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:
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 law 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 Dr Patterson, Mr Clyde Cameron, Mr Grassby, Mr Sinclair, Mr Bennett, Mr Berinson, Mr Bonnett, Mr N. H. Bowen, Mr Corbett, Mr Doyle, Mr Drury, Mr England, Mr Fisher, Dr Forbes, Mr Fox, Mr Giles, Mr Kelly, Mr Killen, Mr Lloyd, Mr McLeay and Mr O’Keefe.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That is, as some argue, the unborn child at the lime abortions are performed does not constitute human life then justice and reason demand that anyone so arguing has the onus of proof on him and that this onus has not been discharged.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law 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 Grassby, Mr Sinclair, Mr Corbett, Mr Doyle, Mr Drury, Mr Hallett, Mr Hunt and Mr McLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain citizens 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.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Daly, Mr McMahon and Mr Edwards.
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 the laws governing abortion and will uphold the precious life of the unborn child.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Daly.
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 Riverina) 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 petioners 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 Grassby.
To the Hon. 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 play. by Mr Fisher and Mr Fox.
– Mr Speaker, may I inform the House that the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Murphy, left Australia on Sunday, 13th May, to present Australia’s case against French nuclear testing in the Pacific to the International Court of Justice at The Hague? He is expected to return to Australia on 28th May. During his absence, the Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory, Mr Enderby, will be Acting Attorney-General and the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Connor, will be Acting Minister for Customs and Excise.
– I wish to direct a question to the Prime Minister. Briefly, by way of preface, I mention that the honourable gentleman will be aware of the pairing system, as a result of which the true voting power in a chamber is not temporarily altered by the absence of a member on proper business or due to illness and that this system applies in this House and in the Senate. I ask: Is the honourable gentleman aware that on Thursday night of last week 3 Government senators, who were paired with 3 Opposition senators, during the ringing of the bells for a division walked into the Senate chamber and voted, and so changed the proportionate voting strength of the 2 Parties as a result of which a motion was defeated? Is he aware that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has said, after I had consulted with him, that until there is an apology by the Government for the breaking of this widespread system of pairing which is adopted in ail parliaments pairs will not be granted? Will the Prime Minister arrange for an apology on behalf of the Government to the Senate as a whole? Will he state in unequivocal terms whether he agrees that the pairing system should be preserved in both chambers, including this chamber?
- Mr Speaker, of course the pairing system ought to be observed in both chambers. It is a necessary feature of the working of the Parliament. Senator Willesee has spoken to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate about the matter this morning. I believe that Liberal Pary senators will be discussing it before the Senate meets this afternoon.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that last Wednesday’s issue of the ‘Canberra Times’ carried a report of the Press conference which he held on the preceding day? Is he aware that the report stated that, in answer to a question directed to him about whether he had received any response from the Chinese Government to his protest note on the nuclear tests, he said that the protest to China was oral so there would be no written response? Is the Prime Minister aware that on last Wednesday’s ‘A.M.’ program Dr Fitzgerald, Australia’s Ambassador to China, stated that his predecessor, Mr Cotterill,’ lodged a protest note with the Chinese Assistant Minister? ls this another instance of the Prime Minister not being informed of actions taken by his Ministers or his departmental officers on matters which are under his direct control?
– I did not read the newspaper account. I did not hear ‘A.M.’
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Following the very strong expression of the House last Thursday on the question of changes in the abortion laws in the Australian Capital Territory, I ask the Prime Minister a question in 2 parts. Firstly, will he assure the House that he will resist attempts to circumvent the decision of Parliament by resort to the use of the draft criminal code for the ACT or by the use of regulations? Secondly, will he accept my assurance - I am sure that I speak for all honourable members who, out of a strong conviction on the basic principles involved, voted against the Bill and the amendment - that the House will co-operate to the fullest possible extent in helping the Government expedite the development of measures such as family planning clinics, child care centres and education programs which will make an important and constructive contribution to the solving of the serious personal problems which abortion raises for many people?
– I appreciate and accept the assurance which the right honourable gentleman gave in the second part of his question. His attitude on this matter accords very closely with mine. Prior to last Christmas, by administrative methods, the Government did all that it could by way of education and facilities as regards family planning. The Government Party takes the attitude that the matter referred to in the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question is one concerning individuals. Accordingly the Government would not introduce any Bill for an Act or any ordinance on this matter. The Government would leave the legislation on this matter, which can concern only the federal Territories, to initiatives by private members. The Government will ensure that there is a debate and a vote on any measure, any Bill, that any private member brings up on this subject from either side of the House.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen reports that Australia’s international airline Qantas is not getting a reasonable share of assisted migrants who travel to this country? Is this in accordance with the facts?
– It is true that there had been some criticism that Qantas was not getting a fair share of the migrant traffic. In fact Qantas has carried 83 per cent of migrants under arrangements and programs that have been carried out directly by the Australian Government. My colleague the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation has been watching this aspect very closely. We have had talks about it and have made sure that Qantas carried the maximum amount of passengers. Even of the number of people who have come here under ICEM - the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration - we have been able to get more than three-quarters of that traffic. The remaining small section has to be set to one side because we have agreements and arrangements with other governments and they, of course, have a right to some share of it. But I can assure the honourable member and the House that Qantas has been getting a very good deal out of the migrant traffic in the past.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to his proposed visit to India early in June. By way of preface may I recall to the honourable gentleman the close and friendly relations established with India by the previous Government, particularly in our actions in organising recognition of Bangladesh following the India-Pakistan war, the talks held in Washington between the previous Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, and Mrs Gandhi and my own visit as Foreign Minister to New Delhi last year when I had talks with Mrs Gandhi and Mr Swaran Singh, the Indian Foreign Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether he realises that the way in which he has advanced his proposal for a wide regional association of Asian nations, including the People’s Republic of China, with his specific statement that he would in this matter consult with Indonesia and Japan, has caused some offence in India? Will he assure the House that when he visits India he will endeavour to repair any damage he may have done to the excellent relations established by the previous Government?
– I acknowledge the role that the honourable gentleman played when he was my predecessor as Foreign Minister in having Australia recognise the new State of Bangladesh before many of Australia’s closest associates had faced up to that situation. I believe that what the honourable gentleman did at that time has produced good relations between Australia and India and Australia and Bangladesh. The honourable gentleman need have no fears that relations with India are in any way reduced in cordiality by the advent of the new Australian Government. Rather, the reverse applies. The cordiality of the messages that I have received from Mrs Gandhi as Prime Minister and from Mr Swaran Singh as Foreign Minister show that the Indian Government welcomes the increasing warmth of relations between Australia and India. It is for that very reason that I have responded to the pressing invitation that I should visit India as soon as possible, lest the Indians have taken it somewhat amiss that no Australian Prime Minister has stopped off in India since 1959.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that until now patients or prospective patients of public hospitals in all States of the Commonwealth except Queensland have not had freedom of choice of entry as public patients if their income exceeded a relatively low means test? Are there any changes in that system under the proposed scheme? Is it a fact that until now pensioner patients have not had the freedom of attending the specialist of their choice but were forced to attend specialists as outpatients of public hospitals? Are any changes proposed under the scheme as outlined in the report of the Health Insurance Planning Committee?
– Of course, we are still considering the report. However, there are some principles which we have enunciated consistently in the past and which still stand. The areas to which the honourable member referred relate to such principles. It is true that Queensland is the only State in Australia where there is means test free entry to free public wards. There is certainly means test free entry to paying public wards in Tasmania, but in other States a very tight means test is applied and this restricts freedom of choice in the community in relation to entry to public wards. Under our health insurance proposals there will be free public ward treatment in all States.
Additionally, to the extent that people may wish to use outpatient services of public hospitals, one expects - because of the nature of the scheme - that people will prefer to use private practitioners of their own choice, and the private practitioners will be paid on a fee for service basis. However, to the extent that people use outpatient services, those outpatient services will be covered by our health insurance scheme. The present health insurance scheme discriminates against people using these services. Often the present scheme gives no benefit at all to people who are illable to afford the cost of medical services.
Finally, as regards the last point which the honourable member raised, we have said consistently that pensioners will receive the same standards of treatment and the same rights and privileges as do other members of the community and, accordingly, they will have a full entitlement to private specialist medical services and those private specialist medical services will be covered by our health insurance proposals. As the honourable member, and indeed all honourable members will know, under the present system if pensioners wish to obtain specialist services, short of paying the full cost themselves or belonging to a health insurance scheme, which is scarcely a welcome proposition to them, they have to go to outpatient clinics of public hospitals.
– Does the Prime Minister realise that his practice of making announcements of policy and personnel changes to Press conferences rather than to Parliament denies members the opportunity of hearing of these changes at first hand and effectively prevents discussion of them? Does he recall his criticisms of other Prime Ministers at other times when they departed to any small extent from the cardinal principle that, when the Parliament is in session, Parliament should be told of these matters directly and not second-hand? Does the Prime Minister not recognise that a continuation of this practice must denigrate the position of Parliament in the democratic system? For these good reasons, will he please cease the practice?
– The honourable gentleman quite rightly has caught me out on this. I do not suppose that anybody so consistently used to quote Sir Robert Menzies on the principle that matters of government policy should be announced in the Parliament when the Parliament was sitting. There are many instances where 1 have said that in Sir Robert’s time and in the time of his 3 successors. I must admit that I have departed from it. I can only plead that I did undertake, before the election, that 1 would have a Press conference every Tuesday when I was in Canberra.
– Why do you not tell the Parliament first?
– 1 am explaining - -mea culpa. As is well known, the Cabinet sits on a Tuesday morning when the Parliament does not. Therefore 1 have in fact announced to the Press conference decisions which have been made by the Cabinet that day. I do not believe, however, that there has ever been a practice of announcing Executive Council appointments in the Parliament. They come out in the Government ‘Gazette’. Once the Executive Council has met it is quite appropriate for the Head of Government to announce the appointments which have been made at it. I would also point out that it has always been the practice of my Party to announce after the Party meeting on Wednesday morning decisions which have been made at the Party meeting. Now that the Party is in Government that practice will continue. I can therefore only say to the honourable gentleman that in view of the fact that Cabinet meets on Tuesday morning and the Government Party meets on Wednesday morning, decisions which are made by those 2 bodies are announced promptly. To that extent I have had to depart from the practice which I used to espouse during 20 years in Opposition.
– 1 direct a question to the Prime Minister. I preface it by referring to the decision to hold a competition for an Australian national anthem. 1 ask: Could the honourable gentleman give the House details of the timetable in respect of that competition, including when it is anticipated that Australia will adopt its new national anthem?
– The entries for words close at 5 o’clock on 31st May. I believe it might be of interest to honourable members if
I were to table the entry form for words for the Australian national anthem quest. The quest was launched on 12th April. There have already been 2,000 requests for entry forms. Some 500 finished entries have been received. There have been 200 inquiries from overseas. A number of distinguished Australians have accepted my invitation to act as judges in the quest. The judges of words will be Professor Manning Clark, Mr David Williamson, Mrs Kath Walker and Mr Ross Campbell. The judges of the music entries will be Mr John Hopkins, Mr Peter Sculthorpe, Mr Don Burrows and Mrs Maria Prerauer. I should express the Government’s appreciation of the willingness of those eminent Australians to assist the competition. Their participation and the ready response of the public leave no doubt that the anthem quest will help to stimulate a renewed sense of national pride and to meet the wish of the majority of Australians for a distinctive anthem of their own, as every other nation already has.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. How does the Prime Minister reconcile his change of attitude towards the granting of a visa to Mr K. T. Li to attend the Pacific Basin Economic Council meeting in Sydney with his firm reply to me in this House that Mr Li would be admitted in a personal and private capacity in spite of the official position he holds in the Government of Taiwan and of which he was notified in my question? Does his Government accept as normal and, presumably, binding practice the undue and malicious intrusion in the domestic affairs of this country which his acceptance of the representations from the Charge d’Affaires of the People’s Republic of China represents? If not, why was he not prepared publicly to state that no visa would be issued to Mr K. T. Li, instead of leaving such a refusal until after he received the Charge’s representations?
– The Chinese Charge made perfectly proper representations, and in the light of the situation brought about by the honourable gentleman publicising the real character of the intended visitor the visa, which had not up to that stage been sought, was not granted. The honourable gentleman knows this quite well, as I told him in a letter yesterday which I shall read:
On Thursday, 10th May you addressed to my colleague the Minister for Social Security, who was representing me in the House at that time, and the Minister for Immigiation, questions relating to a proposed visit to Australia by Mr K. T. Li. In my absence at the Premiers Conference, both undertook to seek information and to reply to you as soon as possible. With their agreement I am replying on their behalf.
As you will have seen, my colleague the Special Minister for State has answered questions on this subject in another place. While I have nothing to add to the answers he has given, it may be worth recapitulating the sequence of events which led the Government to refuse Mr Li a visa to enter Australia. At the time of your original question to me on 3rd May, Mr Li had not in fact applied for a visa although it was understood that he bad been invited by PBEC to visit Australia in a private and unofficial capacity. When, as a result of your question, his status as a Minister of the Government of Taiwan was brought to notice, the Department of Foreign Affairs received representations from the Charge d’Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. As a result, it became clear that any status Mr Li may have had as a private and unofficial visitor had been publicly and effectively compromised. In the circumstances the only proper course open to the Government was to decline to allow Mr Li to enter Australia.
The honourable gentleman blew the visitor’s cover, and therefore the Australian Government had to take the only decent course dictated by relations between our countries.
– Mr Speaker, under the provisions of standing order 151 I ask for an opportunity to ask a supplementary question.
-Order! I call the honourable member for Darling.
– This matter has been raised with me on several occasions by the honourable member for Darling. He saw me last week and he saw me two or three times in the previous 3 weeks.
– He is concerned about his people.
– Yes, he is concerned about the people in Broken Hill and I understand his concern for them. I have discussed the matter fully with the honourable member. I have since then been studying the metropolitan and non-metropolitan unemploy ment relief schemes and shortly will be in a position, I hope, to make a submission to Cabinet on the whole question. It is true that, as a consequence of the rapid improvement in the employment situation, labour shortages in certain areas and particular occupations are now beginning to appear. As the general level of unemployment falls still further these shortages are almost certain to become more acute. Only this morning I heard on the radio serious criticism of the unemployment relief scheme which, as everyone knows, the previous Government was forced to intoduce in order to take up the tremendous slack in employment opportunities. This changing employment situation is steadily altering the needs for these unemployment relief schemes. I think we have reached the stage already at which the metropolitan unemployment relief schemes will have to be phased out excepting in special instances where there is still some need for them.
I should like to indicate to the Parliament the areas that 1 have already chosen as areas that will still need some assistance because of the special disabilities from which they suffer. I might add that I have had a number of requests from local governing bodies asking that the scheme should not be interrupted even in areas represented by some Country Party members. The places that I have chosen as areas that should be retained within the non-metropolitan unemployment scheme are Broken Hill, Cessnock, Gosford, Grafton, Kempsey, Lismore, Parkes, Tamworth, Taree, Ayr, Bundaberg, Cairns, Ingham, Innisfail, Ipswich, Mackay - I had talks recently with the Minister for Northern Development who presented a strong case for the retention of Mackay in the scheme - Mount Isa, Toowoomba, Townsville, Port Lincoln, Port Pirie, Bunbury, Medina and Devonport. It would seem that an immediate, straight-out termination of the scheme is just not feasible. To do this would cause great hardship in the areas that I have mentioned. They are not the only areas; there could easily be others that one would have to include.
I believe we have, however, reached the time when no more funds ought to be allocated for relief of unemployment in most of the metropolitan areas after the present scheme cuts out at the end of June. I believe steps should be taken to phase out the existing non-metropolitan unemployment scheme over the next 12 months or even a shorter period if possible. The phasing out in some areas will need, of course, to be more rapid than in others but while the scheme is being phased out completely I think that a local initiatives program ought to be introduced and restricted to areas where it is considered that the incidence of unemployment is in excess of the Australian average and where Commonwealth funds to relieve it can produce the best and most desirable local results.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is he able to confirm or deny that a decision has been taken by the Government which will ensure that in future all Colombo Plans students from Vietnam will come from North Vietnam?
– 1 have heard no such suggestion. I expect I would have.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen reports of the meeting of Australian and State Ministers for Immigration which was held in Brisbane last Friday? Are they correct in saying that the States favour a change in the present level of immigration? Was there any disagreement on this matter? Did anyone at that meeting suggest seceding?
– I must say bluntly that no one suggested secession. As a matter of fact it was a most harmonious meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers and there was a large measure of agreement on the matters before the meeting. Regarding one point raised by the honourable member, it is true that the Ministers and the representatives of all States present favoured some lifting of the program in the next financial year. That point was made by a’1 the Ministers and/or their representatives. The meeting was most useful and most harmonious. We reached agreement on many important points. The formula which will implement the new immigration policies was endorsed and will come into operation in all States. As a matter of fact the meeting brought forward some very useful suggestions from the States. These are now under examination by all Ministers. The final point I make is that the meeting was so useful that it was decided to hold a further conference of Australian Government and State Ministers for Immigration in November. Queensland nominated that the meeting be held in South Australia and the South Australian Premier was good enough to invite us there. We have accepted his invitation and we will convene again in November in Adelaide.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question which refers to a question I asked earlier this morning. Since he gave his answer I have had an opportunity to speak to Senator Withers. In that answer he referred to a conversation between Senator Willesee who is, I understand, the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, and Senator Withers, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Senator Withers has told me that that conversation was a confidential one, as is the way in which conversations for the conduct of each chamber must be conducted. The subject matters of the conversations usually are not disclosed. I have spoken to Senator Withers and I have asked him whether, as would have been implied by the Prime Minister’s answer, the issue has been sorted out between himself and Senator Willesee.
– This is in relation to pairs.
– Yes. Senator Withers has told me that the matter is far from sorted out. He has said that the terms for a return in the Senate to the customary practice are an apology on behalf of the Government and confirmation by the Government that it wilt honour the pairing system without taking political advantage of a very temporary kind. I ask the Prime Minister: Before Senator Willesee’s conversation with Senator Withers, did he authorise Senator Willesee to apologise and to state that the Government would honour the pairing system? If he did not, will he now so authorise Senator Willesee? Furthermore, will he instruct Senator Willesee to apologise and to make a statement on the honouring of the pairing system in the Senate?
– Of course conversations between Senator Willesee and Senator Withers are confidential. I did not say the contents; I stated the fact. The whole matter concerns proceedings in the Senate and is being discussed quite properly between the Acting Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. That is where it should be discussed and that is where it will be discussed. I read in the newspapers that
Senator Withers said that he would be saying something to me or taking up something with me. He has not spoken to me; he has not sought to speak to me; he has not written to me.
– Mr Speaker, it is an unusual situation and the statement should not remain unchallenged-
– I rise to order. Mr Speaker, I ask you what the Leader of the Opposition thinks he is doing in jumping up and down like a yoyo and making a statement during question time. If he wants to make a statement - that is all he is doing now - he ought to do it after question time. He is acting like a yahoo.
-Order! I was about to ask the Leader of the Opposition whether he was taking a point of order.
– Mr Speaker, the meanderings of the Minister for Labour prevented anybody in the House from hearing what you were saying. Would you kindly repeat it?
-I asked whether the right honourable gentleman was taking a point of order.
– No, I am not taking a point of order.
– Then the right honourable gentleman will have to seek leave to make a statement.
– What I am drawing your attention to-
– I raise a point of order-
-Order! I have just put the matter in order. The right honourable gentleman must seek leave to make a statement. I suggest that it might be better to do so after question time.
– There is a tradition in the Parliament that if facts are wrongly stated they ought to be challenged immediately. That is what I am doing.
– I raise a point of order-
-Order! No point of order is involved. I call the honourable member for Shortland.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Environment and Conservation been drawn to the high capital cost to industry of the installation of effective air pollution control equipment? Does he agree that there is an urgent need in medium to small industries for the installation of new plant that is non-pollutant in operation? Will he inform the House of what steps have been taken to encourage the installation of such new plant? Will he take up with the Treasurer the possibility of accelerated depreciation allowances and/or special grants to hasten the introduction of new plant in pollutant industries?
– I am not in a position to give a specific answer to this question. The whole matter is being reviewed. Quite clearly, in some instances where it is in the national interest to encourage actively both the elimination of the source of pollution and yet the maintenance of the particular product there is a case for providing assistance. But in some situations it may be against the community interest to encourage a particluar industry to survive, anyway. In other words, each issue will have to be judged on its merits and there is no blanket statement to be made at ali. We are certainly looking into all the possibilities but once again, of course, the co-operation of the States will be required, because to date we have not the means to judge whether or not specific industries are responsible. This depends upon information which at this stage can only come from the States. So the whole matter is in the melting pot and is being considered by the Australian Environment Council and its various committees.
– My question which is addressed to the Postmaster-General relates to an article which appeared in the Brisbane Sunday Sun’ of 13 May headed ‘Little Watergate on North Coast’ which I showed to him this morning and in which I think he will agree very serious allegations were made. I ask him: Is there any truth in the report that he has received complaints of frequent telephone tapping in the Maroochy Shire, particularly at the time of the recent elections? ls there any truth in the report that last month he ordered an inquiry into the allegations? Did he send inspectors to the area to inquire into the matter? If so, is the inquiry able to report whether there is any substance in the allegations? Will he at a convenient time advise the House when, under what circumstances and on whose authority telephones can be tapped?
– The honourable member for Fisher showed me the article in question just prior to question time but I am able to remind him now that he himself made representations to me on or about 10th April on this matter. As a result of his representations concerning the Maroochy area I naturally have asked for an inquiry to be made. That inquiry is still current, and accordingly I am not able to say whether or not the information contained in the article is accurate. But as soon as information from the inquiry is available I shall inform the House and the honourable member. Generally, what is called tapping of telephones, of course, is an offence. Any Post Office employee who was found guilty of that would be dismissed. Legal listening, as it is termed, is a matter for Security. That can only take place when it is authorised by the Attorney-General, who in turn would have had a request from the Director-General of Security. The monitoring in due course is performed only by the DirectorGeneral of Security.
– My question is addressed to the Foreign Minister. Has his attention been drawn to a joint statement by the Foreign Ministers of India and Bangladesh proposing repatriation of Pakistani prisoners of war and of Bibaris living in Bangladesh, in exchange for repatriation of Bengalis now living in Pakistan? Has he noted that the Government of Bangladesh does not require the dipomatic recognition of Bangladesh by Pakistan as a condition of this exchange? Will the Australian Government give diplomatic support for all such moves towards reconciliation on the Indian sub-continent?
– The Australian Government welcomes the recent joint declaration which the honourable member quotes. It is a valuable attempt to break the impasse in re a.tions between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. While recognising the complexity of the issues involved, the Australian Government hopes that further progress towards a solution acceptable to all parties can be made. Obviously we are not a party to the agreement and we have not sought to play an active or an intermediary role. We believe that the position is developing fairly hopefully, and of course that is our wish; but we are not purporting to intervene in the matter.
– I ask the Acting AttorneyGeneral whether the Government has considered the report of the Bland Committee concerning the appointment of an official to review administrative decisions and to inquire into public grievances - in other words, a Federal ombudsman? If so, can the Minister indicate whether an early decision may be expected?
– The report has been considered. A number of reports on that subject have been made known in recent years. The Australian National University has been very prominent in the field through Professor Whitmore, as has Mr Justice Kerr of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The whole matter is under consideration. It is part of our policy, if I may put it that way, that an ombudsman be brought into being to take care of the difficulties that arise from administrative decisions which can have such an enormous effect on the lives of people generally and in particular of people Mho live in cities like Canberra which have such a high component of decisions made by the Public Service. It is obviously an area of increasing concern. It is a challenging area and is high on the Government’s list of priorities.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the House. Is there a precedent in this Parliament for the cancelling of pairs on important matters? Were pairs cancelled on the occasion of a vote on a motion arising out of the offshore petroleum resources Bills? Does the Minister know who the Leader of the House was at the time when pairs were cancelled? Did the Leader of the House or the Prime Minister of the time apologise to the then Opposition for the cancelling of pairs?
– The information sought by the honourable member is very extensive and I would not like to rely on my memory in respect of it. If he will put the question on notice I will get him the information.
– Earlier I said that I would table the entry form of the Australian National Anthem Quest. Perhaps it would be of more general utility if it were incorporated in Hansard. I seek leave for that to be done.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
(For contestants submitting words alone)
*Mr Mrs Miss
submit the attached words as my entry for a new Australian national anthem.
I have read the Rules and Conditions of the Australian National Anthem Quest as set out in this form and I acknowledge and agree that this entry is submitted upon and subject to those Rules and Conditions and that they shall have effect in respect of this entry accordingly.
The words constituting the entry are:
*not set to a particular tune
Entries shall close at 5 p.m. on 31 May 1973. Entries, accompanied by a completed entry form, should be addressed to:
Australian National Anthem Quest, P.O. Box 372, NORTH SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2060
(For contestants submitting words alone)
Particulars are to be set out hereunder of the rights of any person or body other than the contestant in the entry as required by paragraph 8 of the above Rules and Conditions.
– Pursuant to section 5(1.)(c) of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1956-1971, I present the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30 June 1972 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– For the information of honourable members I present the text of Convention No. 131, concerning minimum wage fixing, adopted by the International Labour Organisation conference at its 54th session in 1970. The relevent laws and practices are in conformity with the Convention. Subject to the approval of the Federal Executive Council, the Government intends to lodge instruments of ratification in respect of the Convention with the DirectorGeneral of the International Labour Office as soon as possible.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Housing Assistance Bill 1973
Defence Service Homes Bill 1973.
Debate resumed from 10 May (vide page 2037), on motion by Mr Uren:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The former Government introduced into this House towards the end of last year the National Urban and Regional Development Bill and this Cities Commission Bill makes minor changes to that Act. Principally it changes the title of the Act to the Cities Commission Act. In the debate on this Bill last week my colleagues pointed out the paucity of the changes which are proposed. It is interesting to consider why it is sought to change the name of the Act in this way.I do not think we have to look any further than the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) who spent most of last year running around this country making statements - not very convincingly - about what he would do as Minister. Now, after 5 months or so in office, he comes into this House with a tiny Bill which, in the main, seeks only to change the name of the relevant authority from National Urban and Regional Development Authority to Cities Commission. But he went on and made a speech. I have a copy of the speech which he issued. It covers some 8 pages. I have read it closely and, really, I find very little in it. The impression one is left with is that of a Minister trying hard to make a case for a Bill which he has brought in to this House. He is trying hard to make a case which would indicate that he has been able to introduce a number of innovations and that he has been able to produce out of all that research and work which last year he assured us he was carrying out on behalf of the then Opposition, justification for changing the Act which the previous Government brought through the House. He wants to show that he can see a new way in which the cities can be improved on in which regional development can be carried out in the national interest as part of a larger national purpose.
On examination of the Minister’s speech we find - I invite the House to read it carefully - that there is no substance of any consequence in it. My colleague the right honourable member for Higgins, the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, pointed this out clearly when taking the lead for the Opposition. Indeed in the course of his remarks he challenged the Minister to point out what these deep differences were. It is clear from Hansard that the Minister was not able to do that. I think a point of significance was made by the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) last Thursday night and it ought to be emphasised - that is, the clear emphasis which this Minister gives to development of the 2 big cities, Melbourne and Sydney, in which he is interested and in which I believe this Government is interested to the disadvantage of the rest of Australia. It is indicative of the Government’s intentions that its concentration is on those 2 big cities which certainly have rights and which certainly need assistance but not at the expense of the rest of the country. One can see the movement of this Government towards helping those cities particularly, I emphasise, the outer suburbs of them simply because that is where, at the last election, the Government received its electoral support and not in many other regions of this country. The Australian Labour Party claims to be a great national party. This Government claims to be interested in great national purposes. But its concentration, on one issue after another, is on the 2 big cities and very little else. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made great grandstanding of the effort that is being put into Albury-Wodonga. The arguments are not to assist that area but to alleviate the pressures on Melbourne and Sydney. No feasibility study has been carried out in respect of the expenditure which is to be poured into that region - this by a government which, when in Opposition, was at great pains to criticise the previous Government whenever expenditure was made in respect of which there had been a detailed analysis. I for one stand in this place and say that I believe that principle then enunciated by the Opposition was, in the main, correct. Yet, at the very first opportunity and in an area requiring direct and indirect expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, no feasibility study has been carried out. In particular, we have the words that have been spun by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development who, I see, has departed from the table, in spite of the fact that he is responsible for this Bill; in all that torrent of words there would seem to be a concentration on Sydney and Melbourne, and indirectly on those 2 cities by the support for the area of AlburyWodonga. It is clear that, having made that expenditure, the Commonwealth can go very little further in helping other regions which have just claims. I submit that it makes the words of the Minister hollow indeed.
Let me return to the second reading speech of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development because, as 1 said, this Bill represents the result of his work during his first 5 months in office, and, presumably, the result of the work that he did in the year or two when he was shadow minister responsible for this area. In his speech, he said: lt is the objective of the Cities Commission and my Department to make federalism work. Federalism is a partnership in a spirit of mutual co-operation at all levels of government.
Mr Speaker, you know only too well, as a member of the Government Party, the cant that is involved in that statement. Here is a government which is opposed to federalism and al] that it stands for; here is a government headed by a Prime Minister who on one occasion described the States as the greatest divisive factor in Australia today: here is a government which, without consulting the States, wishes to abolish the Privy Council appeals and which, without consulting the States, has brought into this House the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill, without any attempt at co-operation with the States. Yet the Minister for Urban and Regional Development can stand and talk about the objective being to make federalism work. So much for that statement.
This Government aims at achieving unitary government in Australia and I say in respect of this Bill, as I will in respect of many Bills that will come into this House, that this action is of the greatest danger to the small States. I take the opportunity of saying that it will affect in particular my own State of Western Australia and the State of Queensland because of the action which the Government is already taking in damaging the structure of the mineral industries of those States on which this country greatly relies for its external income.
Those are general comments which I make because I believe this Bill must be seen in the context of the objectives which the Government has shown in the broad. I return to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. He simply must face up to the fact that, in going around this country talking as he has, he has been shown to be an active pedlar of empty words and objectives. He has attempted to conjure up a grand vision of urban and regional development and this puny result is restrictive. Throughout his remarks he has attempted to show a newness of policy, a broader policy and an initiative which he has brought to this area where, as I said, none exists. Indeed, the Minister has relied almost entirely on last year’s Bill which established the National Urban and Regional Development Authority, making only a few amendments.
I should like to refer to another section of the Minister’s speech in which he tried to justify the amendments which are to be made in order to show some newness of policy. He referred to an amendment which he moved in the House last year as the shadow minister, presumably having some knowledge of the subject. The Minister quoted in full this section of his remarks on the National Urban and Regional Authority Bill. It takes up half a page and I suppose that helped to fill out his address a little. He referred to the previous body as a mere investigatory and advisory body which would have no authority. He used such phrases as ‘to cope with the problems of urban and regional development’; ‘to deal with the continuing growth of capital cities and regional centres and to integrate plans for transportation and land use’; ‘to coordinate the allocation of resources’. These are all loose and grandiose concepts. He then goes on to say, in trying to justify this Bill, that under this Bill - meaning his own - the role of the Cities Commission will be greatly strengthened. That is what the Minister says in relation to a Bill that does little but change the name from the National Urban and Regional Development Authority to the Cities Commission. With all the new advisers which the Minister now has and with his Department expanding rapidly, it is surprising to me that these comments and these policies have not taken on more of a practical aspect. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development still operates as a Minister who is just spinning words and who is a talking shop. What more of his work can there be than is contained in the Minister’s second reading speech when he makes this comment:
In the speech I referred to earlier, I claimed that under this Government the National Urban and Regional Development Authority would wither on the vine. It should be clear now that, as the Cities Commission, the Authority will be playing a more active and useful role than that envisaged for it by the previous Government.
This document cannot but convince one that only very small amendments are proposed. The only change is to emphasise expenditure in the cities, which is all the Minister is interested in. Yet he seeks by mere assertion, without any backup, to make a comment which would imply that he has been able to achieve some great change and that he can see things far better and will achieve far more.
I conclude on that point. I regard this Bill simply as an attempted justification by the Minister of all the words that he has spun in the last couple of years and all the publicity he has received for the office which he now holds and in which obviously he has been given free rein for the time being. This Bill is just an attempt to show that he is achieving something practical and helpful, but really it provides only for a change of emphasis so that as funds become available they will be used for the benefit of Melbourne and Sydney and not substantially for any other regions. This will cut out the ambitions and the rights of many other regions, including rural areas and the cities and towns in Australia, which rightly are looking for some assistance in regional development. If that assistance were provided it would give them real help and would not be just words.
– I find it strange that the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) should seek to diminish the achievements of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). The honourable member, who has just resumed his seat, omitted to mention the fact that the truly remarkable achievement of the Minister, and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who has worked so closely with him in matters of urban affairs, was to bring about that deathbed repentance of the previous Government over the welfare of the cities of this country of which the National Urban and Regional Development Authority was the first and only expression. The honourable member for Curtin now chides the Minister with having done no more than produce this Bill after being in office for 5 months. Yet in all the 23 years that elapsed between that occasion on which Sir Robert Menzies knocked back the application for assistance in urban planning and development of the County of Cumberland in New South Wales, and the occasion on which the National Urban and Regional Development Authority Bill was introduced last year, the government of the day led by Sir Robert Menzies, then by Mr Holt, Mr Gorton and finally by Mr McMahon was resistant to the pleas for assistance from the urban areas and from the regions of this country.
The honourable member for Curtin complains that no feasibility study was carried out on the Albury-Wodonga project. He shows that he is unaware of the very extensive work in this matter which was carried out by the decentralisation authorities of a Victorian Government which, I might point out to him, is of his own political persuasion.
– That is a misrepresentation and I think the honourable member knows it.
– I have read the report. Has the honourable member read the report?
– It was not very detailed.
– The report was produced by a Liberal government in Victoria and presumably, in the honourable member’s view, that government was a responsible body for carrying through its preparation.
– That was not the main point the honourable member made. He said that it was a feasibility study.
– Mr Speaker, is the honourable member for Curtin now challenging the competence of the Victorian Government, which faces re-election next Saturday, in the matter of the investigation of proposals for decentralisation? Is he saying that the whole thrust of decentralisation in that State is based on inquiries of a superficial and, in his own words, not very detailed nature? If that is what he is saying, I think the House should take note of his comments on the matter. Another inconsistency which the honourable member for Curtin perpetrated in the speech which he has just delivered was in regard to the legislation on the territorial sea and continental shelf. The honourable member expressed some dismay and disquiet at the fact that this legislation, was to come in without consultation with the States. Yet I do not remember the honourable member expressing a similar dismay or disquiet at the time when the government of which he was a member brought in the same legislation with the same absence of consultation. The honourable member is remarkable for the double standards which he brings to bear on these matters.
When the Minister for Urban and Regional Development introduced this Bill amending the National Urban and Regional Development Act of 1972 he foreshadowed a new federalism within which the Commonwealth Government, the States and in particular local government authorities will be able to develop, in co-operation, that excellance of urban environment to which increasingly Australians aspire. The establishment of a Cities Commission symbolises a new appreciation on the part of Australians that the quality of our lives is determined at least as much by those things which can be achieved only by communities as by those things which individuals can acquire. It signifies our realisation as a nation that, no matter how opulent our houses, no matter how powerful our cars and no matter how numerous our television sets, stereograms, trail bikes and motor boats, life will remain impoverished for us so long as the shape of our cities is determined more by developers than by town planners and so long as in those cities the quality of air and water supply continues to deteriorate, the roads become more dangerous and congested, public transport becomes more decrepit and the areas of open space become fewer and further apart.
We will not make good these shortcomings unless there is real co-operation between all 3 levels of government within our federal system. Practical support - I stress the word practical’ - for projects undertaken in this spirit of co-operation will be a major responsibility of the Cities Commission. The Commission will accept responsibility in particular for enabling local government to play its full part in urban affairs. One thing which symbolises in my mind the need for a cities commission is a sign on the bank of the Yarra River downstream from Warrandyte in my electorate, at what used to be called the Finn’s reserve swimming pool. That sign reads: ‘City of Doncaster and Templestowe. Warning. Bacteriological tests indicate this portion of the river is contaminated and unfit for swimming.’ The people of Melbourne can neither drink the water of their river below Warrandyte nor swim in it at any point below Templestowe, because State and local government authorities have failed to plan properly for urban development in that State or to invest adequately in sewerage and drainage for expanding areas such as Doncaster, Templestowe and Ringwood.
