the Australian people. The Authority will consist of 5 persons: a part-time Chairman; 3 parttime members, one of whom would represent the trade unions and another will be, exofficio, the Secretary of my Department; and a full-time executive member. Members other than the Secretary will be appointed’ for periods not exceeding 7 years but will be eligible for re-appointment. The Authority will be required to submit a report with appropriate financial statements annually to the Minister for presentation to the Parliament. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 9 May (vide page 1927), on motion by Mr Grassby:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– in reply - In closing this debate. I would like to sum up briefly by referring to a couple of things that were said during the course of the debate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) asked me when I would be in a position to make a statement on the 415 investigations of people who have been associated with violence either as its practitioners or its victims. I want to inform him and the House that I hope to make a progress report shortly on this matter. No one has been deported in this context at all. I thought that I would clear up that point
I think that a quick reference might be made to the gulf between the former Minister for Immigration and the present Minister. I think that the former Minister, the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) summed up the gulf remarkably well in relation to my desire to abolish discrimination. His remark, as reported in yesterday’s Hansard, was:
What is wrong with discrimination when there are valid overwhelming reasons to discriminate?
No criticism I could make could ever be more eloquent than his own criticism of himself.
The honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) posed 2 particular and pertinent questions. First, he asked whether Australia was the only country not to have a renunciation requirement. The answer is: No. There are 18 major nations that do not require a renunciation. I mention just a few of them: Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, France, Israel, Italy, Japan and the Netherlands.
The honourable member also posed a question which I think related to a case which he had brought to his attention in regard to Yugoslav citizenship. I must just say that the Australian Government does not recognise dual citizenship. If one of our citizens takes on another citizenship he ceases to be an Australian. In relation to the particular case mentioned by the honourable member for Darling Downs, if he lets me have the details I will certainly follow it up. However, for the information of the House, in view of the great interest that there has been in this matter of dual citizenship, I think I should let the House and the honourable member know that article 4 of the Yugoslav Citizenship Law Act of 1964 provides for Yugoslav citizenship to be acquired by a child on 3 bases: If both parents are Yugoslav citizens at the moment of the child’s birth; if one parent at the moment of the child’s birth is a Yugoslav citizen, and the child is born in Yugoslavia; or if one parent at the moment of the child’s birth is a Yugoslav citizen, the other parent without a citizenship, and the child is born in a foreign country. I think that might answer the honourable member’s query.
I point out that Article 15 of the Agreement between Australia and Yugoslavia on the residence and employment of Yugoslav citizens in Australia states:
If a Yugoslav citizen is taken into custody m Australia, he shall be informed that, upon his request, the. nearest Yugoslav diplomatic or consular mission will be informed of his detention. Where such request is made and. subject to the laws and regulations in force in Australia, facilities shall be offered to a
Yugoslav diplomatic or consular representative to visit and to communicate with the Yugoslav citizen taken into custody.
We in the Australian Government recognise that this is a proper provision. We also hold the view that wherever our citizens are, there should be equal access of Australian citizens to Australian consular and diplomatic missions whenever there is a need for them. We hold very strongly to that view and we are endeavouring to negotiate in just those terms. I say in summation that the Government hopes for the support of the House in this sincere bid to wipe out discriminations and to bring to Australian citizenship a new status for the future. I commend the Bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– There are individual matters within the Bill to which I should like to refer briefly. They were referred to at the second reading stage. I draw the attention of the Committee firstly to the schedule of the Bill to which I should like to move the amendment which has been circulated in my name. Of course, the purpose of these amendments is to reinstate the oath or affirmation of allegiance. I explained my purpose when speaking to the Bill in the second reading stage. The purpose is twofold. As to the inclusion or the maintenance of the renunciation of all other allegiance, although the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) has explained tonight that 18 other countries do not require renunciation of other allegiance, we in Australia are in a peculiar position at the moment.
We have just been through a deplorable episode with the Yugoslav Government. Three Australian nationals have been executed. The executions took place in circumstances which bring little credit to the Australian Government and unfortunately reflect significantly on the worthwhile character of Australian citizenship. We on this side of the chamber are most apprehensive lest the actions or inactions of the Labor Government might in any way reflect against those many thousands of new citizens who have come to Australia from countries where dual citizenship persists. One of those countries is Yugoslavia. At a time when we are endeavouring - I understand from the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in this chamber that this is so - to establish with more certainty what dual nationality means, we believe that it would be foolish to eliminate a requirement that a new citizen in swearing his oath of allegiance should not first renounce his old allegience.
I know that the Minister, in concluding the second reading debate, said that he did not believe the renunciation to be necessary. But the whole objective of including a reunuciation is to ensure that when we present - as we must do in cases of dual citizenship - a case on behalf of an Australian citizen, that we are in a position to say that we do not accept dual citizenship in any way as reducing the rights pertinent to an Australian citizen. After all, if we are to accept that we are to discount the value of Australian citizenship there is no point in according it. I believe that my colleague the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) effectively demonstrated this in an admirable speech on the second reading.
It is important that we in no way restrict or contain what must be to all Australians the very worthwhile characteristics of Australian nationality. I believe that if we were in any way to discount Australian citizenship it would be regrettable. I do not believe that to eliminate the renunciation at this point will in any way assist towards acceptance of citizenship by new Australians, nor do I believe that it will assist in citzenship negotiations with other countries. Indeed, I believe it would be directly contradictory to eliminate renunciation at this time. 1 am concerned that in terms of the renunciation individual migrants recognise that they are not required to renounce their country of origin; they are required only to renounce their allegiance. Of course, it is necessary that they maintain their traditional association with their country of origin. It is something that all of us in one way or another have done and I hope will always continue to do. Our own country of origin is something which reflects on our own ethnic background, our cultural traditions, our family and so on. In no way does renunciation of allegiance reflect on that maintenance of association. We are talking about the pure formality of renouncing an allegiance in order to elevate the whole quality of Australian nationality. To my mind that is well worth while and for that reason that proposal is included in my amendment.
The second part of the proposed amendment states that we should swear, not to an Australian Constitution, but to the person of Her Majesty, the Queen of Australia. The form of the amendment is specifically altered from the present form so that the words ‘of Australia’ both in the affirmation and in the oath refer to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Australia. I can well understand individual migrants believing that the Queen is the Queen of the United Kingdom. For that reason perhaps in some instances they have reservations about taking an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty. But we in Australia recognise Her Majesty as the Queen of Australia. She is, after all, our Queen.
I can recall on past occasions having been involvedin negotiations with the British Government, having taken great delight when members of the British Government talked about Her Majesty’s Government, referring to Her Majesty’s Australian Government. Of course, it is Her Australian Majesty that we are talking about. I believe that to swear only to the Constitution is to destroy one of the worthwhile characteristics of our society. We have a Queen; there is every reason to be proud of Her. It is not a matter of pandering to past traditions or past loyalties; it is part of our present tradition. It is something which is important. Australians respect and affirm their continued loyalty to Her Majesty. If they swear to the Constitution they are doing so by the back door. Surely it is far preferable that we have a form of words in the oath and affirmation of allegiance attributing allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen of Australia.
Therefore, in my amendment I have returned the old form of words. There are, within the individual forms of the rest of the Bill, a number of other areas which have been referred to at the second reading stage. I do not propose to move amendments to them. At the second reading stage members of the Opposition have spoken about several of them. They have spoken towards the change of relativity in the position of British migrants. To my mind one of the deplorable consequences of the actions of the ‘Minister for Immigration is that the future homogeneity of the Australian population could well be prejudiced if the trend towards reducing the inflow of a minimum of 50 per cent of the migrant intake from the United Kingdom be reduced. It is important that we in Australia remember that the strength of our country lies in the fact that whether we are in northern Queensland or southern Tasmania, or on the tip of Western Australia or over on Cape Byron in eastern Australia, we are all one country. We are one country because we think the same and because we have developed a homogeneity which is much of the cause of our present strength. It is of course a new homogeneitey; it develops as our immigration develops. But the present Minister for Immigration is changing the emphasis and I am quite concerned that, in the trends towards the reduction of the meaningfulness of the difference between a British citizen and an Australian citizen which this Bill reflects, we are denigrating the maintenance of this homogeneity which is such an important part of the Australian nation today.
I regret that these inclusions are being made in the Act. I do not believe that they are in the best interest of Australia and while the Opposition does not intend to move specific amendments with respect to their inclusion, the Opposition has reservations about their specific form. Before I conclude my speech, I formally move:
Omit the clause, substitute the following clause: 19. The Second and Third Schedules to the Principal Act are repealed and the following Schedules substituted:
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
I, A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.
AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE
I,A.B., renouncing all other allegiance, solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.’.
I commend this amendment to the Committee.
– Three matters have been raised by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party (Mr Sinclair). The first relates to the general attitude to and care of Australian citizens by the Government while they are overseas, or wherever they may be. As I mentioned at an earlier stage of this Bill, my officers have been investigating 415 cases relating to people who have been associated in one way or another with the practice of violence and, in some cases, who perhaps have been the victims of violence. We as a government were shocked to discover what had happened to some Australian citizens. Some had been murdered, some had been shot, some were missing and some we have not yet accounted for. We have tried very hard in the last 4 months to do some of the jobs that obviously should have been done many years earlier.
I return to the point of the renunciation of a person’s former allegiance. I hope it is not suggested that the people of Ireland, New Zealand or Britain or the other countries I have mentioned are any the less citizens of those great countries because they have not been required to undergo the emotional hardship of renunciation. It is interesting to note that, among the countries that do not require renunciation is Yugoslavia - a country that we have had under discussion. The important point to realise is that this is purely an emotional form of words. It has no legal force. As I pointed out during the second reading stage of the Bill, all we are doing is causing unnecessary emotional hardship for no good reason. We, as a govrnment said: ‘Why do it?’ and in fact, we have provided in this Bill for its removal.
The second point that was raised by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party when putting forward his amendment referred to the matter of the form of reference to the Sovereign. I was very concerned that we should get a consensus of opinion on this matter because the change in form of reference does not indicate a change of allegiance. The form of allegiance of Australians is contained in the Constitution. It is an allegiance to the Throne, to the Senate and the House of Representatives and to the Constitution itself. One of the alternatives to the present oath was not considered satisfactory in its present form by the citizenship sub-committee of the Immigration Advisory Council which I asked to look particularly at this matter.
I have some sympathy with the suggestion made by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party relating to the term ‘Queen of Australia’. This point was looked at by the citizenship sub-committee. There are difficulties in doing this because of the present form of royal style and titles. It has been indicated and acknowledged generally by the Sovereign herself that the present form is just not accurate and adequate in 1973 and, therefore, she has acquiesced in a change and this is to come before the Parliament. If we were in our considerations to have described the Sovereign as the Queen of Australia, it would have been acceptable to some members of the sub-committee. I believe that several members of the sub-committee spoke very strongly in favour of this and there is no reason why they should not have done so. But the difficulty, again, is in the description of the Sovereign - Queen Elizabeth II. Suggestions were made that if we were going to describe her firmly and clearly as Queen of Australia, it should be Queen Elizabeth I because, obviously, we were not here at the time of Queen Elizabeth I of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
There were these various considerations to be taken into account and we also took the view that it could be confusing. We are anxious to see that all who come here, including those people from the 31 countries of the Commonwealth of Nations, are not confused. Some of the countries in the Commonwealth of Nations are republics and some are kingdoms and some of the kingdoms have as their leader or their head of state Queen Elizabeth I or Queen Elizabeth II, depending upon the style adopted in the various countries. We thought it would be a matter of complete confusion to the people who came from the former British Commonwealth countries - now, Commonwealth of Nations countries - who would under our laws take a new citizenship. They would find themselves with the same head of state, a different oath, a different allegiance and a different citizenship. Obviously, this is a case where the tide of history has moved on. We felt that to prevent any confusion which could occur, this was a perfectly reasonable way of clearing up possible confusion and nothing more. That is what we have done and we hold to it.
There was one final point made by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party when putting forward his amendment. He referred to his concern for British migrants so I thought I would quote a letter from the President of the British Sub-branch of the Victorian Returned Services League. I had made a statement prior to receiving this letter in which I said that there had been in the past a neglect of United Kingdom settlers and the President wrote a letter to me on 2nd May in which he stated:
I have received several telephone calls from my Sub-branch members drawing my attention to the report All the callers were most enthusiastic over your comments and your outlook towards migrants, in particular those who came from the United Kingdom. It is like a breath of fresh air!
It came as a shock when we arrived many years ago to find that we would never be treated as other than permanent visitors to Australia.
This impression, I am glad to say, is fast disappearing since you became Minister for Immigration, and for this we thank and congratulate you.
That is the voice of the British migrants, not the members of the Opposition and I am grateful for it because that is my dedication. On behalf of the Government I must say that we have given careful consideration to the matters raised in this amendment but we cannot accept it because we feel that what we have put forward is in the best interests of the nation at this time.
– I want to associate myself very sincerely with the remarks of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) and I hope that even at this late stage the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) may be a little inclined to reconsider his position.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I speak briefly but very strongly in support of the 2 principles in the amendment moved by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). Those 2 principles relate, firstly, to the renunciation of other allegiance by the new citizen, and, secondly, to the inclusion of the name of the Queen in the oath of allegiance which he has to take. I will deal with those 2 points. Firstly, I believe that there is merit in a positive renunciation.