Bush enclaves such as Warrandyte and Park Orchards which drain into the Yarra are being dismembered into five-to-the-acre building blocks against the wishes of their residents because there is no plan to back up the stated objective of both parties in Victoria that Melbourne’s growth should be restricted to a population of 3 million. The population of unsewered areas for which the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works is responsible increased between 1947 and 1966 from 66,000 to 322,000. The Board estimates that by 1985 the homes of at least 138,000 of these people will still be unsewered and there will be nearly 1 million people living in other areas for which it accepts no responsibility. Much of this increase will occur in the vicinity of the Yarra and its tributaries. Between 1966 and 1969 the most rapid rate of population increase in the Melbourne statistical division was recorded in the area bounded to the west by Heidelberg and Kew, and to the east by Healesville. In that period DoncasterTemplestowe increased its population by 27 per cent, and Lilydale increased its population by 20 per cent.
The sullage water generated by those extra people, the seepage from their septic tanks and, in some cases, their raw sewage finds its way, directly or’ indirectly, into our natural waterways. Whereas every 100 millilitres of gutter water in sewered areas contained 2,500 intestinal bacteria, the same quantity of gutter water in unsewered areas contains up to 5i million intestinal bacteria. Water is regarded as undrinkable when it has a bacteria count of more than 50, and unswimmable with a count of more than 1,000 but a typical Yarra tributary in the electorate for which I am now the member, and which was represented in the last Parliament by the then Minister for the Environment, contains concentrations of bacteria ranging from 18,000 to 77,000. As always, it is the child who bears the brunt of shortcomings in the public sector. Parents with well-based fears of disease are denying their families access to the creeks and rivers which once played such an important part in the experience of an Australian childhood. Between 1958 and 1968 the number of cases of infectious hepatitis reported in Victoria - this of course is directly attributable to the condition of our water supplies in that State- rose from 1,074 to 2,355.
The state of the Yarra River and the pattern of development along its valley seriously threaten Melbourne’s capacity to meet a growing demand for domestic and industrial water. Current water supply planning envisages the upper reaches of the river continuing to play their part as Melbourne’s major water source. The validity of this assumption is called into question when councils outside the MMBW area permit subdivisions such as those that have occurred in the Armstrong’s Creek area, or allow timbered land to be cleared indiscriminately for farming purposes. Victoria’s Town and Country Planning Board estimates that land clearance is proceeding in the upper Yarra area at a rate of 7 per cent per annum. Fourteen hundred building blocks have been created by the Upper Yarra Shire within the last 10 years. Both of these developments exacerbate existing pollution problems with additional agricultural chemicals and domestic effluent, and an accelerated rate of runoff which creates its own obstacles to effective conservation. Protecting water quality in the Yarra storages of the future will be far more difficult and far more costly as a result of failure to act while there was still time available. The Yarra Brae Dam, which threatens already to become Victoria’s own Lake Pedder, may turn out in addition to be Australia’s largest cesspool. Melbourne’s water storage resources have been compromised for the sake of indiscriminate subdivision and the establishment of ill-sited and, very often, uneconomic farms.
I cite the difficulties with which Melbourne is faced in augmenting and sustaining its water supply, and indeed the condition to which Melbourne’s existing waterways have been reduced, as an example of the pressures which build up on cities when their population exceed reasonable bounds. The honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) said that the work of the Cities Commission and the policy of this Government would be orientated excessively to Melbourne and Sydney. I say to the honourable member that the Cities Commission has a role to play which will be beneficial to all six of our State capitals.
While there is great work to be done in making good the errors of the past and avoiding future errors in those 6 State capitals, the future for urban development in Australia lies with the development of the new cities.
Planning which limits its horizons to existing centres of population cannot hope to solve their problems. At the best, it will provide breathing space while the need for more drastic measures wins recognition. There is a very large educative process to be undertaken by this Government, by the Cities Commission and by the Department of Urban and Regional Development of which that Commission is an instrumentality.
– Do you not think that natural development is a much more economic proposition?
– We have seen very clearly what follows natural development, in other words doing nothing and letting events take their course. Natural development has reduced Sydney and Melbourne to their present condition and will shortly have Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane in the same predicament.
A start should be made immediately on the development of at least 6 completely new cities comparable to Canberra. The Cities Commission will see that the sites selected for these cities are the best available and that they are equipped at the outset with the diversity of employment, accommodation, recreation and education which they will need to attract families from the present State capitals. The relief available in this way should not be exaggerated. Developing new cities from the rest of the century at twice the rate of development of Canberra will reduce the growth of Sydney and Melbourne on present population trends by little more than 20 per cent. Australias post-war population increase has been housed so far at the expense of extending indefinitely the backlog of services in both inner and outer suburbs. Inadequate education, health care, social welfare and law enforcement as well as a deteriorating physical environment are the price of our having chosen to move so far so fast within such narrow confines. Immigration as an expression of territorial insecurity has now outlived the circumstances which inspired it. Resources should be redirected to making good the shortcomings of our own society and increasing our assistance to neighbouring countries in the reasonable certainty that if Armageddon comes it will be for reasons other than ovr failure to sustain a 2 per cent per annum rate of population browth
Given intelligent planning of our existing cities, enterprise in the development of our new centres and a reasonable recognition of the point beyond which population increase outstrips the resources available to meet it, Australia can provide the 85 per cent of ‘ts people who make homes in urban areas with a standard of living and a diversity of life styles to which most nations can only aspire. There will be sub-standard subdivisions, bulldozing of bush and a further proliferation of polution only if we impose these things on ourselves through our own inaction, or as the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) might prefer it, through the natural way. The alternative to action is deterioration by default.
– I should like to join in this debate and talk on 2 points. I. want to foreshadow first of all an amendment which proposes to change the name ‘Cities Commission’ to ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission’. I believe this proposed amendment was mentioned in the House one night last week by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). He will not be here today to move the proposed amendment, but 1 will do so. The other point to which I want to draw attention is the question of orderly development of the proposed new centres and the sort of land title that will be prescribed for them. This gives me a great deal of concern. I feel that we ought to be a little cautious about moving too rapidly until we know exactly how land titles will be worked out between the Commonwealth and the States.
I commence by saying that I appreciate the efforts of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) in putting so much effort and enthusiasm into fostering the idea of the establishment of more regional centres. His efforts to get agreement between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to Albury-Wodonga have been commendable. This has been a part of a policy that was started by the previous Government. I had a good deal to do with getting the Commonwealth interested in participating with the States in a more active policy and program for helping with sub-metropolitan areas and with regional development. Naturally, I am delighted to see these activities being carried on.
I believe that the concentration of population in our great capital cities is one of the nation’s greatest problems. It will become manifestly greater as time goes on, unless something constructive and positive is done about it. Quite aggressive leadership will be required to make proposals such as those contained in this Bill a reality. Some of the old conventions that we have accepted may have to be bent a little to mould into this new policy that I believe is vital for the nation. We cannot allow Sydney and Melbourne, principally, to continue to grow in the way they have. We know that if the present trend does not change the population of those cities will double by the year 2000, which is only 27 years away. It we have problems at the moment with respect to urban living, we can imagine how much greater those problems and pressures will be if we cannot find a way to alleviate them. I believe that the method that should be adopted is to try to spread the Australian population in a better manner than the manner in which it has been distributed in the last 2 or 3 decades. 1 accept the concept that much work needs to be undertaken in the cities. Very great problems exist for local government authorities and State governments in attempting to meet growth pressures. We all are well aware of the environmental and social problems that have to be tackled. The stage has been reached where the Commonwealth will have to help foot the bill for some of this development. 1 think that it would be quite wrong if the major emphasis were placed on trying to correct the problem in the sub-metropolitan areas. I believe that if that course were adopted the problem would be intensified and more people would be attracted into those areas. This nation has to work out policies for greater dispersal of population not only to regional growth centres but also to every town and hamlet throughout the Commonwealth.
I have always looked at the idea of regional growth centres as being just one of the prongs in a major attack with the idea of trying to hold population in existing settled areas or to spread population into less populated areas. I think it would be quite wrong to concentrate on that one method only. The planning of a growth centre with a concentration of activities in one specific area often can act adversely on the surrounding cities until that growth centre becomes a selfgenerating metropolis. An example of this occurred in Canberra in the course of its 40 or 50 years of development. In the early stages, when public funds were being pushed into its development, Canberra drew on the resources of surrounding towns, such as Queanbeyan, Yass and Goulburn, and this reacted adversely against them in drawing away some of their labour force.
It will be a pity if, in the creation of these regional growth centres, the population of towns in surrounding areas diminishes. A broader based policy needs to be formulated so that, in the fostering of this growth concept, every town and village in the area surrounding a growth centre will have government funds available to it should an industry desire to go into such an area and develop. I am very pleased at the program that has developed in New South Wales. In that State the Minister for Decentralisation and Development has available to him funds - either loans or grants - to assist in the development of an enterprise in any town within the State. As a result, hundreds of new commercial enterprises have been started thus giving more employment opportunities. I believe that if the Commonwealth is to provide massive funds for these regional growth centres then some supplementary assistance for these other types of development programs would also be necessary.
I see the development of a regional centre not just in itself but as the centre of a huge spider web network in which it would have to be ensured that the surrounding towns were given a degree of assistance. Because of my concern that we should not just concentrate on the metropolitan areas, I believe that the title of this Authority should also include the words ‘Regional Development’. To talk of it merely in the terms of ‘the Cities Commission’ gives the impression to country people, rightly or wrongly, that it is only for the cities. I cannot help forming the impression that the present Government is more interested in concentrating its funds in this area than in adopting a broader national approach and giving emphasis to regional centres. I think it is appropriate that the title of the Authority should include the word ‘Cities’. I do not deny that.. But I think there should be added to the title the words ‘Regional Development*. This would embrace all communities and it would not have this bias that appears so immediately. The Government has shown a bias in its policies towards rural industries and to the mining industry. There is certainly a lack of sympathy and not much sensitivity about how this will affect people seeking employment and general commercial activities so I would have to think that in its approach to this matter of urban development the Government will concentrate entirely on the cities.
There has been a lot of talk about the number of these regional cities in which the Government interesting itself. I do not know whether it is correct - and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development who is seated at the table might inform me on this - but I have been told that the Government is looking at something like 11 or 12 cities throughout Australia as possible growth centres. This is commendable in one way but I would be frightened if 12 or 13 areas or thereabouts were to be mentioned as growth centres until a firm plan is worked out as to how the authorities in each one of those areas will operate in relation to the local government authorities which are already there; how the land is to be acquired, under what terms the land will be acquired; and whether the development will be based on a system of leasehold land title.
I have taken it from the statements that the Minister has made that he wants the development to be undertaken on a leasehold basis in accordance with the principle adopted in Canberra. I can understand why he wants it on a leashold basis - so that there will be complete control over the planning and the development of these areas. But there are a lot of people who have other ideas as to whether they want a leasehold system. I have not had any clear indication from the State governments as to whether they are going to accept the recommendation of the Minister.
Let us not name 12 possible areas around Australia and have a continuing brawl as to what the land titles are going to be. I believe that once an area is named action will then have to be taken to prevent undue land speculation. I think the State governments and the Commonwealth Government have recognised this point of view.
– Some State governments.
– Well, some State governments. It is not unanimous by any means. It would be quite wrong if massive amounts of public funds were to be employed in developing these regional centres only to the advantage of speculators who might go in and take advantage of increments in land values. So I acknowledge the problem which is generated.
If 12 areas are mentioned and if it becomes necessary to make a proclamation about land values in those areas, it would be a most regressive step for normal development in these areas. Nothing would put more fear into the minds of investors than the knowledge that they would not get a fair appreciation of their land values as the land values rose in those areas. Approximately 20 years ago a New South Wales State Labor Administration had a closer settlement scheme. The Government intended to subdivide rural properties for closer development purposes. A proclamation was made over the land concerned, fixing the price at something like 1941 land values. The people who owned the properties were not able to sell them at the true market value, subdivide them or do anything with them. The development of the land was stymied. Many good properties in the State had little development carried out on them because of the arbitrary decision which had been made. It was not until the change of government in New South Wales that some of the proclamations were lifted. If a town is told that it will be part of a regional development scheme and if little money is ploughed into that area for 5 or 10 years, everybody in the region will be penalised unduly.
On 19th December the Premier of New South Wales, Sir Robert Askin, made a statement on this matter. He was referring to the Bathurst-Orange area and the Albury-Wodonga area. He said that land values prevailing on 3rd October 1972 will be adopted but due allowance will be made for the effective inflation on money values after that date. At least that statement is an appreciation of the fact that land values will rise and that land owners whose land is to be acquired will need to get some compensation for inflation. But what inflation index will be used? They are things which we need to know before areas are suggested as likely regional growth centres. I can not really encourage any centre to make a strong application to be a growth centre until 1 know clearly how the land title system will be worked out and, if land is to be acquired compulsorily, as it would have to be, how values will be determined. We know that if the Commonwealth were to acquire the land it would have to do so on fair and just terms at the time that the land is acquired. The Commonwealth cannot make a long standing proclamation about land. No doubt this is one of the reasons why the Commonwealth Government wants the State authorities to be the authorities for acquiring the land. No doubt some States want to do this so they can retain certain control over the operation. But it could cause tremendous injustice to people who might not get fair values for their properties if this matter is overlooked. 1 hope that the initial Albury-Wodonga scheme will be seen as a pilot scheme which will show how these things are to be worked out. I know that in Albury-Wodonga at the moment there is concern among members of the local government authority about the contribution which the States and the Commonwealth will make to the development of services in the area. I think that at the moment Albury has ideas about a new water scheme to supply the present growth rate, but this scheme would be quite inadequate if the town had multiplied at 2 or 3 times the predicted growth at the time the scheme was installed. Why should the present local council commit itself to heavy Joans and heavy indebtedness on a water scheme if really the whole arrangement is to be made incorrect by actions of a State or Commonwealth Government. What the council wants to know is whether the Commonwealth will provide the money for this sort of project. How the responsibility of that local council overlaps with that of the development authority is another question which needs to be resolved. 1 am not posing these questions to make it difficult. All I am doing is posing these questions to point out that they are real problems that need to be worked out. J am sure that given men and governments of good intention we can work them out. But let us know clearly where we are going before a whole lot of other towns are named. Immediately they are named the State governments will have to move, in and try to prevent speculation taking place. They will have to prevent developers going in and buying up large tracts of land which will happen immediately the names are mentioned. So I would caution the Government in the first place to enunciate quite clearly how the land title policy is to work, how compensation is to be paid and how this matter is to be inter-related with the local government authority. Until this is done I think we need to tread very cautiously about going too widely on naming a good many cities.
The other point I want to come back to is that I hope that this system of decentralisation will not be the only one that the Commonwealth will be involved in. I want to see the Commonwealth have a policy whereby every town and every hamlet is given an opportunity to develop an industry with government assistance, if it is given a chance.
– You support dispersed decentralisation?
– Yes, I do. I support both concepts.
– You cannot have your cake and eat it too.
– It is not a case of that. The question is of whether both are capable of being implemented. It is being implemented in New South Wales where there is a policy whereby every town can get benefits. Of course, one has to have concentrated effort in one centre. I have enunciated this policy all along and have supported the con* cept that we need to have growth centres. This is the only way that we will get massive movement. Unless we do something to give other towns and cities an opportunity to develop we will tend to have the drift to the cities that we do not want. The whole emphasis of this Bill I believe is to try to ease the growth pressures on the capital cities which we all acknowledge have problems, and something has to be done about it.
– One would find it difficult to disagree with a lot of what the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) has just said. I think that he voiced a lot of thoughts which we need to consider in the future. Planning new cities, planning new growth centres and planning where people are going to live is not an easy task for anyone. I believe that a lot of poeple are missing the whole point when they criticise this Bill which, after all, is really just a vehicle for what is going to happen in the future. The Bill essentially involves changing the name of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority to that of the ‘Cities Commission’. However, the Bill foreshadows all sorts of action. I would like to point out to the House that the department concerned with this legislation is the Department of Urban and Regional Development; it is not the Department of Cities’.
The Cities Commission Bill will give the necessary emphasis for the particular work which needs to be done as far as our cities are concerned. I believe that emphasis is necessary. About 40 years ago Lewis Mumford wrote a book called ‘The Culture of Cities’ in which he coined the word ‘megalopolis’ when he talked about the way cities joined together to form vast urban conglomerations. The spectre of the megalopolis hangs over us in Australia. Unless we do something positive about what I believe will be a great problem in the future we will be faced with a huge urban sprawl, very much worse than we have now. For instance, in Victoria we could see a continuous urban area from the southern side of Geelong right round Port Phillip Bay to the other side of the Bay with a population of 10 million, 12 million or 15 million people. I do not believe that that is the sort of way in which we ought to plan. We need to give some sinews or guidelines to the Department of Urban and Regional Development, and this Bill is designed to do that.
The problem confronting the cities is probably the biggest problem which faces this Department, but that does not mean to say that country areas do not need assistance; that country towns, or the small hamlets to which the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) referred, do not need assistance. Of course they do. I think that the guidelines which the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has set out in the various statements that he has made indicate that the Department will be just as interested in that sort of development as it is in development in the cities. But, firstly, the cities need our attention.
I think that it was the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) who talked about federalism. Unless we have a structure upon which federalism can really work, that concept will not work. Over the past few years it has become evident that local government authorities have become increasingly less able to cope with the situations that demand their attention. We need strategies for development which will enable the Department of Urban and Regional Development to assist both State governments and local government authorities to achieve properly planned development. Cities are an expression of man’s organisational ability. They started off in a very small way. They started off basically as a means of defence against enemies, but now they mean much more. Cities can be very efficient, but once they have reached a certain size they become very inefficient. We, as a nation, will be much more efficient and we will provide much more p’easant habitation for the people of this country if we plan our cities accordingly.
I think that one of the biggest problems that we face in Australia is the problem of transport. This is a big country, and when we put huge cities into this big country and try to get people to work across cities, we find that all sorts of difficulties develop. It is not of much use talking about a 35-hour week or a 30-hour week or any other figure which might be arrived at with increasing technology without considering the effort and time needed to get to work. Many people spend hours getting to and from work. On y this week I shifted my office from the centre of Melbourne into my electorate. It is not a great distance from the centre of Melbourne, but I am saving up to an hour and a half a day in travelling time and I can put this time to good use. Many people spend much more time than that each day in travelling to and from work.
We ought to consider what will happen to the cities of Sydney and Melbourne and to the other capital cities if they grow much bigger than they are. I hope that one of the things that the Cities Commission will do is to consider the actual patterns of urban development. Do we need the sort of pattern that we have in most cities now? It is not just a question of sprawl; it is a question of how a city is planned. Hugh Stretton m his book talked about linear cities - that is, long cities where people were always close to a spine of public transport and to public open space. That is one concept which we could well have a look at, depending upon the topography of the country. If that type of concept were followed and there was, for instance, a very high speed rail service down the spine of a long, narrow city where everyone was within walking distance of open space areas, one could travel from one end to the other of a city that stretched for, say, 50, 60 or 100 miles in a shorter period of time than it now takes to get across Sydney or Melbourne.
Planning in every way means progress. Without the sort of planning which the Cities Commission can give this country we are not going to achieve the objectives that I think most of us believe are necessary. It is not that the Cities Commission is going to consider cities only, but cities are an important part of man’s development of this country. The Cities Commission will draw upon the resources of State governments and local government bodies to assist it in proper community planning. The Cities Commission’s planning of new urban areas will assist in the reduction of pollution - air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. In addition it will enable cities to be built - like the city of Canberra - where people can walk a few hundred yards away from their offices and be in pleasant surroundings with trees and lawns. This is not an impossible dream; it is something that can happen. But before it can happen we need the structure to enable it to happen. There will be problems, but we cannot have it both ways. We cannot draw up an extensive plan for urban development and expect that there will not be other problems arising before we implement it. We are faced with a situation that exists at the moment and we must plan according to what happens as we go along. I believe that the Cities Commission will be able to do that. I believe that it will be able to draw upon the resources and brains available and ensure that within a concept or plan we will be able to adjust to changing circumstances.
The honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) mentioned the Yarra River and Finn’s Reserve. Finn’s Reserve is within my electorate. At that spot there is a great deal of pollution, although it is quite a distance from the city. The pollution is primarily due to household sullage. It is not due to septic tanks but to the fact that the State Government, the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works and, of course, the local council have not been able to cope with the growth that has occurred in that area. I do not know whether many honourable members realise that ordinary household sullage, without toilet waste, is half the concentration of raw sewage. If 100 houses are replaced by 200 houses and there is no sewerage but only septic tank treatment, the 200 houses will produce as much pollution as if all waste went into the creeks, rivers, streams and drains in the area. It is a problem that we must consider. In my electorate there is also the beautiful Plenty River. If development continues without proper planning the Plenty River will suffer the same fate as the Yarra River. There are already indications of that happening.
I believe that the rivers and streams around our metropolitan areas are the lungs of our cities and that we must preserve them. The Cities Commission will provide a means by which the increasing urban sprawl can be contained, lt is my contention, formed over a number of years of association with local government and town planning matters, that unless public authorities either own or have control of the areas surrounding our major cities we will not be able to control this sprawl. The pressures upon governments of all character are so strong that very often planning considerations are overridden. 1 believe that large areas of land around our major cities should be bought at the ruling market price so that no one suffers to any extent, and that they should be either retained for public ownership or leased back to the people, farmers and others, who can put the land to good use.
It was necessary to emphasise these very important questions by introducing this Bill. I stress again that this Bill does not mean that the Department of Urban and Regional Development is any less concerned about country areas and about the need to develop our smaller cities and towns. It does mean that this Government believes that proper emphasis must be given to the tremendous problems which face us in the cities, 1 support the Bill.
– The Cities Commission Bill was introduced principally, as we all know, for the purpose of changing the name of the National Urban and Regional Development Authority which was established by the previous Government to deal with the growth of our cities and with decentralisation. In my opinion the name given to the Authority was a very proper one. This Bill proposes to substitute the name ‘Cities Commission’ for the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. I do not think that the name Cities Commission’ properly describes what we are trying to do, and therefore I am very suspicious about the change of name.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) said in his speech when introducing this Bill that he did not want a conflict with his new Department, the Department of Urban and Regional Development. I do not think that that is the whole story. It is evident to me that the Australian Labor Party is playing, from a political point of view, to the populations of the big cities. What matters is the strength of the votes. Therefore it has decided to call this body the Cities Commission and has dropped the national approach to the question. The Australian Labor Party Government has dropped also the idea of rural and regional development. That idea has been abandoned, as was stated this morning by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony). Indeed I think that the Government is playing a political game to gain political control of local government because right throughout its theme it can be seen that the Government is playing up to direct negotiation and direct dealing with local government. The Government is alienating it from its function which now is under the control of the various States. People should be suspicious of the intention that lies behind this Bill. Undoubtedly the Government is aiming for centralised control, not only in this matter but also in almost everything else. This Bill proposes the appointment of a full time chairman and 4 part time commissioners one of whom is to be the Secretary of the Minister’s Department. This will ensure a rigid control of the functions of the Commission. The function of the other 3 part time commissioners is stated to be to look after the interests of the States. This is only a sop to federalism. I do not think there is any intention of introducing true federalism through the functioning of this legislation.
It is proposed that there will be an advisory committee to the Commission. There is an amendment dealing with this aspect as, indeed, there is an amendment concerning the question of the title. I will support that latter amendment. Undoubtedly the Commission is intended to control city development from
Canberra, not from the States as suggested by the Minister. As I said, this is only a sop to federalism. Money, of course, is the major power and there is no doubt that with the power of money vested in the Commonwealth the States will be completely powerless and impotent to exercise any authority whatever. 1 believe this is a major move to take over more and more of the functions of the States. Running through this Bill is the suggestion of land control. I have no doubt that the Minister envisages Commonwealth land control. This theme runs through all Government policy. Additionally, of course, there is the idea of control of the transport systems and the main roads systems of Australia. We have heard many expressions concerning sewerage systems. I believe we will hear more of this later and that there will be direct contact between the Federal Government and local government, thus by-passing the States on this major matter. At present the House has before it the question of control being exercised over gas through the proposed pipeline. The object is to obtain complete control, centralised in Canberra, over the distribution of gas throughout Australia. The Commonwealth seeks to control housing and housing land development. Of course, we are not dealing with that matter now but the theme of Commonwealth control runs through the whole picture.
For years the Minister has made it plain that he intends to use Commonwealth resources to buy up land. I think it was the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), a former Prime Minister, who dealt with this aspect. If the Commonwealth cannot buy the land it will resume it, but the resumption laws of the Commonwealth are different from the resumption laws of the States. In most States the resumption laws give the States more liberty with respect to land values. I was responsible for the Commonwealth’s resumption laws when many years ago, by an amendment, it was provided that the Commonwealth must pay the market value of land which is resumed, and must comply with other conditions.
– The market value or the Valuer-General’s value?
– Not the ValuerGeneral’s value; it is the market value. The Valuer-General’s valuation can be contested at any time on a resumption and it is the market value which prevails. Indeed the Commonwealth must have a certain purpose for the land and if the Commonwealth does not use it for that purpose within a prescribed period the original owner from whom the land was resumed must be given the right to purchase it back from the Commonwealth. In other words the resumption laws of the Commonwealth are more restrictive than the resumption laws of the States, so it is proposed to use the States to acquire land around the various cities. It is proposed - we have had this stated to us quite plainly - that the Government will buy up all the land around all the cities in Australia, develop it, and then sell it on a leasehold basis. The Minister has stated that this will control land prices. As one experienced in this sort of thing, I tell him that the very fact that land is resumed and sold on a leasehold basis and then improvements are made to it after development will have no effect whatever on prices. But he has in his head the idea that it will. This is one of the troubles: So few people on the Government side of the House have any practical understanding of what happens in dealings with land. Very few honourable members opposite know anything about it. The Minister has read a lot and has an academic idea, but he does not know the practical implications of these things.
We know that in the first place the cost ol such a scheme to the taxpayers would be astronomical. The effect will be, once the land is developed, that the original purchaser of the lease will be given a very great gratuity. It is a statistical fact known to people engaged in real estate activities that throughout Australia the ownership of improved property whether leasehold or freehold, changes hands at least 7 times during the lifetime of that property. The person who first leases the property receives a gratuity; he gets the property at a very low cost. But, unless the Federal Government proposes to exercise a control over the right of people to sell their property, immediately it is resold the market value will prevail and every subsequent sale will be made at the market value, not at the inhibited or controlled value at which the property was first acquired and leased. So really, in the end, the scheme of itself has no effect whatever upon land prices, unless special legislation is introduced as to the use and disposal of the land.
I mention these things to the Minister for him to look at them, because he has a com plete misunderstanding of the effect that his proposals will have. I have seen the situation occur over and over again. As a matter of fact, it can be seen in Canberra. The old Cooper leasehold system in Sydney, which operated for 99 years, had no effect on the price of land. The leasehold system has an effect in that a person does not own the whole of the land. Once the improvements are on the land, it finds its market value. Then, the market value is in no way inhibited by the fact that the land is leasehold or freehold, except that the leasehold title has a detrimental effect on improvements to the property and the keeping up to date of those improvements.
– Have you been to Stockholm? All the land in Stockholm is leasehold.
– Quite a lot of the land in Australia has been sold on a leasehold basis. The selling of land on a leasehold basis in Canberra has not affected the price structure. The Government is interfering not only with the purchase of land around the cities but also with the freeways, highways and feeder roads. Undoubtedly, they will all be controlled from the central control office in Canberra. This also applies to railways. We hear arguments about this at the present time. Of course, in housing the Government wants bigger and better State housing commissions with the growth of a rental community. But I will not deal with that now.
In my opinion this Commission, under the control of the Australian Labor Party, will be turned into a colossus of socialist enterprise and control. This is what I fear. There is no doubt that we want growth cities; this is true. A start is to be made on growth cities in the Albury-Wodonga area. But having 50 years experience in these matters, I warn the Minister for Urban and Regional Development that he has no more chance of developing a growth city with a population of 300,000 within the time schedule that he has in mind than he has of flying in the air. This just cannot be done. The same thing applies if the Government attempts such a project in other ways. There is an old adage that you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. People will go where people want to go unless they are offered encouragement to go to a certain place, and of course the cost of providing such encouragement, should the Government force development in an area, would be completely prohibitive to the taxpayers of Australia.
I do not know where the idea of a Cities Commission fits in with the Labor Party’s idea of reducing the immigration intake and its advocacy of a zero population growth, limiting families to 2 children, as has been stated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on various occasions How do we build a country in that way and how will development survive? Of course, there should be an authority responsible for planned development. There is need for orderly national development. There is no doubt that there should be complete collaboration between the States and the Commonwealth in this development so that the resources of the Commonwealth are used in such a way as to satisfy priorities properly, that is to say, by agreement between the States and the Commonwealth our national resources should be applied on the basis of first things first where national development is involved, and we need planning to do that. Time does not permit me to go far into that side of the question, but an authority with those aims is what I would envisage.
We must not have complete centralised power in Canberra. We must have a proper federal system of control, that is, a system under which all the States have their rights in an authority and the matter is dealt with on a purely federal and national basis. Instead of envisaging the application of Commonwealth money to do everything, we should be thinking of an authority working on the basis of providing encouragement and incentives for development by private investment. In my opinion it is only in this way that this country can become great and it is only by laying down the guidelines for the assistance that can be given by the various governments of Australia that we can encourage decentralisation, which is so sadly needed. But to think that we can bring about decentralisation simply by altering the name of the authority which had decentralisation as one of its aims and by concentrating on the cities as the major issue is to believe in something that will not work. The people will wake up to the fact that the Government is developing a colossal socialist enterprise which will have its control centralised in Canberra and which will not bring about the kind of things about which the Government is talking.
This country sadly needs a proper system of decentralisation. As I say, we cannot force it unless we lay down the encouragement for people to disperse. I know that there is a need to overcome the urban sprawl in the larger cities. One could say much about that. This problem is not an easy one to solve, and it will not be cured if the Government of this country tries to bypass the States, control the States and by subterfuge use local government authorities while all the time having a certain political idea in its mind. This will not achieve the purpose that the previous Government had in mind when it set up the National Urban and Regional Development Authority.
– The Cities Commission Bill is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation to be introduced into this House. It is important for many reasons. Firstly, it is important because it will affect the quality of life of all people and not, as the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) just mentioned, only those in the cities. It will affect people in proposed regional settlement expansion areas, in the more densely populated inner areas of a city, in the expanding urban-rural fringes of Melbourne and Sydney and the existing country towns. It is certainly wrong to criticise this Bill because it would operate only in existing cities. Because of the crisis in the cities the Cities Commission is to have a role which embraces a solution to that crisis, that is, through the new regional areas in the country and in the cities. Secondly, the Bill is important because it unites rather than divides town and country. For too long we were governed, to use a euphemism, by the previous coalition Government which, although a coalition on the surface, certainly did more to divide town and country than to treat them as though they were of the one ilk.
The Cities Commission will have an integrated view which combines the interests of town and country. The honourable member for Bennelong accused this Government of pandering to Labor voters in the cities, hoping to strengthen its position and support. But, rather than pandering to them, we have recognised our responsibility and will honour that overwhelming mandate which was given by the people in the outer urban fringe suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney. It is for this reason and because this Cities Commission Bill is so important that it has come up so early in this Parliament. This Government probably already has honoured more promises and stated intentions than was the case in the lifetime of the previous coalition Government.
However, the Bill does one further thing - it underlines the need for co-operative federalism. The purposes of the Cities Commission Bill and the Commissioner’s role cannot be achieved in isolation by remote control from Canberra or by any other such marionette exercise. They must be achieved through cooperation between the 3 levels of government - local, State and Federal.
The criticism levelled at this legislation seems to be covered by only 2 points. Both the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) quibbled over the change of name. They felt that rather than examine the animal they would look at its title. The honourable member for Gwydir said that he would like to change the name of the Commission to ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission’ but later said, offhandedly, ‘call it what you will’. I suggest to the honourable member for Gwydir that he remember the saying: ‘A rose is a rose by any other name’. In other words, let us look at the substance and not the title. Perhaps the acid in the comment lies in the fact that our rose is much sweeter than the one planted by the previous Government in its dying days. The second quibble concerns the approach to land prices, but 1 fail to understand what the Opposition is putting forward because its approach to land price control seems to be one of confusion. It seems to be a most equivocal approach, as was shown by the right honourable member for Higgins and the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke).
The right honourable member for Higgins said that if there is to be a policy of land price control he would like to see acquisition by the State but not at a controlled price. He failed to convince me that he understood the difference between competitive acquisition and mandatory acquisition, or that he knew what he meant by land price control. Amongst this confusion we were offered some rationality by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) who outlined the fundamental principle of land price Stabilisation and control when he said that nobody is entitled to make a profit from the sale of land resulting from an increase in value that that person has not put into the land himself. Then he summarises more briefly by saying that no profit should be made out of an unearned increment in the value of land. In other words he quite rightly outlines the difference between genuine ownership of land and speculation. He outlines the difference between development, which is the improvement to land, and speculation, which is profit made on turnover. I think the most neglected aspect of the role of the proposed Cities Commission is that it rests upon the principle of the control of land prices. The whole process of urban and regional development involves location and therefore land value and use as a key element.
I think that we should look even closer at land prices. When we look at the price of Sydney land in 1968 we find that a medium priced block cost about $5,150. But by 1971 the price has increased by 65 per cent to $8,500. In Melbourne the escalation in prices was not so great but the cost of an average block had risen from $4,000 in 1968 to $5,100 in 1971. In the outer surburban areas of Melbourne the price is increasing at a far greater rate. Between 1971 and 1973 in Melbourne the average price rose to $5,750 a block, which is an increase of 12.7 per cent. Over the time which I have mentioned, that is from 1968 to 1973, the price has risen 43.75 per cent. Yet clearly Melbourne is better off than Sydney. The crisis point has not been reached in Melbourne although speculation is beginning to run riot. A recent report made in my electorate by the Knox City Council seems to indicate that the escalation of land prices over the last 12 months has suddenly got completely out of hand. We find that over the last 12 months there has been an increase of over 62 per cent in the average price of a suburban block in the outer eastern suburban areas of Melbourne. The main reason for this is the uncontrolled expansion in the population of Melbourne.
The State and Federal governments have the task of controlling the growth of the 2 large metropolises or megalopolises of Australia, namely Sydney and Melbourne. This can be done only by realising that, however much they siphon off the increase in population to planned regional areas, there will be still an increase in population in Melbourne and Sydney proper. Therefore a two-pronged attack is needed and is to be levelled by the Cities Commission. For instance, if we were to stop the growth of Melbourne we would need to build the equivalent of 15 Canberras in Victoria. This is a gigantic task. Already - mistakenly in my view - the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works plans to cater for a population of 4.7 million by 1998 which is almost the turn of the century. At present Melbourne has a population of 2.46 million with a growth rate of about 50,000 a year. Honourable members can see that the task ahead is not simple. The underlying principle of success of any task in this 2-pronged attack must be land price stabilisation because unless this is tackled it will undermine urban living in the present cities and detract from living in the regional centres.
We were given a mandate to do something about the position. We will do something about it. But if we examine the reasons why the price of land is increasing we find it is because there is interference with the supply and demand of land. As I mentioned, the City of Knox in its exposure of the increased price of land has complained of the lack of action by the previous Federal Government and the State Government. It should be greatly comforted by this proposed legislation. It also warned in its report that if the escalation of land prices is not stemmed, the effects will be to add costs to the home buyer. I mentioned that there had been a 62.6 per cent increase in land costs. If this were translated into increased savings for the average family man, intent upon providing the security of a home for his family, it would mean that he would have to increase his earnings by $48 a week which, when one considers the average wage of about $95 to $98, would make it an impossible task to clothe, feed and house his family. When the increase in housing costs is added to that, the amount translated into increased savings is almost an incredible $80 a week to enable the family man to purchase land and establish a home in these outer eastern suburbs. But, of course, from the local government’s point of view, a curtailment of building and of home and land ownership means a curtailment of other development such as commercial and industrial development and if local government did not receive rate revenue - the greatest source of its revenue at the moment - it would not be able to provide the social amenities and have the social development that should go hand in hand with this other development.