I remember in days gone by that this ceremony was rather different. The new citizen was then called upon to renounce his old allegiance and then to stand stateless for a moment until he was accepted as a citizen. I felt that this was unnecessarily dramatic and might have been an occasion of tension. So we altered it to the one sentence: ‘I, renouncing all other allegiance, do now swear . . . ‘ and so on. The renunciation is important because Australia does not relish this concept of dual citizenship.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) said that renunciation had no legal effect. This may or may not be true because its legal effect may depend upon the laws of other countries which are not made in this Parliament and which could be changed by other countries. No doubt in our negotiations with other countries to remove the concept, and sometimes the burden, of dual citizenship from those who take Australian nationality we will be putting this point and I hope that in the negotiations the Minister, who should have learned a lesson from the tragic events in Yugoslavia, will put this point strongly and it will help him in those negotiations if he can say that Australian citizens have personally renounced. This is important because some people regard their dual nationality as an advantage, and some regard it as a burden. We have to distinguish between them. But how can we distinguish between the individuals unless they have made their act of renunciation? Otherwise their country of origin, whose law we do not make here, could say in regard to any individual: ‘What evidence have you that he meant to renounce?’
I agree with the Minister’s statement that we should be endeavouring to get rid of this burden of dual citizenship for those Australian citizens who do not wish to maintain it, and to include in the form of the ceremony the formal renunciation may strengthen his hand in any negotiations. Again I say to him: Considering what has happened in respect not only of the humiliation that Australian citizens have undergone but also at their death in their countries of origin, anything that strengthens our hand in negotiation is worth having. I hope that the Government will be firm on matters like this in negotiations with Yugoslavia. Let us adopt the suggestion of the honourable member for New England and help the Government do what it should be doing.
My second point concerns whether the Queen’s name should be included in the declaration of allegiance. I know how the new citizens in my own electorate very often treasure the portrait of the Queen which is given to them, and how they are grateful for the fact that as Australians they are included in a Commonwealth of Nations which still has some meaning. I say with some regret that the Government in the few short months that it has been in office seems to be deliberately trying to break down the links between Australia and Great Britain. This is not a question of maintaining Australian nationality. I am a nationalistic Australian in this sense, as I believe are all honourable members on this side of the House. But it may be to Australia’s advantage in the future to maintain these links. In war in 1914 and again in 1939 we put our force behind what was Great Britain’s quarrel, but it was a just quarrel. We have paid. Surely having paid, we do not want to forego a possible repayment. It may sound dramatic but I put it forward as something which is very serious.
In this corner of the globe we could be isolated. We are surrounded by countries with which we hope to be friendly but on whose friendship we cannot entirely rely. It may be in the interests of Australia’s survival not to forgo our own concept of nationality but to maintain the links which will give us defence protection, evidence of which in the eyes of the world may protect us from attack, because these outward signs may give to countries which might have aggressive intentions against us the lively apprehension that we would have powerful friends, powerful kinsmen, to come to our aid. Let me say finally and in a single sentence something very simple. If one has defences one can do without powerful friends; if one has powerful friends one may well be able to do without defences. But one cannot do without both. I do not believe that even in a small matter like this - it is a symbolic matter and perhaps many people would say it is not small - our policy should be directed to the real security of the Australian nation in circumstances which may not be entirely safe or entirely secure. I ask the Minister even at this late stage to consider the merits of the amendment which have been put forward by the honourable member for New England, and either accept it now or give an assurance that in the Senate it will be given some consideration by the Government.
– I too support the amendment because I share the strong feelings, concerning the Queen of Australia and the value of Australian citizenship, of the Deputy Leader of my Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). We are concerned, as the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) was concerned, at the slow erosion of emphasis on our traditional alliances and friends. We are concerned that there are deliberate moves afoot to change the emphasis on our loyalties, to do away with some of the alliances that we have held in the past. We as Australians feel very strongly about giving positive emphasis on all possible public occasions to our traditional loyalties and we are proud to say where they lie. We are concerned at the obvious trend of the new Government’s foreign policy with its emphasis not in our traditional areas but in the communist blocs very close to our shores.
I thank the Minister for his ready reply to my questions and I appreciate the trouble that he went to in finding a reply for me. But prior to the suspension of the sitting he did say that the Yugoslav authorities did not require their citizens to renounce their allegiance when they acquire a new nationality. I wish to quote from the law on Yugoslav citizenship translated from the official gazette of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, No. 38, 23rd September 1964, pages 733- 735. Clause 2 of Article 7 which deals with Yugoslav citizenship by naturalisation states that a person gets this ‘if he has renounced his former citizenship or has a guarantee that this will be possible if he acquires Yugoslav citizenship’. I understood the Minister to say that the Yugoslav people did not require a citizen from any other country who was seeking their nationality to renounce bis former citizenship. I would like the Minister to clear this point up for my own edification. If this translation is incorrect I would like it to be corrected because we will have a great responsibility in the immediate years ahead to be conversant with the policies of other countries and to make sure that when we make statements we are absolutely correct in what we say in each and every one of those statements.
The second point raised by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party dealt with the renunciation of a person’s former nationality. This is very important to members of the
Country Party because we stand for one class of citizen and that is first class. We maintain that a person cannot be a citizen of our country if he has not renounced his allegiance to another country. We appreciate the position of a naturalised Australian citizen who goes to some far-off land. He then is subject to the law of his fatherland because he is a visitor in that country and if anything happens to him he then has to negotiate from a position of weakness because the authorities can say to him: *You are a citizen of our country because even when you took out a form of citizenship in your new country you were not required to renounce your allegiance to us.’ We think that this is a most invidious position for any of our citizens to be placed in and those of us in this place who represent the Country Party have a sincere desire to make sure that each and every one of our citizens, wherever he is placed, has the full advantage and full protection of the laws of this great country.
– I do not wish to delay the Committee at any length on this occasion because I know that the Minister for Immigration wants to get on with the Bill and with other business. I have risen only to confirm some of the comments that have been made by previous speakers on this side of the House. I refer to the comments on the oath of allegiance and the affirmation of allegiance. I think it is a very retrograde step to remove this important feature of allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) has made the position quite clear as far as my Party and, I think, the other Opposition party is concerned. I am not at all happy with the Minister’s reply. I really think that he dodged the issue. He indicated quite a few reasons why this provision should be deleted. I cannot agree with any one of those reasons. Therefore I offer my protest at this stage in relation to this matter.
I support the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) in his appeal to the Minister to reconsider this position. I cannot for the life of me see why we should go to the trouble of deleting something that, even if it is not at all effective so far as authority is concerned, I am quite sure in the minds of the people is a very important issue. Whether this is the first move towards a republic of Australia I am not too sure. I conclude my remarks by saying again that I offer my strongest protest at the removal of that part of the oath of allegiance and the affirmation of allegiance.
– I rise to reply briefly to one rather important matter raised by honourable members because the points they made about the oath of allegiance deserve, I think, to be commented upon. But there is a factor that perhaps the mover of the amendment, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair), has not taken into account and I would draw his attention to it because it is very germane and one of the reasons why we made this change. The honourable member has perhaps overlooked this. If the amendment were accepted in its present form it would have to be changed again because notice has been given that the Sovereign has approved a new formulation of style and titles. I want to give to the House the new style and titles that the Sovereign has approved. The new formulation is, as was mentioned in the House of Repre.sentitives on 1st May: ‘Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth.’ These are the new style and titles which at some stage will come in.
– If you look at the present Bill you will see that the full style and titles are not used. It is customary in swearing allegiance not to use the full style and titles.
– I take the point. But I just draw the honourable member’s attention to the fact that the oath of allegiance and the affirmation of allegiance in this case are in fact in the Schedule of the Bill so they cannot be altered. They are a part of this Bill. It is obligatory on all the people responsible for administering those oaths to follow the formulation which of course in the words of the Opposition’s amendment is: ‘Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second of Australia. Her heirs and successors. . .’.I must say that it is because of such confusions that we have proposed the change. If this amendment were adopted and a Bill brought in - undoubtedly it would receive the unanimous support of the Parliament - I would have to come back in 2 or 3 months time and bring in another amendment to the Bill and we would be just as confused. Really, as the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) said, it was a small matter. Allegiance does not change. I suggest on this occasion, in view of the fact that we have made the changes, that if after the changes have been made to the Royal style and titles the Opposition feels like moving an amendment it should by all means do so. But, quite frankly, at this stage to accept the amendment would be to add to the confusion and would not help the situation which the honourable member for New England has advanced to me tonight. For those reasons we cannot accept the amendment.
That the clause proposed to be omitted (Mr Sinclair’s amendment) stand part of the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Grassby) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3 April (vide page 980), on motion by Mr Uren:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the underlying intent of this Bill which, when all is said and done, is merely a Bill to amend the Act introduced and passed into law by the previous Government for it was that Government, the Liberal-Country Party Government, which first brought the national Government into the field of the development of cities, old and new, and into the field of planning for regional development.
– Do you mean the McMahon Government?
– That is right and we are therefore glad that the present Government has adopted our previous initiative.
– We are glad that the Government adopted our previous initiative. I promise the Minister that we are. I will tell him why. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I am glad that the present Government accepts our contention set out in the second reading speech made at the time the previous Government introduced its Bill. That is why I am glad that this contention has been accepted. It was said:
The consequences of the imbalance caused by the concentration of population and employment around the principal Australian cities with the resulting problems of congestion and pollution are such that action must now be taken. The trend to increasing concentration is already evident to a degree which is causing concern. If no action is taken, the problem will become more acute as our population grows from 13 million to possibly 22 million over the balance of the century. The increasing concentration of population in our great cities will magnify the consequences of increasing population growth. It is the geographical distribution of population and industry rather than total scale which calls for our attention.
Those words which were spoken in this House when the previous Government introduced legislation which is now being amended are still true, and I assure the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), as I said before, that we are very glad that he accepts those words of the previous Government as his own.
– I do not.
– You do not accept what I have just said?
– That surprises me, and I am sure it would surprise the electorate, but we can go into it in greater detail later. Support in general of a Bill does not mean support for each particular proposal in it. We have an objection to one particular proposed amendment. We have a new proposal which is not in the Bill but which we think should be in the Bill and would improve it. We have considerable apprehension at what we believe will be the administrative action taken by the Government after the Bill is passed.
The purpose of the Bill, as set out in the second reading speech, is to change the name and composition of the existing National Urban and Regional Development Authority. At present the Authority consists of a Commissioner, a Deputy Commissioner and an advisory committee of 11 members. It is proposed to change its composition so that there will be a Chairman of the Commission - the Secretary of the Department of Urban and Regional Development - 3 other commissioners and I think, although the Bill does not make it clear and neither does the second reading speech, an associate commissioner not included in the 3 other commissioners to whom
I have referred, plus an advisory committee of
II members. We do not raise any objection to- expanding the personnel of the Commission from 2 to 5 or 6, whatever it may be. Of course, the Department of Urban and Regional Development having been established, it is sensible that the head of the Department should be on the Commission and that the Commission should report to and be responsible to that Department. But we make a suggestion. We think the Bill would be improved by it and we propose later to move, it as an amendment. We believe that on the Commission or the advisory committee there should be at least 2 persons who have a specialised and expert knowledge of environment preservation and of conservation. The 11 members of the advisory committee have already been appointed and they contain not one such person, though one, a professor, is close to it. These were appointments of the previous Government, so I do not in saying this reflect on the Minister. But the number 11 is not sacrosanct. It could be changed to 13 or 14 and the additional members, I suggest, could have a specialised approach. I believe this would have great advantages.
In the planning of new cities it is essential to consider the effect of specific proposals on the environment. If new factories are to be provided attention should be given to ensure that effluent from them does not pollute streams or rivers. It must be ensured that factory chimneys do not pollute the air. This can be done by laying down at the start stringent conditions as to what comes out of the factory chimneys. Full plans must be made for the disposal of industrial waste. The effect on water consumption in a new mini metropolis must be considered, and so must sewage disposal. We must make sure that all sewage is fully treated when a new metropolis is started. Problems of drainage which have a great effect on conservation matters, areas of parkland in relation to areas of building and where an aerodrome should be sited are all matters in which conservationists have a vital interest, and the addition of 2 members with the special qualifications I have mentioned would ensure that this was done from the very beginning of the discussions on the new city. This approach, and occasional interdepartmental consultations with environmentalists as planning was proceeding, would be much better than waiting until plans were well advanced before consulting the Department of Environment and Conservation and those with specialised knowledge. I hope the Minister will seriously consider and accept the amendment to be moved. Perhaps the previous Government should have ensured this, but it -is not too late to ensure it now. I suggest that there are good reasons for doing so.
I now move to a proposal to which we object, and that is to change the name of the Authority. I can see no reason why the National Urban and Regional Development
Authority should be renamed the Cities Commission. Certainly the National Urban and Regional Development Authority will be vastly concerned with improving the quality of life in existing cities and with proper planning of new cities. This was what was always intended by the previous Government. As I read the second reading speech of the Minister, it is what is intended by the new Commission, and these things will obviously be an important part of the concern of the new Commission. But cities are by no means the only concern of the proposed Commission any more than they were the only concern of the Authority.
Properly balanced regional development is of very great importance not only of itself but also because regional development must have an effect on and be intimately bound up with new city development. The concept of the original Act therefore is that we take the national Parliament into a wide field - urban and regional development. The importance of this was recognised by the present Government when it named one of its departments not the Cities Department but the Department of Urban and Regional Development. ‘Cities Department’ would not properly and adequately describe the new deparment which has been established or the duties and responsibilities of the proposed Commission. Unless the Government proposes to pay only lip service to regional development it should not leave out in its description of the Commission the words ‘regional development’. I can see no reason for leaving out that description. No reason has been given. There is a reason why it should be retained, and leaving it out will cause considerable concern to very many people living not in the cities but in other areas of Australia who will see this as an indication by the Government that it is relegating to second or third place the development of new regions. This Commission which is being established is not a new step being taken. It is not a new approach or a new instrument and trying to call it by a new name cannot change this. In order to describe it properly and to remove the apprehensions of those who do hot live in cities, later we will be moving an amendment to object to the change in the designation of this authority.
I move now to another matter about which I express apprehension. Of necessity State governments will need to be partners in many of the actions taken by the Commission and by the Department. It is proposed, quite properly proposed, that the States will have some jurisdiction over new areas to be developed, and there can be no objection to this. Further, once an area is placed under study for development there is a need to prevent rapidly increasing land prices brought about by speculation and by the fact that that area has been selected for study - rapidly increasing land prices which would not have come about if that site had not been selected. I personally do not object to that and the Government is looking to State governments to see that this does not happen. But the Government apparently is also looking to State governments to acquire the land in any area which is finally selected for development. I do most strenuously object to that because the State does not have to acquire land on just terms. It can set any price it likes on the land it is going to acquire and there is no appeal against the level of prices which some State government or some State Minister, perhaps with the agreement of some Federal Minister, sets on land which it wishes to acquire. The Commonwealth does have to pay a just price for any land it acquires and if there is disagreement about this price the matter must be settled by a court. If people are to have their land forcibly taken from them by a government, for the good of the community, for the good of a new development, or for the social good, we believe those people who have their land taken from them should be paid a just price for it and in the event of disagreement the courts should say what that just price is.
– What if they did not pay a just price themselves?
– The honourable member for Kingston interjects: ‘What if they did not pay a just price in the first place?’. There is a difference. The buyer did not have the legal power to demand and acquire, without appeal, land from any other person. If he bought the land from some other person it was as a result of agreement. This situation ls quite different. This is a government moving in saying: ‘You must give us that land. You must provide it to us,’ apparently not being willing to pay a just price for it when the man does not wish to sell his land.
It is not right, fair, just or honourable to acquire people’s land on which they may have been settled for generations, on which they may have put many improvements and on which they have made their life, it is not right, fair, just, or honourable to acquire that land compulsorily unless the market price at the time on which the site ‘ is selected for development is paid for that land, it should be ensured that this is done and the only way to ensure it is for the Commonwealth to be responsible for acquiring that land. If this is not done, if it is left to the proposals which we know are in the minds of the Government now, we can only draw the conclusion that the Government seeks not to pay a just price for land it compulsorily acquires, that the Government agrees with the earlier interjection from the other side of the House that it is rubbish to say it should pay just prices for land it acquires and, in order to evade its legal obligations, the Government is hiding behind State governments’ lack of legal obligations and leaving it to State governments to do its dirty work. This, in particular, is a matter to which we raise very great objections.
There was a White Paper issued by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in London dealing with this particular problem which we have of acquiring land for social good where there must be some subordination of individual rights but not a complete overriding of individual rights. I quote one paragraph from that paper as follows:
The Government are committed to enhancing the quality of everyday life in Britain. In doing so a balance must constantly be struck between the overriding duty of the State to ensure that essential developments are undertaken for the benefit of the whole community and the no less compelling need to protect the interests of those whose personal rights or private property may be injured in the process.
The present intention of the Government is not to protect the interests of those whose personal rights or private property may be injured in the process. If it is argued by the Government that it is concerned with this, it can show that by laying down in legislation that land for these purposes, after a decision has been made, will only be acquired by the Commonwealth Government paying a just price for that land - the price ruling at the time the site was selected for study to see whether it would be a new development.
Other than these criticisms, we have, as I said at the beginning, no underlying objection to the intent of the Bill. Indeed, we could not have because it had its genesis in the previous Government. Its goals were the goals of the previous Government. This is merely a not unreasonable method in most ways to amend the Act which was the instrument of attaining the goals of the previous Government but there are the objections to which I have referred and which I think are of great interest to very many Australians who value their rights and who do not wish to be overridden by an all-powerful government - people who need the protection of courts and who need to be sure that this new Commission will not be concerned only with cities, important as they are, whether they are old or new, but be concerned also with the regional development which is an integral part of the Bill and of the program. It should be in the title of the Bill to show that the new Government is in fact fully carrying out the intentions and approaches of the old Government.
– It was most interesting to hear the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) profess a great interest in the problems of the cities and say that the Commonwealth should interest itself in the problems of the cities. This makes a very interesting contrast to the time when he was the Prime Minister of this country. I remind the right honourable gentleman of a time in 1970 when I asked him, when he was Prime Minister of this country, whether he would take some interest in the problem of land prices in Australian capital cities. He may remember that I suggested at the time that because the acquisition of land by the Crown had succeeded in controlling land prices in the Australian Capital . Territory, it would not be a bad idea if the Commonwealth helped the State governments to do the same thing in their capital cities. I thought that was such an important question that, although it was a question without notice, I gave the right honourable gentleman several hours warning of the question. Notwithstanding that fact, the answer he gave me was to tell me to take it to my Labor State government. That answer was the height of apathy and utter ignorance, lt sounds quite hollow and cynical for the right honourable gentleman now to try to profess that we are following in the footsteps of the previous Government.
The facts are that this Labor Government was given a mandate to do something about the problems of Australian cities - to bring to bear the resources of the Commonwealth Government to help our great urban problems in the capital cities of Australia. The
McMahon Government’s setting up of the predecessor of this arrangement - the National Urban and Regional Development Authority - was only a death bed repentance because that Government realised at the last minute that it had better pay some lip service to something to which the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) have paid unswerving attention in recent years, instead of a lot of criticism, apathy and opposition.
I would like to say something about the right honourable gentleman’s remarks concerning regional development. 1 take it that his proposition is that if we omit the term regional development’ this will make the people in the rural areas very jealous and they will think that the Government does not care about rural areas or regional development. The plain fact of the situation is that this Commission is being set up to control, to look at and to try to do something about the problems of Australian cities. One of the things we will have to do is to build new cities because the problems are very great when the cities become too large. But this does not mean that we are going to ignore completely the whole idea of regional development and decentralisation. The basic objective of the Cities Commission is to look at the problems of the cities. If one is going to argue from the right honourable gentleman’s point of view that we should mention regional development one should follow that argument to its logical conclusion and say that we should rename the Department of Northern Development the Department of Northern and Southern Development, otherwise the people south of the Tropic of Capricorn will become jealous, and that we should rename the Department of Foreign Affairs the Department of Foreign and Internal Affairs otherwise people will think that the Government is interested only in domestic problems. That is the absurd proposition put forward by the right honourable member for Higgins.
He also mentioned land prices when land is being acquired by the Crown. The right honourable gentleman is apparently refuting the policies of Mr Hamer in Victoria and Sir Robert Askin in New South Wales who made an agreement with the Commonwealth Government on Srd October 1972 for land to be acquired by the Crown in the WodongaAlbury area at fixed prices. Where does the right honourable gentleman stand? In spite of what Mr Hamer, Sir Robert Askin and our Prime Minister decided, I believe that there is a fundamental principle here. Surely nobody is entitled to make a profit from the sale of land out of an increase in value that that person does not put into the land himself. In other words, I cannot for the life of me see why any person should make a profit out of an unearned increment in the value of land.
The Government’s policy is very welcome. I pay tribute to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development for the great attention he has given to this subject in recent years. I am sure that under his guidance the Cities Commission will be a great success and will do a great deal for the problems in Australian cities. Of course, urban problems do not just involve physical problems. Everybody knows about the physical problems. I am sure that other honourable members will mention things like the problems of providing roads, sewerage and other services. I am sure everyone would like to say something about problems in the cities such as air pollution, noise, freeways, traffic congestion, accidents and public transport which is inadequate and expensive. We must also bear in mind that there are other social problems associated with cities at which the Cities Commission will have to look as well. I refer to the great social questions of crime, drug taking - I do not mean just the illicit drug market; I mean the immense over-prescription and over-use of prescription drugs - and other associated problems of mental illness that seem to be part and parcel of urban life. These are tremendously important.
I believe it is important to look at the type of cities where people live because I think this in a large way determines people’s behaviour. It determines aberrations of human behaviour. It is useless and futile to say that aberrations of human behaviour are due to human frailties, a propensity for sin or something like that. Surely it is fundamental that people’s behaviour is determined by their social environment - by their domestic and physical environment. I believe that the type of environment in which people live has a very great effect on their communal and individual behaviour. I instance such things as the size of the cities in which they live, the type of social mix in the area in which they live and the density of population. If these can be modified, an improvement in the group and social behaviour of the community that lives in cities can be achieved. This is sometimes called architectural determinism, if I may use that ‘in’ term.
One important task of the Cities Commission will be to examine the question of urban growth centres. This very important matter is very close to home for me. The Noarlunga area in my electorate in South Australia is an area which is ideally suited for assistance from the Commonwealth Government. I believe that it is a most suitable example in South Australia for Commonwealth assistance. Certainly it has the most tangible plan. It should not be long before the development of this growth centre is very well advanced. As part of this plan there will be What is to be called the Noarlunga regional centre, which will be a large complex set aside for educational, recreational, commercial, cultural and governmental - local, State and Commonwealth - purposes. 1 would like to see a lot of Commonwealth involvement in this area. Of course, there is already some involvement at this stage. I am pleased to see that the Bureau of Transport Economics is looking at the transport situation in the Noarlunga area and examining the proposition for providing suitable finance and the best way of improving the line or extending the suburban railway line into the Noarlunga area. I understand that the Bureau is also examining the question of electrification of the service.
I have put certain propositions to the Minister. I know that he will give them very favourable consideration. I would very much like to see the Commonwealth assisting in the carrying out of a survey of the needs of this area - the educational, employment, transport, social and recreational needs. This is something that could be done by using the accumulated expertise that the Commonwealth should be able to acquire at fairly short notice. It will not require a large amount of money. It will be thousands of dollars, not millions. I believe it would be of great benefit to the area and it would be a very interesting policy study for some of the other urban growth centres in Australia. Another area to be looked at is whether the Commonwealth departments could be established in this area. I know that the Postmaster-General’s Department is already looking at the Noarlunga regional centre. I have mentioned this matter to the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde
Cameron) and I think that he may be con? sidering it.
I am not just thinking of branch offices. Perhaps we ought to be looking at decentralising some of the head offices of the Commonwealth Government departments. I know that the Government has in mind that some of the remaining offices that are headquartered in Melbourne will be transferred not to Canberra but to Albury-Wodonga. I think that there is a place for some of them to go elsewhere in Australia. I think I have mentioned to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development - I have certainly mentioned it elsewhere - the possibility of the new headquarters of the National Biological Standards Laboratory being set up in one of these new centres. I could not think of a better place than in my own electorate. Apart from that, I would like the Government to look at the question of providing the headquarters of a lot of these Commonwealth departments outside Canberra because I cannot real y see any merit in having everybody here. Criticism has been made - I think it is sometimes valid - that if the whole bureaucracy is completely centred in Canberra people have very little need to move outside that area and sometimes they may become a little less appreciative of the problems that occur outside Canberra than they otherwise might be.
I have also suggested to the Minister - I hope he will look at the question - that the Government might assist in the acquisition of land for open space and recreational areas It is a bit difficult to develop any theme at great length when one has been allowed only 10 minutes to .speak. I conclude by congratulating the Minister and wishing the establishment of the Cities Commission every success, which I am sure it will have, under his stewardship. I have very much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– The Cities Commission Bill finds its necessity, I am afraid, in the Government’s vanity. The members of the Australian Labor Party seem to assume that they are the only people who have concern for the cities and the needs of those who live in them. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development. (Mr Uren) until now has posed as some latter day John Batman wandering around the countryside and every now and again muttering to himself: This is the site for a city’. It is .unfortunate that, all we have heard from the Minister in this House ls a short 15-minute second reading speech on a somewhat inconsequential Bill. The Minister’s Dpeartment - I say this in all sincerity - is one of the most important departments of the new Government because the problems of the cities are those which are most pressing and need to be resolved. But those problems can only be resolved by tackling them from a proper structural level, lt is of no use trying to bite off more than one can chew and this, I am afraid, is what may be happening to the new Cities Commission which is proposed by this Bill.
In his second reading speech the Minister said that it was important to introduce this Bill to change the name of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority, which was established by the previous Government. I would have thought that if he had wanted to be the father of some new legislation he could have drafted his own legislation completely instead of trying to amend out of all recognition the statute of a previous government. The way in which it was done, of course, makes the legislation read like a pakapu ticket for anyone trying to understand it. But the essentia] feature of the Bill is simply to change the name of the Act and to change some of the names of the personnel involved in the Commission. The Minister in his second reading speech said that it was necessary to change the name of the old authority because there is a shared responsibility under the Act. If one reads the Act it is very difficult to see with whom the responsibility is to be shared. Secondly, he said that the Cities Commission will be the bridge between the Commonwealth and the States. The Authority could well have provided the same bridge. Thirdly, he said that the new structure of the Cities Commission will provide an opportunity for a greater contribution from a wider range of interests. That may well be true. But when one looks at the rest of the Minister’s second reading speech and sees the work load that he will pile on the shoulders of this new Commission, I doubt very much whether the beast will ever be able to get off its knees.
The honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) wants to saddle a few more things on to Ate Cities Commission. He wants the Cities Commission to look at problems such as crime and drug taking in the suburbs. Much as there may be a need for some inquiry into those matters, I would hardly think it appro priate that the Cities Commission was the place to investigate them. 1 think there are 2 separate areas which warrant the attention of the Minister. The first is what to do about improving the suburban and metropolitan environment of the major capital cities. The Government is very keen on emphasising that the majority of people in Australia live in the major capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and that it is there that the problems of urban living are greatest - problems such as a decay in the central city areas and the sprawl of the suburbs which takes them so far out that long journeys to work are involved.
I believe that the Minister in his second reading speech correctly diagnosed some of the problems of urban life, and I agree with his diagnosis. But I suggest that the Cities Commission would have a full time job in looking into the problems of the cities and the suburbs as they exist today. Most of these cities and adjacent local authorities would have their own planning schemes. At this time they are normally only zoning plans because local authorities do not have the finance to call upon to make real contributions in terms of development plans that we would like to see. They lack the funds, for example, to compulsorily purchase land which is necessary for public purposes in these new developments. They lack the finance to put in the public transit systems which are necessary. In very many cases they find it difficult to get the funds to put in the essential services of water, sewerage and electricity. Therefore, there are already in existence planning schemes for most of the areas where I would suggest the Cities Commission could profitably operate. I refer here to the perimeter areas of great metropolitan cities and also in the central city areas that are beginning to be run down. If the Commisson works in cooperation with the local authorities a development plan could be initiated fairly quickly because this very substantial question of money is what has held back local authorities in the past in the development of their plans.