Why are land prices rising? Supply obviously does not meet demand. This is something which the proposed Cities. Commission will have to examine when it studies the new regional areas or potential growth centres. When it looks at the strategies of the present development and at other particular regions, it would be wrong for the Cities Commission to ignore these very important pressures in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Supply does not meet demand because it is not a simple matter of the price being determined by the interplay of the market forces of supply and demand. It is because most of the land out there is bought on vendors’ terms. In fact, 95 per cent of the land in that area is purchased on vendors’ terms, which means that finance cannot be arranged for home establishment until 3 or 4 years have gone by, when the purchaser has paid out the total price of his land and can then lay claim to the title. This delay means lack of development.
The other reason for demand exceeding supply is the increase in the package leal system employed by builders who, because of the parcel or the home-land unit system of selling , can earn for themselves an extra premium of $3,000. I suppose anyone with a capitalist bent to his nature, stimulated by our capitalist system, would say that if he could sell a block and a house together for $3,000 more than he would receive if they were sold separately, he would be reluctant to sell only the land. This is the second reason why land supply has not kept up with tha demand. Thirdly, the role of the investors who can avoid the increased charges which they have to face and, as time increases, whose capital gains escape taxation, is a factor in the short supply of land. They find it more than profitable to outstrip the rate of interest by the rate of inflation on the value of their land.
With these 3 root causes, the supply of land under the normal supply and demand market forces has been reduced by 50 per cent. But we find that demand has increased for perhaps 2 main reasons. The first reason is the quite rightly implemented policies for increased availability of home loans whereby, with greater access to home loans, a prospective buyer can face up to purchasing land whereas before he could not. In fact, it pays him to convert any savings or loans into assets, given the present rate of inflation, as long as it is greater than the rate of interest. With rising and uncontrolled rentals for rented accommodation there is great pressure on prospective home owners to move into their own landhome units. Unless the housing commissions of the various States can change their policies to accord with this Government’s proposed housing agreements, this pressure will continue. So the solutions to rising prices ais complex because they affect supply and demand. They could be brought about by rezoning, which really is outside the nature of the Cities Commission, although it doss underline the need for co-operation between all levels of government in attitudes to rezoning rather than the various levels of local authorities and local governments having conflicting and competing attitudes towards rezoning.
The imposition of land taxes and other taxes and incentives which would increase either the turnover of land to home buyers or at least stem speculation also is outside the direct control of the Cities Commission. But a Cities Commission has one other role which it could expand, and this depends upon the principles which I have mentioned, namely, StateFederal co-operation and price stabilisation through establishing State lands commissions Such commissions could buy substantial tracts, broad acres, of land in these areas, fuily service the blocks and lease them so that the rare commodity of land would escape the manufactured and speculative supply-demand interforces and drive them away from the private sector which has shown little respect for development but much respect for speculation.
I conclude by reminding the House that the solution to this much neglected aspect and principle of development of land lies fairly and squarely on a workable and feasible land price stabilisation scheme. If it does not, prices will inflate even further to undermine the whole process of the Cities Commission, and development in the true sense of the world will be eroded by exploitation. I commend the Bill to the House.
– This Cities Commission Bill really is a Labor Government’s administrative sleight of hand; now you see the National Urban and Regional Development Authority, now you do not. It has become the Cities Commission. The Labor Party claims a new initiative when in fact the Bill provides for only a change of ministerial responsibility and of the title, and little more. The change in ministerial control was an inevitable consequence of the establishment of a Department of Urban and Regional Development. The Bill is purely machinery to provide some substitute for activity, and that is all it is - a substitute for activity. Yet the Bill will go down in the calendar as another act by the Labor Government. Most of its actions to date have not been actions at all but promises made in government which were made in opposition, and it is not action to refer something to an inquiry, perennially and for ever.
The second reading speech of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) gives little indication of any activity. It is rather like a magic lantern; you would swear the figures were actually moving. There is a brief reference to the establishment of regional centres - a very brief reference - and a brief reference to the need to stabilise the price of land. The second reading speech was poorly constructed and full of half finished ideas which were left dislocated from a flimsy framework. It looked like a cut and paste job by somebody not very familiar with the subject. I hope the Minister did not write it himself.
So much for this Cities Commission Bill as such. Much more important is what is now to come. We are awaiting the release of reports. I believe that there is a national strategy report in this area of regional development. That report is of deep significance but it is yet to be released. The plans for a national approach to regional development and urban improvement must soon reach a stage beyond the level of the Minister’s desire merely to acquire the Dandenongs. I notice that the Minister has not been down to Victoria since that statement was made.
– I have been there 3 times.
– The Minister says that he has been down there 3 times. He has not come forward with finalised plans as to how he will acquire the Dandenongs. That was an outrageous statement and one obviously made without any consideration. It has enraged the people of the area. From what I heard of his speech, the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Lamb), who has just been speaking about this matter, made no attempt to justify what the Minister for Urban and Regional Development proposes in relation to the Dandenongs. I ask him to say immediately whether he supports the Minister. He does not answer. He continues to look at his papers because he is not game to say that he does support the Minister. Is it not extraordinary that, despite the fact that I have invited him to say by way of interjection, public statement or any way he likes, whether he supports the Minister, the honourable member for La Trobe, who has just spoken in this debate, continues to pretend that he cannot hear and continues to read some report? He has been in this place only a few minutes.
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I came here to listen to a debate on the Cities Commission Bill and not to listen to the right honourable gentleman slate the honourable member who cannot reply. Is it within the ambit of the Bill for the right honourable gentleman to attack the honourable member for La Trobe?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member for La Trobe has spoken in the debate, and it is perfectly in order for a passing reference to be made to what he said.
– If the honourable gentleman who took the point of order had even an elementary idea of what the Bill was about he would understand that it is completely within the terms of the legislation to know whether the honourable member for La Trobe - and I bracket with him the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) - supports the Minister in relation to the Dandenongs.
– 1 rise to a point of order. The discussion before the Chair is not relating to the Bill. If the Opposition can show that under the Bill the Cities Commission has the power to acquire land, I will do it. Therefore I say that the Leader of the Opposition is out of order. I will make a personal explanation on this false statement at the end of the debate.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The discussion on this Bill has been fairly general and I will allow a bit of latitude.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. 1 conclude this portion of my speech by saying that if the honourable member for La Trobe wishes to continue to be a member of this House he will need to face up to stating whether he supports the Minister, who is a member of his Party. He has been unwilling to support his Minister. When the Minister is writing his next second reading speech he ought to remember that not only does he need to improve the quality of his second reading speeches but also he needs to take account of the fact that he may not be supported by the honourable member for La Trobe and the honourable member for Casey who understand just how disastrous it would be for them electorally if what the Minister said would happen to the Dandenongs were in- fact to happen.
Some other specious claims about regional development have been made in relation to setting up big regionalised cities with large populations. On every occasion the practical figures have shown that the populations will be less than the numbers claimed. I believe that the populations projections for some of the proposed new towns that have been proposed have been revised. I invite the Minister to say what are the revised population projections for Ho’.sworthy-Menai and Albury-Wodonga as compared with the original proposals. This is only a preliminary question but I invite an answer on the change in population projections. Urban and Regional Development, which was the title of the legislation of the previous Government, suggests that there should be a 2-pronged approach to the problem of proper living room for a growing Australian population. I discuss my attitude in terms of the inter-linked though separate policy directions of these 2 points. People have been arguing about decentralisation for a long time. The fact is that the great percentage of Australians live in seaboard cities. Between 1961 and 1966 when the Australian population increased by one million, more than 80 per cent of the increase found its way into the pre-existing metropolitan areas. This trend is continuing and by the year 2000 the population, it is estimated, will be 21,500,000. With just over 13 million today, within !he next 26 years there will be an increase of 8,500,000 people. That shows the magnitude of the job we have to tackle. If we were to create 4 or 5 cities, even if they held 250,000 people each - if they held 100,000 people each, the problem would be worse - those extra one million would go into the metropolises so it is very important for us to know the magnitude of the job, just how difficult the problem is and how much money will have to be put into it. We need to reach a conclusion on a national policy basis that we will face this problem and that we will defeat it. We will not defeat it by the sort of policy speech that was made on this Bill nor will we defeat it by the attitude, which is the magiclantern attitude to which I allude whereby one simply changes the name of the Authority. There is a very big problem, and when speaking about it one must understand that there will be growing populations in the metropolises. When the Government speaks of urbanisation it is doing a disservice by using that word because it implies already an acceptance that urbanisation will proceed unabated. The proper words are ‘regional development* and ‘urban improvement’ but I do not think that I have ever heard the Minister for Urban and Regional Development use them. A policy for decentralisation or the more modern term ‘regional development’ needs to be brought into focus. Capital cities have tended to become too large and most country towns have remained too small to function efficiently as modern social and economic units in the Australian experience of the last 30 years. Small towns do not grow naturally into large towns or even cities especially if they do not have the wide blue ocean lapping at their doorstep, and they will not do so unless we do something about them. To succeed in a policy of regional development means being able to encourage economic activities which are not committed to any particular area. Some are, because of particular requirements. Those that are not must be encouraged away from metropolitan centres where they would otherwise locate themselves and, where in the past, they have. Much of our industry fulfils this criteria in that it is both an economic activity and can be geographically mobile. By ‘industry’ I mean both secondary and tertiary industry.
The Liberal-Country Party Government set up the National Urban and Regional Development Authority. The horizon had been broadened with the evolution of the expertise gained in the development of Canberra. One of the keynotes of this Authority was selective decentralisation. That was the concentrated development of a small number of centres which had been carefully selected having regard to factors likely to be favourable to their growth. The Authority was set up under Sir John Overall, who had for many years headed the National Capital Development Commission, and was directly responsible to the Prime Minister. The Authority was charged with pilot studies of a number of possible centres to be established in Australia. The names of possible centres have leaked out: Albury-Wodonga and Bathurst-Orange, to name two. These have been continuing under the present Government which is now in the throes of changing names and ministerial responsibilities. The body is now to be the Cities Commission responsible to the Department of Urban and Regional Development and to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. A point worth making is that the whole concept will probably quickly have funds appropriated to it, and the fact that it was a Liberal-Country Party Government initiative will be buried, or at least the Labor Government will try to do so. It will hereby avoid the embarrassment it would have of saying that it is doing all this through the creation of the Liberal-Country Party Government, the National Urban and Regional Development Authority.
There will be 2 competing views of regional development. One is that we should develop inland because Australia is now especially a seaboard metropolitan nation. This has a strong emotional appeal. The other view in which some see merit is that climatic and recreational facilities should be extended beyond the seaboard, to such areas as the snowfields which are very attractive to the tourist. The practicability of the matter is bound up in land and the attitudes of people as people looking for a place to live, the economics and price of land and the supply of public services such as water and power, ease of communication with major metropolitan centres, climate and the availability of the recreational areas such as lakes, beaches and the snowfields, as I mentioned. Regional development projects must be attractive not only economically, but socially as well.
In planning any regional development the basic commodity is land for residential and industrial development, and its cost. In order to control speculation in regional development some form of price stabilisation must be considered. Now is a sensitive time for speaking about such control, when a national authority or a cities commission, no matter what one calls it, is investigating the feasibility of a number of areas. Knowing human nature, there are always those who want to take a punt and make a quid on land speculation. Price stability demands that the States cooperate in any scheme which the Commonwealth may develop. If the States do not co-operate the Federal Government is left with a grand design and little else.
When we set up the National Urban and Regional Development Authority we were aware of this issue of Federal-State relationships and established a ministerial council of the Commonwealth and the States. Joint involvement of the States by setting up regional development at the border may bring 2 major States together to think the question through in a concerted manner. This is good. Let us not forget the problem of differences in existing legislation which sets the pattern for future economic and social growth. Increasingly it is being understood that in any planning we must involve local government in regional development. It is, after all, local government which has to deal with the day to day consequences of growth in the provision of services and in establishing priorities in the context of the overall plan. The question which must arise is: If the trend of population is to cluster to the coastal metropolises, what are the incentives which can be used to reverse the trend? Industry should be given direct, positive financial incentives.
The Victorian State Government recently introduced a Bill to provide incentive payments to decentralised industries based on payroll tax rebates. This will prove itself an excellent initiative, but more policies of this kind will be necessary. An industry location survey of 118 metropolitan and country manufacturing firms was recently undertaken in New South Wales. It attempted to qualify the net balance of private industry advantages and disadvantages flowing from a decentralised location of industry. The survey estimated that the average net cost of the disadvantage was 92 cents per $100 of sale. Transport and communication costs were the major disadvantages. The second point that the survey showed was that with suitable incentives these disadvantages could be overcome. The most significant point of the study was the emphasis it placed on the problems of the unbridled growth of the giant metropolises without regard to mounting costs of suburban commuter services, the spiralling costs of urban land and the problem of industrial waste disposal. More and more people were spending more and more time travelling to and from their jobs. There is no justification for a 35-hour week simply because 2 hours of each day are spent travelling to and from work.
Incentives must be given to stimulate regional development in a direct manner. Other incentives are the dispersion of educational facilities such as colleges and universities. Planning is all-important to establish the social medium by which small towns grow to medium-sized towns to cities. Planning must be aware of people’s motivation. It must be aware that in a free country people cannot be dragooned into an area just because in an unexplained way it is desirable for the national interest. Nobody appears yet to have solved the problem of when a growing area of regional development in fact becomes self-generating.
The proposed effect of the Commission’s activity in the pre-existing cities is to be viewed with very great , interest. In the cities we take for granted amenities such as bathrooms, sewerage, running water, ventilation, gardens, parks and open space. Not long ago most of these amenities were beyond the reach of the majority of people. That situation would be totally unacceptable today. Man stilt seeks a more pleasant environment in which to live, and it must become more so. That is only natural. We must continue to improve the way of life of those people who live in the great metropolitan areas. Fresh problems that have arisen include the type of housing to be provided. At one extreme is the tow density suburban housing of Walter Burley Griffin and at the other is the vertical high density housing popularised by Le Corbusier
My colleague, the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp) is reported as saying in a speech last night that great multiple-storeyed buildings cannot continue to be erected as residential fiats and apartments to accommodate growing numbers of people in inner urban areas. I thoroughly agree with that proposition. This is not the type of accommodation in which people should be expected to live. The great multiple-storeyed buildings that exist will remain. How such housing developments will be handled to avoid, for example, social problems connected with children remains to be seen. I agree totally with what the honourable member for Hotham said. The price of land is rising in the fringe areas of the capital cities. This is a matter for great concern but to which there is no simple solution. Last week the Town Clerk of Knox City Council, which is situated on the eastern edge of Melbourne, reported that the price of land in that area had increased by 62.63 per cent in the 12 months to February this year. Land sales on the fringes of the city, while an important indicator of land scarcity, represent only about 5 per cent of land sales a year. A planned environment with urban corridors, the activity of land developers and, most importantly-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The right honourable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr Fox) put:
That the Leader of the Opposition be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . ..11
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) misquoted my statements on the Dandenongs in the letter which I sent to the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 5th April 1973. To clarify the position, I ask that the letter be incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
SIR, - On Tuesday in Canberra, I released a detailed statement to the Press arising out of my visit to the Dandenongs.
I feel that your editorial yesterday was a fair analysis although it implied that I had not given a lot of consideration to the Dandenongs. I have over many years given a great deal of thought to the Dandenongs and other such places of natural beauty in Australia.
Mr Whitlam said in his policy speech that we would ‘acquire land for national parks; land on which historic buildings or buildings specially worthy of preservation are sited; land along the coastline where the people’s access to their beaches is endangered; land in other areas needing special protection such as the Blue Mountains’. The Dandenongs is an area which we would consider as needing such special protection.
The question to me is not whether the Dandenongs should be preserved but how they should be preserved.
In the long run, the only way to ensure preservation is for the land to be within the public sector. Even planning controls will not be sufficient in the long term.
Your editorial talks of the costs of conserving the Dandenongs and of the Victorian State Government’s activities in buying areas and I support their action. But I am also aware that the State has limited financial resources to carry out this task. Indeed, I note in yesterday’s Press a call by the Victorian Minister for Conservation (Mr Borthwick) on the Australian Government for $20m to help Victoria save its beauty spots.
My position on the long-term preservation therefore is that ultimately the land should be in the public sector but that this will need financial support from the Australian Government. I will shortly be making a submission to Cabinet on the national estate.
I was disturbed to see the Premier (Mr Hamer) quoted in your paper yesterday as saying that the State Government ‘would not allow the Federal Government to “eject” people from their homes in the Dandenongs’. I have never suggested that people be ejected from their homes, neither on my visit to the Dandenongs on this occasion, nor on any other occasion.
In my statement on Tuesday,I pointed out thatI did not want to get into a slugging match with State Ministers and that the preservation of the Dandenongs is a responsibility of the Victorian Government and its agencies. There can be no question of interfering with the rights of people who have already established homes in the Dandenongs. But the time has come for a halt to further residential development. This brings me to the measures we should be taking in the short term while we are progressively acquiring land.
Although 1 maintain that even planning controls are not sufficient in the long term, they must be employed in the short term.
Already the Dandenongs are subject to the processes of suburbanisation. There are pressures building up for the area to be a residential one with commuting to employment in the central city and the city of Dandenong. There are demands for increased services in the area. However, if services are upgraded, it will inevitably lead to pressures for further growth in the area. 1 see it as part of my Ministerial responsibility to constantly challenge Australians to preserve our national heritage on which a great deal of damage has been inflated in past years.
What the Federal Government wants to do is to assist the State Government to conserve the Dandenongs as a beautiful area for the whole metropolis of Melbourne.
TOM UREN (Minister for Urban Affairs, Canberra).
Sitting suspended from 12.59 to 2.15 p.m.
– I move:
Omit sub-clause (1), substitute the following subclause:
This Act may be cited as the Cities and Regional Development Commission Act 1973.’.
In the circulated list of amendments in the name of the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) there follow a number of consequential amendments which will be moved if the first amendment is agreed to. The honourable member for Gwydir outlined in his speech on the motion for the second reading of this Bill his reasons for his intention to move this amendment. I fully support what he said. It should be a matter of Government policy actively to initiate and support measures which would promote a more balanced distribution of Australian population and industry. I am concerned that the change of name which the Bill proposes for the National Urban and Regional Development Authority might mean a change of direction and a change of emphasis in our approach to population problems. I am concerned that a Cities Commission might confine its interest, as its name clearly suggests, to the cities. I know that the Minister for Urban and
Regional Development (Mr Uren) has spoken of cities both old and new in this context. I am not suggesting that the Cities Commission would confine its interest entirely to our established cities and their problems, although, of course, there is plenty of room for something to be done in that area. But even if it operates in the area of both old and new cities, that is not good enough.
The problem of population imbalance cannot be solved through dealing with cities alone - by fixing up the old ones and building new ones. These things have to be done and new cities will probably be the most important ingredient in the recipe. But that is not enough in itself. The concept on which the previous Government based its approach was that of urban and regional development. We did not see the building of new cities as the only approach to regional development or decentralisation. We saw - and my Party still sees - regional development and decentralisation as a process involving a wide range of measures designed to foster the development of industry and hence the growth of population in many regional areas, not just at those points where new cities are to be established. We see the concept of true regional development as being based on all the resources of a region, both material and human. We believe that all Australians are entitled to the advantages which our growing national prosperity can provide and that these advantages must be available to the greatest possible extent, not just to the people of the cities old or new but to those who live and work throughout the nation.
To a large extent the advantages which regional growth centres and new cities will bring will flow to people living in the surrounding regions. But unless there are conscious and deliberate efforts to make this happen, it would not happen to a sufficient extent. That is why I am worried about the Minister’s motive in changing the name of this authority to the Cities Commission. I am worried that the authority might be simply what its name suggests, and that it will not take the broader view of regional development, the kind of view which I believe should be taken. I am worried that the Government, in taking this action, may be giving us a further indication of its lack of interest in the welfare of people who live outside the cities. No one has the slightest illusions about the
Government’s feelings in this direction. Statements by Ministers indicate that they are falling over each other in order to make plain their disregard for the welfare of country people and their anxiety to put country people in their places and do great things for all the Labor voters in the cities. So, in an attempt to give this authority a name which properly reflects and describes its functions, or the functions which we believe it should have, I have moved an amendment which provides that the name of the authority should be the Cities and Regional Development Commission.
– 1 want to indicate that the Government does not accept the amendment. We do not intend to neglect regional development. We have set up a new department which is named the Department or Urban and Regional Development. The Cities Commission will be concerned with old cities and with new cities and regions. It will promote regional development on a selective basis by establishing new cities. Some speakers have failed to recognise the vital point that the Cities Commission will work together with the Department of Urban and Regional Development. There is a very great difference now in that 2 bodies are attacking the problems facing our cities. As I said in my second reading speech, the Cities Commission’s role will be greatly strengthened through its working partnership with the Department of Urban and Regional Development. This is the first time in the nation’s history that the Australian Government has recognised the concept of cities. This Government is determined that cities will form a major policy area of the administration of this Government.
I listened with great interest to the comments made during the second reading debate. 1 am aware that the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), who was a Minister in the last Government, was greatly concerned about regional areas, particularly during the latter part of the last term of office of his Government. All honourable members, particularly the new members who are in Committee today, should realise that in the 23 years in which the Liberal-Country Party Government was in office, the population in the rural sector fell from 31 per cent of Australia’s population to the present figure
1IJ69/TS - R - PJ1J
of 14.7 per cent. It has been stressed that we are not concerned about regional areas. The Cities Commission, which we are now discussing, is making a study - and I stress the word ‘study’ - of several areas. Of the areas in Queensland being studied at least two are regional development areas. I refer to Townsville and Gladstone. Unfortunately those areas have been mentioned, so I can name them today. Previously I have tried to remain silent on these areas because there has not been a stabilisation of land prices in Queensland, and this is regrettable.
Land prices in relevant areas in New South Wales have been stabilised at the prices as at 3rd October 1972, and I commend the New South Wales Government for that action. One area in New South Wales which is under study at the present time is the GosfordWyong area. Wyong is on the Central Coast, some 70 miles north of Sydney. We are having a study made of what was once called a sub-metropolitan area but what we now call a system city in the MenaiHolsworthy.Campbelltown corridor. We are having a study made of the Bathurst-Orange area. Surely that is a regional area. We are at present having a study made of the Albury-Wodonga area. Several studies - in fact, 3 studies - are being made in Victoria in areas that I cannot name because the Victorian Government has not stabilised land prices. I agree with the statement by the Leader of the Australian Country Party that if I do name them there will be land speculation in those areas. A regional growth area is being studied in South Australia. Three areas are under study in Western Australia, namely, Bunbury, Albany and Geraldton. Those are only studies - 1 stress the word ‘studies’ - that are being made .it present.
One has to look at the philosophical position. The former government had as its policy the separation of areas into submetropolitan areas and regional areas. The Leader of the Australian Country Party wanted to talk only about regional areas. In fact, this morning he said that we io not really want to worry about sub-metropolitan areas because-
– That is not right. Read my speech and see what I said.
– I do not want to misquote the Leader of the Australian Country Party, but he said that to an extent the attending to and repairing of conditions on the fringes of the cities will stop people from going to regional growth centres. The Government believes that it is necessary to have a rational policy and that, first of all, it is necessary to try and slow down the growth of our major capital cities. I have spelt out the Government’s policy and talked about the subject of population growth. The Government wants to try to slow down the growth of our cities. At the same time it wants to rationalise them.
There are at least 2 growth corridors in Sydney. One is what is called the. western corridor, which is from Blacktown to Penrith. If the development of that area is not planned rationally it will sprawl irrationally. No matter how much one tries to slow down its growth, it will continue to grow. It has been estimated that its population will grow from something like 200,000 at present to over 1 million by the turn of the century. We are also trying to control the development of what is called the- MenaiHolsworthyCampbelltown corridor. In that corridor there are about 50,000 people at present, but by the turn of the century there could be nearly 1 million people. It would be better if the development of that area were planned on a rational basis. It should be developed on a similar basis t© Canberra. It is for that reason we have said that any development which occurs in our major cities should be on a planned basis.
What have we determined in regard to our regional growth centres? We have, said that we must slow down the growth of our cities and that we cannot afford to over centralise our population. Why have we said that? Why did the 2 major advocates of that policy from this side of the Parliament, namely, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and I, keep on advocating during the last 3 years that we were in Opposition - of course, the Prime Minister was speaking in these terms years before that - that we must have decentralisation and that we must create growth centres? It was because of the sprawl of our cities, the rising land prices and the difficulties being experienced by those who live on the fringes of our cities. I have said before that some of these people are not really living but just existing.
There are 2 areas of Australia that are really depressed areas. They are the western area of Melbourne and the western area of Sydney. It is in those areas that people really need great assistance to lift their standard of living and their quality of life. Young people who wish to buy a block of land in Sydney have to pay between $9,000 and $12,000. I have in mind an area in Blacktown about 3 miles from the railway station. The average price of land at present is in excess of $10,000 and young people are in an impossible position.
Therefore this Government decided to create growth areas and chose in the first place to go to Albury-Wodonga. On 25th January the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales, both Conservative Premiers, joined with the Prime Minister and determined that an area with a radius of some 55 kilometres, or 35 miles in the old measurement, would have- land prices stabilised as at 3rd October 1972, and within that area a study would be made. This is an area of about 33,000 square miles. By June this year that area will be reduced to i 1,000 square miles and by June of next .year we will be able to determine the exact area that we need. Within that area we will develop a system of leasehold land tenure, the basis on which land was developed in Canberra prior to 1st January 1971. I want to give some information to the Committee about the cost of’ land in Canberra under leaseholds. 1 refer the Committee to the 1970 report of the National Capital Development Commission which discloses that land has been developed in 3 different ways - by restricted auction, by unrestricted auction and by group sales. Under unrestricted auction, where land was the dearest, the price was reduced from $4,500 a block in 1962 to $3,000 in 1970, a reduction of one-third. At the same time the price of land in Sydney rose by about 200 per cent. At restricted auction ‘ sales in Canberra a block of land could be bought-
– Order! The Minister has unlimited opportunities to speak in the debate but I suggest that he is ranging fairly wide of clause 1 which is before us at the moment.
– I wish to speak about this matter because we are dealing with the cost of land and it must have some relationship to the whole basis of city and regional development. I am trying to give the Committee some information about land and I am trying to cut my comments short. At restricted sales in Canberra prior to 1st January 1971 a block of land could be bought for an average of $900. The price under the group sales arrangement was about Si ,700. However the former Government changed the whole system as at 1st January 1971. We are making an effort to bring conditions back to at least the position before 1st January 1971. This is one reason why Mr Justice Else-Mitchell, Professor Mathews and Mr Dusseldorp are looking at the whole question of the leasehold land tenure in the Australian Capital Territory. We are concerned with the AlburyWodonga area and it has been agreed by the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales and the Prime Minister that the leasehold tenure system will be used for the development of that area, except under exceptional circumstances-
– When will the land be purchased?
– As I said earlier, the exact area to be acquired will be known by June next year. If the Chairman will be patient with me I would like to refer to some criticisms of how the land is to be acquired. It will be acquired through the States because they have the power to acquire it. It will be acquired at the price ruling at 3rd October 1972, taking into account the trend of inflation during this period. I might explain to the Committee that at that time land in certain parts of this area was estimated to cost $125 an acre. Some speculators are now moving in and acquiring the land at $500 an acre. The Government will be spending taxpayers’ money and therefore must apply sensible laws to protect that money. This area will be developed in the interests of the whole nation and it is on that basis that the Government stands firmly by this legislation. I shall make further comment later but I wanted to express these few views.
The Government is concerned about regional areas and not only the major cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It is interested in creating other eitles. It will develop such cities after a scientific analysis of areas best suited for development. In developing the Albury-Wodonga area, which is on a major transport corridor, the Government will be upgrading the railways and roadways and providing natural gas pipelines. If a real success is to be made of regional development the growth of our major capital cities must be slowed. We. must seek to create progressive and enlightened areas in which everyone has the right to live, a full life. For this reason the Government asks the Committee not to regard the use of the word ‘cities’ in isolation or as dividing city and country. The Government will be establishing cities in regional growth centres in country areas on major growth corridors. The Government wants to bring up to date Opposition members who have been so far behind for so many years. It wants to bring the best quality of life into regional growth areas and develop them in the best interests of Australia.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of my Party, the right honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony) because Australian Country Party members are concerned that the present Labor Administration has made a unilateral decision for a single pronged attack on regional development and improving the quality of life in our cities. I share my Leader’s concern at the Government’s activity because notwithstanding the piece of oratory from the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who waxed rather eloquently and platitudinously and took us on a Cook’s tour of complete irrelevancy, I remind the Minister that it is a fundamental concept of law that the law is interpreted according to what it says and not according to what the Minister thinks it says or what any public servant thinks it says. We are concerned, therefore, that this Bill does not mean what the Minister says it means. I have in the back of my mind a newspaper article which appeared yesterday wherein the Minister - let him deny it - said that he is concerned about the cities of Sydney and Melbourne because they are the cities that allowed the Government to be elected as the Government of Australia.
– I do not think the Minister heard you.
– If the Minister is completely unconcerned about the development of Australia and improving the quality of life I say that it is a jolly shame on him and on his Party. I thank the honourable member for Calare for bringing to my notice the complete indifference that the Minister is showing to this most important matter.
– What party does he come from?
– He belongs to the greatest party of all, the Australian Country Party.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that he direct his remarks to the Chair and ignore interjections.
– Thank you, Mr Chairman. I just make the point that those who sit opposite represent a minority of the Australian public because they gained less than 50 per cent of the vote at the last election. 1 thank my colleague, the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), for bringing to my notice the fact that honourable members opposite form a minority Government.
The title of this Bill is indicative of the hurried and ill-considered attempts by the Labor Government to change the status quo under the existing legislation. The phrase Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ is rather apt and applicable. As a back bencher and a new member of the Parliament, I am amazed at the inconsistency of the present Labor Administration. There is no better example of this than the Bill with which we are now dealing in the Committee stage. The Labor Party is noteworthy for the lack of consistency in its thinking, methods and actions now that it is in Government compared to when it was in Opposition. Now that it is in Government, it is rapidly losing its standing in the community. It is the victim of its own inconsistency and ineptitude and its willingness to be dictated to by the left wing trade unionist. The inconsistency is clearly indicated by a perusal of a speech of the present Minister for Urban and Regional Development when he was in Opposition. As reported at page 2927 of Hansard of 19th October 1972, he said:
Our policy is clear. After the elections, we will create a department of urban affairs and allow NURDA to wither on the vine.
Later he said:
We will set up a department of urban affairs and regional development to marshal national resources for the building of new cities and system cities. . . We will work intensively with State and local authorities, but we will not allow State rights to work against the overall national interest.
This was the Minister speaking when he was in Opposition. He is neither a builder nor an architect; he is a wrecker of positive and sincere attempts to improve the quality of Australian life both in the cities and in the regional areas. What does he do as soon as he is elevated to power? He merely renames the authority - an authority which he facetiously referred to as an important project-oriented authority.
Let us analyse this clause of the Bill. What are its aims and its objects? The change of emphasis in Government policy towards urban and regional development is seen in the proposed change of name from the National Urban and Regional Development Authority to the Cities Commission.. Although the development of regional centres will still be an important part of Government policy, greater emphasis will be placed on the establishment of cities and the solving of the problems that exist in cities. The Queensland Government has a strong policy of decentralisation. This is supported by an incentive scheme covering land, factory buildings, finance, freight concessions and housing. Although the Commonwealth Government will be providing finance to develop approved projects, the States have the jurisdiction over any areas to be developed. The States will have to pass appropriate legislation to enable the Commonwealth to operate within areas of State jurisdiction. This will call for a great deal of co-operation and negotiation of details yet to be worked out. Although the States are aware that they cannot carry out development of new cities without the financial assistance of the Commonwealth, they are equally aware that politically the Commonwealth Government is committed to a successful development policy and the improvement of existing cities. Therefore, hard bargaining may be expected, but the States should remain in a sufficiently strong position to retain their existing powers.
The change in the title of the authority indicates the Government’s concern only for cities. We object to this. Does not the Minister know, or is he so blind to facts that he cannot see, that the rural population of Australia decreased from 31 per cent of the national population in 1947 to 14 per cent of the national population in 1973? I am glad to see that the Minister is indicating that he is aware of this problem; but I would be much more pleased, in the interests of the people of Australia and the improvement of the quality of life, if he did not merely talk about it but did something about it. Overall, in the 5 years to 1971 the population of the metropolitan areas increased by a number equal to 75 per cent of the increase in Australia’s population in the same period. As things stand, there is no evidence to suggest that this trend will change unless new initiatives are taken. Yet the Minister compounds the problem. He calls the authority to be established by this Bill the Cities Commission. As my leader said, we want equal emphasis on regional development and on decentralisation.
What about my own area of the Darling Downs? The authority conducting the survey has included in its terms of reference the city of Toowoomba as part of the Moreton region. The people in Toowoomba do not even know where that region is. This came from a government, the Prime Minister of which went north of Brisbane once during the election campaign. The Darling Downs is not part of the Moreton region either geographically or socially. I submit that the Darling Downs area should be treated as a regional area for the purpose of decentralisation. The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) painted a glowing picture of the quality of life - green backyards and lovely lawns. We already have that on the Darling Downs without creating an artificial environment. The Darling Downs is an excellent area in which to five, lt is recognised as one of the most fertile areas in the world, reasonably close to the metropolitan area of Brisbane. The Minister talked about Gosford and Wyong 70 miles north of Sydney, but the Darling Downs is that distance from Brisbane. Toowoomba is approximately 80 miles from Brisbane and Warwick is approximately 90 miles from Brisbane. Both of those cities and other towns in the area could readily supply the labour market. Roads and railway services are good. Education facilities, whilst not adequate for an increased population, are in existence at pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. I submit that it is better to promote development in this area, an area known for the flower city of Toowoomba and the rose city of Warwick. The area is based on agriculture with secondary industry to service that agriculture and also manufacturing export industries. The scope is there for development. The services are excellent and the land is readily available.
I share the concern or my leader about where this Government is going in the process of trying to improve the quality of life for Australia, because its undivided attention seems to be focused on the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. We, as a country party which is responsible for the whole of Australia, admit that there are problems in the cities. We are concerned that the present Government is deliberately hellbent on adopting a positive method of making the position worse in the cities without doing anything positive about improving the quality of life in the country areas, areas with those natural advantages about which the honourable member for
Diamond Valley spoke. 1 formally support the amendment moved by my leader, the right honourable member for Richmond.
– I also support the amendment before the Chair. I would like to get at the hub of the problem by demonstrating to the Committee the complete interest of certain sections of the non-capital city area in relation to the matters before the Committee in this Bill. I refer in particular on this occasion to those, for instance, who are downstream on the Murray River from the projected Albury-Wodonga complex. 1 do this to demonstrate to the Committee that the interests of the people of Berri, Barmera, Waikerie, Renmark, Mildura and other areas further downstream are inextricably involved in this form of regional development.
I was seated in front of a television set and I heard the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) say that no feasibility studies were done on the project to establish Albury-Wodonga as a growth centre. I am not here, as the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) was, to say that work’ has been done. I am just quoting the Minister’s own words that no feasibility studies were done on the Albury-Wodonga project. The next question that the Minister was asked as 1 sat and looked at the giggle box was: ‘If that is so, was the decision to build the regional complex at Albury-Wodonga purely a political decision?’ To that the Minister replied: ‘Yes’. I must say that this was not in accord with my idea or, I think, with the idea of the majority of the members on this side of the chamber. I do not believe that capricious, perhaps emotional decisions should be made which will involve millions of taxpayers funds and/ or loan funds. Surely, even now in this ripe age of expenditure this proposal should have some semblance of economic correctness before a decision is made. Honourable members on this side of the House say that people downstream from Albury-Wodonga have a very real say in this sort of complex regional establishment. The name of the Bill should not be the Cities Commission Bill. AH sorts of people are involved in this question.
I would like to be a little more precise in relation to this matter. The people downstream from Albury-Wodonga are concerned with a problem which to my mind has not been tackled, let alone answered, to their satisfaction. If there is to be a city of 300,000 people at Albury-Wodonga - this is the upper limit that has been mentioned but it may prove to be hopelessly wrong - and a city of 200,000 people at Monarto as it is to be called now, in South Australia, there will be a very great call upon the waters flowing down the River Murray. Figures which I have worked out on the basis of the best scientific evidence I can get at this point of time suggest that by the turn of the century, if not before, Albury-Wodonga, having reached the ultimate size proposed and based on a water usage rate of 100 gallons a person a day, which is very rapidly becoming a most conservative judgment of water requirements, will require 10,950 million gallons a year while Monarto will have a requirement of 7,300 million gallons a year. With the advent of a new petro-chemical works at Port Pirie, another 100 million gallons will be required, and at Port Stanvac, with additions to the refinery, the requirement over the next 10 years will increase to 5,000 million gallons of water a year.