The second feature with which the Cities Commission should be concerned is the creation of new cities because, as I understand the Minister’s policy statement, the purpose of establishing new cities is to take the pressure off the expanding populations in the metropolitan areas. One may doubt whether the proposal for the new cities will, in fact, achieve that result. They will, however, have an important effect on the community by providing a different type of environment where people may go and live and work. I think that this will make a significant social contribution to the development of Australia. However, I suggest that the new cities aspect is one which would involve separate development authorities, and I hope that the Minister in due course will bring forward legislation setting out the terms under which these new towns are to be developed. I hope that he will set up separate corporations to develop each city which is proposed and also provide the financial arrangements for the financing of these new cities, which is very important.
We have heard so far about the only definite growth area that is proposed at present. I refer to the area of Albury-Wodonga. I do not know for what reason or by what method this site was chosen. I think it is probably unfortunate that this was chosen as the first site on which to make a major effort in this field. I think that the development of inland cities in Australia is fraught with great difficulty. I do not say that this cannot be done, but I think that it can be done only if we are prepared to pour masses of money into the development. It may be that an inland city development such as AlburyWodonga will command so much of a drain on Government expenditure that other serious and important projects may be left behind. For example, I would certainly hope that development in the already existing areas - the urban central areas and the suburban areas - would not be starved for funds in order to develop and make sure that AlburyWodonga was a going concern. It does not appear that any real feasibility study was made of the Albury-Wodonga site prior to the announcement by the new Government that this would be its major growth centre. Since that time, of course, studies have been initiated into the siting of this city. But it is almost a study to justify the decision which was already taken to make it viable. We were told in this House only a few days ago that we are to have a university centre at AlburyWodonga. We are told, too, that public servants and departments of the Commonwealth Government will be stationed in AlburyWodonga in order to give some impetus to the development of that new city. This may be all very well, but the original idea of Canberra was to try to collect together in the one city all the government departments so that people having any dealings with the Commonwealth Government could come to
Canberra and do all of their business in the one city. The idea could well be destroyed if Government departments were dispersed in other growth centres of the country. I suggest that it would be extremely inconvenient if a person came to Canberra to see a particular department about some project and found that an allied department or some other department that was concerned with the development of the project was in AlburyWodonga. That person would then have to tear off there to see someone in the department. So, while I suggest that AlburyWodonga can be made feasible provided the Government has the determination to spend the money on it and provided the Australian taxpayers are prepared to tolerate a massive expenditure of the sort proposed in the Bill on the development of Albury-Wodonga, it could be done.
I suggest that the more practical way to tackle the problem of urban growth would be to spend money on improving the existing facilities in the metropolitan areas at present, and also in looking for sites for new corridor cities adjacent to the new metropolitan areas along the coast. By and large, if a new town is sited along the coast, problems are reduced tremendously because most of the rivers flow into the sea at the coast and are available to provide water supplies and also to provide transport facilities to the major capita] and industrial centres. The proposals I have mentioned are 2 different and distinct aspects of the Minister’s responsibility. While he was in Opposition one of his objections to the old authority in his second reading speech on the introduction of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority Bill was on the basis that the proposed authority was a mere investigatory and advisory body.
I suggest that the Minister cannot be serious in suggesting that his new creature, the Cities Commission, is anything other than an advisory body. I have looked through the Bill and have found nothing in the Bill to suggest that the proposed new Commission does anything more than advise the Minister. This function is exactly the same as that of the Authority proposed last year, which he criticised. I do not say that I oppose the Bill completely, but the criticism that I make of the attitude expressed in the Bill is that it appears to be loading an impossible work load on one commission. If the commission is used as the work horse for all objectives of the Government, I think it will be doomed to failure.
I mention another point quickly because 1 want to allow other honourable members also to speak in the debate. I refer to the land price stabilisation scheme on which the Minister is keen. I know that he has not had much success in persuading the Queensland Government to co-operate in that scheme as yet, but I suggest to him that an appropriate time for a price stabilisation scheme to commence from would be the date of declaration of a designated growth area. In his second reading speech the Minister suggested that the fact that the Cities Commission is investigating a particular area does not mean that the Commonwealth Government is committed to spend money on a development project in that area. If this is not the case there seems to be no reason why a land price stabilisation scheme should be introduced. If speculators rush in on the basis of that proposal and buy land at exhorbitant prices and the development subsequently does not take place, it is tough luck for them. I am sure the Minister would not weep tears of sorrow if a speculator did not pull the trick off.
I suggest that it is only from the time when the Cities Commission, the Commonwealth Government and the other appropriate cooperating authorities are committed to development in any new designated area that the land price stabilisation period should commence. I think this will be the point at which the Minister will find co-operation from the States and other authorities. Most people recognise that if there is to be a major expenditure and the development of a new urban complex in a particular area it would be proper for the increase in value arising from that project to accrue to the advantage of the development authority.
There is one other point which I should like to make for the Minister’s consideration, and that is on the question of evolving plans. It has been suggested that the proposed new cities will be planned on lines the same as or similar to Canberra - not in design, but in the type of planning procedure. If we are to have a systematic and comprehensive planning scheme such as operates in Canberra it is important that we make sure that democratic checks and controls are inserted into the system. Public participation in these planning processes is particularly important. After all, the new towns and cities in the expanded areas are meant to serve the needs of people and unless local people are consulted about the way in which existing cities are expanded and the plans developed, untold complications will result. An effective comprehensive planning scheme can be achieved only if the people concerned are taken into confidence.
While I am on this subject, I chide the Minister for his lack of communication to this House about his Department and what it is doing. I asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) earlier in the session in relation to whether he would arrange for Ministers to make statements of policy in the House simultaneous with their release to the Press. The Prime Minister said that he would. Unfortunately the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has been very remiss in telling the House anything about his Department. We have had no statement as to what are his departmental functions. No statement has come from him as to the difference in function between the Cities Commission proposed by this Bill and the Department of Urban and Regional Development. He has made no statement to the House as to bow proposed new towns are to be developed.
– Order! I remind the honourable member that the Bill under discussion is the Cities Commission Bill. He has had considerable latitude throughout the debate. I suggest that he might return to the Bill.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The point that I wish to make is that questions such as the functions of the Cities Commission are very difficult to debate rationally in this House unless we are provided with information as to what the Department concerned is doing and what is the Minister’s policy. We find this information, unfortunately, only by reading newspapers. For example, I stumbled only by chance on a copy of the Victorian ‘Sun’ of 12th April 1973 which stated that the Minister was proposing interest free loan schemes to curb council rate rises. The Minister made no statement in the House about that. I would have thought that that matter was a major point concerning the functioning of the Cities Commission proposed by the Bill which we are now discussing.
Again I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that it is not only on his side of the
House that concern is felt for urban problems; concern is felt also on this side. Unless the Minister is prepared to take us into his confidence a little more and tell us what he is doing we will not be able to help him with what I feel he would regard as valuable suggestions.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I want to keep the record straight. At no time have I ever said that local government would receive interest free loans. The honourable member should not believe everything he reads in the newspapers.
– I am pleased indeed to be able to make a few brief remarks in support of this Bill. It represents the first legislative action to carry out the election promise by the Government to provide Commonwealth funds to improve the quality of life in the deprived sectors of our major cities. One of the roles of the Cities Commission is to study regional areas of cities and to make assessments of proposals for financial support to those areas. My electorate of Gellibrand is in the western part of Melbourne and it would certainly be one of the most deprived areas in the cities of Australia. Along with the western suburbs of Sydney, it would be one of the 2 key deprived areas in the nation. I will quickly give the Parliament some idea of the area around my electorate. The western suburbs of Melbourne contain roughly 330,000 people, most of whom are in the relatively low income bracket. In my area in particular, which is the inner part of the western area of Melbourne, there are mainly wage earners and pensioners. There is a very high proportion of migrants in my area - about 35 per cent of the population was born overseas - and also a high proportion of elderly people. The migrants tend mainly to be unskilled or semi-skilled people and, of course, the elderly people are mainly pensioners. So, generally speaking, it is a low income area.
The terrain of the area is flat and uninteresting. The most interesting part of the area is the Maribyrnong River valley, which gainly is taken up by the Commonwealth Government particularly by the Department of Supply, much of the land being used for industry. The area is deprived of many com munity facilities such as schools, hospitals and so on. However, these aspects will be dealt with by the proposed Schools Commission and the Hospitals and Health Services Commission. More particularly related to this Bill is the fact that the area is deprived of a great number of other community facilities such as roads, libraries, child care centres, recreational centres, social welfare services and all the facilities which are provided by local governments.
Increasingly, the people in the western part of Melbourne are realising just how deprived they are. A number of seminars have been conducted in the last couple of years, nominated as ‘Deprived West’ seminars, in which people have presented papers to demonstrate how deprived the area is compared with the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It has become quite clear that the major reason for this deprivation in regard to local community facilities provided by local government can be traced to two or three factors. Firstly, large areas in the western part of Melbourne simply are non-rateable, because the land is held by the Commonwealth Government or the State Government. In the city of Williamstown, which is solely within my electorate, one-third of the land is non-rateable. In the city of Sunshine, which is partly within my electorate, 24 per cent of the land is nonrateable. This means that the local government must provide facilities such as roads and so on for areas from which they receive no revenue whatever. That is the first problem.
The second problem is that in the lower income areas there is a limit to the amount of rates that can be applied. I give honourable members an example which was mentioned in the ‘National Times’ of 9th April. The article referred to Sydney and mentioned that in 1966 in the more affluent area of Kuring-gai, the value of real estate per head was 86,076. In Fairfield, in Sydney’s western suburbs, the value of real estate was $2,300 per head. The rate in Kuring-gai on improved capital value was 1.29 per cent which raised revenue of $31 a head. In Fairfield, the rate was 1.86 per cent - a much higher rate - which brought in only $19 a head because of the much lower rate of value of real estate a head in that area. The same situation applies to the western suburbs of Melbourne, lt means that there is a limit to how much the local government can raise in the way of rates.
Thirdly, and in my opinion quite importantly, the Commonwealth currently is and has for a long time assisted, albeit indirectly, the higher income areas by allowing rates as a deduction for income tax purposes. The Government has done this by saying: ‘If you pay $100 in rates, you can deduct that from your income for tax purposes’. If a person is paying 50c taxation in $1, as he would be, on average in the more affluent areas, he would save $50 in tax that he otherwise would have had to pay. In effect, his net rate would be $50. In the working class areas the marginal rates of tax are much lower. Let us say that it is only 30c in $1. The margin in this case on an annual rate of $100 means that it costs those people $70 net in rates. This means that the Commonwealth Government indirectly is providing assistance to local government authorities in a way which gives much greater assistance to the higher income areas. This, of course, is the complete opposite of what should happen.
It points to the need for direct Commonwealth assistance to the poorer areas of these major cities to offset this quite inequitable process of aiding the higher income areas through the tax system. Of course, there could be a change in the tax system - I would hope eventually that there would be - but even if that came into being, because of what has happened over a long period there still is a need for the Commonwealth Government to make allocations of funds directly to local government authorities in the less affluent areas.
As I have said, the people in the western suburbs of Melbourne are becoming increasingly aware that they are deprived. This is part of the whole awareness of the environment which is occurring increasingly throughout the community. They have organised themselves into a region which at the moment is loosely known as the Western Region Commission. It is an organisation of 8 municipalities in the western part of Melbourne and that body already has co-ordinated those 8 local government councils into providing a submission to the Commonwealth Government setting out what they see as the needs of the area. This is only a preliminary matter. Of course, there will be a much more detailed investigation of the issue by the proposed Cities Commission before any funds are made available to the area. I rose tonight simply to make the point that the people of western Melbourne are deprived. They have been dprived because of the policies of the previous Government in not making direct assistance available through the tax system. These people are looking forward to the Cities Commission being the body which will enable them to make available much better community service facilties in their part of the world. I support the Bill.
– During the Committee stage of this Bill I wish to move an amendment to change the name of the Cities Commission to the Cities and Regional Development Commission. I believe that the name proposed under this Bill is too narrow and will not reflect what should be the real purpose of the Commission, which is to advise the Government on comprehensive balanced development in Australia. The Cities Commission Bill not only changes the name of the Ntaional Urban and Regional Development Association - or NURDA as it is commonly known - but also reduces its powers and limits its operations.
I think it is significant that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) wants to call it the Cities Commission. In other words, he is saying: ‘To hell with the rest of Australia; let us set up a cities commission instead of NURDA and concentrate on 60 per cent of the people living in the cities of Australia’. This Bill will replace the measure passed last year by the LiberalCountry Party Government which established the statutory authority known as the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. The former Government after considerable research into the needs of comprehensive balanced development in Australia established this authority which was responsible to the Government through the Prime Minister. Its purpose was to investigate, plan and advise the Government on the needs of cities and a balanced program of decentralisation. At the time, it was hailed as the most significant step taken in Australia’s history by an Australian government to work with the States and local government to change the pattern of urban and regional development. Indeed, at the time, I said - and I know that others said itthat the Bill marked an historic landmark in Australia’s future development.
– It was the first time the previous Government acted.