The point of all these figures is quite clear. It is no earthly use looking at a river and saying: ‘From its total flow we will take 15 per cent and that will leave us 85 per cent to play with’. If we worked in this way, for many years in a decade we would not have water running in the river. That is a factor that must always be allowed for. My fear in relation to the interests of people downstream from such a regional complex as Albury* Wodonga is that the demand on the river system will be too great to enable us to meet tie future requirements of the people in addition to providing a reasonable flow down that river. It is even worse when States, such as my own State of South Australia, have dependent on those waters capital cities like Adelaide with outer suburbs like Elizabeth, which in terms of design will not bow even to Canberra. Let us face it, States have achieved this sort of development without any real help from Commonwealth governments. However, leaving that aside, when States like South Australia have capital cities like Adelaide whose foundation, industry and water requirements to an increasing extent are dependent upon the flow of the Murray system, and if governments continually go up stream to build these projects, any town downstream near the coastline, such as Adelaide, will be subject to grave danger. If the Minister has consideration for arid areas of Australia or areas which have no catchment or any high rainfall zone surrounding them, he should not go upstream and build major cities because if he does so he will pollute out of existence everybody who lives downstream.
I support very much the point made by the honourable member for Darting Downs (Mr McVeigh) that simple alterations to the title of the Bill involve more than words. The very existence of people downstream, their families, expansion, irrigation requirements and settlement - as in my own State, the very existence of the people of Adelaide - are dependent upon water going downstream in the River Murray in a non-polluted state. Wherever people settle and build cities, they pollute water. They also pollute in other ways and, on behalf of my friend the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), I inform honourable members that we will be moving an. amendment on this point later in the Committee stage. People pollute mainstreams of water, and I know of no action which has been taken by this Government or by the Government of South Australiawhether Albury-Wodonga is a political decision or not - to ensure that there is an agreement to make sure that all water utilised is purified before it goes downstream for other people to use.
I admit that during the last State election, the Premier of South Australia was rustled up to come to Canberra to discuss this very point. He went back to South. Australia with a series of meaningless words but certainly no agreement. It costs real money to re-cycle water once it has been used by city and industrial complexes or even by irrigators. In passing, I should like to say that I do not have much time for my colleagues over the border in Victoria who, to my mind, issue far too many water licences in that area. This is another contributing factor to pollution of the main stream in South Australia in the area for which I am responsible.
But I shall let that point go for the time being and in the minute that I have remaining to me I sum up by saying that I hope this House will take note of the fact that, in a low rainfall area with no catchment available next door, regional complexes should not be built upstream without assurances to the people who live downstream in towns and around irrigation systems or who are dependent on this water, as in the case of people living in a capital city, that proper precautions have been taken and that there has been an agreement between a disinterested State government and a Federal government which should be vitally concerned with the environment and the interests of the people downstream, to make sure that those waters reach those people in a pure state. Mr Deputy Chairman, I have discussed these matters for reasons which may perhaps have looked to you to be rather ambulatory. I return to the point before the Chair. This amendment should be supported because the sort of people about whom I have been talking many of them city dwellers, all have a big interest in the action of this Government and in my opinion, the naming of the Commission and of this Bill are an important adjunct to their future interest and involvement.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I raise a point of order. We are in the Committee stage of the Bill. The Minister cannot move that the question be now put unless he is referring only to the specific clause under discussion.
– It refers only to that clause.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the sub-clause proposed to be omitted (Mr Anthony’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. M. Berinson)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 2 to 6 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
– I move:
The Cities Commission Bill was drafted prior to the Remuneration and Allowances Bill which varied the salaries of the statutory office holders. However, the Remuneration and Allowances Bill was introduced and passed by the House and overtook the Cities Commission Bill. It is therefore necessary to amend the Cities Commission Bill to take account of this occurrence and its effect on the statutory office holders. The amendments are simply intended to make this Bill consistent with the provisional Remuneration and Allowances Act 1973.
– I rise to discuss, not the machinery amendment which has been moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) but the question of the kind of people who ought to be appointed to the Cities Commission which is provided for under this clause. To some extent my remarks will also relate to the Cities Commission Advisory Committee which is dealt with in clause 11 of the amending Bill. I would like to preface my remarks, as I did not speak in the second reading debate on this Bill, by saying that if the work of the Cities Commission is successful - and I feel confident that this will be so - it will have a great and favourable impact on a great number of people living in this country. I think it is the most important aspect of the. whole of the Australian Labor Party program. It is true that we have worked very hard as the Minister said - he himself during the last 3 years and the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for even longer than that - to get the message across that we have to do something about the quality of life of the people in the cities. I do not know the names of the people who will be appointed to constitute this Commission and the Advisory Committee but one of my worries is that they will not have the same priorities as I have.
I think it is important to realise that the sort of person who is usually appointed to commissions and advisory committees, because of his training and because he is able to express himself better than the average citizen living in the area concerned, is not really representative of the citizens in the area even if he lives there himself, and in the majority of cases he does not even live in the area. He is usually a person who can be described as a middle class intellectual and his ideas as to culture and quality of life are not necessarily those of the people who live in the area concerned. We have been urging the , .oint of view that what we want to do is to improve the quality of life of the people in the cities of Australia. Everybody has a different view on the quality of life. To me it just means that people should have as many choices as possible. Inasmuch as those choices are limited, either by a lack of facilities in the areas or by a lack of finance on the part of the individuals concerned, we have to do something about the. matter.
When dealing, for example, with the question of cultural attitudes or the sneering on the part of the kind of person I mentioned earlier, no absolute belief should be permitted, for instance, that a British Broadcasting Corporation series such as ‘The Six Wives of Henry VITI’ or ‘Elizabeth R’ should be forced on to the people, instead of ‘No. 96’. I think it is important to remember that people may consider ‘No. 96’ more relevant to their lives and therefore more interesting. It always amuses me how some of the self-styled radical academics talk big about ‘relevant’ education. To them, that means such things as discussions on womens lib, racial theory or the revolutionary aspirations of the third world. I have no objection to their being discussed but these people do not see any inconsistency between this and their attitude when discussing culture for the majority of people. They want to limit to fairly old fashioned and narrow limits and they absolutely gush when they can find someone who is prepared to use a spinning wheel or some such old fashioned item of what they consider to be culture. I think it is important that we must not allow these self styled experts to force on the rest of society their beliefs in regard to aesthetics - that, for example, the Sydney Mint is necessarily more beautiful than the State Government office block; that sandstone blocks are more beautiful than concrete; that wood is preferable to glass or plastic or other synthetic materials; or that Paddington terraces are necessarily more beautiful than high rise, rental accommodation.
I notice that the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), who is a member of the Liberal Party executive, is now at the table. I think that he made a speech yesterday in which he criticised high rise rental accommodation. I do not necessarily disagree with the propositions which I have ascribed to the people I am criticising, but I just do not believe that there is any way of making absolute decisions on those points. It is up to the people to make their own decisions as to whether they prefer one form of aesthetics to another - whether they prefer the appearance of a sandstone building or a concrete building, or whether they prefer high rise accommodation with its advantages and disadvantages to the sort of accommodation that the honourable member for Hotham feels every right minded Australian should be living in. I hope that I am quoting the honourable member correctly. I think that in the 3 years leading up to the last election we made specific promises to improve facilities in the developing suburbs. I think that what we were referring to, and what people certainly understood us to be referring to, was the need to spend large sums of money on transport, sewerage, drainage, health services, education facilities and so on. We had in mind that this money was not available locally, that the sort of people who live in these areas cannot afford the huge rates that might be necessary to improve some of these services and that it must be Commonwealth money that is spent here. I feel, of course, quite confident that this will happen.
I just want to emphasise that those of us who represent these areas would like the Minister for Urban and Regional Develop ment, who is now at the table, to make it clear to those appointed to the Commission and to the Advisory Committee that whilst they may have personal preferences for pre- 1850 houses or cast iron balconies or the preservation of bedrooms that were slept in by Governor Macquarie, that is not their functon; their main function is to deal with what the Minister referred to when he concluded his second reading speech. I will repeat the 3 points that he made because I think it is important to emphasise them to the people who are to be appointed to the Advisory Committee and to the Commission. The Minister said that their function will be to bring about changes in our cities, to make them more efficient and to equalise the opportunities for urban living.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 10 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section 14 of the Principal Actis amended by omitting sub-section (1) and substituting the following sub-section:
– As the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) is unwell with influenza and is in bed today I have pleasure in moving the amendments that he foreshadowed in his second reading speech and which, I believe, have been circulated to the House. I move:
In foreshadowing this amendment the right honourable member for Higgins said that he believed that there should be on the Advisory Committee at least 2 persons who had a specialised and expert knowledge of preservation of the environment and conservation. He said further that the 1 1 members of the Advisory Committee have already been appointed and that it contains no such person, although one - a professor - is close to this general description. The right honourable member for Higgins wants the Committee to accept this amendment so that the Government in its wisdom will have the opportunity of appointing to the Advisory Committee 2 professional environmentalists or experts in conservation, a situation which he has said, and which I agree, is lacking under the present constitution of the Commission.
I have no doubt at all that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), being such a renowned if amateurish enthusiast about matters of conservation and the environment will enthusiastically accept the amendment I have moved on behalf of the right honourable member for Higgins. There is no doubt about that in my mind. I look forward with keen anticipation to the support he will undoubtedly give to it. In fact, he may well second the amendment for all I know. Quite frankly any different behaviour on the part of someone who speaks so feelingly about environmental and conservation matters, as does the Minister, would be difficult to countenance.
Only a few moments ago I sat down after giving, at the Committee stage of the debate on this Bill, a speech that should have been given in the second reading stage. I was able to do so due to the tolerance of the Chair. During that speech I emphasised the tremendous concern about this type of development that is felt by those who live in the towns and cities as well as the irrigation settlements further downstream. For example, the people of Adelaide are very dependent today on the supply of water from the River Murray to augment their future industrially, socially, horticultural^ and in every other way. I take on board the right honourable member for Higgins’ suggestion and commend it as fiercely as I can to the chamber as being another measure that will give some assurance to the people living downstream from such development who want to make sure that water arriving for their use is in as good a state as possible. This is a conservation issue and a conservation matter. It is certainly of great importance environmentally to those people about whom 1 spoke earlier this afternoon who live downstream from the projected settlement of Albury-Wodonga. I will co-operate with the Government and confine my remarks to that. I strongly recommend to the Committee that it support this amendment, which was fore shadowed by the right honourable member for Higgins and which properly belongs to him.
– As I want to co-operate with the Opposition, I will accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). I remind the honourable member that it was a government of his political persuasion which nominated the members of the National Urban and Regional Development Advisory Committee which is now to be called, of course, the Cities Commission Advisory Committee. The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said that there were no environmentalists on the Advisory Committee. In fairness to the previous Government, I think I should say that Professor Walsh is not just close to being an environmentalist but is in fact an environmentalist. I am correcting the right honourable member for Higgins. Professor Walsh is Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Study Committee of the Australian Academy of Science, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Environment to the Australian Government through the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, Chairman of the Research Advisory Committee on the Crown of Thorns, past Chairman of the Joint CommonwealthQueensland Crown of Thorns Starfish Inquiry and a member of the Immigration Planning Committee. At present there is one vacancy on the proposed advisory committee. Unfortunately I had committed myself to the appointment of a person before this debate came before the Committee and this is one reason why I have accepted the amendment. Professor Walsh is one environmentalist on the committee now but the Government will make sure that another environmentalist will be appointed to it.
I am pleased that Opposition members are now showing some concern about environmental matters. I want to co-operate with them, as I hope do all members of the Government, in this field. I give a clear undertaking that all aspects of environment and quality of life will be dealt with in the development of the Albury-Wodonga region. In the feasibility study which was carried out by an eminent engineering firm based in Adelaide the environmental aspect was dealt with in depth. The Government is, to a great extent, using the experience of Canberra because, after all, Canberra is an inland city through which flows the Molonglo River. This flows into the
Murrumbidgee River which, in turn, flows into the Murray River. The rivers are all connected. When one is dealing with the environment one considers all aspects so I urge honourable members opposite not to get too uptight about environmental problems associated with the development of Albury-Wodonga. When one is talking about the problems of the Murray River catchment area one is not considering only the Murray but also the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan and the Darling. These rivers are all interconnected.
The former Minister for the Interior, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), is well aware of the experiences of Canberra and of the proposed treatment of the water of the lower Molonglo River. After treatment at a centre, which will be built at the junction of the Molonglo and the Murrumbidgee Rivers, the water will be pure and people will be able to swim in it. This is the type of experience the Government will seek to apply at AlburyWodonga. I am pleased to be able to cooperate with the Opposition in adding a member to the proposed advisory committee. That member will be experienced in environmental matters.
– I am pleased that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has indicated, as far as I can gather, that he will accept the amendment. This is excellent news and is just what I would have expected he would do in all consistency. It is what I would expect a sincere man to do. The Minister spoke of the river systems being interconnected. I presume that what he meant was that environmental factors were environmental factors and must be tackled in every way as a whole in that connection and not be regarded as separate matters. I think this is probably what the Minister meant. However I bring to his attention a point that I have mentioned earlier because it does not conform to the general explanation that he has so plausibly given to the Committee. That is, that if he has regard for areas downstream, capital cities in particular, he. will realise that they have environmental factors different from those in any of the other areas that he might have in mind. They are different from those in theHawkesbury River or the fast flowing Tweed River, for instance. I am speaking of an area in the lower reaches of the long, meandering flow of the River Murray and its entire system, the waters of which have been harnessed to a very real degree. In thanking the Minister for his courtesy, I wish to make sure that he understands the gravity of the problem which people not only in my electorate but also in Adelaide see in the establishment of large cities in the upper reaches of the Murray River system.
– In congratulating the Minister for accepting the amendment to increase from 1 to 3 the number of vacant positions on the Cities Commission Advisory Committee, as I understand it from the way he is speaking, I draw his attention again to what I said in relation to a previous clause. Not only should environmentalists who live in Double Bay but also people who have some understanding of what is going on in, say, the outer western suburbs of Sydney and of the needs in that area should be on this Advisory Committee. In opposition to the proposition that was implied by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) I would argue that on this Commission there should be a significant number of people who do not have as one of their background qualifications membership of the National Trust of Australia or some conservation society or environmental group. Let us have on the Commission more people who do not belong to any of these in groups at the present time but who will give a different point of view. If that was done, if nothing else, at least we would have a balance of opinion between those people on the Advisory Committee or the Commission who belong to the National Trust and environmental groups, who have very definite points of view, and people with different points of view and different priorities.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 12 and 13 - by leave - taken together.
– I draw the attention of the Committee very briefly to points of draftsmanship in the legislation. The activities of the Cities Commission are to be advisory only, yet the legislation contains various provisions which would indicate that it is to have an operating and trading function. For example, section 22 of the principal Act provides that the Commission shall not be liable to taxation. If the Commission is only to advise the Minister it hardly seems likely that the question of taxation on its trading activities should arise. I think it would be proper if that provision were to come out of the legislation. Section 23 (2.) (c) requires the Cities Commission to submit to the Parliament an audited statement dealing with its disposal of assets. Yet nowhere in its powers is it authorised to acquire assets, so that again seems to be a fault in draftsmanship and could well be corrected. We now have a Cities Commission which advises the Minister and a Cities Commission Advisory Committee which advises the Commission. I ask the Minister once again whether at an appropriate time in the future he will make a statement to the Parliament telling us what all these committees are currently doing and what the Commission is doing.
Clauses agreed to.
While the Cities Commission is constituted as provided by sub-section 6 (4) of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, the regulations in force under the Principal Act immediately before the commencement of this Act have effect, subject to any regulations made under the Principal Act as amended by this Act, as if-
– I move:
The purpose of this amendment is as I mentioned in relation to clause 7.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Uren) - by leave - proposed: That the Bill be now read a third time.
– At the third reading stage I would like to comment on 2 matters which are causing us great concern.
Motion (byMr Daly) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– I rise to a point of order.
– No point of order can be raised on the motion that the question be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1581), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports the Bill. The Bill seeks approval for a contractual guarantee for overseas borrowing in foreign currencies by Papua New Guinea not exceeding $A14.3m. I wish to refer to matters concerned with the controversy that occurred over the future of the Papua New Guinea national airline. I shall relate my remarks to the raising of funds under this loan Bill because they have some significance to the fact that this is the first time that the Australian Government has given a guarantee to Papua New Guinea for that country to seek funds overseas other than from the Asian Development Bank or the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. We support the contractual guarantee because, as it relates to the first loan that is to be raised in this manner, if Papua New Guinea is to be favourably recognised as an emerging international entity it is absolutely essential that the first issue be successful. Therefore our contractual guarantee must be included in the prospectus to assist in obtaining the borrowings.
This is obviously the reason for the urgency of this Bill. The Opposition fully recognises the need to depart from the normal procedure of giving parliamentary approval after a loan agreement has been signed. I said earlier that theloan will be the first raised by Papua New Guinea on international capital markets. But it is, as I inferred, not the first time that Papua New Guinea has obtained overseas borrowings. References are made in the second reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) to the borrowings from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the
Asian Development Bank. In such cases, the guarantee has been given after the loan agreement. Clearly, it is imperative on this occasion, as I have said, to give the guarantee in advance. I understand that the guarantee will continue for the duration of the loan, that is, it will therefore continue after independence. In this sense, it is akin to the guarantees given previously to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, but not to the Asian Development Bank which has never insisted on the condition that the loan continue until independence, as I understand the IBRD does.
The other distinction is that the Joan is not for specific projects which normally are undertaken specifically in relation to the loan from the ADB or the IBRD. In this case the loan will be to finance the public works and services of Papua New Guinea. In other words, it is to support its budgetary matters. So, as far as the nature of the guarantee is concerned, we are fully in agreement with the Government’s proposing it in this matter and with the form of the guarantee as referred to in the Bill itself. What I want to raise and call into question is that here we have a situation in which Papua New Guinea is seeking loans overseas, and it is saying in its prospectus that it will receive a guarantee from the Australian Government. This should add weight to its borrowing powers. But at the same time, as a consequence of statements made by a Minister in this House, the actual security of investments in Papua New Guinea has been called into question and the manner in which the Government has been administering Papua New Guinea has also been called into question.
– Which Minister?
– I do not relate my remarks to the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) who, as I said on a previous occasion, appeared to me to be working particularly closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea. He has my full support in what he is doing in working so closely with that Government. I have abstained from making remarks in this Parliament about the statements of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) because I believed that it was only right that the matter be cooled and that a fresh and proper approach be taken to the national airline of Papua New Guinea. This will be the subject of discussions on Friday between the Minister for External Territories and the Minister for
Civil Aviation. I have abstained from making remarks in this House on this matter because I wanted to be sure that a re-examination would be made. But as this Bill is before the Parliament and as it refers to the opportunities for Papua New Guinea to borrow overseas, it is related to the question of the development of an airline and the close association of Australia to Papua New Guinea, and it is necessary only a few days before the Minister’s return to Papua New Guinea to register a couple of points.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I submit with respect that the honourable gentleman is exceeding the terms of reference of the Bill that we now have under consideration. This Bill relates to a loan guarantee, lt contains no reference to the use of those funds for civil aviation, and I ask that those observations be not admitted.
- Mr Speaker, 1 ask you to hear me on that question. [ reject the submission that has been made by the Minister for External Territories and 1 submit to you as persuasively as I can that the submission should be rejected for the following reasons: When we have a Papua New Guinea Loan Bill before us, it normally is for. specific purposes. On this occasion, the proposed Papua New Guinea Loan is to support the budget of the Papua New Guinea Government and the funds provided by the loan will be spent also on civil aviation facilities. In other words, it is a loan from international markets which will contribute to the budget of Papua New Guinea. The loan is not being made to fix a road, to develop a highway or to make a bridge. It is a very different loan Bill from the normal ones and I am entitled, I submit, under this particular Bill, to make reference to these matters which will come naturally, under the aegis of the Papua New Guinea budget.
– With respect, Mr Speaker, the civil aviation powers are not powers that have been transferred to the Government of Papua New Guinea and, as such, are not included in the budget of the Government of Papua New Guinea.
– I also add, Mr Speaker, that I am very well aware that the civil aviation powers have not been transferred. 1 think I am as well aware of that as is any man in this chamber! T arn aware too that if we were discussing the transfer of powers, we would have done so under the Bill which the Government introduced a fortnight ago. That has nothing to do with this Bill.
– Order! I have just had a copy of the second reading of the, Treasurer put before me. It is obvious that it does not refer to the establishment of an airline service. It refers to the financing of public works and services in Papua New Guinea which does not cover civil aviation. So, 1 ask the honourable member to keep to the matter before the Chair.
– Mr Speaker, with great respect I will have to say that your definition of financing public works and services is, in my view, a narrow one. Whether the authority for the actual control of civil aviation has been transferred to Papua New Guinea or not, it is a fact that airlines are operating within the Territory of Papua New Guinea and airways and other facilities on which money is spent come within the general designation of public works and services.
– Not under the Papua New Guinea budget.
– Order! That was not the ruling given by the Chair. The ruling given by the Chair - I reiterate it now - was that the Bill does not cover civil aviation in Papua New Guinea. It covers public works and services.
– I respect your ruling, Mr Speaker, and therefore I will cast my remarks in relation to the fact that if Papua New Guinea is to be able to raise the money internationally - it is not drawing it from a United Nations agency; it is to go to the European or the international markets of the world to raise capital - there must be confidence in the future security of and the close relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia. This is the very reason for an Australian Government guarantee to Papua New Guinea.
The reason for the Bill is so that this guarantee may be expressed in the prospectus so that people can be satisfied that a close relationship exists between Australia and Papua New Guinea. This is the very difference between this Bill and any other loan Bill that has come before this House relating to Papua New Guinea. It is stressing the guarantee we are giving and providing Papua New Guinea with the opportunity to go elsewhere. Indeed the Treasurer said in his second reading speech:
The Papua New Guinea Government wishes to undertake an overseas borrowing as soon as possible in order that it may establish a favourable standing in international capital markets before it becomes independent, as this could enhance its borrowing prospects thereafter. A contractual guarantee by the Australian Government for such a borrowing should ensure the success of this first issue and will materially assist Papua New Guinea in furthering Otis longer term objective.
I agree with the. Treasurer in that regard and therefore the remarks I made related to the very point of the close relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea and the need for this to continue. It was on that basis that my question was put to the Minister for Civil Aviation when I asked him at the outset of my question whether he was jeopardising the relations between-
– Mr Speaker, I think you have, made a ruling and I would rather hope that the honourable member for Kooyong would abide by that ruling.
-Order! I think that the honourable member for Kooyong might be allowed a certain amount of latitude to refer to this matter in passing but I ask that he keep away from it as much as possible.
– I feel almost like a schizophrenic in being allowed to refer to it in passing but must keep away from it as far as possible. But again, I respect your ruling, Mr Speaker, and I will endeavour to do just that. I said earlier that I had abstained from raising the matter and I do not want to develop it at great length. I regard it as a matter of fundamental import because of discussions which are to occur at the end of the week. I will not, because of your ruling, canvass the previous matters that occurred - either the question that I asked, the answer that was given and the rejoinder by the Chief Minister of Papua New Guinea in describing the Minister for Civil Aviation as arrogant and intolerant.
– Mr Speaker, may I have your indulgence? Matters are being raised here which, as the honourable member for Kooyong has indicated, will be the subject of discussions by me and the Minister for Civil Aviation in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday. I accept the proposition put by the honourable member for Kooyong that this is a sensitive matter and, within the terms of the Bill that we are now debating, is completely irrelevant. I would ask that the honourable member keeps very well in mind the sensitivity of the arrangements. I am sure that he would not want to take any action which would upset the delicate balance that exists at present.
– The last thing 1 would want to do would be to upset any delicate balance between Papua New Guinea and Australia. The actions I took as Minister would indicate my motives there. The actions I have taken in regard to the Minister and his commendable performance in the portfolio would indicate that. I think we know who upset any delicate balance. We do not want to go back onto that and I will not go over it. What 1 will say will be in conclusion. It is not running away from the matter, because there will be an opportunity at a later stage to discuss the matter. The Minister is well aware that this is the first time that I have called in issue any matter relating to Papua New Guinea and Australia under the Labor Government, but this matter is of such import that I was going to make points which I can well understand the Minister would wish to be put to one side at this stage.
All I want to do, therefore, is conclude with a warning. That warning is not so important as what will follow. If I feel that the Ministers go to Papua New Guinea without an open mind and not prepared to negotiate, the matter will be raised as trenchantly as possible, because it is so important to the future relations of Papua New Guinea and Australia and, in particular, to the future development of Papua New Guinea. What is more important to New Guinea than any warnings of mine is that it be recognised by the Minister’s colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, that he should cease jeopardising relations; that he should cease forcing Papua New Guinea to look elsewhere; that he should cease jeopardising goodwill; that he should desist from brutal, rude, arrogant and colonial views; and that he should go with an open mind to negotiate and not to dictate. Anything less will be hypocritical and anything less could bc tragic.
All I say in conclusion, therefore, is that I trust that the discussions on Friday will not proceed along the lines along which they proceeded originally, but will have the sort of thing that is envisaged in this Bill, which is indicative of all the actions of the Minister for External Territories, to ensure that these close relations are restored and continued. It is with that viewpoint in mind that the Opposition supports this Bill which gives support to Papua New Guinea. We trust that the negotiations on Friday will not broaden the difficulties of Papua New Guinea in negotiating what is their own national airline.
– I would like to raise with the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) a matter that I cannot understand from my reading of the Bill. It relates to the future of the new nation of Papua New Guinea as regards currency and what will happen to this loan and other loans if Papua New Guinea establishes its own separate currency. Clause 5 of the Bill indicates that the value of the loan that is to be guaranteed by the Australian Government is to be expressed in United States currency and will be expressed in parity with the Australian dollar. That is all very well in the present circumstance where the currencies of Australia and Papua New Guinea are one and the same, but what happens after independence when the currencies may differ, if, for any reason, the parity between the currencies of the two countries differs, or in particular if, as so often happens with developing countries - I do not criticise them for so doing - it wants to devalue its currency? Will the Australian Government pay devaluation compensation, as it were, to the creditors of Papua New Guinea on this loan if that country wants to devalue?
This is a very important matter because I think that in this circumstance, with a government to government loan, Australia should underwrite the loan to the value of Australian currency and offer to offset any loss to the creditor in the event of any devaluation by Papua New Guinea. I do not believe that we should in any way try to pressure the Government of Papua New Guinea into having an over-valued currency. There is enough pressure on these developing countries as it is to have an over-valued currency. I . suppose for political reasons for a start they do not like to see their currency value going down. They think it is bad for the prestige of their country. They like to maintain their own credit rating and they feel that their international credit rating might fall if they have repeated devaluations. For various reasons of prestige - I do not say that in any pejorative sense - they want to develop certain prestige projects in their own countries to enhance their status as a developing country. So there is already enough pressure on these countries to hold what might be an artificially high parity for their own currencies. 1 am not a believer in developing countries maintaining over-valued currencies. If they want to devalue we should make it as easy as possible for them to do so. The most obvious reason for them doing so is that they want to maintain their balance of payments. This is always very difficult for a developing country. Papua New Guinea is a typical example of this, lt has a very limited range of exports. Most of them are agricultural commodities, most of which are in surplus supply on the world’s markets. Apart from that, these developing countries have their mineral exports. Because they are all unprocessed minerals the revenue from them, while substantial, is not nearly so great as those governments would really like them to be. I do not think it is in the interests of developing countries to have an over-valued currency because this makes the importation of capital goods artificially cheap. Jt means that the countries may tend to go in the way of capital intensive development rather than in the way of labour intensive development.
If that happens the inevitable result is an increase in unemployment. Everyone knows that this is a tremendous problem for all developing countries and particularly for Papua New Guinea. Any honourable member who has ever been in the area knows the great problems of unemployment, particularly in the rural areas. As a result the people drift from the villages into the large towns find we find squatter settlements, with chronic unemployment, amongst the various other problems that occur in the larger towns and cities of New Guinea. I refer to such problems as petty crime and some of the other crimes that are not so petty. I think that the only answer to this is labour intensive industry being developed as far as possible in the smaller towns and villages of Papua New Guinea. I believe that an excessive preoccupation with capital intensive development is not in the long term interest of developing countries. For that reason we should not encourage such countries to have an over-valued currency because it makes their imports of capital goods artificially cheap, and what passes in the name of development is in fact antidevelopment. The result is a considerable degree of unemployment and all the social dislocation that goes along with it. We have to be very cautious of this. If the Papua New Guinea Government wants to devalue its currency I hope that under this Bill we will make it as easy as possible for that country to do so by saying: ‘Go ahead and do not worry about your international creditors. The Australian Government will pick up the tab for my loss your creditors might otherwise have incurred.’ I think it is most important that we make this clear. I am not quite certain of it from the wording of the Bill. Perhaps the Minister might be able to explain what would happen if subsequently the 2 currencies were to go their different ways and Papua New Guinea devalues. Would Australia pay the devaluation compensation to the creditors, or is Papua New Guinea expected to pay? If it is, I do not believe it should. The alternative understanding would be that only if Papua New Guinea defaulted on the loan altogether would Australia have to pay. I hope that Australia goes further than that and offers to indemnify the creditor country, bank or whatever body has made the loan against any devaluation of currency.
I am all in favour of this measure which helps to guarantee an official loan for the development of public works in Papua New Guinea. I do not know that we will be able to say exactly the same thing for private capital investment that takes place in Papua New Guinea. I do not know that we really want to underwrite a complete foreign takeover of Papua New Guinea. I have spoken to a number of people in Papua New Guinea and I believe that perhaps they are a little too eager at times to bring foreign investment into their country. I think perhaps the best thing we can do is to point out that all of the countries in the Asian area that were, previously underdeveloped and have really achieved industrialisation and near full employment are those countries - I am thinking particularly of the People’s Republic of China and of japan - which have financed all their development as far as possible without importing foreign capital. I think that if countries can make it in their own way and standing on their own 2 feet without having recourse to foreign capital it will be in their long term interests. For that reason while I support this measure I think we should point out to our friends in the Papua New Guinea Administration that, while we approve of such ventures, we hope that they will look very hard before going too strongly after private capital investment in Papua New Guinea. 1 think this matter was referred to previously by the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). 1 do not know whether he was referring to the civil aviation dispute, but I know that it poses very important questions for Australia. What will happen if the Australian Government decides that it does not want to become an imperialist power by becoming the landlord of Papua New Guinea and owning all the industry and investment in thai country? If we leave Papua New Guinea and our place is taken by Japan or some other country I am sure that many Australians would not regard that as being in our national interests. I just make that remark in passing, but I would appreciate it if the Minister would explain the terms of this loan and what will happen should the Papua New Guinea Administration decide to reduce the parity of its currency compared with Australia’s currency.
– The Australian Country Party supports the Bill before the House and does so because it believes that the assistance which the Bill proposes for Papua New Guinea is a correct approach. Of course, we are dealing with this measure at a time which precedes selfgovernment for Papua New Guinea. We are providing for a financial arrangement which will carry over after that date. I believe that this is right and proper. Australia’s part in international aid is well known, but I believe that there is a very great need for every Australian to recognise our special interest in Papua New Guinea. Of course, that special interest will be all the more important to Australia and to Papua New Guinea after self-government. For this reason I believe that this guarantee must be regarded as an indication of Australia’s intentions. For that reason alone it deserves the support of this Parliament and of the- Australian nation.
It has long been a part of the policy of this side of the House to support the economic development of Papua New Guinea. In fact, the 2 previous Ministers for External Territories, the Honourable C. E. . Barnes and the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) I believe set a very good pattern in this regard. They set a basis which gave confidence for development in Papua New Guinea both in the government sector and in the private sector. In respect of private investment, there has been a tremendous forward movement. Without this it would be very hard to foresee political development and ultimate self-government succeed. Other countries which have attempted to rush into self-government without considering the important ingredients of economic stability have failed miserably. We do not want to see that happen in Papua New Guinea.
There has been some reference in this debate to certain matters relating to the future of civil aviation in Papua New Guinea. I hope there will be no clumsy approach in this direction. I was very disturbed to read some of the statements made in the last week or so. Australia has played a part second to none in comparison to any other country’s assistance to a developing section of Asia. The section to which I refer, of course, is Papua New Guinea. If one compares Australia’s action to what has been done in any other part of the Asian region I think that Australia’s record stands out very clearly as one of success and one of which we as a nation can be very proud. But we need to be careful that we do not occasion the kind of reactions which we saw occur in the statements made outside Parliament in the last week or so in the matter of the future of civil aviation in this area. You, Mr Speaker, have requested that we should not deal with this matter directly and 1 certainly will not transgress your ruling in this regard. But I want to make the observation that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) has said that this is a delicate matter. I see no reason for it to be a delicate matter. I believe that it is clear cut and it is one which should have been resolved without the need for drama.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Might I again refer the House to your previous ruling. Perhaps the honourable member who is now speaking will act in accordance with the ruling which you made previously.
– I rise on the same point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the honourable member for Cowper has already bowed to your ruling, has referred to it and has said that he just wanted to mention the matter in passing because it affected the proposed loan under consideration. I think that he ought to be allowed to complete his sentence. There is an obvious sensitivity in the Government ranks on this question. We have seen that, we appreciate it and we do not. want to dwell on it. But the honourable member ought to be allowed to complete his sentence.
-Order! The honourable member for Kooyong is debating the question. I think the honourable member for Cowper in passing might have mentioned the matter. But I hope that that time has passed over and he will get back to the Bill.
– The Bill quite clearly indicates that the proposed loan is for the purpose of the Government of Papua New Guinea financing public works and services. It was said last week that the Government of Papua New Guinea may be required to meet the full responsibility for airports and civil aviation. I will say no more than that. I shall relate the remainder of my remarks to the matters of public works and services. It is obvious that in the immediate future, if we are to see a satisfactory economic development, a considerable expansion in the expenditure on works and services will be necessary. This will apply to transport and to the general services, no matter what they are, that are administered by the Government of Papua New Guinea. A Budget of something in excess of $200m is not very big. The 1971- 72 Budget of Papua New Guinea was $208m of which Australia provided $36m and in the same year it provided loan assistance of $10m. Papua New Guinea’s Budget last year was slightly larger. When we add that assistance to the support we are giving to the extent of $A14.3m it comes to a considerable sum of money. But let us look at the expenditure requirements. For example, the cost of works on the Southern Highlands Highway is something like $21m. Other propositions for expenditure on roads range from single projects involving $3m to smaller projects which do not involve less significant amounts. The requirement for the maintenance of transport is something like $18m. That is merely to maintain existing communications. There is a requirement of $15.6m for the maintenance of roads and bridges. The power generation requirement amounts to $24m. I think those figures indicate the kind of basic expenditure that is necessary in the government sector to provide a basis for a continuation of the economic development that is rapidly occurring in Papua New Guinea. I am sure that this Parliament will fully support this objective.
Reference was made by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) to what he mysteriously described as some possibility of revaluation or devaluation at some future obscure time. The honourable member went on to advocate that a country such as Papua New Guinea should undertake devaluation. I would hope that the honourable member’s philosophy will not be the one that is followed by those who have the responsibility of looking after the interests of Papua New Guinea in the immediate future. There are problems enough without creating them and certainly devaluation would be following a philosophy that brings in its wake all of the miserable things of the underdeveloped world that we do not want to see happen in Papua New Guinea. The suggestion that what goes on in the People’s Republic of China could be followed in Papua New Guinea leaves one wondering where the basic philosophy on the other side of the House is coming from these days. Certainly we want none of it in Papua New Guinea. I believe that thinking people will see clearly that the existing standards can be maintained and that with proper leadership Papua New Guinea will not find itself engulfed in the kind of difficulties that have confronted other similar regions in the world.
Likewise there is a need on the part of Papua New Guinea and the present Australian Government to be mindful of what might, be described as the ‘risk of overindulgence’ in the field of investment which is allowed into that country from outside. I read figures yesterday which I will quote. I am not able to substantiate them but I believe that they are figures that are worthy of debate in this House and perhaps they could be clarified at some future time. The information given was that 2 years ago Japanese investment in Papua New Guinea stood at $2m and that today it stands at $3 5m. If this is correct I believe it indicates 2 things: First of all there is a near takeover of certain industries justification for it. Secondly, that perhaps there is justification for having a look at how it can be farmed out to greater advantage. Certainly the assistance given by the Japanese must be acknowledged but we want to be sure that a situation does not arise in which there is a near takeover of certain industries or certain enterprises. This would be a bad thing for the Territory if it were allowed to run at too strong a rate in a manner that would subsequently create a backwash.
Of course, the important consideration is the earning capacity of whatever industry and development takes place and the benefits that flow from that earning capacity within the country. In other words, I refer to the employment levels and the standard of employment or to use another descriptive term, the ‘rate of pay’ for those who are employed. I am not talking about individual pay rates. I am talking about the number of people employed and what it means to a community because at this stage of development the important considerations are the numbers and the spread of employment rather than individual standards. Individual standards must be considered in terms of a basic aspect of the matter. But today in Papua New Guinea there are hundreds of thousands of able bodied people who are keen and anxious to enter into employment. Whatever we do in the government sector or in the private sector in respect of employment must have as its objective that as many people as possible get the benefit so that there is a greater level of useful employment. This is the key for the future of Papua New Guinea. I support the Bill before the House and I hope that this will only be the forerunner of many things that we will do in this Parliament to assist the development of Papua New Guinea.
– Just very briefly in response to the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun)-
-Order! I should like to remind the House that the Minister is not concluding the debate because he did not introduce the Bill. If any honourable member wants to speak after the Minister, he may do so.
– The. honourable member for Kingston raised some questions about currency. The present position is that a banking adviser has been appointed to the Papua New Guinea Government. That Government is going ahead with the establishment of a Papua New Guinea bank and central banking activities and of course it will be the responsibility of that bank, when it is formed, to examine any of the questions that relate to currency. The honourable member for Kingston raised a couple of hypothetical questions. I do not believe that it would serve any useful purpose at this stage to discuss the various options.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 12 April (vide page 1439), on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks parliamentary approval of Australia’s ratification of the amendments to the International Labour Organisation constitution adopted in 1964 and 1972. The amendments deal with the application of the convention to the non-metropolitan territories of member states, the powers of the ILO to suspend or expel member states and increases in the size of the governing body. The Opposition supports the terms of the Bill.
In accord with the Government, the Opposition strongly supports the role of the International Labour Organisation in seeking to provide economic and social responsibility, to improve labour conditions and living standards and to secure social justice throughout the world. The former Government ensured that Australia’s contribution to that international forum during the last 2 decades was both positive and constructive. Our record as a federal member state in ratifying 33 conventions by December 1972 was commendable in view of the substantial consititutional difficulties involved. The following observations of the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation are particularly pertinent:
The Constitution, as amended in 1946, now places the emphasis on co-operation between federal and State governments for the purpose of giving effect to Conventions relating to matters appropriate, in whole or part, for state rather than federal action, and in this and other ways significant progress has been made in resolving the problem in respect of all the federal states except the United States; in Australia and Canada, in particular, there has been substantial progress. The problem of the participation of federal states in international legislation ls so important an element of the effectiveness of international legislation generally that the ILO experience in he matter is of much wider interest.
The Opposition recognises that there are special problems in ratifying ILO conventions which are only partly within the legislative authority of their constituent governments. While it is the Commonwealth Government alone which may decide whether or not to ratify a convention, because reservations to ratification are not permissible, the Opposition believes that no Australian government ought to ratify conventions involving the States when all States have not formally agreed to the ratification. In addition, a convention should not be ratified if any point of conflict exists between the law and practice, in any jurisdiction, of the provisions of the convention. The problems facing federal states such as Australia in seeking to ratify ILO conventions are substantial. As many as 9 separate sets of legislation, Commonwealth and State, including the ACT the NT, may be relevant to the matters covered in a convention. This situation has the inherent result of making consultations between the Commonwealth and the States complex and often prolonged.
Another problem facing Australia is the interpretation of the provisions of ILO conventions. When the ILO was established in 1919, the 45 foundation member states tended to have broadly similar political and social systems. Similar universality of political, social and industrial experience does not exist today among the substantially increased membership. There are extreme variations in political philosophies. In addition, there must be compromise in the provisions of conventions and recommendations between those appropriate for industrialised countries and those which are more realistic for developing countries. Moreover, in a tripartite system, a convention which emerges from the process of committee discussion and through the plenary session of the conference is a document which reflects the compromises of a tripartite debate and the concept of the lowest common denominator of universality. It is against this background that the ratification of conventions must be examined in Australia. The previous Government ratified conventions only when there was considered to be complete compliance with all the provisions of a convention. The Opposition is concerned that the present Government, in determining that Australia should ratify as many of the ILO conventions as expeditiously as possible to improve our international image and to underline our support for the work of ILO, needs to ensure that conventions ratified are conversions which can and must be observed because there is a very real danger that the present Government having adopted this philosophy will undertake on behalf of this country obligations which cannot be upheld in either the Commonwealth of State jurisdictions.
Some countries do not have a history of concern with the observation of conventions. For instance, ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations in each year since 1959 has been requesting the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to provide the texts of the labour codes in force for the republics of the Union. After consistent requests the USSR Government has not produced any legislation giving effect in the majority of the Soviet Republics to at least 10 conventions ratified by the USSR. If governments are prepared to ratify conventions without giving effect to them, then the currency of ratification will be debased and the whole system of establishing international labour standards will be valueless.
The Opposition recognises that the International Labour Organisation has built up over a long period , an impressive code of labour standards. However, we believe that the primary need :for the future is not so much the development of a more extensive code of principles but a rigorous examination by member states of the methods of transferring existing principles into action. Although we must be concerned with social justice in this context, we must recognise also that trade union movements have become more concerned with immediate industrial objectives. In this context the ILO has, to a certain extent, become an increasingly symbolic forum. The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) referred, albeit obliquely, to the major thrust of ILO’s current programs. He referred in particular to the World Employment Program. The Opposition supports the activities of the ILO in this regard as we recognise that industrialisation, though raising production in developing countries, is not creating job opportunities at a rate necessary to accommodate the increase in the labour force of those countries. In this regard we believe that the International Labour Organisation with its unique principle of tripartism i is the most appropriate international forum in which labour problems associated with the industrial goals of developing nations can be articulated and solutions found to the very difficult problems which these countries are facing at present. The ILO ought to be effective in encouraging governments to avoid technocratic approaches to planning which aim to maximise productive growth, irrespective of the consequences for employment of the means used. Capital intensive techniques, while often providing the most effective means of raising the level of production, can at the same time be the least effective way of ensuring reasonable levels of employment.
In his reference to the World Employment Program, the Minister chose to say that members of the Opposition ‘can testify that high rates of unemployment bring political retribution’. This politicised comment by the Minister was unfortunate in the context of a speech on the ILO. It is true that unemployment is one of the foremost causes of political instability in developing countries and this is one of the reasons why the ILO deserves our support. But Australia, under the former Government, maintained an employment record which has yet to be equalled by any of the Free World members of the ILO. The present Minister for Labour, prior to the election, was predicting that unemployment would rise to 200,000 in the early part of 1973.
– What is the honourable member talking about?
– 1 will come to the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) when I speak during a later debate today. He would be well advised to listen to the context in which the comments are being made at this stage. I might say that the Minister’s shipping policies, as he would well know, have done little if anything at all to maintain the levels of employment that ought to be one of his consistent goals in this Parliament and outside it.
– Orderl I ask the honourable member not to be diverted by interjections. The Minister for Transport will remain silent.
– I appreciate your support and your protection, Mr Speaker, against hostile interjections from the Government benches. In spite of subsequent events which demonstrated that his predictions had been so absurd as to be plainly irresponsible, he introduced early this year a new delusion that the reason why unemployment had not risen to 200,000 was die growing business confidence in the new Government and the adoption of new eco nomic initiatives. This, of course, represents a complete failure to understand the time lag in the direct impact which government economic initiatives have on the labour market and an exceedingly poor judgment of the views of the business community which have recently been more accurately reflected in depressed stock markets throughout Australia.
The International Labour Organisation also merits support for its technical assistance. The list of activities which come under the heading of technical assistance is voluminous and diversified. It includes research, training, and management education and extends of course into many related fields. However, the Opposition believes it is important that this assistance be designed to improve the level of production in developing countries in order to raise their direct living standards. As I have mentioned previously, technocratic approaches to programs of this type ought not to be directed to the maximisation of profits but rather to overall national economic objectives with particular emphasis on the utilisation of labour in the achievement of those objectives.
The Opposition recognises that in contemporary Western societies workers are concerned about employment, but the maintenance of full employment is a matter of general economic policy rather than a labour policy per se. It is achieved by the regulation of public expenditure, by fiscal measures, by investment policies and so on. However, such measures are not directly within the scope of labour departments. A labour policy as such must be concerned with effective forms of training and retraining and the relocation of workers through active manpower planning policies while an employment policy remains the central function of government which requires the co-ordination of many policy areas, only some of which are within the jurisdiction of labour departments. However, the Opposition believes that the fact that many of the central economic functions of government do not have their basis in labour matters ought not to preclude them from discussion at the ILO.
One of the most salient advantages that the ILO possesses, and possesses exclusively, is its tripartite nature. This is pertinent as governments in many countries do not have all the facilities necessary to control matters of vital economic significance. In free societies, public policy cannot be exclusively governmental. To be properly effective it must have the commitment of both the employer and employee organisations. Therefore, discussions at the ILO on matters of fundamental economic concern, such as inflation, are not simply highly desirable - they are essential. Insofar as Australia is concerned, the problem of inflation is particularly relevant at this time when our rate of inflation is the subject of deep concern throughout the Australian community. The unsatisfactory results of price control mechanisms which have been experienced in many countries throughout the world could well be articulated and discussed by member nations of the ILO. In this way the International Labour Organisation could make a greater and more significant contribution to the developed countries of the world.
I want to point out to the Minister for Labour, who is about to undertake his first visit to the ILO as the leader of the Australian delegation to that important forum, that I believe he could well be disappointed with the nature of the discussions that take place there. A group with the significance which must be attached to tripartite discussions between governments, employers and members of trade, unions must of necessity, I believe, be concerned with the very real practical questions facing all countries throughout the world. I think of inflation, of the many systems of industrial relations, of the concept of collective bargaining, of a form of conciliation and arbitration that is applied in so many countries, and of the causes of industrial unrest - those matters which can lead to strike action on behalf of and by trade unions. I think also of a fundamental question deserving of more public discussion than it is receiving today, that is, the alienation of workers from the work processes in which they are involved.
I know the Minister would be one of the first to applaud the concept that there ought to be, at a forum such as the ILO, far more effective discussion on those principal questions. At present, the discussions being held on them are taking place outside, of the ILO and that body is yet to provide the type of expert documents which are brought down by, for instance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Minister will find that some of the civil servants, both international civil servants and those representing member countries at the
ILO, believe the Minister is there to grace the proceedings and to dignify the scene but not to play any effective part except to make a short speech at the plenary session. I believe it is of utmost importance that Ministers who do attend ILO discussions ought to have separate ministerial sessions at which they can exchange their views on matters of fundamental concern to them as Ministers and to the countries they represent.
In debating the Bill before the House it must be made clear that the Government has powers to ratify amendments, to the ILO constitution without having to seek formal parliamentary approval. While the Opposition supports the principle that it is desirable to have parliamentary approval for these matters it cannot accept that this Bill should have been introduced in this session. During the current session the Government is seeking to introduce an unprecedented level of legislation and in so doing it has attempted to deny to the Opposition Parties an adequate and proper opportunity to examine the essential terms of its legislation.
Sir, you would be very aware that the major political Bills to be brought down by the Government are now being introduced in the final 2- weeks of the session. They are being forced through this House without the Opposition Parties having a reasonable opportunity to examine their nature or to bring their alternative policies to the attention of the national Parliament. It is in this context that the Opposition believes it to be quite unwarranted to introduce a Bill of this nature which does not require legislative action by this Parliament. In saying that, I accept that what is in the Bill is something along the lines that the Opposition certainly would support. Therefore, whilst the opposition supports the terms of the Bill, it believes the Government has raised substantial doubts about its intentions with respect to ILO conventions. The Opposition calls, on the Minister to make it perfectly clear to the House that any convention which is ratified by him is a convention about which he can say with total confidence that it will not be. observed simply in accordance with the spirit of the law but will be observed rigorously in Australia both at a Commonwealth and State level. We on this side, of the House will be paying close attention to the Government’s future actions in this regard. The Opposition parties support the Bill.
– Like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), I shall be brief in my remarks. I shall be brief mainly because time is wanted for the discussion of the politically important Bills which have been introduced into this House at the last moment, although I do not think that this Bill is of itself unimportant. I was glad that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) spoke in general terms in the introductory part of his speech because it is the general picture rather than the details that I think should be brought to the attention of this House. I support the concept of the International Labour Organisation, but I think that the Government should be made aware of the obligations it has undertaken in respect to the ILO and realise that it may be rushing in and inadvisedly taking snap decisions the implications of which are not always apparent.
That was most evident in the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in this House recently. It was pointed out during that debate that the Government had ratified conventions 87 and 98 and that they were binding on Australia. I am perfectly well aware of the constitutional position. The treaty making powers of the Government were discussed long ago in the Goya Henry case. Although there is some doubt about the ambit of those powers it is quite apparent that they extend to regulating the terms of any Act which this Parliament may validly make. I say that because I must at this stage recall to the attention of the House the debate which is reported at page 1810 of Hansard of 8th May this year. I regret to say that the Minister, in speaking of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, displayed a lamentable ignorance of constitutional and legal principles. He said something in this House which was wrong and showed that he did not understand the situation. He said: . . there is no constitutional power to write into the Conciliation and Arbitration Act any international obligations under conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
This is wrong in law and only an inexperienced and ignorant Minister could have said something along those lines. I am afraid that we have to admit now that we have a new Minister who does not always understand the implications of what he is doing. In respect of Australia he has undertaken an obligation which is binding in law insofar as it applies to any Act which this Commonwealth Parliament itself may validly make. 1 am, as I have said, well aware of the implications of the Goya Henry case and subsequent cases which have followed from it, in regard to the limitations of the Commonwealth Government’s treaty-making power. But it is surely obvious that the treaty-making power extends to any matter in which the Commonwealth Government may itself validly pass a law. Therefore, the obligations which we have undertaken under Convention 87 of the ILO - obligations which may go to the very root of our whole industrial arbitration system - are obligations which, whether the Minister likes it or not by reason of the thing which he has inadvisedly and lightly done, are already binding on the Commonwealth. He has undertaken obligations on behalf of Australia which he will find very difficult to carry out. Those obligations are already legally binding. He has signed Australia’s name to those obligations. I think there will follow from this consequences which he may not like and which he did not intend, but the legal commitment has already been made. I should like the Minister to rethink for a moment what the position is in international law.
There Is only one other observation I should like to make. In general, the conventions of the ILO are directed towards the wage level and the conditions of employment level which are part of the wage structure. They are quite rightly directed towards such things as freedom of association, safety, hours of work, conditions of work and things of this character because the members of that Organisation desire, one against the other, to be protected against the consequences of sweated labour. In the past it may be that these things were not of such immediate application because the countries where wages were low were also the countries where there were very few technological advances and so the low wages were counterbalanced by industrial inefficiency. This is no longer true. For example, in countries such as Communist China, there are industries which technologically are just as efficient as any industry in Australia or the United States of America, perhaps not overall, but in the smaller areas where these industries - for example, the textile industry - apply principles which they have imported from overseas.
In those industries, because of the lower wages and the sweated employees - the people who are being exploited and victimised by their totalitarian states because they have no real freedom of association - the products can be produced at minimal cost. When those products are exported and come into competition with goods made in Australia, one of two things must happen: Either the goods will be sold at low rates and therefore the product of cheap labour with efficient machinery will be at unfair competition with the goods produced in Australia or, alternatively, their prices will be raised. In that case we will be condoning the sweating and exploitation of Chinese labour by the Chinese communist state. Surely this is something which we would not want to happen. This is the kind of thing for which the ILO was founded and one would hope that Australia’s representatives in the ILO, and elsewhere, would be vigilant to see that this kind of thing does not occur.
At the moment, for example, we have a delegation in Communist China looking at its industries. I put it to the Government that the first thing it should be asking that delegation to do is to look at the wage level in these competing industries where industrial efficiency occurs to see how it compares with the Australian wage level. I speak not only of money wages but also of the conditions that go with them, the way in which work is organised, the industrial limitations of work, the hours of work and the conditions that go with employment. The delegation should look at the whole of the wage structure in its total context. If it turns out that there is sweated labour, by Australian standards, in these industries where there is imported from overseas the technological efficiency of our industries, we should take steps to see that the products of such industries are not imported into Australia because either we should protect the Australian workmen or, alternatively, if we have any international obligations at all, they include the international obligation to assist in protecting the Chinese worker against exploitation by his own state machine.
In Australia and in other countries such as the United Kingdom or the United States of America, there is freedom to organise, freedom to come together and freedom of discussion. All these things are good and we want them because they are part of our society. They bring great social advantages which we want to preserve but, at the same time, we must realise that those freedoms which we enjoy impose on us economic costs. I believe that the social advantages outweigh the economic costs, and I make that clear. If we are to trade overseas we have to protect our own social advantages against those overseas who economically are cheating and black legging - call it what you like. We must have some measure of protection against them. It is not enough to say: ‘Let them put their prices up’. That type of protection simply means that we are condoning the sweating of labour overseas for the benefit of the totalitarian states. The totalitarian states, which are organised in a socialistic way, are able to sweat labour. This is the great secret of the communists. The communists have taken a feature which Lenin always denounced as being so bad in capitalist society and they have applied it in reverse, because they exploit their workers for the benefit of the totalitarian, socialist state. It is Leninism but it is Leninism in reverse. This is what is happening in Russia today. This is what is happening in Communist China today. It is what will happen in every socialist state. One thing we have to do is protect the Australian worker against unfair competition, organised from socialist states, against his own freer way of life. Of course he has the social advantages of freedom. They are very real advantages, and I assert that they are greater than the economic penalties that we pay for them. But we do pay economic penalties for social advantages, and because we pay these economic penalties we have to protect our Australian workmen. This is our responsibility here. We have to protect our Australian workmen from the blacklegs overseas, whether they be willing blacklegs or whether they be, as I think they are, the unfortunate slaves of their overseas socialist systems. But whatever it is, whichever way we. look at it, it is our business to protect the Australian worker.
– Unlike the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), it is my intention to speak about the Bill that is before the House. Before doing that I would like to comment on some of the remarks made by the. honourable gentleman. I am sure that he is sincere in what he has told us about Communist China, although I must remind the honourable gentleman that he is 3 years out of date. The current expression is ‘the People’s Republic of China’. If the things that be has told us about this terrible place are true and that the poor workers in that country are being exploited by their totalitarian bosses - the honourable member nods his head, so that must be true because the honourable gentleman is well known for his veracity - may I point out to him the position of Workers in liberated countries, countries that are free of communist domination and countries where the people determine their own destiny.
– And countries without trade unions.
– And countries without trade unions. I cite 3 countries - Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. I point out to the honourable genteman that the average wage for a worker in the textile industry in Taiwan is 25c an hour, in Hong Kong it is 29c an hour and in South Korea it is 21c an hour. But these workers are not exploited by their communist bosses because they do not have communist bosses. They live in liberated countries. They live under the fine capitalist system which the honourable member so obviously supports. Instead of being expoited by their communist bosses they are exploited by their American imperialist bosses. The machinery and the factories in those countries are owned by Americans, overseas people. For the information of the House, the threat to the Australian textile industry does not come from the People’s Republic of China. In fact the threat comes from countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea which, I repeat, are fine liberated countries. So much for the honourable gentleman’s argument on that score.
What we are talking about today is the International Labour Organisation Bill which deals with the ratification of a number of conventions that have been carried by thai Organisation. In his second reading speech the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) said, and I agree entirely with his sentiments:
The ILO is unique in the international community because it is the only organisation in which representatives of workers and employers participate on an equal footing with those of governments in policy formulation and decision-making. This tripartite composition ensures that the ILO is widely representative of each country and that its work is clearly established in, and focussed on, the human and social problems of the people of the world and the real improvement of their life. For this reason alone it deserves the support of us all.
Yet the honourable member seemed to think that the International Labour Organisation concerned itself purely and simply, if I have copied down what he said correctly, with wage levels, conditions of work and so on. Had the honourable gentleman bothered to read the Bill that is before the House, he would have found that in fact none of the propositions that are asked to be ratified deal with wages, working conditions or like matters. Rather do they deal with such questions as the responsibility of a nation that has dependencies, as Australia does milk Papua New Guinea, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the like. They deal also with the question of apartheid. Neither of these matters directly refers to wages and working conditions of workmen in Australia, rather do they refer to the responsibilities of this Government. Thank God that after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party rule we now have a responsible Government that will face up to its responsibilities to those around it.
It is within the memory of every member of this House that when sporting representatives from a country that is notorious for selecting its teams on a racial basis came to Australia the people of this country, including of course trade union officials and members, raised great protest at the flaunting in the face of the Australian people of the policy of such a decadent regime as that of South Africa. If one cares to read the relevant convention of the International Labour Organisation, one will find that opposition to such sporting teams was within the framework of the thinking of the ILO at the time, and still is. In fact, to the best of my knowledge South Africa has been expelled from the International Labour Organisation because of the convention that provides that any nation that is expelled from the United Nations shall be expelled from the International Labour Organisation. So those who stood in this House at that time and criticised and condemned the trade unions for their progressive thinking and their willingness to take action on a social question, must of course now stand condemned themselves, because the ILO states that the action taken by the unions is exactly what should have happened anyhow. It was the Government of the day that was at fault not the trade unions which took action.
It is very pleasing to hear both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and the honourable member for Mackellar laud the ILO - the formation of it, the structure of it and the decision-making process of it - because unlike those who now sit in opposition, we who sit on the Government side of the Parliament have always believed in consultation at this level and that the decisions carried by this body should be recognised by the
Government of Australia and, where constitutionally possible, should be implemented.
I must come back to the point that the ILO is not just some super trade union movement but that in fact it concerns itself with all matters that affect people and their associations with one another, such abhorrent matters as apartheid, and seeing that those nations which have dependencies make every effort to ensure that the workmen who work in those dependencies and thereby create the wealth are not denied any share of that wealth. It must be remembered that all actions of government in the long term and the short term affect the people of the country and especially the workers of the country. The previous Government of this country was notorious for the way in which it endeavoured to break the organised trade union movement in this country, the only voice with which many people in this country could speak. When a government takes action the consequences filter down to the people who rely on their labour to survive.
One matter I have in mind is political strikes. How often have we heard in this House talk about work stoppages through what were termed political strikes. We have heard such comments in relation to escalation of the bombing in Vietnam, detonation of a nuclear device in the Pacific area, a visit to this country of a sporting team representing a country that selects its sporting teams strictly on a racial basis, and many other issues. Many people who supported the previous Government termed them political strikes. Those honourable and sometimes learned gentlemen should be prepared to read through the decisions of the International Labour Organisation. I repeat that it is an organisation of workers, employers and governments. Were those gentlemen to read through the decisions of the ILO taken over the years they would find running through them a thread that they abhorred when they were in office, contrary to the principles they lauded.
It is most significant that this measure does not need to be brought forward. The Government in this instance does not need the approval of the Parliament yet it has brought forward this measure simply because, unlike the governments of the preceding 23 years, it wants the Parliament to know what it is doing. Through the Parliament it is letting the people know what it is doing. That is an important democratic principle that seems to be supported only by us on this side of the House. It is important if the true concept of democracy is to survive in this country. No longer can we tolerate the taking of decisions by governments in Cabinet rooms without bothering to tell the Parliament or the people what they are doing.
This Bill is divided into 2 parts. The first part relates to 2 technical amendments which change certain numbers and words. It would take far too long to detail them now. The second part of the Bill ratifies decisions taken by previous conventions. One provides:
Australia is a member nation of the International Labour Organisation; Papua New Guinea is not. We - including the people of Papua New Guinea - trust that in a short time Papua New Guinea will enjoy nationhood in its own right and that it will be able to take its place as a member nation of the ILO. In the intervening period the convention makes it incumbent upon Australia to draw to the attention of the Government of Papua New Guinea matters which are of direct concern to it. The Government of Papua New Guinea in return is to respond to the Australian Government as a member nation. Australia then has a responsibility to report back to the International Labour Organisation. Once again it is indicative of the openness of the present Government that the decisions taken are communicated directly. Decisions are not passed on by the grapevine. It is a direct responsibility of a member nation to convey to its dependent states matters which will affect them, and all these matters do affect them. A dependent state has a responsibility to consider a proposition and to express its point of view back to the member nation. The member nation in turn shall convey that point of view to the ILO. Nothing could be fairer.
That convention was passed quite some time ago but was never agreed to by the previous Government. In fact, the previous
Government agreed to very few ILO conventions and quite a number of them are outstanding. The present Labor Government of Australia strongly supports the structure of the ILO. It is a participant in ILO meetings. The Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) will go to Geneva in June as Australia’s representative. For the first time in many years a Geneva Conference will be refurbished and invigorated by the presence of an Australian Labor Party Minister. I wish him well on the journey. I am sure he will bring to the meeting the wisdom he has brought to this Parliament in speaking on industrial relations.
Many other matters are of prime concern to our people. The honourable member for Flinders, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, spoke on unemployment, a matter of prime concern to our people. Perhaps the matter of greatest concern to working people is unemployment. It involves the availability of employment opportunities and protection against the capricious actions of governments which can take away from a man his right to earn a living in the community. If I heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition correctly he said that there was unemployment, but he was gracious enough to acknowledge that relatively serious unemployment occurred in the period prior to the Federal election. He further indicated that the level of unemployment had been reduced. He seemed to be saying that unemployment had been reduced because the previous Government, before its defeat in 1972, had set in train a course of action which took some time to take effect. He said that it was only now taking effect and that the economic decisions and actions of the previous government had reduced unemployment to its present level.
The honourable member tor Flinders has generally been a very gracious gentleman. I am surprised that on this occasion he was not gracious enough to acknowledge that it is only the action taken by the Labor Government since last December that has caused a drop in unemployment. He forgot to mention, as I have just mentioned, that the capricious actions of the previous Government threw 120,000 people out of work in Australia. The responsible actions taken by a responsible government since last December have meant that the slack in the economy has been taken up. There is no doubt in my mind, and I am sure in the minds of my colleagues, that the trouble stemmed from the actions taken by the previous Government in its 1972-73 Budget in order to correct its previous mistakes. It may sound hackneyed, but I repeat that after 23 years in office the previous Government should have learned not to make mistakes. But it made mistakes in 1954, 1961 and 1971. Supporters of the previous Government did not know how to manage the economy. As a direct result of their attempts to rectify their previous mistakes, 120,000 people were thrown out of work and were caused great hardship. The present Government follows the conventions of the International Labour Organisation. Through wisdom, good and sound common sense :ind our expert knowledge of the economy and its impact on the working people for whom we care greatly, we on this side of the House will never be led into the trap into which the previous Government was so easily led.
All in all, although the measure before the House is of a technical nature, it does open up many questions for discussion. Honourable members opposite never miss an opportunity in speaking to bash the unions. For as long as they want to do that I will never miss an opportunity to defend the unions and the working people of this country. The measure can receive no serious opposition. The Government and the Minister for Labour, are to be commended for bringing this matter to the attention of the House so that it can be aired, rather than shuffling it around as the previous Government did for so long. It is commendable that the Minister has brought these matters, which are of interest and concern to the community, to the people through the medium of the Parliament so that they can be publicly discussed and understood and. in this way, prevent difficulties arising.
– in reply - I rise to close the debate. I should like to compliment the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) on the quite thoughtful contribution that he made to the debate. Usually, one does not expect to have a meaningful debate on a matter so technical as this. Today has been an exception. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), although he made some statements with which I would find myself in disagreement, nonetheless touched on important aspects of International Labour Organisation conventions, the ratification of conventions and what is involved in the ratificcation of conventions. In particular, I want to compliment the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) on his speech. His was a very down to earth, sensible contribution which really touched upon the main issues about which ILO concerns itself.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition expressed the view that the Government was taking on too much and was ratifying too many conventions. I can say only that unless we start ratifying soon some of the conventions that were agreed upon over the last 30 or 40 years, we will be so far behind that we will never catch up. It seems to me to be a rather odd position for a government to take, whether it be a Liberal government or a Labor government, that it will send its represenatives to Geneva, will participate in debates, will speak in favour of the ratification of conventions, will vote for the ratification of conventions, will use its voice and vote to tell other people that they ought to ratify and support the principles contained in conventions and then promptly forget all about them and do nothing about the matter. Unfortunately, that has been the experience of the Australian Parliament for the past 23 years. Former governments - not only the McMahon Government but also the Gorton Government, the Holt Government and the Menzies Government, in that reverse order - did practically nothing to ratify the conventions.
I realise that to ratify conventions, the Commonwealth Government must obtain the approval of the State governments because they have sovereign rights. They are looked upon as being sovereign governments and because of this, with a federal system such as we have, those 6 governments must be consulted and must agree before ratification is possible. I know that this is not terribly easy to arrange. I have discovered however that the State governments will react much more sympathetically than one would be entitled to believe, judging from what appeared to be the progress made during the last 23 years. I was very quick to bring to the notice of the State Ministers in charge of labour the need to give Australia an opportunity to take its proper place among the nations of the world and I was agreeably surprised by the alacrity with which those State governments, Libera] and Labor alike, responded to my plea for their co-operation. I cannot speak too highly of that co-operation.
As a consequence of this, we have been able to reach the position where we are able to ratify, or have already ratified, something like 8 conventions in the short period that we have been in government. I believe that to be a very laudable effort on the part of the present Government. We have ratified the important Convention No. Ill which strikes at discrimination on grounds of sex, politics, religion or colour. Although it is not a convention which calls for or can be implemented by statute, it never did require more from the Commonwealth than a declaration of intent. Why on earth we had failed to give that declaration of intent when all of the things specified in the Convention were things with which I would think every fair-minded Australian would find himself in agreement is completely beyond me.
We are still consulting about the other Convention relating to discrimination. I refer to Convention No. 100 which is designed to prevent discrimination on grounds of sex. My Government is considering this matter right now. We have made contact with the Ministers in charge of labour in the States. 1 have talked with them myself and again I found - not so much now to my surprise, because I had overcome the first surprise earlier - a healthy response and understanding on the part of the State Ministers for the need to ratify this Convention relating to discrimination on the grounds of sex. My Department has taken a great deal of interest in this matter since I became Minister for Labour. We believe that we are now very close to reaching agreement with the States on the ratification of Convention No. 100.
I firmly believe in the principle of equal pay. I have never heard anyone in this Parliament from either side declare publicly - some honourable members may say so privately at cocktail parties - that he does not believe in equal pay or that he has certain reservations about it. One good reason for not doing so is that little more than one-half of the people who vote on election day are women and women are starting to stand up on their hind legs - if they have hind legs; I do not know what women do - and demand some proper recognition. They are not prepared to be treated any longer as fifth-rate citizens. They want some right to determine their own destiny. They are not prepared to send male people into this Parliament-
– Male people?
– Yes, male people, people like yourself, 1 assume, who come into this Parliament to put a purely male point of view. I think that many honourable gentlemen opposite who are smiling at this idea of women standing up for their rights might find that they will lose either their smile or their seat after the next election if they do not pay proper heed to what women are thinking.
That is why I am determined to ensure that the principle of equal pay is introduced into the Commonwealth Public Service as quickly as is possible. To me, it is outrageous that the Commonwealth Public Service should seek to take advantage of the phasing in period which the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission gave to private employers for the purpose of introducing equal pay for the sexes. What right has a Government instrumentality like the Public Service Board to treat itself as the spearhead of employer attack upon employees and trade unions? It has absolutely no right to play that sort of role in the affairs of the nation. I am moving right now to resolve the question of the keyboard groups who, because they are not attached to an equivalent male group, are finding it more difficult than other female groups have in the past to show that they are not being paid along the principles of equal pay. I am greatly in the debt of the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) for the superb role that he has played and is playing in bringing about equal pay for women in the Public Service. The Government has taken steps to give women a better deal than they have ever had before in the question of maternity leave. If honourable gentlemen opposite ever thought they could qualify for maternity leave they would not be so niggardly as they are now about having maternity leave extended to employees of the Commonwealth Public Service.
The same thing applied in the national wage case. Again the Government decided to intervene on the side of women to ensure that they received the same pay as men. I think we all ought to express our indebtedness to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which in its recent judgment decided that the increase in the total wage of $2.50 plus 24 per cent should apply to men and women alike. That is to the great credit of the Commission. I was impressed by what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said about ILO documents. He criticised the ILO for not producing any documents.
– It was $2.50 and 2 per cent.
– You made a mistake. I am correcting it.
– Thank you very much. I am obliged to you. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the ILO has never produced any documents. That is not true. It would be more to the point if he said: ‘I have never bothered to read any of them.’ I am pleased to say that a very senior officer of my Department, who is advising me right now, is a lady from the Central Office - Miss Braybrook. It is most appropriate that the Department had the good sense to send a lady to advise me and to advise anybody who wants to talk to her about this matter. The thing that surprises me is that a lady of her qualifications is still only at class 8 of the Third Division. So whilst ladies can get jobs, they find it very difficult to get a rating that a man would get if he were in the same position.
– You are going to fix it, are you?
– I have no power to fix it - I wish I could - but I hope that the Public Service Board is listening. I will send it a copy of my speech, which is the best way to make representations. I hope that the Board will take note of what I have just said. Miss Braybrook has informed me that there is a mass of material produced by the ILO. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be delighted to know that I have issued instructions for all this material to be sent to him. When he reads it I will be glad to hear his comments upon it.
– Have you read it?
– Of course I have. How could I make a speech like this if I had not read the material? It is true that the ILO documents do not match the sophistication of the documents of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, but the ILO is dealing with a different level of nationhood - with emerging nations, with nations that are just coming out of the darkness into the light - whereas the OECD is a rich nations’ club. It is an entirely different proposition. Of course it is putting out better or more sophisticated material. But to suggest that the ILO is doing nothing is to indicate either gross ignorance of the true position or else a refusal to read the material that has gone across the honourable gentleman’s desk in former years.
But I agree with something else- that he said, and that is that civil servants expect Ministers when they go to the ILO conferences merely to grace the proceedings and not to participate in the proceedings. He said that there ought to be more opportunity for discussions to take place at ministerial level. I agree with this. I have already arranged, by a request that I made to the Prime Minister, that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as the official spokesman on labour relations should represent the Opposition and should be given the opportunity to attend the ILO conference. For the first time in the history of the Australian Parliament an official representative of the Opposition will be attending the ILO conference this year. On my return I will be seeking leave to make a statement to the Parliament on my impressions of what is happening at the ILO, and the Opposition’s official spokesman will follow me and say what he thinks about it. At the points where we diverge the House can intervene, debate the issue and say whether it agrees with my viewpoint or his. I think the House will be struck by the degree of unanimity which we will reach on the things that ought to be done and which are not now being done.
– Thank you. I agree with the honourable gentleman that civil servants want to monopolise these overseas and international conferences. One civil servant said that the reason they did not ask State Labour Ministers to go to the ILO conferences was that the Commonwealth could not trust the State Labour Ministers to represent a proper, sensible Australian viewpoint. That is not my view. It is not the view of this Government. It may not have been the view of the former Government, but this Government trusts the State Labour Ministers as much as it trusts the heads of the State departments. I have sent out a letter in which I have told the State Labour Ministers that from now on the invitation will go to the Ministers and not to the permanent heads of the particular departments. It is lucky for the permanent head of the New South Wales Department of Labour that this year he received his invitation before I got into power. So he will get his trip, but he will be the last permanent head of a State depart ment to go to the ILO to represent a State. From now on it will be the Minister and not the permanent head. That is how it should be.
As we have to rely upon the approval of the sovereign States before we can ratify a convention it ought to be the Ministers and not the civil servants who attend the convention to decide what their particular State should do. I would like to see State Labour Ministers from all the States financed through their respective State governments even if they have to combine their ILO interests with some other mission abroad. I would like to see all the State Labour Ministers go to the ILO conventions each year. We will pay the cost of one of them. The other 5 States ought to meet the cost of the other 5. If they find it possible to go, my Government will see that they are given the status of a visiting Minister, that they are serviced with the secretariat facilities that we have available there and that they are given all the courtesies and attentions which a Minister of State is entitled to demand. If more would do this, more good would come out of the ILO activities.