– You have had your say. It had become abundantly clear in this, the most urbanised society in the world, with the growing congestion of traffic and people in our major capital cities and with all the associated social and environmental problems of pollution - air, water and noise - with its depressing effect on the human mentality and, I think, with its influence on the increasing crime rate amongst our young people, that the States needed the co-operation and the involvement of the Australian Government to change this trend of growth. The States with their limited financial resources but with greater resources of trained personnel and closer contact with the people needed, more than anything else, financial assistance. Whilst the Commonwealth Government has gained considerable experience in the field of urban planning as the result of the Canberra experience and the existence of the National Capital Development Commission- - a body unique in Australia - there is nevertheless a great shortage of people in the Commonwealth sphere available to tackle the enormous problems of urban and regional development in accordance with desirable modern standards and needs.
It would be ludicrous to believe or to say that the Commonwealth has greater perception, greater urban experience, a greater pool of public servants with experience and expertise, a wiser approach, more human understanding and more responsibility than have State and local governments. To approach the problem in this way would be a nonsense approach. Local government, with all of its human resources - its town planners, engineers, town and shire clerks - has a greater pool of resources. State government, with primary responsibility in the major capital cities in Australia, has far greater experience and expertise and is closer to the people. However, Slate and local governments have had a great lack of financial resources with which to tackle the problem, lt is therefore essential to join forces with the State and local governments to make maximum use of manpower, expertise and financial resources in a co-ordinated and co-operative sense. I emphasise again that there is the greatest need for co-operation between the 3 arms of government - Commonwealth, State and local - and I believe that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development is endeavouring to achieve this degree of co-operation. If the Commonwealth at any time attempts to ride roughshod over the State governments, or to bypass State governments and go direct to local government or regional councils, serious and unfortunate consequences wilt flow.
It must be remembered that planning and development of new cities is essentially a means of making people happier, healtier and more fulfilled. Planning should not therefore be a source of pride in itself but a means of achieving good and pleasant living conditions For people. We will not achieve our goals unless we have a co-operative response from State and local governments and From the people. Unless the people are involved and understand why a plan has been developed and what the plan will achieve for them, we should not be surprised iF we Fail to obtain their co-operation. Most people are conscious oF the ugly trend in living conditions in the cities. Not many people know how to overcome them. Those of us in public places should recognise that urban and regional redevelopment represents the greatest challenge of our time. As I have said before, any program of decentralisation, regional development, new town development or city redevelopment, call it what you will, can succeed only if the people are ready to accept the need for the program. Therefore, the plans and dreams of the Minister will not come to realisation unless the people - the little people, the people generally - know what it is all about and why the program is necessary and better than plans of the past. If the whole program is thought to be a political stunt or a bureaucratic exercise the people will become suspicious and will not cooperate.
This is essentially why it is important to have a statutory body serving as an advisory body to the Minister and his Department. I see value in having the Secretary of the Department of Urban and Regional Development serving as an associate commissioner so long as he does not dominate the deliberations or considerations of the Authority. Should this be the case the proposed Cities Commission will be only a backstop, an agency For the bureaucracy as such. I am not convinced that the Minister gave proper emphasis to the role of the Secretary of his Department as a member of the Commission when he said in his second reading speech:
The reason for having the Secretary of the Department of Urban and Regional Development on the Commission is to ensure a degree of consistency in political implementation between the Department and the Commission.
Surely the Commission should be acting independently of the Department and, for that matter, of the Government. While it is vital to have close liaison between the 2 bodies it is essential for the Commission as a statutory body to be independent of the Department. I am left questioning whether the Minister desires this objective when he stresses that the Secretary of his Department will ensure a degree of consistency in policy implementation between his Department and the Commission. Any planning authority needs independence in order to operate within the broad policy guidelines of the Government of the day.
This concept of urban and regional development is a great new experiment in Australia. lt involves not only houses, factories, freeways and railroads but also people and their aspirations. It is not a new concept in Europe, the United States of America and Scandinavia but already the implementation of this policy has created new problems needing new and flexible policies. What we require is not consistency between the Commission and the Government but flexibility. We require a sense of independence and freedom for the planners. Flexibility is essential for more reasons than one. It is necessary so that policies may be varied, adjusted and changed in the light of experience gained in the early stages of implementation of the broad policy objectives of the Government. There will be problems in implementation of the policy, great human problems, great physical problems and enormous economic problems. While most agree on the need for a new pattern of regional growth and city development, very few people in this country at this point of time know what problems in totality the Commonwealth, State and local governments will have to face in the implementation of this policy objective. So let us not be too over anxious to ensure a degree of consistency in policy implementation between the Authority or the Commission, and the Department or the Government.
It is imperative that a statutory body be free from political influence and not constrained by bureaucratic pressures. The authority must be apolitical, objective, responsible and flexible. As well it must be able to draw upon the best skills available and to understand the social attitudes, the aspirations of the people, especially the young and the young marrieds who will be involved in new town development and regional development. It will not be the older people who are involved; it will be the young people, the young married people, who will constitute the great majority of the people we hope will live in these new towns. The new cities must be ideal places in which to live. In this regard I believe that the Authority should have avails able to it the widest panels of advisory groups, including trade unions. We have a trade union representative in the advisory committee. The Minister should not smile when I say that - I mean it. Beyond the advisory committee which in itself is a bureaucratic sort of structure we may need to get a wider conspectus of opinion from trade union groups, employers, consumers, retailers, industrialists, educationists, housewives’ groups, youth advisory groups and sporting, cultural and recreational groups. These groups will be involved and must be involved in the concepts of these new cities which will provide homes for people.
I would hate to see thousands of. millions of dollars of taxpayers funds expended on developing a corridor of development between Sydney and Melbourne. I would regard this as simply an elongated urban sprawl. One would hope that the States would be encouraged to name many regional growth centres and many suitable strategic geographic locations so that we would get a broader spread of attention on the problem of comprehensive planned development. I am sure that if the Commonwealth ‘ assured the State governments of sufficient funds they would be prepared to go ahead on a massive scale. An enormous program will have to be implemented if the Government is serious about tackling the need to achieve a greater distribution of population in this, the largest island continent in the world. I doubt whether many people appreciate the magnitude of the task of securing sufficient financial and human resources to achieve the sort of program we envisage.
The Commission - call it what you will - will face an enormous challenge. On present trends Australia’s population will increase by more than 8 million people over the next 28 years. At the present rate of development most of this increase will go to the 2 major capital cities. Should this happen there will be extremely serious economic and social consequences for the people in these already congested areas. Let us assume that it would take a total of 27 years, allowing 5 years preplanning and 22 years for actual construction to build a new town of, say, 300,000 people. Therefore, if an average of one new town or regional growth centre were started in each of those 27 years, by the end of the century there would be only one new town completed and 27 others at varying stages of development and planning. These centres would have populations ranging from nil to 300,000 people. Thus the sum of the populations in the new towns would amount to about 3 million people - 3 million out of an 8 million increase in population. Therefore, to commence only one centre each year means that we would divert from the major capital cities only about 3 million people out of an 8 million increase in population.
That demonstrates the magnitude of the problem that the Minister and Australia face. In order to make a real impact on the problem one or two pilot centres - nominated by the States - in a year is not enough. Every effort must be made to assist decentralisation in all our country centres where there is an inherent growth potential. There must be a comprehensive program in conjunction with the States. The term ‘Cities Commission’ does not imply this intention. If the Government is sincere let it translate its intentions in the terms and title of this Bill.
As I said earlier, in the Committee stages the Minister will be given the opportunity to show the sincerity of his Government’s intentions as to whether it is going to give proper consideration to development away from the 2 great metropolitan cities, Sydney and Melbourne. lt would appear from the Minister’s second reading speech that although the Cities Commission still regards regional development as an important Government policy there will be greater emphasis on the establishment of new cities on the fringes of the existing cities. Secondly, it would appear that the Minister will seek close co-operation with the States. If he does so 1 will commend him because the program will break down if this does not occur. Thirdly, I urge him to respect the independence of the Cities Commission and not to use it as a political tool of his Party or of the Government. In any successful program of redevelopment of our cities it is essential for the Australian Government in association with the States to ensure that the program is comprehensive in character. In New South Wales, for instance, it is essential in tackling the congestion problem in Sydney not to overlook the possibility of developing a number of new regional centres 300 miles or more away from the city itself. Apart from the amendment that 1 intend to move at the Committee stage I da support the Bill in principle and I hope that the observations in my contribution to this debate which I have made in complete sincerity will be taken by the Minister in the right spirit.
– No piece of legislation so far presented to this Parliament is of more significance than this one to my electorate. The issues that this legislation is directly related to will determine more than any others the quality of life for the overwhelming majority of Australians in our urban areas. And it is to the urban areas and regions that this Government is so concerned to give a new focus in the various planning structures, financial arrangements and areas o( policy-making. The greatest work of man is the building of cities. To build is to plan. Each of the 4 major urban functions - housing, work, transport and recreation - are capable of being planned, but in Australia their individual patterns, relationships and interrelationships have hitherto been determined primarily by the market and by the accidents of history. The political institutions of our country may be classed among the accidents of history, for even when we have deliberately set up institutions as a deliberate exercise, and particularly in the case of the Commonwealth Constitution, we have seen that they cannot and have not been able to cope with urban planning. A social scientist, Sir Geoffrey Vickers, recently warned:
Two doubts seem to shadow the future working of our political institutions. One concerns the institutions needed to make any policy appropriate in scale to the needs of our situation; the other concerns the institutions needed to implement any such policy. Both stem from the increasing complexity of our situation, the increasing speed and unpredictability of its changes and the increasing time-lag needed to make any effective response. Both are enhanced, as well as relieved, by the increasing refinement of the tools which we are evolving to meet our needs. These seem to be blurring the division of function traditionally drawn between policy-making and planning by magnifying functions which fall between the two.
Although he was referring to the British example and although we have an even more complex political situation, what he said is true and what the Government is setting out to do is to tackle policy at the right scale and to provide a means of implementation. Planning must reflect social aims. In the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, given no determined desire to plan for the whole south-east of
Australia, one can expect that they will have to add 5 or 6 million people to their total population by the year 2000. Albury-Wodonga and other urbanisation may syphon off one million people by the year 2000 in much the same way as Canberra is now syphoning off some of the growth of Sydney and Melbourne. Even so, most of those 5 or 6 million people will have to be fitted in or around the existing city frameworks which will continue through this period.
One can define at least 4 kinds of urban growth patterns which will have to be dealt with by the 3 tiers of government in Australia apart from the marginal work that can be done in urban rehabilitation. The 4 patterns are: new towns in town; new towns; old towns expanded; and possibly paired towns. The electorate of Macarthur encompasses the Campbelltown-Camden section of the southwest corridor as defined by the New South Wales State Planning Authority’s Sydney Regional Outline Plan. It is claimed that it is the largest new city project in both size and time scale ever undertaken anywhere. The electorate also includes the southern extension of the Wollongong-Port Kembla city area in suburbs such as Dapto, Albion Park and Shellharbour where accelerated urban development is now taking place. The present population of the Campbelltown-Camden area exceeds 33,000 and a population increase of 470,000 is proposed for the year 2000. The phasing of this growth hopes to achieve a population of 185,000 by 1980- but I doubt that this will be achieved by that time, 370,000 by 1990 and nearly half a million by the end of the planning period.
Some idea of the magnitude of this growth can be stressed by looking at the demand for just one item - education. Thirty-six per cent ; of the population in the Campbelltown city 1 area are under 14 years of age. By 1980, if projections hold, there will be an additional requirement for 56 primary schools, 23 secondary schools and at least 1,300 places for students at the tertiary level. A great deal of planning has been done in the Campbelltown area and this goes back to the days of the County of Cumberland. State and local government are combining well to plan in co-ordination the suburb of Macquarie Fields and Commonwealth assistance is essential for such areas in the future. What this Bill is about is the setting up of a structure that will help. ‘
We should all be clear on the implications of this Bill. The Cities Commission does not just represent a restructuring of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. NURDA was replaced and boosted by the Government in December 1972 when the Department of Urban and Regional Development was created. The existing structure of NURDA is being transformed by its creation into a commission that will work closely with the Department in the manner decribed by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development in his second-reading speech. NURDA no longer exists in isolation. The Cities Commission will exist in close harmony with the Department of Urban and Regional Development. The functions of the Commission will be to conduct studies of regions, play a key role in the establishment of new cities, act as the major consultant to the Department in physical planning exercises with respect to old and new cities, to provide a fund of consultants and to liaise with other levels of government.
I have spoken of the magnitude of the problem we are faced with and the need for planning structures to be set up at an adequate level. In the Government’s view the former NURDA was not adequate for the task that the nation faces. If a regional approach for Australia is properly defined it is likely that the National Capital Development Commission, given its manifest success, could be regarded as a regional planning authority that could cope with many of the range of planning problems before us. Canberra is a new town and most of our planning will be in the context of new towns or old towns expanded. The skills built up in the NCDC will be one of the greatest resources available to the Cities Commission. The Cities Commission will be able to commission NCDC to carry out projects and a’.so and most importantly, to build bridges and co-operate with State and local planning authorities, of which. the New South Wales State Planning Authority is a major body and has considerable expertise. Co-operation and coordination is the name of the game. I am encouraged by comments of prominent people at a recent builders conference. They said, and we all know, that the State governments desire this help from the Federal Government. They said that, by definition, if we are faced with this population expansion by the year 2,000 the resources will be available. The previous NURDA was entirely limited by the fact of Treasury dominance and an overdelayed birth. It was only an advising group and the studies commissioned may well have been wasted unless there was a government prepared to act in urban affairs. We are not simply changing the name. The Cities Commission is now a body linked to a department which will be a strong department. Although the studies carried out by the previous NURDA are still under wraps, they were conceived as excessively physical, that is, for example, engineering feasibility studies.