The honourable member for Mackellar spoke about the effect of convention No. 87 - Freedom of Association. The honourable gentleman sought to drag in China, Albania, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Portugal to show that this convention is not being recognised. ILO convention No. 87, which Australia has ratified, has been examined by a committee of experts in the light of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In November of last year it reached agreement on all matters except on the question of amalgamations of trade unions. The committee felt that it was possibly an impediment to the ILO provisions that a government should intervene and prevent amalgamations or dictate the terms upon which amalgamations could be brought about. These matters are now being overcome and we can now say, as a consequence of what a committee of experts of the ILO has told us, that there is no reason to believe and it is quite wrong for the honourable gentleman to suggest that the Government of his own country is being deceitful about a thing like this. Part of the agreement which made it possible to ratify the convention concerned was made by his Government. It is just as much a reflection upon the former Government as it is upon the present Government for any person in this place to say mat the
Government of his own country is being deceitful or dishonest. We are not being dishonest and we are not being deceitful. What we are doing has been carefully thought out and has been talked over with the States. Tripartite conferences have taken place between the Government, the employers and the unions. It is quite unfair and it ill becomes the honourable gentleman to suggest such things, lt is not like him to write down his own country and he ought not to do it. Whatever else he does he ought not to write down his own country. This Government has acted properly in the matter. I resent the suggestions made by the honourable member. I hope that now that he knows the truth he will not make the suggestion that anybody beside himself might make, that we are double dealing the rest of the countries of the world in this respect. The honourable member need not bother making a personal explanation because he knows that he said these things and that is all there is to it. : Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Indeed. 1 did not in this particular matter say that the Government was deceitful or dishonest. I neither said nor implied that. 1 said that the present Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) did not understand the consequences of what he had done. I said it was a matter of - stupidity is perhaps a hard word because he is a new man in the job-
-Order! The honourable member shall keep to the point of the misrepresentation.
– I did not want to imply even stupidity. I certainly did not say deceitful’ or ‘dishonest’. I did not imply that. There was perhaps a little bit of failure to understand the consequences of his own action - an honest failure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) read c third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1580), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports the Bill now before the House. We do so for an obvious reason which I think would be well known to you, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is that this Bill was in fact inherited from my own Government which set the foundations and established the background against which the Bill was able to be presented. Generally speaking, the background of this Bill is this: In, I believe, October 1971 the Treasury commenced an internal inquary into superannuation schemes in the Commonwealth. The investigatory committee consisted of officers of the Treasury, members of the Superannuation Board, the Government Actuary and, if my memory is correct, a representative of the Public Service Board was later added to the committee. The inquiry was an internal investigation by the Treasury. However, my colleague the then Treasurer, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), early in 1972 made a statement relating to the matter and called on a’l people who. thought that they could make a contribution to the inquiry to give their advice and assistance to the committee.
The House will also remember that during the course of the 1972-73 Budget the then Government stated that it would establish a committee to consider ways and means of financing the abolition of the means test and to look into the general problems of superannuation.
Later, after the Budget had been delivered, 1 stated that we had appointed Professor Henderson to carry out a major survey into the causes and the incidence of poverty and the action that should be taken by the Government in order to overcome poverty, wherever it might be. At the time we were drafting the Budget we examined the book prepared by the Applied Institute of Economic Science. We ensured that, on every single item touched on by the Henderson Committee at that time, the bentfits that were granted in the Budget would exceed the poverty lines as established by that Committee.
I well remember at that time discussing the matter in Cabinet, particularly with the then Minister for Social Services, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). We discussed the problems that we would face. We wanted to deal with another problem, namely, whether we should tie the base rate social service pension and the base rate repatriation pension to an index. We looked at such -matters as tying those pensions to average weekly earnings or to the gross national product - I suppose it would now be the gross domestic product - and we also looked into whether we could take into consideration contemporary salary rates for comparable types of employment and tie the pensions to those. We decided also that we would ‘“n1, ^ other matters which I will deal with later.
Later - 1 believe it was about 13th November 1972 - I personally appointed Professor Pollard to carry out an investigation into superannuation and pension schemes, particularly in relation to index ties and other matters of that kind. In the statement forwarded to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) by Professor Pollard, the Professor gives full credit to my Government for initiating the inquiry. Professor Pollard considered various means of adjusting pensions. I have mentioned some of those that we considered. Most of them were also given a most detailed and careful investigation by Professor Pollard. The first one that I think he dealt with - it was only this morning that I was able to examine the report - and which was examined very carefully was the question of tying superannuation or social service benefits to the national salary level existing at the time that changes were made and having regard to level of salary of comparable employment existing in the Service at the time of the change. Professor Pollard rejected that proposal for reasons which, though I do not completely agree with them, are sufficient justification for abandoning that method.
He then went on to examine a method which was favoured by my colleague, the then Minister for Social Services. That was adjusting superannuation and pension benefits in line with changes in gross national production. I believe that this method Professor Pollard effectively ruled out because there were too many elements to be taken into consideration which could move in disparate or opposite ways and could therefor have a distorting effect. He also pointed out, rightly I believe, that there can be changes in gross national production by reason of seasonal factors, as for example a drought or changes in the price of wool or other primary commodities. So I believe he was quite right in removing this method from consideration.
Professor Pollard also examined the question of tying pensions and superannuation payments to average weekly earnings. For similar reasons to those which we had discussed ourselves - that is, that average weekly earnings include overtime payments and payments for piece work - it was considered that this method was not appropriate for the purpose of adjusting pension payments. He also, wisely, drew attention to the fact that Public Service salaries are usually increased at a rate slightly below those of the average weekly earnings and that consequently if this method of adjustment were adopted Public Service salaries over a period of years would get out of kilter with the payments made to pensioners.
It will be seen here that there was a consistent line of policy and activity by my Government. We wanted pensions to be increased and we had various reasons for wanting pensioners to be able to join in the increased wealth that a country like ours, is able to produce. What’ was the change in philosophy that inspired my own Government? I think it is true to say that for very many years it was believed that it was the responsibility of the Government to reduce or to eliminate freedom from fear and freedom from want and that consequently the pensioner should be entitled to have confidence in the fact that he would in moments of anguish and trial be assured of a base pension that would cover, first of all, the basic necessities and later on the conventional necessities such as housing, food and clothing, health and welfare services and similar types of necessities.
I think it must be accepted that anyone who looks at the history of 23 years of achievement is entitled to say that in making a comparison with other countries Australia has done better than most and it has indeed a creditable record. But in recent years - and I can speak emphatically about the last 22 months when my own Government was in office - we evolved a new type of policy. We came to these conclusions. First of all, that there should be automatic adjustments to basic pension payments including repatriation pensions. We believed that in a country like ours which was growing increasingly in wealth and whose prospects were increasing daily, that the pensioner should not only be entitled to automatic adjustments based on changes in the cost of living but also should receive increases in his pension which would permit a continual improvement in his standard of living.
In my policy speech delivered on 14th November I stated that we would have automatic adjustments to the base rate of pension, that the adjustment would be carried out halfyearly and that at budget time we would ensure that in order to make certain that the pensioner did receive the benefits of greater growth, the budget itself would make the necessary appropriations to permit higher standards of living for these people.
It is obvious that Professor Pollard has noted carefully all that my own Government had done and all the recommendations that it had approved. I congratulate Professor Pollard in recommending that the adjustments should be automatic and that the Commonwealth’s share of the adjusted pensions should be 1-4 per cent of the changes that occurred in the consumer price index. That was the index that my own Government would have used for social service payments. There is one proviso - and I should mention it - and that is that the percentage increase itself should not be greater than the percentage increase in average weekly earnings.
Other provisions made in this Bill which I and my Party believe are of great importance include adjustment of the pension in this way and making certain that in the very unlikely event that the consumer price index goes down the pension itself will not be reduced. The Bill provides a built in protection against inflation because the greater the inflationary pressures the greater the increase will be in the pension and the less the inflationary pressures the less will be the increase in the pension. This, 1 believe, is an adjustment which must be of benefit and it is one of which we on this side of the House certainly approve. Adjustments will be automatic. Under this legislation the adjustment will apply from the first pension pay day in July.
I said that pensions would not be reduced. May I also mention 2 other statements which have been made in the second reading speech of the Treasurer? The first is that the rights of the widow will be protected. In the case of orphans and children, this is now under review and it will be considered by Professor
Pollard as will the other matters which have been referred to him under the terms of reference of the inquiry. The only reservation - perhaps I should not even put it as a reservation - is that I do hope that when Professor Henderson, in considering his report relating to social services, repatriation payments and the means of abolishing poverty within this country looks at automatic adjustments he will take notice of the arguments that are set out in the Pollard report and make adjustments based on the consumer price index with, if necessary, some additional adjustment based upon the fact that the community is becoming increasingly wealthy. In other words, making improvements consistent with both our increased wealth and the changes in productivity - we should ensure that pensioners and superannuation recipients are able to share in the improved economic conditions and are able to feel that the Government wants to abolish freedom from need, freedom from fear and freedom from want. We should all make our contribution to ensure that those ideals of a social services scheme, or a superannuation or pension scheme are observed. Having said that,. 1 do express some regret that the Treasurer did not mention that most of these proposals were initiated by my Government. I congratulate the honourable gentleman on the proposals which he has put before the House.
– I do not know whether 1 was hearing correctly when I heard the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) a former Prime Minister, firstly take credit for this Bill which is before the House and secondly state that LiberalCountry Party governments have a creditable record in this area. I will deal with that later. I would like to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Crean) who is the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for the speed with which they have acted in this matter. For the record and for the information of the right honourable member for Lowe I would like to run through the sequence of events that occurred in regard to this measure and contrast them with the sequence of events under previous Liberal-Country Party governments. Professor Pollard’s report on the inquiry into updating superannuation payments was tabled in this House on 10th April 1973. The Superannuation Bill 1973 was presented to the Parliament for consideration on 2nd May 1973.
Anybody who is a statistician - and I can see one honourable member on the other side of the House who has had considerable experience in this field making notes so he might check me out on the dates and the figures that I have - would know that 23 days have elapsed, including Saturdays and Sundays, since the date of the tabling of this report and significantly only 5 parliamentary working days have elapsed since the presentation of Professor Pollard’s report to this Parliament. I would like to contrast this speed with the speed of previous governments.
Previous Liberal-Country Party governments had plenty of opportunities to do something in this area. I think that when I present some of these facts and figures to the House honourable members will agree with me that they will show that previous governments have had a complete lack of interest in the retired Commonwealth public servant. For the record I will just quote the details. In late 1967 the then Liberal-Country Party Government under the leadership of the late revered Mr Harold Holt - and I say ‘revered’ deliberately because he was a gentleman who was widely respected by both sides of the Parliament - adjusted superannuation entitlements of retired Commonwealth public servants on what would have been their effective entitlements as at 30th June 1967. There was then a lapse of 4 years and the McMahon Government in October 1971 somewhat reluctantly adjusted the retired Commowealth pensioners’ benefits to their effective entitlements as at 30th June 1971. This legislation was introduced not only because of the inequitable treatment which was given to retired Commonwealth public servants by previous Liberal-Country Party governments, but also because of the distribution of the surplus of $14,779,000 which arose from the 9th quinquennial investigation of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund as at 30th June 1967. I ask honourable members to mark that date - 30th June 1967. The date today is 15th May 1973. The 9th quinquennial review report was presented to this Parliament on 8th March 1972 - this also represents somewhat of a lapse of time - as was the 48th annual report of the Commonwealth Superannuation Board for the year ended 30th June 1970.
I point out that at the time the Commonwealth Superannuation Board was under the ministerial control of the present Leader of the
Opposition (Mr Snedden) who succeeded the right honourable member for Lowe - the previous Prime Minister - as Treasurer. It is also interesting to note that this report when presented by the then Treasurer, Mr Snedden, somewhat late was never dealt with. This showed great inactivity not only on the part of the previous Prime Minister but also on the part of the present Leader of the Opposition. lt is also interesting to note that Professor Pollard on page 1 of his report on his inquiry into superannuation and pension updating, said:
On 13th November 1972 I accepted an invitation from the then Prime Minister to conduct an independent non-parliamentary inquiry into the methods of adjusting Commonwealth Superannuation . . . Fund pensions after retirement. By letter dated 8th January 1973 the Prime Minister confirmed that the Inquiry should proceed . . .
We find that the right honourable member for Lowe, when he was the Prime Minister, asked Professor Pollard on 13th November 1972 to conduct this inquiry. Everybody knows that this was after the date on which the Parliament rose for the election. So the only conclusion that any clear thinking person can come to is that this was, as my friend the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) has pointed out to me, a pure political stunt. The then Government was trying to win back the waning number of its supporters.
It is also interesting to note that Professor Pollard had been asked in his terms of reference to conduct an inquiry into the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. After some dilatoriness I think that things are happening, or have happened already. Obviously the stunt by the former Prime Minister did not succeed because on 8th December he was thrown out of office and then we saw a great deal of activity in this Parliament. Having said all that, I think I have destroyed effectively what the right honourable member for Lowe said when he took credit for the Bill that is before the House. Any clear thinking person would see from the arguments presented that neither he nor his successor as Treasurer, the present Leader of the Opposition, is in a position to take any credit. The credit should rightly go not only to the Treasurer (Mr Crean) but to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for the speed with which they dealt with this matter. Let it be clearly understood and let there be no ambiguity about the fact that this measure was introduced because the present Labor Government is an active Government.
Indeed, I have shown that the previous Government was most inactive.
This measure is much needed and that is an admirable exercise in swift action. Commonwealth Public Service pensioners should never have to wait on the charity of the government of the day as practised by former governments. A formula of automatic annual adjustments at any time during the period of previous Liberal-Country Party governments would have met the wishes of all Commonwealth Public Service organisations and unions. But they did not get it from previous governments. They are now obtaining it from this Government and full credit must be given to those who introduced this measure so soon after coming into office. Commonwealth Public Service pensioners have waited a long time for this type of measure and this type of justice. That is all it is - justice. Having read Professor Pollard’s report thoroughly I have come to the conclusion that he has not been over-generous in his recommendations. The recommended adjustment is based only on the Commonwealth’s share of the payments to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and not on the contributors’ share - the amount that the ordinary person in the Service pays in to the superannuation fund. The retired Commonwealth public servant is getting absolutely no credit at all in this report for his portion of the contributions. To that extent I would say that this legislation does not represent the bonanza that has been played up in the Press.
There is one other matter that I would like to touch on in the short time I have available. Last week there was tabled in this House a Treasury committee report on proposed adjustments to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. ] only hope that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister will have a careful look at the recommendations and will not accept the report in its entirety. I know that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister will consult with the appropriate unions on this matter. There are many aspects of the recommendations that have been put forward by the Treasury committee with which I do not agree. For example, there is nothing in the report on commutation, for which provision is made by the present New South Wales Government. If we are to continue to be a government of activity and one with a forward looking approach, as we have shown and as we will show in the future, I would commend to the Treasurer - I see that he is in the chamber and is listening intently to what I have to say - and the Prime Minister the desirability of having a good clear look at the Treasury recommendations, because I believe they fall down in many areas. There will have to be a lot of consultation with Commonwealth Public Service associations and unions before the detailed recommendations are implemented in their entirety. I would like to see the Treasurer actively consult with the unions and associations in this regard and then bring down before this House a really comprehensive review of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. It has never ben done before. It needs to be done in the future. I am very hopeful that the Whitlam Government will be forward looking enough to do something for the benefit of all Commonwealth public servants, both those in the Public Service at the present time and those who have retired.
– I am pleased to be able to speak briefly to this Bill, as it gives me an opportunity to congratulate my friend and erstwhile colleague, Professor Alf Pollard, on the excellent report he has prepared and which forms the basis of this Bill. Indeed, if I may be forgiven for injecting a personal note into the debate, I have always regarded it as amongst the best things that happened to the infant Macquarie University and to me as the foundation head of the School of Economics and Financial Studies at the University that Alf Pollard joined the School in its earliest days and has adorned it ever since, currently as its head. The Government could not have obtained the services of a more able, world renowned and respected authority to report on this subject.
I congratulate Professor Pollard on the quality of his report and also on the expedition with which it was prepared. The inquiry was commissioned in November. Some work was then done, but the formal work did not get under way until 15th January last. The report was completed, handed to the Government and tabled in the Parliament by 10th April. The honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) preened himself and his Party and the Government on the speed with which they brought in this Bill. I suggest that that was made possible by the excellence and precision of Professor Pollard’s report, which left virtually nothing further to be investigated. It is a report which was initiated, as the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) said, by the previous Government in the context of the continuing development of its policy in respect of pensions and their adjustment to inflation.
The purpose of the Bill, as has been said, is to provide for automatic annual increases in pensions for retired Commonwealth employees. By and large the protection provided for is that pensions should keep pace with the cost of living, that is, that they should maintain their real purchasing power by annual increases designed to meet rising prices. It has been suggested that the adjustment proposed is likely to result in a provision that is somewhat better than a matching of the cost of living, that is, that the purchasing power will be more than maintained to provide the pensioner with some share of increased productivity. To some limited extent that is doubtless true. I believe that that part of it will depend on what may accrue to the pensioner out of the fund as distinct from the Commonwealth payment.
The honourable member for Banks made reference to the fund. Being relieved of any necessity in respect of the cost of living adjustment there is a real probability of a surplus emerging in the fund which would be available to provide some sort of additional benefit - a benefit beyond keeping pace with the cost of living and making possible some share in increasing productivity. But the broad effect of the proposal in the Bill is to ensure the maintenance of the pension in step with increases in the cost of living. The effect of the factor of 1.4 applied to the five-sevenths of the pension provided by the Commonwealth will be overall to increase the pension by the increase in the cost of living. The 1.4 times the increase applied, as I have said, to fivesevenths of the pension will have that effect. That is a pretty generous benefit, though perhaps not the bonanza to which the honourable member for Banks referred and which perhaps he and others anticipated. It will replace an ad hoc and infrequent adjustment by an adjustment which is certain, automatic and frequent. Further, as I have said, there will be some prospect of additional payments being made out of the emerging surplus in the fund.
What of the cost of this proposal? Only one figure has been given in the Bill. That is that it will cost $8.4m for the financial year 1973-74 - a truly trifling figure in the league that we have been working in this year, with a budget deficit running at the order of per haps $ 1,000m and the stage being set for a rate of inflation greater than this country has seen for many years. But that cost - the $8.4m - is by no means the whole story. Indeed, it will be the beginning and not the end of the impact. This measure, like the granting of 4 weeks’ annual leave, will become a pace setter in the field. In this matter the Commonwealth is giving a significant, and in itself admirable and praiseworthy, lead. In respect of the impact of this meaure there will be immediately the impact on the so-called approved authorities under section 145 of the Superannuation Act which will be under pressure to provide the same sorts of benefits.
My understanding is that the Post Office, for example, is still arguing or negotiating with the Treasury over meeting its obligations arising out of the 1971 adjustment. The impact on the Postmaster-General’s Department of making provision for the present proposal for automatic pension adjustments will be of this order: The employers’ superannuation contribution by the Postmaster-General’s Department is currently about $40m per annum, but it is likely to increase to about $80m. That is because of the greatly increased cost of funding a liability to provide a benefit which is to increase annually as compared with funding the liability for a fixed annual sum. I might say that that estimate, which is Professor Pollard’s, of the increased cost is on the basis that the cost of living increase will be of the order of 3i per cent per annum. It is likely to be very much greater the way things have been going recently.
The Post Office also will have to find a lump sum in respect of existing contributors and pensioners. That has been estimated by Professor Pollard to be of the order of $31 lm. Perhaps it might persuade the Treasury, as he has suggested, to let it fund this over 10 years. Spread over 10 years with appropriate interest adjustments the cost would be $40m per annum. The total effect will be that the Postmaster-General’s Department, if it is to match these proposals, will be up for about an extra $80m per annum - an amount that will be not, as it is now approximately 10 per cent of its annual salary bill, but approximately 30 per cent. I think that the impact of that on the rates and charges for postal and telephone services from which it will have to be found can be judged from the fact that that sum, compared with a gross revenue in 1970-71 of $7 17m, represents upwards of 10 per cent of that revenue. That is a measure of the sort of increase that will be necessary in postal and other charges to finance this proposal. Overall, there would be an offsetting within the public sector as a whole as a result of the net surplus in the Consolidated Revenue Fund in the early years in respect of these proposals if they were to go forward. Nevertheless that is some indication - some measure - of the impact of this sort of proposal on not only the approved authorities but also the private sector of the economy, which would find it necessary to fund its liability for automatic annual pension increases as pressure develops there for similar benefits. An amount, as I have said, of the order of 30 per cent of the salary bill is no mean impost. It could be said that something of a rod is being created for everybody’s back.
Let me say that the community, conscious of its obligations to the aged, doubtless wants the very considerable net transfer, which is growing and will progressively grow, from current income earners to retired persons involved in this process. It is not a transfer that is of a necessarily undesirable or gratuitous character but rather the beginning of a correction to the inequity which inflation inevitably imposes on those in receipt of fixed incomes. Accordingly the Opposition supports the Bill. But I stress that the procedure of the Government in relation to this Bill is part of the continuing pattern of action by the Government that we have seen in this House. The Government wants to do this, that and the other - everything - all at once. Put before us one by one, the Opposition supports these measures - the proposals for 4 weeks annual leave, higher age and repatriation pensions, additional finance for housing and so on. But does the Government realise that these things must all fit together and that it will frustrate its own purpose if it does not think this thing through?
Professor Pollard’s estimates of the cost of his proposals, to which 1 have referred, are based, as I have said, on an estimated increase in the cost of living of the order of 3.5 per cent. They would be more than doubled if the rate turned out to be 7 per cent. The effect then is that either the Government must provide a lot more money or the Government’s purpose is frustrated. The latter may well turn out to be the case. Take the Government’s policy with respect to the ordinary age pension. If the rate of inflation accelerates further, the proposal for an increase of SI. 50 each autumn and spring will not result in achieving the avowed policy objective of the Government of raising pensions to a level of 25 per cent of average earnings. This, I stress, is the point, not that the net transfer that is possibly involved in this Bill is undesirable. It is desirable, but so are many other objectives and if these are not carefully thought through each and every one of them may be frustrated. What I am trying to say is that it would be enlightening once in a while for the Government, and the Treasury in particular, to give us the picture whole - to give an account to the nation of its economic policies. I say to the Treasurer (Mr Crean) that there is a lack of communication and a great deal of uncertainty on every side, contrary to the professed intentions of this Government to communicate and provide open government. It is time that that lack was put right.
-1 rise to support this Bill. 1 am sure that it has the support of honourable members from both sides of the House because it provides some improvements in superannuation pensions to so many former employees of the Commonwealth Public Service who had contributed to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund for many years and who have now retired. The Bill gives effect to the recommendations of Professor Pollard which were contained in the report tabled by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) some weeks ago and which resulted from an examination by Professor Pollard of the means of updating the method of payment of pensions. Superannuitants have been unjustly treated in the past not only because they have been deprived of any social service payments as a result of their membership of the fund and by the operation of the means test but also because the value of their superannuation units remained static over many years. With the effect of eroding money values, these people were a forgotten race. They were falling fast behind in their battle to lead a decent existence despite the fact that in order to keep up their superannuation payments while employed they were depriving themselves of portion of their income to provide for their retirement. At the same time they were contributing to general taxation without getting some of tha benefits. The previous Government did give some recognition to the problems of eroding values of superannuation pensions.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about the difficulties that were faced by contributors to the Superannuation Fund who retired some years ago on a pension with a constant value and who were the victims of the erosion of the value of that pension due to inflationary pressures. However the previous Government recognised this fact in that it introduced some years ago the notional salary method of adjustment of those pensions under which the Commonwealth segment of the pension was reviewed every 5 years and adjustments were made to this segment in line with the actual changes in the purchasing power of money.
However, whilst this was an improvement on what had applied in the past it still left much to be desired. Over a period of 5 years the value of the pension would drop considerably, but the pensioner had to endure a falling value of his pension until such time as the Commonwealth restored some value to its contribution. The previous Government recognised the problem to some extent in that last year the then Minister mentioned the fact that it was examining the possibility of reviews being held more often. Of course, later on Professor Pollard conducted investigations, and this is what we are dealing with tonight. This Bill gives effect to the proposal for alterations to the pension to be carried out every 12 months and, as stated by the Treasurer (Mr Crean), the alterations will be based on variations iri the consumer price index from one March quarter to the next March quarter, the increased payments being made on the first pension pay day in July of each year. This is subject to the increase not exceeding the percentage increase in average weekly eanrings. The increase will, of course, also apply proportionately to widows and other dependants of deceased superannuation contributors.
This Bill is certainly a big step forward in providing justice to all former contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund who have suffered injustices in the past because of the erosion of the value of their pension. I am sure that it has the support of every member of this House. The Treasurer in his second reading speech foreshadowed comprehensive reviews of other aspects of the scheme which we can expect to be tabled in the House in the future. We would hope that the scheme will give to contributors confidence in the future when they retire and will enable them to live at a level for which they have paid a fair proportion of earnings during their working life.
There are a few other matters associated with the Bill on which I would like to make a few comments. We are all aware that when the Commonwealth Actuary made an examination of the Fund last year he declared that there was a surplus. I think the amount stated was $15m. Some years ago the surplus that then existed in the Fund was distributed to contributors to the Fund. However, last year the Actuary suggested a new scheme under which the contributor paid a proportion of his income according to the age at which he joined the Commonwealth service. Since then we have seen a new report which comes out with a different idea under which, I think, the contribution is based on 5 per cent of the employee’s earnings throughout his working life. This report was tabled in the House ‘ast week. I think it is about time that a scheme such as this was introduced, because as the contributors get older they find that the payment of their contribution units becomes a greater hardship, particularly in the last few years of their working life. I know, and we all realise, that towards the time when a person is due to retire on a superannuation pension, any increase he receives in his wages or salary results in an increase in the superannuation payments he has to make to maintain his contributions at a level comparable with his wages which often exceeds the increase in his wages. We hope that a new scheme such as the one that has been suggested is introduced so that we can overcome this problem that older contributors face when they are nearing their time of retirement.
There are a few other matters which I would like to mention. I am a former contributor and I know of a number of contributors who, because they had growing families and could not raise the necessary finance to commence the purchase of a home, decided to use the accumulated money they had in the Superannuation Fund. They resigned from their Commonwealth job and used this money to purchase a home, because this was the only chance they had of raising the necessary finance. Because of this the Commonwealth in many cases lost good staff. I do not claim to be an economist, but I wonder whether an examination could be made to see whether it is possible for contributors to the Fund to have finance made available to them for. the purchase of a home with moneys provided from the Fund. Most of the men I know of who resigned were skilled tradesmen whose resignation was a loss to some Commonwealth instrumentality. 1 would also like to see examined the position of contributors who resign from the Commonwealth service to go to other employment. At the present time they get a return of their contributions and that is all. I suggest that an examination be made to see whether it is possible for these people to receive some return on the money they have held in the Fund for some years. This is a matter about which I have felt strongly for years and about which I know a lot of contributors who have left a Commonwealth job have felt strongly. All they have received back is the actual amount they have paid in. Often Commonwealth contributors living, say, in country towns are placed in the position where to get better education for their children, possibly to provide better employment opportunities for their children or perhaps for a healthy reason, they are required to resign from a Commonwealth job and move to the city. These people finish up with only the actual contributions they have paid. T would certainly like to see some examination made of the possibility of the contributors who resign receiving some interest payment on their contributions. I do not want to take up my full time. I certainly commend the Bill to the House.
– I will not detain the House for long, but I feel that we should emphasise again a couple of points. I support the Bill. 1 am sure that it follows from the policy of the previous Government. Honourable members on the other side have made a critisicm with which I agree. They have said that previous governments were perhaps slow in implementing their policy. I agree with that. But this Bill follows the initiative which was taken by the Government led by the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) and it follows from an inquiry which he set up. It has been said, I think rather unfairly, that this was done as an election gimmick. That is not so. If it had been done as an election gimmick a committee of inquiry would not have been set up. A decision would have been made. The previous Government acted very responsibly.
I agree with honourable members on the other side that this and other measures were taken to some extent tardily. I also agree that this forms part of a coherent pattern. It is a good thing that we have at last an automatic adjustment for pensions and other payments. This is something which I have advocated in this House for many years from the time before I had the good fortune to be a Minister of the Government, and I believe that this is a good principle. I do not believe that the Bill is over-generous but I point out something that was said on the other side, I think by the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), earlier in the debate.
Superannuated people will receive extra benefits because soon they will be freed from the rather unfair discrimination that has applied against them through the means test on age pensions. Again this is something initiated and determined by the previous Government. Perhaps I would agree with honourable members opposite who say that we were too tardy in carrying out our intentions, but I am quite certain that had we remained the Government we would have carried out our intentions more speedily than the present Government will carry out its intentions. We will wait to see what is included in that regard in the coming Budget. I am quite certain that had we remained the Government there would have been no means test on pensions for people over the age of 65 years after we had introduced our next Budget. I do not know whether the present Government will take ‘.hit action. At all events, what is being done now is good and I support it. It is in line with what we were doing and is developed from what we were doing.
I believe that the Bill is more complicated than necessary. I would like to see it expressed, and I think it could have been expressed, in a simpler form. That is true not only of this Bill. It is applicable to other Bills, not only measures introduced by this Government but also to those introduced by the preceding Government. Many financial adjustments in the field of pensions and social services and similar fields are expressed in far too complicated a form. They could be put in much simpler forms. What is being done in this Bill is justice. It is no more than justice and I support it.
I wish now to refer to a more fundamental point related to accounting. Looking not at the Bill but at the report of Professor Pollard, which is the basis of the proposal in the Bill, one sees all sorts of complicated financial adjustments being made as between Consolidated Revenue funds and other funds. I do not believe that these adjustments are at all necessary or serve any useful purpose. Far from serving a useful purpose, they tend to cloud the main financial issues. If the funds are divided up and all sorts of complicated adjustments are made between funds which are all in the same Federal hands, nothing is achieved other than making the provisions more complicated and less comprehensible. As for the adjustments which will put S40m into the Consolidated Revenue Fund this year and will take out $100m in a subsequent year, they do not mean a thing. The result is a net inflow and a net outflow of money. I do not regard notional adjustments between the Treasury and the Postal Department as being of ay significance at all. I do not think they should be brought into the exercise or even taken into consideration. It is pure accounting piffle which just confuses the main issue. It does not affect the overall financial position.
The overall financial position is important and it is at this point that the Government is faced with its most difficult economic problem; that is the containment of inflation. I do not believe that the Budget is anything like the sole determinant of the demand situation or the economic climate. I believe that in past years we have blown up the importance of the Budget beyond its true importance. But it does have some importance. As my colleague the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) said earlier in this debate, it has to be fitted into the overall financial policy of the Government and has to take its part in that financial framework.
The Government is different in that respect from an individual who is setting up for his employees a superannuation fund or something of that character. Each individual has to look at his forward commitments, but the Government has to look at its forward commitments in relation to the totality of its forward revenue. It may be that with escalating prices the pension to be paid will rise. Of course pensions will rise, but it should also be remembered that with escalating prices the money receipts of the Treasury will also rise so that the comparative burden of pensions upon the Treasury will not increase. The Treasury, which has the totality of Australia’s resources behind it, does not have the same kind of regard for accounting as individual superannuation funds must have. Therefore I say that in this field as in so many other fields we can achieve the result we want in a much simpler way. I hope to illustrate my point shortly by introducing into the House a measure designed to help young couples achieve the finance they require for their own homes. I think that this can be done by a fairly simple device.
I think that we are bedevilling the whole question of national superannuation and making it far too complex. I have seen the draft schemes circulated from time to time by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). They are not always particularly comprehensible, coherent or self -consistent. Certainly from time to time they differ substantially, but each of them has a factor in common. Each is a very complicated scheme and difficult to follow. I do not think that is necessary. It is possible to bring in a national superannuation scheme on a simple basis. I am quite certain that had we remained the Government for this year we would have been able to bring in and implement a simple, equtable and workable scheme of national superannuation for Australia. Complexity in this measure and other measures is very much overdone and overvalued.
– At the outset I think it is appropriate to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Crean) on grasping the nettle in the terribly important sphere of superannuation, whether in the Commonwealth field or elsewhere. Certainly this Bill deserves the support that apparently it is to get from all honourable members. The Commonwealth superannuation scheme currently suffers by comparison with very many other pension and superannuation schemes available to employees comparable to Commonwealth public servants. This is particularly true of a comparison with schemes provided for comparable employees of private organisations. Some private schemes are substantially more generous, particularly for senior executives. Of course, private and public companies make substantial tax savings through the operation of superannuation schemes and that is undoubtedly an incentive to them to introduce what in some cases are quite generous superannuation funds.
It should be remembered that at present the Commissioner of Taxation allows for income tax purposes up to $100,000 as being the norm from which superannuation schemes may be granted tax exemption. This of course is beyond the wildest dream of a Commonwealth employee. Such benefits will never come his way under the scheme as it presently stands. The honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) complained about the cost of this amendment. Let me remind him that the cost pf justice is never cheap and if we are concerned about justice, then we are concerned about meeting the cost, whatever it is. The cost of this scheme would not have been great if previous governments over a long period of years had operated this Fund on a reasonable basis. In other words, if governments had been prepared to make a reasonable contribution into the Fund at the time the employees were contributing to the Fund, in the same way as other employers do, much of the present difficulty would have been avoided. The honourable member for Berowra also complained about the likelihood, as he put it, of this provision becoming a pacesetter for other superannuation funds. I certainly hope that he is correct in his fears and in his prediction because this is a highly desirable objective.
It is apparent that the Commonwealth scheme was never designed to meet the severe inflationary pressures that we have experienced in recent years. The contributions required at present of employees to enable them to receive a reasonable pension can be very high. The normal thing is for officers to be paying about 10 per cent of salary in order to achieve benefits which are inferior to those obtainable by persons outside the Public Service on the payment of 5 per cent of their salary. Plenty of examples are available to illustrate this point. I will not weary the House by citing them tonight but it is sufficient to say that large companies and large government authorities have schemes which operate on the basis of employer and employee contributions at the time, and return significantly greater benefits than those which are paid to Commonwealth employees, and the employees concerned pay a lower contribution. Therefore, some public servants are required to pay a substantially higher percentage of their income for an inferior result.
The position now is that the Commonwealth superannuation scheme is adjusted on an irregular basis, almost on the basis of the political whim of the Government of the day. It is done on the basis of a notional salary being adjusted at irregular intervals and related to the position occupied by the officer prior to retirement. Under this Bill, a new scheme has been devised. Each retired person will have his superannuation payment adjusted each year. The basis of 1.4 per cent times the increase shown in the consumer price index is, indeed, a modest adjustment. In some ways, it is inferior to the other scheme. The advantage, of course, is that this adjustment will be carried out every year. If this had been done over the last 10 years, many people who were forced to live almost in a state of poverty - they were the recipients of lower superannuation benefits - certainly would have been much better off.
The public servant is in no specially privileged position in regard to superannuation. Public servants pay very heavily indeed for the benefits that they receive. In many cases, they pay substantially more than the maximum allowable taxation deduction. So, in effect, they are paying tax on part of the amount which they are contributing to this scheme. Generally speaking, this is not the case outside the Public Service. Many who have paid heavily and made substantial sacrifices during their working lives have found that inflation has robbed them of any substantial benefits and has certainly robbed them of the benefit that they expected when they were contributing to this Fund.
Superannuation has been an area of complete neglect by previous governments. Indeed, one would be tempted to say that adjustments to superannuation payments have been on the basis of seeking to gain political advantage. This Government, in introducing legislation which has the support of all sections of this House, is putting this question - yet another question - beyond the area of the political football match. Of course, there would be hundreds of thousands of citizens outside the Public Service - those who are over retiring age and those who are approaching retiring age - who will be watching the concept contained in this Bill with great interest.
The matter of Commonwealth superannuation presently is under review, as is the matter of superannuation generally. It is well for us to realise that today the number of persons who are in some form of superannuation scheme has risen to about one-half the total work force. One of the many factors which needs to be taken into account when designing a new scheme is the likely possibility of a reduced working life being considered desirable before any further review of a substantial nature is undertaken. Mechanisation and the use of advanced technology in the various aspects of Commonwealth enterprise is a fact of life. We can safely anticipate that it will continue at a rapid and consistently increasing rate. These changes are spread over a very wide area. Almost all functions of government are affected in some way or other. Inevitably, this will mean that much more work will be capable of being done in a substantially shorter time.
It is generally accepted that there will be a general reduction in hours of work as the needs of the community are able to be met with less effort by the community itself. This will be achieved in an earlier retiring age, as well as by generally reducing weekly and annual hours of work. Already significant numbers of Commonwealth officers and employees retire earlier than at age 65. Many are forced to retire earlier on account of poor health or some form of physical limitation. There are, of course, other factors which require Commonwealth employees to retire earlier than at age 65. We need a scheme which will be flexible enough to cater for future needs, including the provision of an adequate income during the retirement period. The Australian people generally no longer are prepared to accept the false notion that those who retire can be regarded as second class citizens with second class needs and, certainly, with second class benefits. This community has now reached the stage where it demands for those who retire the right to live in dignity and to spend their evening years with a reasonable standard of comfort. In my opinion, the community takes the view that those who contribute to wealth during their working life and who make possible the wealth to be distributed, are entitled to share in it when they find it convenient to call it a day in terms of their working life.
The erosion by inflation of the value of contributions made to superannuation schemes is a matter of critical importance in any scheme which is developed. It is a matter of critical importance whether it is a government scheme, a scheme set up by a private company for the privileged few of its directors or whether it is a scheme designed to cater for the most humble worker on the factory floor.
Erosion by inflation is the curse of superannuation schemes.
Professor Pollard in looking at the Commonwealth scheme has made a specific recommendation that the investment powers of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund should be widened in order to meet this problem of inflation. Professor Pollard has made some suggestions which I have no doubt will be carefully considered. Of course, in my view, they are not necessarily the most desirable changes to adopt but nonetheless they are certainly entitled to careful consideration as alternative proposals which will be advanced to meet this problem. It is absolutely imperative for the successful operation of this Fund and of any other fund that it should be protected against the erosion of inflation. As one protects the Fund against inflation, so one protects the income of those who virtually have little opportunity to protect themselves. The retired employee must be entitled to feel secure after a lifetime of service and contribution. In my view, he is not entitled to suffer the fears and uncertainties that arise from inflation and the erosion of his income from a superannuation fund.
It would be inappropriate at this stage for me to discuss the many defects in the present scheme. The entire scheme presently is under review. This Government has shown that it has concern and real feeling for aged people everywhere. This Government has also shown, as the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) pointed out earlier, that it is prepared to move speedily in respect of Commonwealth employees superannuation. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) confessed to the House earlier the shortcomings of the previous Government in terms of its acting speedily in respect of this issue but, of course, there are many people in the community who could point out to him that there was nothing new or discriminatory in that attitude. The previous Government acted very slowly and hesitantly in regard to almost every problem which confronted it. This Government will take adequate steps to protect the savings of employees and the benefits flowing to them from their superannuation or pension scheme. This Bill gives effect to the recommendation by Professor Pollard for annual review of the payments from this fund. It is interesting to note that Professor Pollard’s report indicates that public service salaries are not increasing as quickly as average weekly earnings. This, of course, denies categorically the allegations which are being made that Australian public servants are enjoying some kind of a bonanza at present. It is well for public servants to realise the source of these allegations and how ill informed they are. The fact that future adjustments are to be made in accordance with movements in the consumer price index is not as beneficial in some ways as the old system, but it is a substantial improvement on the time gap which was involved in the old method.
Under the new provisions superannuation payments will be maintained at the current level of purchasing power. This in itself gives a great feeling of security and indeed is a strong measure of justice. Inflation will no longer erode the real value of payments. It is hoped that this scheme will be taken up by the trustees and controllers of other funds in both State and local government and in private employment. Therefore this measure is a most significant step forward. It will have widespread support throughout the community as a whole. 1 believe that the Treasurer, in introducing this measure, deserves the highest commendation both of this Parliament and of the community generally. He will certainly have the gratitude of retired Commonwealth public servants and in my view will receive commendation from the mass of retired persons generally who depend on superannuation as their means of livelihood.
– Some 5 or 6 weeks ago on behalf of some Commonwealth civil servants in South Australia, the State from which I come, I placed on the notice paper a series of questions to the Government in relation to superannuation. The point I should like to make tonight is that this Bill deals partially with some of the principles that I put forward on behalf of those people. On the other hand, of course, there is a great deal in the submissions of those who represent the civil servants of Australia which this Bill does >not attempt to cover. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) made this quite plain when he spoke in his second reading speech of the purpose of this Bill, which is to increase benefits. He highlighted certain other projected ideas which may come before the House at a future time.
I should like to go through some of the propositions I put before the Treasurer some 6 weeks ago. I asked:
To what extent win the revised arrangements in clude the following features of a new scheme as indicated in the report:
I should like to stop there momentarily to point out that, of course, this Bill conforms generally with those principles. If this is the correct occasion I should like to refer to an anomaly which occurs. Maybe the Government is glad about this, but as a back bencher I am not pleased. I refer to the treatment of widows’ payments under the superannuation scheme for civil servants. The Treasurer, in his second reading speech, said:
As on previous occasions, a widow will receive the appropriate proportion, five-eighths or one-half as the case may be, of the increase that her husband would have received had he been alive and in receipt of a pension on 30th June 1973. Certain orphans will also receive increased pensions.
If I am correct, it means this: If I am struggling home from a meeting 140 miles away in the electorate of Angas and I collide with a blue gum with fatal results I think it is correct to say that my widow would not receive a seven-eighths pension and under the new Act on a rising scale but would be, in fact, on a proportion of five-sixths of the payment I would be entitled to.
– You said seven-eighths, I think you meant five-eighths.
– Yes, that is correct. Whether the point I am making is right or wrong, the one thing that is correct is that my wife or the Treasurer’s wife or the wife of any honourable member does not at present receive a superannuation benefit, once her husband becomes deceased, at a rate that increases with the inflationary rate of the currency.
There have been rumours that the whole matter of parliamentary superannuation payments might well be examined during the course of this week. I should just like to draw the attention of the Treasurer to the anomaly I mention. Unless I am much mistaken I do not think there would be a great many Commonwealth employees who would have to drive with the degree of frequency that parliamentarians do, through the night from midnight onwards, perhaps over distances up to 200 miles on the way home. These are potentially fatal circumstances which the Minister could well examine in relation to quite a high proportion of members of Parliament who represent large areas - in my case perhaps the size of the State of Tasmania. It is not easy for them to effect a reasonable coverage of their electorate when they are very tired and trying to struggle home late at night.
I now carry on quoting some of the suggestions I put forward to the Treasurer some weeks ago. I asked: . . (b) an increase in children’s and orphans’ benefits, (c) automatic adjustment of pensions based on a cost of living or similar index, -
The previous speaker dealt with this point. In some ways he feels that this scheme does not compare with the previous superannuation scheme, but it is at least commendable that some attempt has been made in this case to equate pensions and superannuation benefits with the decreasing value of the currency. I should like to have a word or two more to say on that in a few minutes time. I went on to ask the Treasurer:
I add that I was a State member of Parliament before I was elected to this House some years ago and, I received no such return on my contributions to the State superannuation fund. In fact, I received a bare return of my own contributions without any interest ingredient whatsoever. I still hope that one day some Federal government will be charitable enough to try to introduce some benefits to cover time served in State parliaments - I hope State governments will forgive me for saying so - for those members of Parliament who consider it part of their normal progress to start in a State House and finish in a Federal one. I do not think they should necessarily be penalised for having such a progressive attitude on political matters. These remarks apply to a dozen or so ex-State members currently in this House. But perhaps the Government of today agrees with rae about as much as the government of the past did in relation to my plea along these lines. For instance. I know of one member of this House who served for 10 or 12 years in a State House and who has served for probably no longer than that in this House. His superannuation rights start only from the day on which he became a member of this House of Representatives. I hope that one day a government in its wisdom will have some mercy on those who appear, in their own minds anyway, to progress rather than to regress along their path of competence or interest. The remainder of that part of the question reads:
Many other matters are referred to in that question which I put on notice to the Treasurer some 6 weeks ago but I will not canvass them now because, quite patently, this Bill is what might be termed a half-way house in that it only aims, as 1 think I said already, to increase benefits in relation to the changing value of money at this point of time.
The honourable member for Phillip has, among other things, pointed out the interest shown by Professor Pollard in the need for the fund itself to look for growth investment possibilities in relation to the returns that could - I think that is the right word - be made to those who contribute to the fund. I leave aside the fact that in the previous decade a fair surplus has been left in this fund. So far we have not heard much about this so we do not really know how it is to be distributed. What Professor Pollard has in mind is something that concerns many people other than those who run the Commonwealth superannuation fund, it concerns also people who are worried today about whether they can invest in something that will hold its value if inflation does proceed to gallop. This is a matter that concerns not only the honourable member for Phillip - and one would hope that it would concern the Government vitally - but also those of us who are looking after other people’s funds in a wide variety of different fields and in different interests.
I do not think anyone on this side of the House could have any objection to the matters brought forward in this Bill. In the short time remaining to me in this debate I would suggest very firmly that the Government look very carefully at the interests of so many people in the community today who see themselves as future superannuitants with a view to helping and possible educating them, other than through the adult education scheme, so that they may define the sort of area and type of retirement that they, and many of us who have spent a lifetime in servie to the nation, would wish properly to have.
– in reply - I thank those honourable members who have contributed to this debate from both sides of the House for their general acceptance of this measure. I am a little intrigued by the former Minister for Social Services, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) - whose Government had 23 years to do things in this country - who said what he might have done if only he had had another 12 months. The honourable member reminds me of all old reactionaries. He is in favour of every social revolution, except the next one. At least this evening there has been some acknowledgment that there are victims of inflation and that we should endeavour to remedy the circumstances of those people, where we can. We have begun in this legislation with a group of people who have been employees of the Crown at the Commonwealth level. What is being done under this legislation is to guarantee to them in retirement something like a standard which has a relativity to their last working years. I hope that eventually that can be done for everybody in the Australian community. This is why we are going to bring in for this country a scheme of national superannuation which will cover everyone, not just the fortunate few who happen to be covered either by private superannuation schemes - heavily subsidised by the tax arrangements - or those who are employees of the Crown at either State or Commonwealth level.
One thing that came out tonight is the fact that of every $7 that is received as a Commonwealth benefit by the average recipient, the Commonwealth pays $5 and the contributor has paid $2. At least they are in a more fortunate position than the something like two-thirds of the population of Australia who are still not covered by superannuation. We are looking after those whom we can look after, but eventually everybody ought to be looked after. This is the ultimate purpose of a national scheme. I say to the former Minister for Social Services who, with former governments, could have done something over i long period of years and who is now beginning to be critical in advance of this proposed scheme, that at least we are asking for communication from the public. As I said, he is the old reactionary.
– He achieved a great deal in the latter period when he was the Minister. I think you ought to be fair.
– He achieved less than he might have achieved and he left this country in a position where its social service levels generally were in a deplorable state in terms of what the affluence of its economy could have afforded. This is what we want to redress in the years ahead. I hope that in that endeavour we will have the co-operation that has been indicative tonight in regard to this measure which at least does justice for some. We want to do justice for all.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1 586), on motion by Mr Connor:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition agrees with the general purpose of this legislation. That general purpose is to give effect to 3 agreements reached between Australia and Indonesia regarding boundaries. These are mainly seabed boundaries. Each of these 3 agreements was negotiated by the previous Government, although the last of them was actually signed on 12th February 1973. Since we negotiated them, naturally we can hardly object to their implementation. The principal one of the 3 agreements is the one which relates to the boundary between Australia and Timor. I recall signing that agreement in Djakarta on 9th October last. I announced it in the House on 10th October. I go back simply to point out the importance of it. In the first place the agreement removed a potential source of disagreement between Australia and Indonesia. In the second place, it removed the uncertainly which prospecting countries had been facing regarding the limits of Australia’s national authority over the seabed in that area. Also it secured for Australia by far the greater extent of the seabed area in which Australia had already granted exploration permits under our legislation, it did not secure the whole of the area for which exploration permits had been granted. In the give and take of negotiations some part of the area over which permits had been granted had to be given up in order to secure agreement. The Government of Western Australia >vas consulted in advance and was in agreement with what was being negotiated. The holders of the exploration permits - or some of them - who were affected subsequently expressed satisfaction with the general outcome of the negotiations with Indonesia. But the consequence is that in order to implement agreement when arrived at some small portions of the Australian grid under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act had to be eliminated. The present Bill will carry out that necessary excision.
May I add also that the Australian delegation which negotiated the agreements of 9th October 1963, and the subsequent agreement signed on 12th February which affected the boundary between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and which was ably led by the Solicitor-General, Mr Ellicott, included representatives of Papua New Guinea. Indeed, it was finally arranged that the latter agreement, which was between Indonesia and Australia, should be signed on behalf of Australia by Mr Somare, the Chief Minister for Papua New Guinea. It was the. aim of the previous Government to place the representatives of Papua New Guinea in close contact with their Indonesian counterparts. I recall discussions which I also had in Indonesia with ohe Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Adam Malik, which led to his agreeing to establish an Indonesian consulate in Port Moresby. I just take the opportunity of expressing the hope that the present Government will continue to bring the officials of Papua New Guinea into contact with the officials of Indonesia because where people are used to meeting and talking with each other misunderstandings are much less likely to arise. I believe it is important that this policy should continue to be followed particularly before the independence of Papua New Guinea and while Australian officials are still present to assist the officials of both countries in their mutual dealings.
To return to the provisions of the Bill, may I ask the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) whether he has consulted with the governments of the States, particularly the Government of Western Australia. The Principal Act - the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967 - was put through this Parliament following an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States dated 16th October 1967 and each State passed mirror legislation. It seems that the States perhaps should now amend their mirror legislation. Part II paragraph 4 of the Agreement in summary states that each State government will submit to the Parliament of the State a Bill similar to the Bill set out in the schedule to the Agreement which was the principal Bill we finally put through. Paragraph 6 of Part II of the Agreement states that except in accordance with the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments a government will not submit to its Parliament a Bill for an Act which would either amend or repeal an Act that is contemplated by the preceding provisions of this Act or in any material respect affect the scheme. That last preceding subclause does not apply to a Bill for an Act insofar as the effect of its provisions will be formal or transitional.
The Bill before us amends the Principal Act. It certainly is not transitional and although I am in favour of its provisions I do not think I would describe them as entirely formal. I therefore ask the Minister whether he is following out the provisions of the agreement with the States. Whilst I would not expect resistance from the States, even from Western Australia seeing that we talked to representatives from that State before we negotiated the agreement, I believe that it is important that the Commonwealth and State government agreements should be scrupulously observed.
I welcome also the announcement by the Minister in his second reading speech that the Government has been in contact with the Portuguese Government in relation to the sea bed boundary between Australia and Portuguese Timor and he expects that discussions will commence later this year. The significance of this is that there is a gap opposite the Portuguese section of Timor in the long boundary line between Indonesia and Australia. It is to be hoped that the Australian Government will be able to negotiate with the Portuguese Government a sea bed boundary which will give a sensible boundary line which we hope will form a continuous line with the Australian-Indonesian line which straddles that area. The Australian Labor Government however, has been following a policy of strong international condemnation of Portugal in matters in which we have no particularly direct interest with the result that Portugal has reacted somewhat sharply. For example the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, in relation to its mineral exploration rights in Portuguese Timor and Trans-Australia Airlines in regard to its operations to Timor, have been experiencing considerable difficulties. I express no view one way or the other on Portugal or its policies but I do say to the Government that Australian foreign policy is a much more complex field than the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) or the present Government appears to recognise. In foreign policy Australia’s interests are always one of the factors which have to be carefully weighed and carefully considered. Foreign policy, may I remind the Government, is not an area simply for personal grandstanding or for striking attitudes for short term domestic political advantage.
– I do not intend to delay the House or the passage of this Bill for very long. As the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) pointed out, the purpose of this legislation is to ratify an agreement which has already been made by the previous Government and which is to be finalised by the present Government. I want to stress the complex nature of these agreements which I believe will raise 2 questions which possibly will be debated to far greater length when we are discussing other legislation that is to come before this Parliament. I would emphasise the remarks made by the honourable member for Parramatta when he said that there was a need when considering this legislation to have an appreciation of the rights of the States. I think that is something that we should give serious consideration to even in legislation such as we have before us.
The ratification of the agreements will put a seal on discussions which were held over quite a considerable period of time. An illustration perhaps of the complexities of the situation as far as offshore oil and various other matters concerning the sea are concerned is the present position in which the United Kingdom and Iceland find themselves. Icelandic flishermen claim a certain area which they say should be reserved and over which they should have fishing rights and the United Kingdom fishermen say that under an international agreement the waters claimed by Iceland as belonging to that country are international waters. When this argument was first brought forward everybody felt that it would be a minor matter which could be solved very easily. But the situation has developed into a serious international question. Although it has nothing to do with this Parliament, I hope that wise and sane counselling will prevail in this matter. It is a matter that affects not only the people of Iceland and the United Kingdom but also all agreements on international waters.
Although, as has been mentioned by the honourable member for Parramatta, the Opposition does not oppose this Bill, I think that those matters should be given very serious consideration by the Government. This is also a matter of concern to the States and the Territory of Papua New Guinea, especially as the granting of independence to Papua New Guinea is now being given earnest consideration. Those things go to make up a problem that, as I have said, is complex in all its aspects. I agree with the statement by the honourable member for Parramatta that this agreement should be ratified as speedily as possible. I congratulate the honourable member for Parramatta, who was one of the main negotiators of the agreement, and the present Government for the work they have done in relation to this matter. As it is, I hope that some of the facts that we have learned from the negotiation of this agreement will be put to use in the negotiation of further agreements and in later discussions along these lines.
– in reply - 1 thank the Opposition speakers for their concurrence with the terms of this measure. The honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) in particular is entitled to take any vicarious credit that he likes to take for the groundwork that he put into the original arrangements. As he rightly said, there has needed to be a variation of the boundaries of certain permits. There has been no alternative but to do that. In due course the holders of the permits at least will have a measure of certainty that they did not possess before and will be treated as fairly as possible whenever renewals come up for consideration. I remind the honourable member for Parramatta that it is within the competence of the Government to negotiate treaties with foreign powers and that it will be a matter for the individual States under the terms of the non-justiciable agreement - I stress the words ‘non-justiciable agreement’ - as to whether they pass mirror legislation. Our attitude in relation to sovereign rights over the continental shelf is somewhat different from that of our predecessors in office. Be that as it may, I do not have any doubt that mirror legislation can and will follow in the fullness of time. I am not going to enter into any controversy as to Portuguese Timor. No doubt there will be in due course a delineation of an acceptable boundary line. There has. been a reference to grandstanding. At least it can be said that for the first time in the last 23 years there has been a clear, positive and continuous foreign policy line for everyone to follow in Australia. We have no reason to bc ashamed of the attitudes that we have taken in this regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Connor) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1585), on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– On 1st May of this year the House debated a companion Bill to this BUI, namely, the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill in which the levy for employment on the waterfront was increased from Si to $1.50 an hour. This Bill seeks to continue for another year the arrangements under which the levy is collected and the way in which it is to be used. As has been pointed out on a previous occasion, the levy is to pay for annual leave, idle time, sick leave, public holidays, long service leave and so on. This levy was first imposed in 1967, which is when the Government of the day instituted the practice of employing permanent labour on the waterfront. It was hoped that the introduction of permanent employment would lead to a better use of labour on the waterfront and a more responsible labour force. This Bill seeks the permission of the House to continue the previous arrangements until the end of June 1974.
I am not going to be critical of the Government for seeking this extension of time. We have had the problem on our plate since 1967 but, to be quite frank, we have not been able to solve it. When we on this side of the House were in Government we instituted the levy and devised the way in which it is collected. That system has not worked effectively. We have not come up with a solution to our problem. I am being quite frank about this matter. I am not going to be critical of the Government for taking time to have a look at this very difficult problem, lt is indeed a very difficult problem. An examination of the increase in costs on the waterfront will reveal the degree of failure of the system that the government of which I was a supporter brought in. That system was introduced with the best of good will in the world and with a determination to give the idea of permanent employment on the waterfront a fair trial. Nevertheless it has not worked.
Any honourable member who wants a measure of the failure of the system has only to look at the cost per ton of handling goods on the Sydney waterfront. For the figures I am about to quote I pay a tribute to Mr J. Ramsden of the ‘Australian Financial Review’. He is a very perceptive journalist who writes for a very respected journal. He has spelt out some of the fundamental facts about and the problems of this industry. I believe that the measure of the failure is the cost per ton of handling cargoes on the waterfront in Sydney. In July 1969 it was $6.42 a ton. By December 1972 it had risen to $14.42 a ton, which represented an annual increase in handling costs of 30 per cent. That is a measure of the failure of the system which is now in operation and which I hope the Government will be looking at with a very anxious and critical eye. Between 1969- 70 and 1970-71 there was a 13.2 per cent increase in the average weekly wage and a 20.85 per cent decrease in the number of hours worked. So it can be seen that a pretty comfortable featherbed is in operation.
Let us have a look at the reasons for this featherbedding. One of the reasons why an increase is sought in the levy is to pay for idle time. Payments for idle time on the waterfront have risen from $824,000 in 1967- 68 to $8. 2m last year and are running at the rate of well over $9m this year. That amount is required to pay people to do nothing. The reason why there is a decreased labour requirement on the waterfront is quite clear. lt is due, firstly, to containerisation and, secondly, to an increase in bulk handling. There is less need for men on the waterfront than there was before. Why do we keep them on permanent employment if we do not need them? We give them a golden handshake in one way or another amounting to an average of §3,263, according to the latest report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. This is what the industry pays them to retire from the industry. One would think or expect that there would be a requirement by or a pressure from the employers for these unneeded men to leave the industry. Under the present arrangements only the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority can declare an employee redundant. However this step can be taken only on the recommendation of the Waterside Workers Federation or the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour. One cannot expect the Federation to take the step of asking for its members to be declared redundant for, after all, their unemployed members are being paid at the rate of approximately $3,000 a year to remain in the industry. They are being paid, and this is an annual charge. They would be paid 83,263 for the golden handshake to get out, but that is a once and for all payment. On the other hand they get, as an average payment, about $3,000 a year to stop in the industry knowing that they are redundant. One cannot expect the Waterside Workers Federation to ask for its members to be declared redundant when they are enjoying these remarkably favourable conditions.
However, one would expect the AEWL to take the step of saying: ‘We do not need these people. To keep them on means an increase in the amount of idle time and we will have to increase the levy. Let us ask the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to declare them redundant.’ The trouble is that the AEWL is dominated mainly by overseas shipowners and the decision it faces is whether to risk industrial strife or to give in. Under the conference system it is easy for it to say: ‘Let us give in’. As I have said in this House on other occasions, one can always tell the man who is dining out on an expense account by the enthusiasm with which he summons the waiter. If the industry knows that it can meet its increased charges by increased freights, as it can under the conference system, it is all too easy for these unwanted employees to be kept on the books. I have on another occasion quoted from an article by Mr Ramsden. He wrote:
The situation is now common in the industry at all major ports of there being an overall shortage of labour on a particular day while, at the same time, through labour being locked up in permanent employment by operational companies and not transferable, an approximate equal number of watersiders are at home receiving idle time payments.
If honourable members want a specific example of this situation I need only mention that during the week ending 9th February of this year there was an overall shortage of 228 waterside workers needed in Sydney while 175 men were at home being paid for idle time. This is a measure of the problem. The costs are borne in the long term by the shippers. This is the kind of burden no economy can carry. There are solutions to it. I do not speak as an expert or as one who has the kind of intimate knowledge of the industry that other honourable members would have but there are 2 steps one can immediately suggest. The first is that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority should have the authority of declaring people to be redundant without the advice of the Waterside Workers Federation or the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour. Under the present situation one cannot expect either of these 2 bodies to declare that men are redundant. Obviously the Federation will not do so for reasons that one can understand. I can understand why, under the conference system, the stevedoring industry companies, which are dominated by overseas shipping interests, will not ask for men to be declared redundant. They know that if they do they will face the risk of industrial strife. They know also that if they jack the expenses up they can pass the extra cost on comfortably and easily because of the conference system.
While this matter is receiving consideration 1 would suggest that the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) consider giving .he Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority the responsibility, on its own, of declaring employees to be redundant. I am not certain about the second alternative, but et sounds reasonable - I can say no more than that - and that is that the Authority has the right to control the pool of labour. The various stevedoring industry organisations could take employees from a common pool. I repeat, I am not an authority on the industry. All I say is that this seems to be a reasonable alternative. Certainly I think the first is the one that should be looked at.
In his second reading speech the Minister said that he is examining the situation. I know that he will do so. He said, rather optimistically I think, that he is expecting useful advice from the. Stevedoring Industry Council. This is composed essentially of the Waterside Workers Federation and the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour, so it will be somewhat like Caesar appealing to Caesar. This is the present system under which these 2 bodies are working comfortably together, so I should think that the Minister is unlikely to get any clear and wise lines of guidance from the Stevedoring Industry Council. The Minister also mentioned that he has asked Mr Norman Foster to help him in this project. Mr Norman Foster adorned this House for some time as the honourable member for Sturt. I should have thought that he was more noted for the strength of his voice than the strength of his intellect. He may have qualities about which we do not know. It may be that there is wisdom hidden beneath his rough exterior. I hope so, because if the Minister is to depend on the Norman Foster whom we knew he will get a rather rough kind of guidance.
– His constituents threw him out too, did they not?
– I understand that that is so.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! I am sure that the honourable member for Wakefield can continue his speech without assistance from the honourable member who interjected.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am not attacking this problem from the point of view of class prejudice. I am spelling out what is the problem. I hope that the Minister can find a solution to it because I am quite certain that the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) who, I understand, is to follow me in this debate, will recognise that unless we can get a better system than we have now we can never hope to get a first class productivity performance on the waterfront. I have too much respect for him to expect that he will trot out figures to indicate that productivity has increased. Of course throughput has increased, but this has been due mainly to mechanisation, containerisation and the increase in bulk handling on the waterfront. I am glad to see the Minister in the House and I pose that problem to him. I admit that my side of politics could find no easy solution to the problem. Indeed, there is no easy solution. I have enough respect for the Minister for Labour to know that he will be looking hard at the problem. These are the kinds of problems we have to solve if we are to have a more viable economy and a greater increase in productivity which will allow for the economic cake to be cut up into whatever size slices are required.
I hope the Minister will not depend on receiving the kind of objective advice from the Australian Waterside Workers Federation that he would hope to get. It can be understood why the Federation is hoping to continue with the present situation. It knows from past experience that any time it can get the employers of waterfront labour into the bails it can get milk out of them. Usually, the bucket only has to be rattled and the milk comes out. If the money cannot be obtained in that way the Federation aims a few carefully located kicks in the stomach and that usually induces the employers to give the waterside workers what they want. We have the problem of a cost plus system on the waterfront and the Minister for Labour is enough of a realist to know that this position cannot continue for one reason or another.
I am not being critical of past Ministers on my side of the chamber who tried to do the best they could. A new system was introduced in 1967 to try to alleviate the situation, lt is quite clear that that system has not worked. There is not one person who, after looking at the increases in the cost of handling goods and in the idle time the cost of which has increased from $800,000 to between $8m and $9m this year, would not recognise that mistakes have been made. I am asking the Minister for Labour to have a careful and clear look at the problem. I recognise that there is strength beneath his benign exterior. The cost plus system cannot continue always. We have had it for too long. I give the Minister for Labour the assurance that if he will look at the question with courage and coolness he will have my interest and support.
– I have no doubt that the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) was quite sincere in the submission he has made. It seems to me that he has made the speech a little later than he might have made it. While admitting that it was the previous government that introduced the scheme he then suggested that this Government should attempt immediately to cure the ills as he sees them. However, in making those comments he treated the employees of the stevedoring industry with less respect than he ought to have done. He made such references as ‘comfortable featherbedding operating’, ‘paying people for nothing’, and ‘the tragedy of idle time in the industry’. No honourable member on this side of the House suggests that employees should be paid for doing nothing. Equally, no member on this side of the House believes that it is within the competence of management fully and completely to utilise the services of employees for every minute of every hour of the standard working week throughout the year. I simply remind the honourable gentleman that it would not be possible even for a person like himself fully to utilise the services and resources of horses on a farm for the full time that he may wish them to work.
In other words, there is needed in every situation a degree of organisational and management skill which is frequently lacking in the stevedoring industry. Successive reports of inquiries into the stevedoring industry have had some rather sad things to say about its management efficiency. It is important also to realise that there has been a significant and consistent decrease in the number of stevedoring companies in this industry. As each year goes by the number of stevedoring companies becomes smaller. There may be some merit in the suggestion by the honourable member for Wakefield that the Stevedoring Industry Authority should employ all of the labour. That suggestion has been made before and received little or scant consideration by the previous government. No doubt the suggestion will be considered by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). The Minister for Labour probably also will consider what is the most desirable scheme, and that is to have the one stevedoring authority in Australia - to nationalise the stevedoring industry because-
– Nationalisation of the stevedoring industry?
– Yes, 1 would advocate the nationalisation of the stevedoring industry as being one possible means of resolving a very complex problem which, 1 remind the hon ourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch), it was completely and utterly beyond lis capacity to rectify
– Is nationalisation the view of the Government or your personal view?
– Without any question it is my personal view. 1 believe that nationalisation of this industry would have much more vocal support amongst the people who would normally be foolish enough to support the Liberal Party than those people, who would be sensible enough to support this Government. If you check around you will see that what I am saying is correct. I have no doubt you know it to be correct, because I believe that representations were made to you a year ago to achieve this.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order! I ask the honourable member to address his remarks through the Chair.
– This Bill seeks to extend the temporary provisions which were first introduced in 1967 for a further period of 12 months. The temporary situation that has prevailed for the last 6 years will continue for at least another year. The last 6 years has been a period of indecision and uncertainty, lt was a period when the government of the day was uncertain what it should do or how it should go about it. The original provisions of the Bill flowed from the deliberations and the report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference which was presided over by Mr Woodward, Q.C., as he then was. This, incidentally, is the conference which flowed from the legislation about which the honourable member for Lowe, (Mr McMahon) was speaking in this House last week. The honourable member made an error about whom he was speaking when he referred to the person who introduced legislation which was unworkable and indeed impracticable.
The report recommended permanent employment of waterside workers. In doing so a very desirable result was achieved. It gave security to a group of employees who had never previously experienced it - security of employment which, in spite of the sad story told by the honourable member for Wakefield, has indeed brought about a considerable era of industrial peace which had not existed previously. In the process, we saw the previous government’s attitude towards industrial relations. We saw the result of She legislation which threw 100 clerical employees out of employment. Those employees were on the permanent staff of the Stevedoring Industry Authority. Many of them received the handsome notice, of 7 days - the very minimum notice required. The then Minister for Labour assured this Parliament that nobody would suffer any loss. The fact of the matter was that serious disadvantage was suffered because of the provisions of the Furlough Act and the Superannuation Act. Employees with 9 years and 10 months service were to receive no benefit from the Superannuation Act at all. Employees with 4 years service would receive no benefit from the Furlough Act. Employees with H years service similarly would receive no benefit. It was the opposition of the Australian Labor Party both in this chamber and in the Senate which eventually brought about an amendment to both those statutes. The then Opposition delayed the passage of an amendment to the Furlough Act in the Senate and the Act was subsequently amended to provide that employees who were retrenched after 4 years service instead of after 8 years service, would receive the benefit of the Act. Similarly, with the Superannuation Fund employees receive the benefit after 1 year’s service instead of being required to complete 10 years of service. One Minister for Labour and National Service told this Parliament that waterside workers received no severance pay. In answer to a question he said that waterside workers would not receive severance payment under the scheme. Of course he was correct in the term but incorrect in the statement. What waterside workers were to receive was redundancy payment. I am now speaking of a former Minister who several years *go made that statement in this Parliament. It was a distinction in terms but had no difference in effect. It was a statement which was correct in terms of actual words but certainly incorrect in terms of intent.
Some of the men who were retrenched were transferred to stevedoring companies, the socalled operational companies, under the new scheme, but with the mergers, amalgamations and takeovers that have taken place some of them had to find work with other companies because they found that the new employment was less secure than the one they had left. In other words, they were out of a job. They were promised alternative Crown employment. This was denied. Subsequently in 1970 the then Minister for Labour and National Service, the gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), established a committee to advise him on the problems of the staff which may become redundant as a result of changes to the functions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, and on the problems which would arise as the functions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority contracted. There were many meetings. Little result was achieved. Indeed, on one occasion, on 10th July last year, a meeting was called for Melbourne. All members of the committee attended except one, the chairman, who was an officer of the Department of Labour and National Service. He had come to Canberra on the previous night and did not bother to tell any other member of the committee. He said that he had been called at midnight by the then Minister for Labour and National Service to come to Canberra and could not advise any other member. In fact, he had made the booking to travel to Canberra on the previous Thursday. This incident was indicative of the attitude of the previous Government to employees who suffered a retrenchment for no other purpose than to give effect to then Government policy.
This Bill will continue the provisions applying to the stevedoring industry. There is still some uncertainty about what will occur in the future. I merely cite the facts that I have to show the way in which the previous Government had attacked the problem of industrial relations. I refer to them because the honourable member for Wakefield has been critical of the actions taken and now says that this Government should attack this problem with more vigour. The reward for loyalty by some employees of the government was to be denied reasonable standards and to be rejected in a time of need. Their future is still uncertain. Those who remain in this industry, those who remain employees of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, still face an uncertain future. Nobody has told them for how long they will have a job. The committee established by the former Minister for Labour and National Service, who is now the Leader of the Opposition, is about to finalise its report and will shortly make a report to the present Minister for Labour. I am sure he will give it sympathetic consideration.
What we have to look at in respect of this Bill are the advantages. There are certainly still considerable problems - problems of organisation, problems of management, problems of utilisation of the available labour. I do not believe that there are highly excessive -numbers still in the industry. After ail, this needs some balancing. What one has to do is to determine the cost of having men idle for certain periods of the year compared with the cost of having ships idle for other periods of the year when there are insufficient men to man and work them. I agree that this is a question of delicate balancing, lt is a question of balancing out costs to see which is the greater, and in many instances it will be shown that it is far better to have some men idle for some of the time than to have ships idle and unable to be worked. This particularly applies in respect of export markets, particularly in respect of the export of rural products.
There have been considerable changes in the industry apart from the question of permanent employment. The advent of containerisation and the advent of unitisation in various forms have been significant changes which have occurred since 1967. Another fact worth mentioning is that in respect to the industrial relations in the industry the 1972 agreement, which was made for a period of 2 years, was achieved without a strike. This is the first time in living memory that an award or agreement was made in this industry without a single strike occurring. Indeed, the prospect of an agreement without such a stoppage would not have been credible just a few years ago. It is very difficult to imagine a tough, vibrant industry such as the stevedoring industry being completely free of strike and industrial disputation, but a great deal has been achieved. The success of the negotiations in 1972 was due, to a very large degree, to the efforts of the Acting President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I remind honourable members opposite that he was acting as a conciliator, with his arbitral function in the background during the whole period. There is at the present time no provision for him to act in this way. There is of course provision in the Bill which has now passed this House and awaits the pleasure of the consideration of another chamber.
It is my wish, and I am sure that honourable members on this side join in this, that during the next 12 months of temporary provisions permanent arrangements can be worked out, can be agreed and final legislation can be introduced. This is a most important industry. Its stability is necessary for Aus tralia’s continuing development. 1 sincerely hope that when the stage is reached when it is necessary to bring in the final legislation honourable members opposite will consider the employees in the industry and not simply adopt the attitude: ‘If we do not want them, if we do not need them, we can get rid of them’. I hope they will be concerned about all the employees in this industry, whether they be waterside workers, clerks, foremen or anybody else and treat them with the dignity they deserve and in the way in which we would wish to be treated ourselves.
– The Bill before the House at present, the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill, is really a repeat performance of what happened last year. In other words, it provides for the temporary provisions introduced then to be carried on for a further 12 months for the simple reason that the answers to the many problems that have been raised on the waterfront in Australia have not as yet been found. The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) mentioned early in his speech that there had been no Government action in relation to these problems in recent times, and therefore this was the reason for introducing this Bill at this time. I think he would be the first to agree that there has been a considerable change, not only in Australia but also all over the world, in stevedoring activities in recent years. It was during the time of changeover that the temporary provisions we are discussing were introduced in an effort to find a solution to the problems arising from the new set of circumstances which were operating not only in Australia but also around the world.
Australia is not unique in this problem. The honourable member probably knows as well as I do that many ports in the world have had major problems in this regard. I would say from my experience that the ports that have been forward-looking enough to take the concept in total and not in bits and pieces are the ports around the world which have come closer to solving the problem than have those ports that have taken it piecemeal. This change is no doubt what the Government will be studying in the next 12 months because the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) has indicated that he hopes that a solution will be found to the many problems and that he will be able to bring down permanent legislation within the next 12 months, if not before. I wish him luck in that exercise.