Some comments have been made on the respective roles of the Department of Urban and Regional Development and the Cities Commission. It is important that there be discussions by qualified people.- It is more important that there be discussions by the many people and bodies concerned for some time with planning as an art and that now we have a government committed to planning, for discussion to centre on the priorities with respect to the forms of planning. What the Government intends in the relationship between the Department and the Commission is quite novel for Australian planning practice. We do not propose that the most sustained work will necessarily be done by the Department but that the Commission will essentially concentrate its expertise on the physical aspects of planning. The desirable social, economic and political goals will be placed where they should be - with the people, their representatives, the Ministry and the Parliament. The Department will be the overall policy maker. It will present to Government a range of alternatives and costs and above all the necessary co-ordination. It will state the rules by which the game should be played, so that the goal will be achieved.
The past practice has been for too much planning in Australia to be concentrated in physical planning terms, such as land use or engineering surveys. This has resulted in planning authorities which have neither bad authority or been able to implement their plans. There has been no real power. The interface between planners and people has not been humane and the only sublimation has been frustration. That the Commission will prevent frustration and that the relationship of the Commission to the Department will be a living one is at the core of and is the strength of this Bill.
The Commission will be created as a specialist body with the Department emerging as a planning authority with broader bases of interest in planning than anything previously created in Australia. Many people are saying that we are acting too fast in too many areas. The simple fact with respect to urban planning and the problems of the cities on which the Government concentrated in the recent election campaign, is that there is great urgency. The pressure for action in my electorate is immense. Australia has been the most urbanised new nation since 1890. The United States of America and Canada, for example, did not catch up until well into the 1920s and later. The urgency for action’ is compounded by the neglect of past governments and the problems of State governments in mobilising adequate finance and resources. As it takes 41 to 5 years to produce a block of residential land in the Australian Capital Territory, where there is a proper planning body, it is very apparent that immediate action must be taken in the fringes of existing city areas,’ particularly Sydney and Melbourne. 1 now wish to relate what I have said more specifically to the Campbelltown-Camden area and in general to the south-west corridor of Sydney. It is a natural region in terms of any definition for approach to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. A master plan has been completed and awaits implementation. The decision by the Commonwealth to re-examine land availability in the Menai-Holsworthy area caused some delay in the New South Wales State Planning Authority releasing its strategic plan for the development of the area overall. The National Capital Development Committee acted as an agency of the Department of Urban and Regional Development to look at the corridor and to suggest ways in which the Commonwealth could most rapidly assist. The implications of an East Hills to Glenfield rail link also complicate the picture. Holsworthy is seen as a crash program to help ease the acute backlog in low cost housing in the metropolitan area. I have little doubt that the report of the National Capital Development Committee which was prepared in close consultation with the State Planning Authority will come up with the same sort of planning conclusions - an enormous amount of work has already been done - and that it will also concur in respect of the phasing of growth.
I would assume that the Commonwealth has now been presented with a series of recommendations involving a range of costs and that, given the priorities being set by the Department, except in the one set for coordination, will be able to proceed. However, I doubt that there is any way that Commonwealth land will be able to be released quickly, given the development time required, even on land which it owns and which can be developed quicker, lt is essential that work proceed on plans already set out in the considered hope that aspects of overall coordination can rapidly catch up.
It has been lack of co-ordination and direction in Government spending which has been the main limit on private development in the Campbelltown area. The Lend Lease Corporation is developing the largest private estate in Australia in that area and the economic limits to its operations have been set in demand terms by the state of the market, that is, the amount that people can afford, and in supply terms particularly by the rate at which the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board can supply water and sewerage, particularly sewerage. One of the priorities of this Government is to see that loan funds at better rates of interest will be made available to semi-government authorities, such as the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. The Lend Lease Corporation cannot develop land faster than the constraints placed upon it. It needs to have a supply of land to program its activities but too often delays in the release of land - cause it to accrue speculative profits which it does not wish to set out to make. Although I consider land for lease is a desirable means of placing land within the reach of many, it is essential that those able to afford to buy developed land at cost should be allowed to do so.
Planning itself will bring down costs once services can be phased in. Sound planning can operate under either the leasehold or the freehold system, or a combination of both, provided that there is a strong planning organisation. It seems to me that the best way to handle the development of an area such as the south-west corridor of Sydney is by a development corporation which is present on the site. Spade work and social priorities set by the relevant Commonwealth, State and local government authorities will concentrate on the factors of physical planning, finance, politics and management. I consider only a development corporation can handle all those factors once the real work has to be done. The corporation may consist of any number of people but must be headed by a very’ competent person or a small group.
It seems logical to me in the case of Campbelltown and Camden - which is, in American terms, either a free new town or possibly an old town expanded - that there be representatives of local government, business, unions and academics on the corporation in a board role with a manager heading the board, with a staff composed of personnel from the various State and local agencies. I cannot stress too strongly the role of management. Co-operation at all levels of government is essential and is constantly being stressed by this Government. There is an enormous need for co-operation between the relative departments, the Department of Urban and Regional Development and the Department of Transport. Urban transport is one. of the key factors in the development of the CampbelltownCamden area. State and local government authorities have been calling for assistance. Assistance is being offered, but first we must set up the structures which can rationally co-operate with them.
The reason why I am of the opinion that there is a need for a strong manager or team for each development corporation is that it has been demonstrated in the United States and the United Kingdom that success depends ultimately on jobs. The more rapidly a project becomes economically viable the more rapidly social institutions can be set up with respect to the detailed planning. Such social institutions must set out to avoid mistakes of other large housing projects and must include very basic human amenities such as corner shops, shopping centres, transport nodes and child care centres open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to care for the children of working mothers. In May 1969 there were 413,900 families in Australia with children under 12 without a parent during working hours. There is also need for special facilities for handicapped children. There is a great need for social workers in the towns and cities themselves. Industries must be attracted to the Campbelltown area and better commuter facilities must be provided. A local manager of a development corporation would be better able to promote industrialisation.
On the commuter problem, I am yet to be convinced that the New South Wales Railways cannot provide an inter-urban rail service direct to Sydney. The Southern Aurora and other expresses are programmed direct through the metropolitan rail network and it would seem a reasonable proposition that a train servicing Campbelltown could follow or precede one of these express trains in the morning or evening. An immediate measure that can be taken, should be taken and possibly will be recommended to the Government is that telephone charges in the Campbelltown area be levied at Sydney rates. It is essential that they be made at Sydney rates. But there is another way out of the problem. This measure could best be carried out by a specific subsidy to the corporation for telephone subscribers and industries in the corridor. There are many other immediate measures which can be implemented and which have been planned. These include work to start on a technical college, a university - perhaps an open university - a hospital and through town by-passes. Land has been acquired and planning has been made for the Oxley Street by-pass.
Although I have spoken mainly on my electorate, I want to conclude on a general note with respect to urban and regional planning. Many of us would like to marry 12 pretty girls but most of us can handle only one woman. We must concentrate resources on a few cities or regions or nothing will be achieved. I support the Bill with all my heart.
– I rise late at night to speak on this Bill. As we are all aware, not much has been changed in this Bill from the legislation which existed when the previous Government set up the National Urban and Regional Development Authority in 1972, but there are a couple of important changes. The Opposition has foreshadowed an amendment which I fully support. I sincerely hope that in fairness the Government takes note of the points that have been raised by the Opposition in its foreshadowed amendments and during the debate. I may have an opportunity to say something about the amendment later at the Committee stage.
I find that the hardest part to understand about this new legislation is why the Government has gone to the extent of changing the name of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority to the Cities Commission. When the National Urban and Regional Authority Act was introduced - I will be the first to concede that it was introduced fairly late last year - there was a feeling among people in many sparsely populated areas, such as the area I represent, that at last the penny had dropped and that we were in fact to see a real endeavour being made to bring about regional development and true decentralisation. I do not argue against national development or the development of cities, but I would like to see this development incorporated with true regional development.
I feel that dropping the words ‘regional development’ from the name of the authority is only symbolic of what this present Labor Government is about. I think that perhaps it has lost sight of the fact that there are areas other than big cities. I know that the Act introduced by the previous Government dealt with big cities. It did not matter where they were. It could have been Albury-Wodonga. But my people hopefully believed that smaller areas such as Bunbury and Albany, towns of 15,000 and 20,000 people, would come under the scrutiny of the Federal Government and be considered for some type of development. There is a great big world outside the cities, and I know all honourable members are aware of that. But I would venture to say that although many people are living in the industrialised towns and big cities the rural areas are still the wealth producing areas of Australia and we depend on the continued prosperity of these areas. Today it may not matter so much whether the farmers are doing so well because of a degree of prosperity in the rural areas. We should look at rural areas from the point of view of educational, sporting and cultural facilities - in fact the growth of the whole range of amenities and facilities that others enjoy. These areas have to be considered. I feel that this Government has shown its colours in changing the name of the former authority because it did not want the name to be confused with that of a successful authority introduced by the previous Government. In changing the name of the former authority to the Cities Commission the Government has shown that it is not vitally interested in the rural areas.
For a moment I will refer to the farming situation and how it affects everyone who lives in rural areas. The present Government seems to lack comprehension of what is going on within these areas. We have just seen a new Wool Industry Bill presented. One could almost say that it is fair enough because this year the wool industry is going through a period of prosperity. The levy imposed on wool growers has gone from 1.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent. The increased worth of the Australian wool clip makes the wool growers contribution far in excess of any past contribution. Of course, this makes a tremendous amount of difference. 1 think it is fair enough. The wool industry today can afford it but what of the contribution made by this industry to the Prosperity of the nation. Look at the compensation that was paid to rural industries following revaluation of our currency in December.
– The Government did not pay us anything, though.
– It worked out that way, particularly in the fruit industry, which is an industry on the border line of meeting Its costs. The Wool Industry Bill was introduced, as far as I know, without any consultation with the wool industry. Some weeks ago the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt), when he was in Paris, made a statement which affected the structure of the wheat industry. My worry is that somewhere along the line the Government has forgotten where the wealth producing areas of Australia are. I asked the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) a question on 13th March 1973. My State - Western Australia - exports far more than it imports. Perhaps one could say, as people do in Western Australia, that we carry the eastern States. I asked the Prime Minister:
Did the Prime Minister receive a request from the Labor Premier of Western Australia 3 weeks ago. . . .
The main point of my question was about revaluation. My question continued:
Did the Prime Minister see a report of a statement by the Western Australian Premier last Saturday that he has been unable even te get a reply to his request? Finally, do his Government’s policies in favour of the big cities mean that the welfare of the small States which export much more than they import is to be sacrificed in favour of the most populous States?
The Prime Minister said that he had received a letter from the Western Australian Premier, but his reply concluded:
The Australian Government is interested in people, wherever they live. In the honourable gentleman’s State a larger percentage of people live in the capital city than is the case in any other State. For the first time there is now aa Australian Government which is actively helping the Western Australian Government meet the demands of the population of its capital city.
That had nothing to do with the vast area of Western Australia that extends from Darwin to Esperance and takes in a third of the continent. A lot of people live outside of the city. There are many large and small towns but there is only one city in Western Australia and it probably would not even qualify as a major city by eastern States standards. There happens to be a whole heap of regional towns of between 15,000 and 20,000 people who are looking to this Government to fulfil the promise that it will do something about regional development. I believe that most of the things have been said that should have been said in this debate. However, I wanted to try to explain very briefly to the Government that the wealth producing areas of the nation are looking for leadership in true decentralisation not for the promotion of new large cities. I hope that the Government will consider the regional development that was proposed in the earlier legislation rather than concentrate on cities.
– I am grateful for the opportunity to speak briefly before this debate is guillotined. I emphasise the point which the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) was making so strongly a moment ago. I believe his point needs to be repeated. This Government has, by its statements and by its actions, shown itself to be a government that is interested only in the citizens of Melbourne and Sydney. The change of name in this legislation underlines that fact.
Queensland Creche and Kindergarten Association - The Parliament - Parliamentary Delegation to Malawi - Prosecution of Religious Group in Malawi - China
-Order! It being 15 minutes past 10 o’clock p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 1st March I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– The change in pattern in pre-school education in Queensland will mean a changing role for the Creche and Kindergarten Association. With the promise of pre-school education for every child aged over 4 years, one of the Association’s long sought after goals has been achieved. However, much still remains to be done. The Creche and Kindergarten Association, I am sure, will meet the challenge of the future, as it has met challenges in the past. As there is a changing emphasis, however, to the 3 and 4-year-olds its aim will continue to be to ensure that pre-school education to higher standards is available to all children in the wider age group of 3 to 5 years and, in addition, to be a leader in the field in Queensland in the area of full-day child care.
Let us call to mind the beginnings of this worth while organisation, to pay a tribute to those excellent people who have, over the years, laboured in the interests of the young children. In 1907, the Reverend Loyal Wirt, a Congregational minister from America, formed this Association realising the growing need for this type of facility due to the number of working parents. In March of that same year a group of women met to establish the then Brisbane Creche and kindergarten Association which, over the years, has grown to its present size. As with any organisation of this size there are always staffing problems, especially in rural areas where there is an accommodation problem for the teachers.
The enrolment at the Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers Training College over the last 10 years has risen from 52 to 231. This is a substantial increase but still not nearly enough to cope with the demand growth during the same period of time. Although pre-school teaching is fast becoming one of the major areas of teaching, this does not seem to be bringing about a marked increase in the number of enrolments at the College. There is a shortage of kindergarten teachers and, as stated, the supply of trained kindergarten teachers due to the demand is not sufficient. Besides staffing, finance is one of the most troublesome burdens for the kindergartens. A community kindergarten must raise in the vicinity of $6,000 per year where it has a building loan commitment, which usually means that fees are somewhere in the vicinity of $1 per full day of 5i hours or, in the case of half-day sessions of 3 hours, the average fees per session would probably be 70c. When a kindergarten is to be built the building plan must first be approved by the State Department of Education, the Creche and Kindergarten Association and the local authority. They are very good buildings. Once this is done, the Queensland Education Department will match grants of up to $2,000 by the local council. Problems arise because some local authorities cannot contribute up to the maximum. If this grant is made for equipment, that equipment must be approved by the Creche and Kindergarten Association for the Department of Education. This grant is paid only once to assist new centres to reach affiliation standards. Kindergartens, once affiliated with the Creche and Kindergarten Association, do not receive this grant.
In a country area, application for the grant must be made to the local council and to the Education Department. In April each year the Creche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland must furnish the Government with the number of kindergartens requiring grants in the following financial year. This grant from the State Government is $1,250 per annum to aid kindergartens in reaching affiliation standards. The grant is paid each year to government grant kindergartens which are approaching standards in construction, building, equipment, staff qualifications and programs. The staff qualifications for a government grant centre are infant teacher, English nursery nurse (NEEB) and triple certificate nurse. For. continuation of this grant applications must be made each year by 31st March. Failure to apply by this date could result in the discontinuation of the grant.
It should be realised that each kindergarten must have a trained teacher and that the minimum salary paid to a teacher must be equal to that paid to a 3-year trained State teacher in her first year. A commencing salary for a teacher is $4,498 per annum, rising in 2 increments to $4,698. The Creche and Kindergarten Association believes - and I support that belief - that community kindergartens should be provided with a grant equivalent to the cost of teaching staff salaries. Although the above grant approaches these amounts it is not equal to the cost of providing trained teachers. This would have the effect of relieving the community of the teacher proportion of fees, thus helping to bring to all sections of the community free pre-school education, so that it would be available not only for the rich or the lucky but also for the children of the basic wage earner. The Country Party is naturally interested in the workers. Its actions prove this.
More specifically, I submit and ask on behalf of the Creche and Kindergarten Association for Federal Government help in providing, by means of a grant, the cost of a director’s salary. Pre-school education is an important level of education. Psychologists infer that a child’s basic motivation and disposition are formed at that time. This is the age when a child’s character is formed and his ideals moulded. This level of education has not received and is not receiving a sufficient share of the national and State revenue. I fully support the aims and efforts of the Creche and Kindergarten Association and its affiliated kindergartens, i congratulate them on the energy and initiative they have displayed over the years. However, the Association will not consider the use of the term free’ pre-school education as it believes that some parent commitment encourages enthusiastic involvement. I experienced this recently upon the opening of the Nalkari kindergarten in Toowoomba which as a result of parent involvement, was established and opened within a period of some 6 weeks.
In Queensland the training of kindergarten teachers takes place at the Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers Training College which is administered by the Creche and Kindergarten Association. The position of students at the college has been greatly improved by the granting by the Commonwealth Government of adequate scholarships to all students currently in attendance at kindergarten teachers colleges. However, to meet the demands for more and more teachers from all over the State, the Creche and Kindergarten Association recently built a demonstration kindergarten at the training college in Brisbane, purchased additional land and installed closed circuit television. The Association is bearing all the costs, i make an earnest plea to the Commonwealth Government as the keeper of the public purse to make a grant available to liquidate the outstanding portion of that debt. At the present time subsidies are received from the State Government through the Department of Education. The remaining finance for the college is provided from fees together with an amount allocated by the Creche and Kindergarten Association from its annual grant from the State Government. At the beginning of the current year the Association lodged a submission with the Commonwealth Committee on Teacher Education regarding finance for the college, both for operations and for capital.
I submit that this is a very important matter. We place great emphasis on primary, secondary and tertiary education. In the past the matter of pre-school education has not received the support from governments and from the community that it deserves. We should aim to make kindergartens available to all sections of the community. We should encourage the involvement of local committees. I am proud of the residents of the Darling Downs for their tremendous personal involvement in such worthwhile community projects as kindergartens and associated activities over the years. I can only hope that the Federal Government will give cognisance and recognition to the requests I have made for subsidies for the Creche and Kindergarten Association in Queensland so that it can distribute these amounts to affiliated and other kindergartens and particularly to allow it to carry on the training of kindergarten teachers at its college in Brisbane, which training is straining the Association’s resources but which training is absolutely necessary.
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– First and foremost, Mr Speaker, I want to protest at the difficulty Government back benchers have in getting an opportunity io speak in this Parliament. I rose today on at least 6 occasions. I have had the greatest respect and admiration for you, Mr Speaker, and I will continue to try to hold it, but 1 was told after the debate on the controversial abortion question that 1 had no chance of getting the call because ‘James might rock the boat’. If thai is the situation in this Parliament, my retiring nature has been strained so far that it will not be prepared to put up with the situation any longer. I was told this evening by you. Mr Speaker, that I would be the first speaker on the adjournment debate.
– No, you were not.
– I will not waste any more time because there is an important issue that I want to raise, but 1 will not be suppressed any longer. I want to stress in this Parliament tonight a matter which I believe will be of deep interest to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). I am glad that he is in the House. Last year he led a successful delegation of members of this Parliament to Malawi to attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference. I wish to raise the matter of religious persecution which unfortunately is occurring at the moment in Malawi, a fellow Commonwealth country which to all intents and purposes was the perfect host to all delegates from the Commonwealth last year. Those people being persecuted for their beliefs are the 23,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses who used to live peacefully and worship there. Briefly, their persecution arises from their religious beliefs which prevent them from any political involvement wherever they live. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught to respect and observe the law of the country in which they reside as long as those laws are not contrary to their divine law.
In Malawi the Government places strong pressure on people to purchase political membership cards. I heard rumours of this whilst I was in Malawi but most people were afraid to speak about it. The Jehovah’s Witnesses conscientiously feel that that is contrary to the words found in the Bible in the Book of John, chapter 17, verse 16, which states: They are no part of this world, just as I am no part of the world’. Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses on a national scale in Malawi began in 1967. Many witnesses were then beaten, some were murdered, and their homes and places of worship were looted and destroyed.
– I believe that the honourable member is sincere in his interjection. I will insist that he take the matter further and write to the appropriate body. I have no doubt he will do that.
– I certainly will.
– Thank you. The Christian activity of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, including, the peaceful meeting to study the Bible, was banned, as was all their literature. The persecution against the Jehovah’s Witnesses has even been put into the official Congress Party’s policy. As formulated in December 1972 the Party platform said that certain fanatical’ religious sects which operate like the banned Jehovah’s Witnesses hampered both the social and the economic development of the country. It went on to order the instant dismissal of any sect member, the closing of any business operated by a member, dismissal from the Government service and discouragement of members forming a business activity and it ordered that members living in villages should be chased away from them
Last year, in 1972, two or three months before the Australian delegation arrived in Malawi for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, another wave of persecution broke out, and is still continuing on a much worse scale than in 1967. The ‘British Financial Times’, last October said:
The purge of Jehovah’s Witnesses has unsettled the country more than any other post-independence event. Action against the Christian Sectarians followed a resolution passed at the Annual Convention of the
Malawi Congress Party to deprive Witnesses of their livelihood and have them ‘chased away’ from their villages unless they joined the Party.
After the savage attacks on their homes and places of worship, and the physical violence against them, many Jehovah’s Witnesses fled the country and sought refuge in neighbouring Zambia. Here 19,000 refugees were placed in a refugee camp near the border of the 2 countries. The Zambian authorities did not want to deal with these unwanted visitors and the Jehovah’s Witnesses refugees were placed under security guards and only a few shipments of much needed food, medical supplies, bedding and so on, were allowed in. Due to this inhumane treatment it was estimated that about 350 Jehovah’s Witnesses died. But worse was to come for the remaining Jehovah’s Witness refugees.
Zambia authorities told the Witnesses in December, only a few months later, that they had decided to ship the refugees back to Malawi. They did not tell the refugees this but they were told they would be taken to another camp in Zambia. Well, honourable members can guess what happened when the Jehovah’s Witness refugees were sent back to the country from which they had recently fled. The Government’s attitude towards them had not changed and the persecution was even worse when the refugees returned. Their leading Jehovah’s Witnesses were put into jail straight away. The Malawi officials repeated their order to the Witnesses to buy the political party membership cards back in their villages. The Witnesses again refused to buy the cards and were savagely beaten for their pains. Women were stripped, beaten and often raped. For the foul gruesome details honourable members can refer to 2 copies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses publication ‘Awake’ for 8th December 1972 and April of this year. The Witnesses again had to flee their villages and hide in the bush to avoid torture and possible death.
The situation was not much better for the Jehovah’s Witnesses who fled to nearby Mozambique. But at least they were allowed to stay in a confined area and allowed to clear land and plant crops. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been persecuted in many countries for their beliefs. In Spain they are under constant attack for their conscientious belief against serving in military forces, and in other countries their faith has been seen as disruptive to national unity. The Jehovah’s
Witnesses ask - so should we - that the Malawi Government grant them the provisions set forth in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi. That document, in it’s first chapter states:
These rights have been ignored for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Malawi. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are citizens of Malawi and should not be persecuted for their religious beliefs. I hope other honourable members will support my call for religious freedom in Malawi. I have at least one strong supporter who does not hide the fact that he is a Roman Catholic and who will strongly support me in this protest against the persecution of these people in a Commonwealth nation. I hope that our delegates to the next Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference will make this an issue. After all, we have taken economic sanctions against Rhodesia and South Africa for what 1 believe is something less serious than the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is going on today in Malawi which is a Commonwealth country.
– First of all 1 would like to rectify-
– 1 know that you will. You are a man of your word.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will cease interjecting. I would like to rectify a misunderstanding. It is said that today when the honourable member for Hunter wrote his name on the list of honourable members who wished to speak in the adjournment debate I said to him that his was the first name on the list. But, of course, it has always been protocol for a member of the Opposition to lead off in the adjournment debate as is the practice at question time. I can assure the honourable member that 1 did not tell him that he would be the first speaker. If I did, it was a complete misunderstanding. Without going into the details of the debate that took place today on the Medical Practice Clarification Bill I pointed out that about 20 honourable members on each side would have liked to have spoken.
– Only we were gagged.
– That is not the point.
– I was told I had no chance, Mr Speaker.
-Order! I did not tell you that. I think all honourable members will agree that I gave every possible avenue of thought to this and a fair hearing to honourable members. The right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) a former Prime Minister
– They have preference over back benchers?
– No, they did not get the call. That is what 1 am trying to point out.
– I was glad to hear the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) raise the question of religious persecution because very serious religious persecution is occurring in the world. Now that an Australian delegation has gone to Communist China perhaps we could ask the members of that delegation to look at what happened in Tibet where religious persecution was accompanied by wholesale genocide, where the Dalai Lama, the religious leader of the country, is in exile and where that country is still being closed by its Chinese overlords to any visit by observers from democratic nations. I hope that the fine sentiments expressed by the honourable member in regard to an African country will find more coherent and cogent expression in regard to Communist China. Now that an Australian delegation is to visit that country, surely we can ask members of the delegation - 1 am sure that the honourable member for Hunter will be writing to his friends in that delegation; the air mail is available to him - to make inquiries about religious persecution in Communist China and particularly religious persecution of the Tibetan people.
I would like to raise a matter which deals with the same kind of subject; although it is more on the economics side it is more related to Australia. 1 see in today’s Press that the Chinese communists are putting up the prices of their exports. In a way this is perhaps a good thing because it will mean that the products of sweated labour will not have the same capacity to throw Australian workers out of their jobs and ruin Australian industry. On the other hand, when wages are low and the extra super profits are being used, the workers are being exploited by the Chinese state. When wages are low, as a consequence one of 2 things must be true. Either products of sweated labour will be dumped here and elsewhere throughout the world at cheap prices or e’se the Chinese state, exploiting its own workers as so many communist states do - this is a matter of express and general communist policy - will be taking what I think Lenin called super profits from these unhappy factors of production.
The Australian delegation to China will be led by the trusted friend of everybody in this House - the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns). He is particularly concerned with these economic matters and this is one of the prime things at which he should be looking. I feel that we should be asking him and his delegation specifically to bring us back a factual report about communist Chinese wages. How much is paid to the people who are making the articles which we are to import from Communist China? What is their wage level? I am not suggesting that we should get from him anything more than a factual report. When we have an economic delegation going to Communist China, surely the most important thing that it should bring back to us is the facts.
Surely the most important fact which every Australian worker will want to know from the delegation is what is the Communist Chinese wage level, because the products made by cheap sweated labour are in competition with him, his products and his wage level. What is being paid to these people who are making goods which will be imported into Australia? Are they being exploited? Should we be living on the products of sweated labour, or if the goods are to be increased in price - apparently, if the newspaper report is to be trusted, the Communist Chinese State now proposes to make J 00 per cent superprofit out of the sweated labour of its workers - surely we should know something about it.
I put this up to the Government. The Government says it represents the Australian workers. Therefore., the Government should be specifically interested in those things which might tend to depress, through its cheap imports, the standard of living of the Australian working man. I put this suggestion to the Government constructively. I ask the Government now to send instructions to the economic delegation that we now have in Communist China to find out what the wage levels are and to bring back a factual report. Do not let us try to prejudge the issue. Let us just see what the wages are and get a factual report. When we have the facts we can consider what policy we should undertake in regard to them. I believe that in the past it has been difficult to find out what has been going on in Communist China, which does not have quite an open Government, if I may use that phrase. But now that we. have a delegation going there, this information is something from which we can learn and which the Chinese can give us. 1 know the Government will feel that this is something that should be done. I make the suggestion to the Government now. However, I ask honourable members opposite whether they would prefer me, perhaps next week, to move a motion in the House so this could come as an instruction to the delegation from this whole House and not just from the Government. The Government might well feel embarrassed in relation to its new Chinese communist friends if it had to take on its own single initiative something like this. But the Government’s position perhaps would be stronger if it had an instruction from this House. So I ask the Government which course it would prefer. Would it prefer now to send its own governmental instructions to the deputation or would it prefer to have the House debate this matter next week so that the House could give the Government instructions to see that the requisite factual information was obtained, brought back to Australia and made available to us in our consideration of policy?
– I understand - someone on the other side of the. House may correct me - that 2 members of the Opposition parties will be going to China shortly. Perhaps the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who might or might not have sought to go - I think it would have been informative for him to go because he is the type of person who would have benefited from such a trip - could ask honourable members who do go whether they can find out for him the information he has requested.
– You are going, are you not?
– No, I am not. I would be interested to know also, because this matter is of such tremendous importance, what detailed information is available or was made available to this Parliament by the previous Government on wage rates in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and various other Asian countries. This is a matter of interest to me and to many Australians. Some of the brighter gentlemen in our community are fairly regularly saying that goods from the countries I have mentioned should be allowed into Australia without the imposition if tariff duties because these countries are more efficient producers of goods. I would be interested to know what the cost structure <s visavis wages in a lot of countries. When we ask about the levels of wages in Asian countries we should ask about the level of wages in all Asian countries. It is fairly well known to most people that the wage levels in Japan are relatively high for an Asian country and, most likely, relatively high for a lot of European countries. But the wage levels in Australia are those which are paid to workers on the basis that they are entitled to live it standards which we accept for our community. That is not true of the wages which are paid in other countries. If any comparison is to be made between the efficient cost of production in countries, obviously it has to be taken into account that if countries have slave labour or near slave labour, as exists in many Asian countries-
– Name the countries with slave labour.
I SCHOLES- I could, but I will not. The facts of the matter are that-
– South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Thailand-
-Order! The honourable member for Stirling is out of his seat.
– If the honourable member wants this information he should return to his seat and say so. The fact of the matter is that there is much loose talk about efficiency and the placement of labour in efficient areas of production. I suggest that the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) also talks about this matter a lot. But I have never found an academic who can tell me in which efficient industries workers displaced in Australian industry, which is protected by tariffs will be employed if the criteria of the very substantial differentia] in wage rates are ignored.
– The problem is that a lot of our industry is fragmented. If it were not fragmented so much employment in these industries perhaps could be increased.
– A lot of our industry is fragmented and one of the grave problems from which industry in countries like Australia suffer is that they do not have the through-put volume which exists in other countries. Unless we are prepared to involve ourselves in levels of economic planning, which would be foreign to Liberal Party philosophy, and direct resources there is no way in which we can increase through-put by eliminating the smaller industries without substantially involving people in loss of employment and loss of their assets.
Another thing to which I wish to refer is of very great concern to a great number of people. I am sure that it is of concern to honourable members on both sides of this House. I refer to the delay in the passage of the Defence Services Homes Bill, which was passed through this House, I think, 2 weeks ago. To my knowledge it has not as yet received royal assent. I am not sure whether that Bill is presently being debated in the Senate, but it is a matter in which a large number of Australians are interested.
I am not taking a rise out of anyone but I think it is reasonable that this Bill be dealt with as expeditiously as possible and if it is being delayed in the Senate, I ask honourable members opposite to urge their colleagues to get the Bill through. Hundreds and hundreds of Australian ex-servicemen are waiting for the increase in mortgages which will be available to them. The loan for which they will be eligible will be increased from $9,000 to $12,000, but they cannot conclude their contracts because they cannot make application for their loans. This is very serious to many people. That is the major reason why I rose to speak and I hope that honourable members opposite will use whatever influence they have to get that Bill moving and get it passed as quickly as possible.
– There is so much to talk about tonight as a result of the 3 speeches that I have heard that I do not know where to start. Perhaps I could start by pointing out to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) that he has adopted a totally unfair attitude tonight.
– Are you going to give us a medley tonight?
– Are you going to stand and talk later? It was most unfair of the honourable member for Corio to imply, as he clearly implied, that any one on this side of the House stands for no tariff protection on imported goods. Let us explore this implication a little more because the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) started this argument tonight in relation to clothing and other Australian produced goods when he referred to the cost level of some countries - in this case, China - which could be competitors of Australian companies or the work force, depending on what happens. 1 think it is fair to say - I disagree, perhaps, a little with the honourable member for Mackellar on this point - that the price level set by countries such as China, nine times out of ten, bears no relation to costs. People who have been into communist shops throughout the world will know this is true. However, that is my statement; it is not the statement of the honourable member for Mackellar. I say that their prices bear no relation to their costs of production and, of course, their costs of production are minimal. Quite frankly, it is an idiocy for anyone to stand in this House and seriously say that we should compare the cost structures of Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan with . mainland China, lt is a stupid remark. I have not been-
– Do you suggest that productivity in Taiwan-
– It has just been suggested. It is quite stupid for anyone to take that seriously as a statement of fact. I have not been to China; very few honourable members have. If nobody else will invite us perhaps we should accept the invitation of the honourable member for Corio fo visit China. But anybody who has read enough knows damn well that the returns from secondary industry in a place like China are nothing. Conditions would very nearly approximate my colleague’s description of sweated labour. The labour in China is directed. No strikes are allowed. There is no vigour in or expansion of the industry. China’s industry cannot be compared with those vital emerging economies based on entrepreneural tactics and free enterprise of Hong Kong, Singapore and, indeed, Taiwan, where the wage levels and conditions are advancing at a very good pace. Probably the best of the lot of them in rate of expansion and improvement is the very one that the honourable member for Corio picked out, namely, Taiwan. I have not been to Taiwan for 12 months but up to a little while ago its rate of expansion was much greater than that of the other nations that the honourable member mentioned. Of course, we need not comment at all about Japan.
– The Government refused a visa to the Finance Minister of Taiwan.
– That is right; that is open government for you - crowd everybody out in case they are a source of embarrassment by virtue of being able to give useful information to a country. But that is another matter again. I should like to return to the point and try to probe the Government’s intentions in the field of tariffs. T believe that the honourable member for Corio might well have known something tonight. He tried to imply and blame us for it - we are not the government any more - that there may be levels of tariffs that will be effectively lowered. If this is so, why is the Government not telling the workmen, whose jobs may be at stake? Is there a big secret? Is this open government?
I should like to back up my statement by an opinion. It is a matter worthy of some note that such a well known, credited and vastly respected scientist as Professor Gruen has been attached on a part time level to the advisory staff of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I want to go on record here and now as saying that it is my belief that the current inflationary spiral will need some of this rather drastic treatment in time to come if the families and wage earners are to have their costs kept at a reasonable level. I do not know exactly where the honourable member for Mackellar intends to go next with his fascinating argument on where the International Labour Organisation stands on sweated labour and where we are going to stand as a Parliament in relation to any costs we can uncover, whether they be labour costs or any other costs in some of these nations. I just pick up where the honourable member for Mackellar and the honourable member for Corio left off by saying that I believe that tonight we may have uncovered something that could have some substance in it. We on this side of the House are proud of the fact that the last Budget, introduced by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) started to bite into the economy about the time of the election and at this stage, what the country needed was sensible economic management instead of over expenditure.
– We could price ourselves out of the market.
– Right, we well could do that. Obviously, the wages of other nations are related to this matter. The point that I really wish to make in relation to this entire matter is that it might well be that if the inflationary spiral hitting the producers and exporters of this country gets any further out of hand, we might well need in the interests of the nation more competition and less - if I might put it this way - of the umbrella of tariff under which so many demands can be made and so many strikes occur. Nobody would suggest more than I that workmen and management should get together and have discussions to try to develop what teamwork they can in relation to the future industrial requirements of this country. I am glad that this matter was referred to tonight because it might well prove to be a matter of some moment over the next few months.
Before I sit down I should like briefly to mention the fact that we battled so hard and valiantly this morning to try to get a little extra time for a certain debate which, I suppose, 1 should not mention.
– Yes, you can.
– It has been disposed of, has it?
-The honourable member may mention the debate but he cannot discuss the details of the debate.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was not going to mention details concerning the debate. I was going to voice my agreement with the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), who complained most bitterly tonight that insufficient time was allowed for that debate. It was not for me in a free debate of that sort to make any suggestion as to how Mr Speaker gave the call to honourable members who wished to speak on the Bill. However, I think it is valid for me to point out that I believe all honourable members on this side of the House are glad that the honourable member for Hunter was so pointedly in favour of the fact that we had battled hard to get more time allotted for the debate. I have just been passed a note to say that the Defence Forces Homes Bill was passed in the Senate tonight. I hope that answers the query raised by the honourable member for Corio.
Before I resume my seat I should like to make this point once again. Last night, the Leader of the House (Mr .Daly) challenged, Would we be game to sit on Friday?’, or words to that effect. We reacted immediately to his challenge and conducted a canvass throughout the Opposition parties. When we agreed that we should sit on Friday, the Leader Of the House refused to accept it.. However, I think that I have said enough on that subject. I congratulate the honourable member for Hunter for coming to the same conclusion.
-Order! It being II o’clock, the House stands adjourned until Tuesday next at 10 a.m. or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
House adjourned at 11 p.m. until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 15th May 1973, or until such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Impact on Australia’s Agricultural Trade of the United Kingdom’s Accession to an Enlarged European Economic Community’, Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Vol. XXV, No. 3, July 1972;
The Australian Farm Situation: 1971-72’, Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Vol. XXV, No. 1, January 1972. “The Australian Farm Situation: 1972-73’, Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, January 1973.
Export Market Prospects for Australian Canned Deciduous Fruits’, Occasional Paper No. 6; “The Outlook for the Australian Canned Deciduous Fruits Industry’, Occasional Paper No. 12;
The Market for Australian Applesin the United Kingdom’, Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Vol. XXV, No. 2, April 1972;
Markets for Australian Fresh Pears’, Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Vol. XXV, No. 4, October 1972;
The Dairy Situation, No. 18, October 1972;
Present World Dairy Production and Market Outlets - Trends Likely to Influence These in the Future - Australian Production and Market Situation and Trends’, Paper presented at Commonwealth Dairy Farm Management Conference, Sydney, July 1972;
The Meat Situation, No. 1, August 1972;
The EEC Market for Beef and Veal’, Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, July 1971;
Trends in EEC Production Consumption and Trade’, The Coarse Grain Situation, No. 16, November 1971;
Substitution in the Supply of Cereals in France’, The Coarse Grains and Oilseeds Situation, No. 17, November 1972;
Keynote Addresses and Background Papers presented at the Third National Agricultural Outlook Conference, Canberra, February 1973.
Keynote Addresses: ‘The World Agricultural Situation’ and ‘International Trading Arrangements’.
Background Papers:’The Outlook for Cereals’, The Outlook for Meat’, ‘The Outlook for Dairy Products’,’The Outlook for Fruit’, ‘The Outlook for Sugar’, ‘The Outlook for Oilseeds and Pulses’, ‘The Outlook for Eggs’, ‘The Outlook for Rice’, ‘The Outlook for Wool’ and ‘The Outlook for Cotton’.
Other research into the question is continuing and reports will be published as individual research projects are completed.
There are other areas of uncertainty as well; for instance the measures dealing with the entry of Commonwealth sugar into the United Kingdom after the expiry of the British Commonwealth Sugar Agreement at the end of 1974 are still to be negotiated. The adoption of the Value Added Tax system in Britain could also have some impact on the prospective situation. Nor is it by any means certain that the European Economic Community will retain its Common Agricultural Policy completely unchanged in its present form, Britain has already made moves for a review of the CAP aimed at reducing food prices below the levels that would exist under the present policy.
The assessments that have been made must be revised continually in the light of new developments regarding the trade and agricultural policies of the many countries concerned.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mr P. Hodgkinson Statistician
Mr I. R. Boyd Finance Officer
Mr D. J. Christmas Assistant Finance Officer
Mr B. Gilmour Personnel Clerical Assistant
Mrs B. Lovett Librarian
Mrs E. A. Dubois Secretary to Program Director (Economic)
Miss L. Anderson Supervisor, Typing Pool
Mrs J. Rivers Stenographer .
Mrs J. Albrecht Machinist/Clerk
r - Carpenter/Handyman
Mr C. E. Birchmeier; Directory, Publications Bureau*
Mrs N. Bond Visual Aids Assistant* Mr F. O’Connell Publications Assistant* Mrs V. Russell Distribution Clerk*
Mr P. Hodgkinson ; B. Economics
Mr I. R. Boyd ; 2 years study in book-keeping and accountancy
Mr D. J. Christmas Member A.A.S.A. and A.A.U.G.
Mrs B. Lovett ; B.A. (Hon.) Adelaide University A.L.A.A.
Mr C.E. Birchmeier. Journalism A and B at University of Queensland, Member A.J.A., Dip. Radio Engineering.
The others, generally speaking, have qualifications appropriate for their posts.
Mr P. Hodgkinson since 31 May 1972.
Mr I. R. Boyd since 20th April 1955.
Mr D. J. Christmas since 18th February 1972.
Mr B. Gilmour since 12th July 1972.
Mrs B. Lovett since 6th September 1970.
Mrs E. A. Dubois since 6th March 1959.
Miss L. Anderson since 13th March 1971.
Mrs J. Rivers since 10th July 1972.
Mrs J. Albrecht since 6th January 1967.
Mr J. Sinclair since 23rd May 1972.
Mr C. E. Birchmeier since 21st February 1955.
Mrs N. Bond since 1st January 1964.
Mr F. O’Connell since 28th August 1972.
Mrs V. Russell since 1st January 1958.
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Northern Territory, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
What action is proposed by the Government in relation to the assets of the hospital and medical contribution funds after the introduction of the compulsory levy system of contributions.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The matter to which the honourable member’s question it directed is at present under examination by my Department.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
House will be advised in detail immediately, and informed of what action will be taken.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) It is believed that the Yugoslav Government has sources of information within the Yugoslav community in Australia. While the collection of information is not in itself unlawful, I repeat the undertaking already given by the Attorney-General in the Senate on 7th March 1973 in which he said that Australia would not permit illegal activities on behalf of any power in Australia and would not accept the continued presence in Australia of any agents for a foreign power who were conducting unlawful activities here.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730510_reps_28_hor83/>.