Mention has also been made this evening of the activities of the waterfront, the industry’s shortcomings and its problems. One of the great difficulties on the waterfront is, of course, supervision. Years ago, for many reasons adequate supervision was not available. If the Minister for Labour, who is at the table, is to handle the total situation he should look very closely at that point. He would be the first to agree that where a lot of men are working together supervision is very important. In the stevedoring industry supervision would be somewhat easier than in many other industries where personnel are scattered around Australia. At least in the port authorities they work in relatively concentrated areas and for that reason supervision should be easier than it is in other industries. Over the years the lack of adequate supervision has been a shortcoming in relation to waterside workers.
I will cite figures to illustrate the changes that have taken place. In 1965, 22,744 men were registered for employment on the Australian waterfront. At 30th June 1971 16,853 men were registered at all ports. At 30th June 1972 the figure had dropped to 14,592. Obviously the trend is continuing, mainly because of the changes around the world which I have mentioned. Tremendous expansion has taken place in shipbuilding and the capital investment in both general cargo vessels and bulk cargo vessels has greatly increased. The introduction of different types of shipping has meant that fewer men are required at ports, both in ships and on shore. This trend will continue. It is necessary to determine for how long the trend will continue and how the men to be replaced can be employed in other occupations. As more container ships and bulk handling equipment come into operation fewer men will be required on the waterfront.
The honourable member for Phillip mentioned the problems related to peaks and troughs of waterfront employment. Employment in ports differs from employment in other spheres. Shippers and shipping companies expect ports around the world to be open for 24 hours a day. They do not expect ports ever to close. When a ship is in port the master looks for labour to turn the ship around quickly. A decision must be reached on the amount of labour to be employed as a percentage of the cargo moving through the port.
Calculations must be made in respect of the peaks and troughs of employment. The honourable member for Phillip put forward an argument that we have heard on many occasions; that is, that it is better to have surplus ‘abour than to have idle ships.
These are complex questions which must be examined very carefully by governments or personnel dealing with such situations. The co-operation of governments, shipowners and all people concerned in shipping operations is essential if solutions are to be found to these problems. The Government cannot do it alone. It must have the co-operation of all people involved. I have said before that the total scene needs to be looked at in respect of cargo handling. Again the co-operation of all concerned is necessary. On 25th May 1972, when we were debating the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill, the present Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) led for the Opposition. He said on that occasion:
The Government cannot allow the economy of the port of Newcastle or that district to decline.
He was referring to certain things that had happened in that area. He went on:
It has to come up with answers. This does not apply only to the port of Newcastle; it applies to every port throughout the Commonwealth, with the possible exception of Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle. All other ports are vitally affected by the substantial change that has taken place in the handling of cargoes throughout Australia.
That is quite true. Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle were the only ports which initially were adopted by the container handlers operating to this country. They were the major ports concerned in the change. Later in his speech the present Minister for Transport, referring to the Government of that time, said:
You just cannot make a change overnight and expect people to carry the result of decisions which are made by a minority of the people.
He was referring to the number of people employed in the industry. Earlier in my speech I cited figures which indicated a decline in waterfront employment because of changing circumstances. The present Government has this problem on its plate and it has to be resolved. In seeking to resolve the problem I hope that the Government looks at the total scene and not only at the ports. It is necessary to look beyond the ports to see what is happening on land as well as on sea. The frequency of ship arrivals must be considered, as well as shipping schedules, traffic density and congestion in port areas. A large proportion of the cost arises in those areas, and perhaps the smaller ports could be utilised to some extent to reduce congestion in the larger ports.
I referred earlier to decisions which have been taken in other parts of the world - Europe and the United States of America - wherever container cargoes are handled. The Matson Line was one of the early operators in the Pacific area. It moved from its quarters on the west coast of the United States to an area in which it could gain more freedom to move. This has been happening all round Australia. Recently a lot has been said about setting up new cities in Australia. Shipping and associated problems must not be neglected by the Commonwealth and State governments which have responsibility in these areas. The total scene must be taken into consideration if our problems are to be solved. I am not talking only from something I have read, although I have read a lot about this subject. I have had some experience. I took the trouble at an early stage of the development of container cargoes to have a look for myself at what was happening. There is no substitute for first hand experience. In areas where the total scene has been studied the economics of operations are far better than they are in the more congested areas where operators have stayed in the same place and have endeavoured to make a go of it, sometimes in quite impossible circumstances.
The total scene in relation to shipping has changed around the world. A few years ago who would have talked of tankers of 250,000 tons? Today there is talk of tankers of 500,000 tons, and on the drawing board there is possibly a tanker of 1,000,000 tons. That illustrates the tremendous changes that are taking place. Some European ports have planned for developments into the next century. There is great competition in that area and operations are not conducted on week to week planning or even year to year planning. They have laid plans right through into the next century. They know precisely where they are going. This is a very interesting exercise which can be done only on these terms. We cannot plan this sort of operation. It is far too big to plan in any small way. We must look well ahead at where we are going. Where we are going in relation to shipping around the world is clear to me at the moment. This evidence is available. But as far as Australia is concerned, which is equally as important as any other country in the world, unless the Government of the day looks at the total scene, we have no chance in life of breaking down the costs which are presently rising. The honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) has spelled out many of the costs involved this evening, and therefore I will not reiterate them now. It is clear from the figures he cited to the House that costs are increasing and this trend will continue until somebody is big enough to do what is needed in this country, namely, look at the total scene.
– The House is indebted tonight to the honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) for foreshadowing the Government’s approach to the real problems of the stevedoring industry. That approach, of course, as well articulated by the honourable member for Phillip, sees the only answer to the problems in the stevedoring industry which are so apparent to both sides of the House as being based on nationalisation. Nationalisation is the socialist panacea for all of society’s alleged ills. That view which has been expressed by the honourable member for Phillip is consistent with the approach of so many Ministers of the present Government. 1 think of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) who, with his iniquitious Australian National Airlines Bill shortly to be debated by this House, is seeking the same social blueprint to control the transport industry in a manner which I believe to be totally repugnant to the Australian people. I think also of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) who has so effectively destroyed the mineral industry of this country with his centralist approach. The manner in which he has taken out of that significant industry any concept of incentive has led to what I hope may be only short term damage to that industry. A mortal blow indeed has been struck by that Minister. I think also of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). My colleagues have described him as benign. I think a great deal of him, as he certainly knows. But even he in his saner moments has been heard to indulge in public murmurings of his own point of view about the nationalisation of the steel industry. 1 challenge the Minister for Labour to accept or reject categorically what was foreshadowed in this House by the honourable member for Phillip.
The stevedoring industry is an industry with very real problems. This is acknowledged on both sides of the House. But if the honourable member for Phillip was correctly foreshadowing Government policy in this industry, the Minister for Labour has a responsibility to tell the House that his blueprint, his panacea, hi, response and his answer to all of these problems, is nationalisation. I say to the Minister, not in a sense to put the fear of God in him because it might cause him to think twice, that if this is his response he should be the first to be aware that there is in this country at present a very great sense of national concern at the fact that the reputation of this Government after so short a period in office - it has gone beyond the 150 days but it is still a short period of time in government - is not simply faltering but is souring very greatly. 1 can see that with your benign appearance, Mr Deputy Speaker, you might almost be inclined to go along with that view because you and your colleagues on the other side of the House recognise the 5 per cent downturn in Government support and know full well that the people outside this national Parliament are greatly concerned at the application and practice of socialisation as we see it, not simply in relation to minerals and fuel or transport but apparently now in relation to the stevedoring industry.
We believe that this Government is bereft of policy. It sees as the only panacea for the alleged problems of the free enterprise system the concept, not of looking to the rights of the individual but in fact of looking to the almighty state. As John Stuart Mill observed many years ago: ‘A state which dwarfs its men in order that they might be the more docile instruments in its power will find that with small men, no great things can be accomplished’.
– This is constructive criticism?
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro might find it instructive if he were to take that lesson. Regardless of the mirth of honourable members on the other side of the table, the fact is that socialism is no answer to the problems of this industry, the transport industry, the mining industry or any other major area of economic activity in this country. If there is one collective feeling of apprehension in Australia at this moment, that apprehension is largely generated in an appreciation that, for the first time, we have a government which is centralist in its application and control, seeking to take from the
States the rights that they have held for a long period; a government which seeks to cut down, not to build up; a government which seeks to put aside incentive in industry and replace it with that form of disincentive which is derived from the application of socialism in principle and in practice. I observe these matters not in depth but by way of passing observation. However, I believe it is a sufficiently compelling observation to commend itself certainly to this side of the House and to the Australian people.
This Bill seeks to extend the operation of the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act 1967-72 for a period of 1 year. The Bill contains provisions to extend the power to make regulations, to include non-continuous ports and to remove a number of existing limitations in respect of other ports. The Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Act gives legislative effect to an agreement entered into by the National Stevedoring Industry Conference on which were represented stevedoring employers, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Waterside Workers Federation, the Department of Labour and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority.
The former Government, recognising the need to achieve a long term improvement in the conditions of employment and labour efficiency in the industry, established the Conference in 1965. Since that time, the former Government endeavoured to create suitable conditions under which a satisfactory rationalisation of the industry could be implemented. We believe that a sensible and effective rationalisation proposal would have been of major benefit to the industry, both in terms of improved productivity and of better industrial relations. However, there were a number of fundamental factors which precluded the introduction of permanent legislation and those factors remain substantially unchanged to the present time. I give total commendation in this House to the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) who rightly has said - I accept his view - that the arrangements brought down in 1965 have not worked effectively and can be seen now on the record to have been a failure in terms of the objectives which they sought to achieve. The arrangements were well intentioned but, on the record, they now must be regarded as a failure in terms of bringing to this industry the effective and total solutions which are required at present.
The structure of the stevedoring industry is affected to a major extent by the continued introduction of container, roll-on roll-off and other types of shipping. In addition, the level of industrial unrest is still particularly excessive. As the Minister is fully aware, a substantial degree of this industrial unrest is quite unrelated to industrial matters such as the redundancy scheme and the terms and conditions of employment. He also knows that those terms and conditions of employment are demonstrably more advantageous to the employees in that industry when compared with many other industries. In spite of this and the inordinate level of idle time for which those employees are fully reimbursed, there has been a continuing level of highly disruptive activity in the industry which we believe is directly attributable to political considerations.
The present Government, in spite of its previous attitude that permanent arrangements could be expeditiously introduced, has chosen to extend the terms of the existing legislation. The Minister has in fact asked his former parliamentary colleague, the former member for Sturt, whom he has recently appointed to some position in his Department, to undertake an investigation of the stevedoring industry. I am not one to seek to cast any slur on the gentleman in question. However, if this task is to be undertaken objectively and without suspicion, the person or persons undertaking that task must be seen, as with Caesar’s wife, to be beyond suspicion. Surely that cannot be said of the former member for Sturt, whose views on the waterfront and whose background on the waterfront are matters of record. I should have thought that any such person, charged with a real obligation requiring objectivity in the national interest, is not a fit and proper person to undertake the task which the Minister has assigned to him. As a former union official in the stevedoring industry, he cannot be expected adequately to evaluate and report on arrangements for the future rationalisation of the industry which would necessarily take into account the interests of all parties, of course including the general public. The Minister’s action is an invitation to exacerbate the considerable problems now being experienced as a result of the extensive featherbedding practised by employees throughout the industry.
This action, I believe, is a further example of a Government which spent 23 years in Opposition claiming expertise in relation to the industrial area but now coming forward with no specific suggestion, no foreshadowed recommendations. In this debate the only positive thing which has emerged has been the cry by the honourable member for Phillip for nationalisation. If this is what this Government wants in the stevedoring area let it come forward and put its cards on the table so that the Australian public can make the judgment for itself. As the Minister for Labour is well aware - I respect his understanding and knowledge of this area - his own colleague, the present Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones), when in Opposition repeatedly accused the former Government of having no answer to the problem of the stevedoring industry. He said at that stage that it was time that the government of the day brought down permanent legislation. We are entitled to assume that that Minister had a view as to what that legislation ought to contain and encompass. But that view has not been put before this national Parliament.
I suggest to the Minister for Labour that this is an area of critical concern to Australia. What are the specific matters of concern? The honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) has articulated them very well indeed. They are: The high cost on the waterfront, the cost plus position, the financial indebtedness of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the excessive cost of idle time and the featherbedding which presently obtains, surplus labour on the waterfront, the indulgent nature of conditions throughout the industry, the level of industrial unrest, the influence of overseas shippers - I put that on the record - the capacity of the Waterside Workers Federation and the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour to negotiate agreements borne of cynical exploitation of monopoly power without a sense of concern for the public interest. I go on record in this debate as saying that the Waterside Workers Federation is completely pathetic and its sense of ignorance of the public interest is exceeded by only one other group, and that is the employers, for whom I have the same sense of pathos because of their incapacity to stand up and be counted on very real issues. I regret that there is not a chance to embellish on the fundamentals of this case.
– You have done a very good job.
– But only in brief and in passing. But the Minister for Labour, who is at the table, has reminded me in a note which 1 will not read to this House that I ‘have marginally exceeded the time which I agreed I would take in this debate. The Opposition supports the Bill because of the need to provide temporary legislation of this type. We call upon the Government to bring down its permanent scheme at the earliest available opportunity. I specifically ask the Minister to confirm or deny whether nationalisation is in his mind or whether, in fact, the honourable member for Phillip was speaking out of turn in foreshadowing Government policy.
– in reply - This has been a very exciting debate. We have had the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) opening with the suggestion that the stevedoring industry ought to be nationalised. He said that he could see great merit in having everybody employed by the one authority. That, of course, means nationalisation. I do not say that he is wrong at all. That is a question that he will have to settle later with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). But the Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself is a character who seems to have lived up to his reputation. His reputation is that of a person who is very much like a clockwork toy. You wind him up and he buzzes across the table until he runs out of steam. Then he sits down laughing with a note in his hand. That is what he did tonight.
– 1 think you should tell the House what was in the note.
– I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should make certain that what is on the note is not true. That would be more to the point. I dare say that this matter will eventually get into the Press. It is impossible to keep out of the Press now what was on the note. If it ever does get into the Press the honourable gentleman will find it hard to hold his deposit.
The honourable member for Wakefield started off with a trenchant criticism of the previous Government. It must have been that because that is what he described it as. He said: ‘I know that this is a trenchant criticism of the former Government.’ But is it not a funny thing that we had to wait all these years for the honourable gentleman to come clean.
Only tonight after all these years do we find out that for years now he has been harbouring this resentment, this smouldering hatred of the former Government and his dislike for the way that it ran this industry. I agree with the honourable gentleman that we must have permanent arrangements for this industry and that those arrangements have to be worked out without delay. I have said that already. It needs to be done; it has to be done. Why has it not been done before, one might ask. The answer to that is easy enough: Have a look at the former Ministers. They are the reason for this situation. They were just not able to grapple with this situation.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in order to make the strongest possible case against me, in his belief that I was in favour of public control of the industry, said this: The Minister at the table in his saner moments has engaged-
– When do you have those?
– According to the honourable gentleman my saner moments were when I was murmuring about public control of the industry. To him that represented my saner moments. It may very well be that he is right. Who knows? The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) was attacked for what he described 3 times as the panacea for the waterfront industry. The word ‘panacea’ is one that he likes using. It rolls off the tongue nicely, so let us use it wherever we can. The honourable member for Wakefield described the honourable member for Phillip as advocating nationalisation as the panacea for the stevedoring industry. Well, perhaps it is the panacea for the stevedoring industry.
When one looks at what is going on in the stevedoring industry now, when one sees the extent to which the stevedoring companies are controlled - in some cases owned completely - by foreign shipping companies working on a cost plus basis, as the honourable member for Wakefield very correctly said: ‘Is it not about time that we thought about some other form of control?’ If we discover, as Sir Thomas Playford did some years ago in regard to the electricity supply in South Australia when it was brought under State control, that the best way of control is to put it under Commonwealth control, why not do the same in this field? Why shrink from public control of something if we come to the same conclusions as Sir Thomas Playford did in regard to the Electricity Trust of South Australia? Perhaps if we examined it we might also reach the same conclusion as a Liberal Premier of Victoria once reached in respect of the gas industry in that State when he reached the firm conclusion that the proper way to control the gas industry was to put it under public control. That is why the gas industry in Victoria is publicly controlled at this time.
There is nothing wrong with public control. It does not necessarily follow that everything is right under the control of private industry. If anyone had any doubts about the inefficiency of a privately owned undertaking one would have only had to listen to the honourable member for Wakefield tonight to know that what he said was correct. If it is any satisfaction to the honourable member, we do not rule out the possibility of nationalisation of the industry. Of course we do not. If we are satisfied that that is the proper thing to do that is what we will do - make no error about it. I am grateful that the honourable member for Phillip, who is still sitting in the House listening to me, put forward the proposition in this debate because if we discover on an examination of all the facts that that is what ought to be done, that is what will be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) read a third time.
– I wish to inform the House of the following nominations of honourable senators and honourable members to be members of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. Mr Kerin, Mr Olley and Mr Whan have been nominated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Mr Cooke has been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and Mr Hallett has been nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) in this House. Senator Devitt and Senator Milliner have been nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and Senator Marriott and
Senator Hannan have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) in that House.
Debate resumed from 2 May (vide page 1583), on motion by Dr Patterson: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Wool Tax Bills (Nos 1 to 5) as they are related measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 6 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 6 measures? There being no objection, 1 will allow that course to be followed.
– The Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) has introduced into this House Bills which substantially alter arrangements and firm commitments that the previous Government had entered into with the wool industry. I think it ought to be noted that the Australian Wool Corporation is now responsible not only for operating the flexible reserve price scheme but also for wool promotion in Australia and for the promotion of activities of the International Wool Secretariat so far as Australia is concerned. It is responsible for the management of wool store; for the woo] testing authority and it is responsible for making recommendations concerning the expenditure of research funds. So it covers a wide ambit.
The purpose of these Bills is to make funds available to the Australian Wool Corporation to enable it to carry out a significant part of those obligations. Therefore it is all the more disturbing, I think, to see that this present Government has decreased the commitment that the previous Government made for the year 1973-74 from over $33m to $22m. This
Government has announced a 1-year program instead of a 3-year program and, since there can be no guarantee about what this Government might do in future years, it has reduced to $22m a $11 3m commitment by the previous Government to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. If the pattern of the past is any guide, it is likely that this Government will say to the wool industry in the future: ‘Find all the money yourself. So it is a pretty serious matter. The fact that it is a 1-year program will gravely handicap research and promotion activities - particularly the research activities in Australia of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, universities and State departments - and promotion activities in Australia and through the International Wool Secretariat. It is just not good enough to provide finance on a yearly basis for this kind of operation. The Minister for Northern Development at least should have known that. However, although before the elections he may have had some interest and concern in primary industry matters, we know what has happened since.
The decisions of the Government will make forward planning impossible in the important areas of research and promotion. But one of the most disturbing features of these decisions is that they have been taken without consultation with the industry. When the previous Government was entering proposals to examine what ought to be done in terms of support, research, promotion and stabilisation programs for primary industries, the then Government entered into the closest possible consultation with those industries so that they would know the Government’s mind and we would know theirs. Then, of course, the Government, had to make a decision, having that knowledge and understanding behind it. It was that kind of negotiation which led the previous Government to make a commitment over 3 years amounting to a total of $11 3m. But with the present Government we find, in marked contrast, statement after statement from wool industry leaders saying how these decisions that we. are now debating have been taken without any consultation with the industry at all. In fact they have been governed by the back room doctrinaire views of the Australian Labor Party and the Launceston Conference and the guidelines that that Conference provides in determination of rural policy. That does nol really leave any room for consultation with primary industry organisations. If there is such consultation it can only be a farce because of the back room doctrinaire approach that industry leaders are beginning to know will determine the Goverment^ actions.
In this instance I think it is all the more regrettable because the Executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference has given a great deal of time and effort to determining what ought to be the Government’s and the industry’s future approach on these matters. The Conference has been completely bypassed and this is not something that one would have expected from the kinds of statements that were made by the honourable members for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and Dawson (Dr Patterson) before 2nd December. But after 2nd December, when they gained office, it was an entirely different story. Even though both vied to become the Minister for Primary Industry neither of them did. But that again is understandable.
The decisions of the present Government are still even more regrettable because even though the Government might argue that the wool industry is now experiencing greater prices than it has for a considerable period it ignores the history of the last 10 years during which time the industry experienced some of the worst droughts on record and some of the worst prices on record because of unfavourable international marketing situations. In this period the total rural debt increased to more than $2,000m. In 1971-72 one-third of all farmers had an income of under $2,000. In the six or seven years before 1971-72 farm income fell by about one-third while average earnings rose by nearly 90 per cent. Since 1961 net rural indebtedness had increased from $130m to nearly $l,300m. All this indicates is that primary industries, including the wool industry, need some good seasons and some better prices, as they are now getting, to be able to recover and to reduce the burden of undue rural indebtedness caused by drought and low international prices.
But what do we find this Government doing? It opens the till. It does not ask the growers concerned but demands by way of legislation additional levies and at the same time it reduces the Government’s contribution. The levy on the growers is to be increased by 70 per cent without any consultation, and the Government’s contribution is to be reduced by about one-third. All of this has happened because the Labor Party is governed by the Launceston Conference in these matters. It was a different story before 2nd December. I have mentioned the honourable members for Dawson and Riverina who spoke about revaluation and revaluation compensation. The promise of $500m at 3 per cent to the farming community around Australia was given wide publicity in rural newspapers. But, of course, this has not occurred and is not going to occur.
We only have to go to the words of the Minister for Northern Development to find out why it is not occurring. The Minister spelt out publicly in a public forum what the Launceston Conference meant so far as Australia’s primary industries are concerned. When appearing on a ‘This Day Tonight’ program the Minister, talking about the rural decisions of the Launceston Conference, said:
He was talking about the present Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). It was put to the Minister for Northern Development:
But Mr Hayden’s remarks seem to find favour with the conference.
The Minister replied:
Yes, I find it very hard to believe, except that perhaps very few members of the conference know anything about rural matters.
That is certainly true. A little later in the same interview the questioner asked:
On a broader note at the conference, the ALP now seems to want to wipe out rural subsidies altogether accepting Mr Hayden’s theories. Now. do you go along with this?
The Minister replied:
Look, I find this a very dangerous statement, and Mr Hayden has made this statement many times in the caucus, that is, be seems to be a free trader and certainly his remarks have been published in inverted commas. ‘We cannot just keep on pouring subsidies out willy-nilly like a madman in charge of a counterfeit press whether they go to primary industries or secondary industries.’ And incorporating those words in an amendment which was passed, means it’s a very dangerous thing, because if this is followed by the caucus as it should be it means we will have to vote against the wheat stabilisation bill, dairy industry, the various wool commitments, the Australian Wool Commission, all of these are subsidised industries that cannot stand on their feet under this criteria, more dangerously Graham, is, if this criteria is baid to secondary industry which is a tariff, it means the abolition virtually of all secondary industries in Australia.
There was some more. He spoke about the dreadful morning he had had and the number of phone calls he had received from people who thought that the Labor Party was con cerned about rural matters. Of course, his interpretation of the Launceston Conference was an accurate one, but the smoke screen that he and the honourable member for Riverina were able to put up before 2nd December led many people to believe thu the Labor Party was interested in rural matters. It is unfortunate for the rural industries of Australia that the Minister for Northern Development is politically dead and his erstwhile colleague, the Minister for Social Security, has obviously much greater influence in the Cabinet than he has.
What has happened to this particular series of Wool Bills is only .one example of the whole series of hostile acts to rural communities in Australia. I mention rural communities and not just the people who work on wool, dairy, cotton, wheat or sugar farms. I am referring to the total communities which are dependent on these industries. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) made a statement on ‘he 28th December which was perhaps meant to be a late Christmas present. He said in chat statement that the Government would not depart from the principles of compensation adopted by previous governments. This is a report of what he said when speaking on revaluation compensation:
This decision, which means millions of dollars of relief to farmers and industry, was announced after a 2-hour meetings at Mr Crean’s Melbourne home. Also attending were Dr Cairns and Senator Wriedt.
We know, of course, from subsequent statements by Senator Wriedt that that compensation is just not becoming available to primary industries. With the exception of apples and pears, a Tasmanian primary industry - I hope there is no particular significance in the coincidence that the senator’s own home is in that State - obviously there would appear to be no revaluation compensation in accordance with the principle announced by the Treasurer and which was very soon denied in the statements made available a short while afterwards by the Minister for Primary Industry. Of course, Senator Wriedt is the Minister for Primary Industry because he is a Minister who is happy to put into effect the decisions of the Launceston Conference. We not only have no revaluation compensation for primary industries; but the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) sneaked out a statement on 10th April indicating widespread revaluation compensation for secondary industries. This shows the changed orientation of the present Government compared to the previous Government,
I had hoped that members of the Government might have believed what was said about open government. Somewhat naively I wrote to Senator Wriedt and asked for a copy of the report of the interdepartmental committee that had been examining revaluation compensation for primary industries. In his letter to me the Minister just referred to the fact that the Prime Minister at his Press conference on 30th January had pointed out that these committee reports are attached to Cabinet documents which are confidential and therefore, of course, are not available to any other honourable member or to any person in the community unless the Prime Minister chooses, as he is doing quite frequently, to make the report available to a Press conference but not to this Parliament. But this action would be typical of his activities in recent times. There is no open government in this matter. There is no reason why an interdepartmental report on revaluation compensation should not be made available. The terms of reference of the committee have been made public. There is no reason at all why that report should not be made public for everyone to see, unless, of course, the Government has something to hide - unless it wants to hide the fact that the dairy, cotton, wheat, sugar, fishing and other primary industries are more than $200m short as a result of the Government’s lack of action in this area. So open government has gone.
– It is quite impossible to get information out of this Government. It is quite impossible to get reports out of this Government. One of the greater deceptions by honourable members opposite is the claim that the previous Government was not open in these matters. We have also been told that research funds for not only the wool industry but also other industries are under examination. It would be much more proper to say that research funds for all primary industries are under threat. Primary industry was promised $500m at 3 per cent interest. What has happened? Rural reconstruction funds have been cut in half. This great Government that has pretended to be the friend of the farmer has also sought to raise interest rates.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Bill before the House is the Wool Industry Bill 1973. The honourable member for Wannon has mentioned the word ‘wool’ only once in the last 9 minutes.
I ask the honourable member for Wannon to make sure that he keeps within the terms of the Bill.
– I will certainly do what you have asked me to do, Mr Deputy Speaker. I can well understand why the Minister for Northern Development does not like what is being said. It is because he is one of the few people on the other side of the chamber who would understand what is being said. The point that is relevant here is that the Government has cut its support for wool research and promotion; that it has imposed increased levies on the growers and that it has done so without any consultation. I have shown that that is typical of a whole series of actions, and my drawing attention to those actions is, I submit Mr Deputy Speaker, relevant to what is happening in this area.
But this is not the only area where the promotion of wool industry funds and the use of wool industry funds show the attitude that the Government has adopted. Not one primary industry organisation in Australia wants a referendum on the merino embargo. The Australian Wool Industry Conference does not want one. But the Government is determined to have a referendum, again because the doctrinaire people in the Australian Labor Party who know nothing about this subject say they want a referendum. The Victorian Farmers Union, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Graziers Association and the Wool Industry Conference - none of them want a referendum on this issue. This again shows that the Government is determined to act without any advice from or consultation with the wool industry leaders. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan) has made a specific habit since he has been a member of this House of attacking the membership of the Australian Wool Corporation.
– I did it before I was a member.
– And the honourable member has done it since. He did it before he was a member of this House and he has done it since he has been a member. In attacking the membership he has been clearly laying the ground rules for being able to say that the recommendations of the Australian Wool Corporation, when they are available, ought to be thrown out and the doctrinaire back room views of the Australian Labor Party put in their place. I believe that it is an utterly disgraceful way to behave, unashamedly to attack honourable and reputable people and name them in the Press, as he has done. This has been done in terms which are designed to discredit a Corporation which is going a great deal of good for Australia and which I believe will come forward with recommendations that will be exceedingly useful to the wool industry but which would have been more useful if the proposals of the previous Government had in fact been supported rather than the proposals of this Government.
We have another example of this Government’s attitude to primary industry when we look at what it tried to do about the meat industry. It threw that hot potato to the Department of Primary Industry, which could not come up with any recommendations, and then to the Treasury, which could not come up with any recommendation. The Government then threw it to the Australian Meat Board. I believe that the Meat Board is going to be restructured because it did not get the Government off a particular hook. There will be moves to change the personnel of the Board, that will fit in with the pattern of what the honourable member for Eden-Monaro is attempting to do with the membership of the Australian Wool Corporation.
Other matters which indicate the completely anti-rural attitude of the present Government include the electoral redistribution proposals which would make seats on the outskirts of Melbourne and Sydney smaller than my seat, smaller than the electorate of Kennedy and smaller than the electorate of Dawson or any of the large rural seats in Australia. Again, the Government is doing nothing to control inflation. It is going to put up interest rates, which in the present context will only put up costs. There is a complete catalogue of proposals which are hostile to rural interests. The increase in interest rates will affect primary industry, which is struggling to reduce rural indebtedness. Primary industry is being attacked by the actions of the Government of increasing a levy by 70 per cent on the one hand and reducing a Government contribution by a third on the other. This can only make life harder for those engaged in primary industry. It will make it harder for more farmers to reduce the large burden of rural indebtedness which otherwise they would have been able to do. The Government is in fact seeking to milk primary indusutry to pay for promises in other areas. I believe that that prediction ill become all the more clear as time unfolds.
One of the worst disservices done to primary industry, including the wool industry, was a speech by Senator Wriedt in Paris. It was in fact the most important speech that he had made since becoming Minister for Primary Industry. It was made not in the Senate and not in Australia. It was not even made to an Australian Press conference. It was made to a group of representatives of foreign countries. There can be only 3 implications derived from a careful reading of that speech. The implications are that he believes that many Australian primary industries are inefficient. He did not indicate whether he thought the wool industry was one of those industries. The Minister for Primary Industry also indicated that he believes that there has been too much production because previously there had been too much government support. Is the wool industry one of the areas where he thinks that that is so? He knows that there is a world shortage of wool yet that is clear implication of the speech he made. The Minister also made it plain that he thinks there has been too much subsidisation. He talked about an end to open ended commitments. He said:
We have no doubt that a movement towards a reduction in supports given to agricultural production would be in the long term interests of all countries.
The Minister for Primary Industry has shown what he wants to do and he is moving to do it in the first instance in relation to the wool industry. I believe that it will cover a number of areas. One of the worst things about that speech is that when we come to knock on the doors of the Common Market countries and say that we want them to open their doors to, or remove their barriers on products from, Australia they will be able to quote that speech back at us and use it against us. They will say: ‘Why should we take from you the surplus products of what you have admitted are your inefficient industries?’ I think that was a disastrous thing for the Minister to have done. It ought not to have been done.
The Opposition would have liked to oppose this legislation, but if it were to oppose it in this House and in the Senate that would mean that there would be no research and promotion funds for the next financial year because the Government has made it plain that it will not support the proposals that we negotiated with the industry and announced last year. The consequences of opposing what is now being suggested are too serious for the industry. Therefore that cannot be contemplated. Instead of doing that, therefore, I move on behalf of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, as an amendment to the motion for the second reading of Wool Industry Bill 1973:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words In place thereof: whilst not refusing the bil] a second reading, this House deplores the fact that the Government’s decisions were made without proper consultation with industry leaders, the fact that a 3-year program has been cut to a one year program, making forward planning virtually impossible, and thirdly, the fact that the present Government has broken an undertaking given by the previous Government to the Australian Wool Industry Conference.’
I have covered the ambit of these 3 parts of the amendment in the words that I have spoken. I emphasise again that decisions have been taken without consultation with primary industry leaders. That is not surprising, because during the revaluations that took place twice the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) and his Department and the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) and his Department were not consulted. If they were not consulted when there was a junta or two governing this country how can primary industry leaders expect to be consulted by the Government itself when the Government does not even consult its own experts in particular fields when decisions are being made that will have a significant effect upon certain industries? To encompass a revaluation, not once but twice, without any discussion and without any reports from the Department of Primary Industry and the Minister for Primary Industry shows, I believe, the disgraceful and shameful attitude of the Government in relation to primary industry.
The fact that the 3-year program has been changed to a one-year program is making forward planning virtually impossible. One cannot operate a successful research program if finance is provided on a year to year basis. One cannot operate a successful promotion program which involves liaison and co-opera tion with manufacturers, textile firms and, at the same time, commercial stores, if one can operate only on a one-year basis. That is what the Government is proposing.
The present Government has broken an undertaking given by the previous Government to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. That is breaking a general tradition and convention between governments that publicly announced commitments entered into by one government with a industry, with a group or with another country, are supported by an incoming government. The Government has broken a long-standing convention of decent behaviour by one government taking over from another government. The Australian Wool Industry Conference had a perfect right to expect that the present Government would honour those commitments.
– Why do you ship your wool through Melbourne instead of selling it at Portland?
– I think it would be better if you went back where you came from. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party will vote for this amendment but will not oppose the passage of the Bill. The Bill ought not to be in the form it is in. It ought to be honouring the commitments that the previous Government had entered into, but I am afraid that we could not expect anything better of this particular Government. What the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) think of these particular matters must be hard to judge because when Senator Wriedt is overseas neither is allowed to be even Acting Minister for Primary Industry. It is a common secret that both wanted to be Minister for Primary Industry and it is a common secret that both were vying with each other to be Minister for Primary Industry. It is also well known that neither is Minister for Primary Industry because they are the only 2 members on the Government side with an interest in and a concern for primary industry.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
Brookstead Basin: Recharging of Aquifers - Immigration: Children from Vietnam
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! It being 10.45 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 1st March, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Tonight I want to bring to the notice of this Parliament the position on the irrigation basin in my electorate which is an area commonly referred to as the Brookstead Basin. This is an area where the efforts of the Irrigation and Water Supply Commission of Queensland to investigate the recharge of underground aquifers have been frustrated because of lack of funds to carry on this urgent work. I understand that a submission, termed the Leslie Dam Stage 2 project, has been tendered by the Queensland Government to the Commonwealth Government for consideration for financial assistance under the national water resources development program. From advice received from my predecessor, the then Minister for National Development, Sir Reginald Swartz, the evaluation and assessment of the work was to be given the highest possible priority.
I trust that with the change of government the project has not been shelved, that it has not been pigeonholed in some department or other and that it will receive the high priority to which it is entitled. But the people have not been taken into the confidence of this Government. They desire to know what the position is now, whether they still have the top priority to which they are entitled. This priority can readily be established by an examination 0t the facts. In the Basin there are 1,100 holdings using irrigation or 10.7 per cent of the total number of irrigation holdings in Queensland. There is extra production and also associated costs are born by the primary producers in an irrigated area. This takes at least some of the gambling out of farming. No doubt this extra production is appreciated by governments as it is all readily salable produce injecting valuable dollars - not quite as valuable now as they were under our Government because the present Government decided unilaterally to revalue the dollar - into the economy by way of rail freights, road freights and export business.
The future potential of this area surely gives it the highest possible priority, even on a
13369/73 - 4831
national basis, for financial consideration. The produce I refer to is cotton, soya beans, grain crops, maize, onions and tomatoes. The success of these crops has been in no small way due to the good husbandry of the farmers who have developed the technique, which has been copied overseas, of applying the theoretical to the practical. A large amount of money is injected into the Darling Downs towns and cities and into the general economy. The Sim Cecil Plains ginnery was built by the cotton industry. Employment has been created. There are chemical companies and fertiliser companies. There is increased demand for fuel and power and there is an all important stability in the local labour market. All these benefits have come from the extra spending power generated by the increased returns from crops grown under irrigation and the increased business activity in what is generally speaking a dry farming area. I emphasise this point by reading from the ‘Irrigation Farm Year Book 1970-71’:
Irrigation provides the one major stable factor in an uncertain future. Irrigation that is dependent on the volume and quality of the water supply available which can provide the one stabilising factor, under the direct control of the farmer, to make the diversification possible and profitable.
The area involved is some 80,000 acres but at the rate at which the underground water supplies are being depleted it is estimated that in 10 years it will be possible to irrigate only 20,000 acres from the underground supplies. This is a fall of some 50,000 acres, as 10,000 acres is irrigated from surface water. This will be a calamity of the highest order. The farmers concerned have ploughed into their enterprises about $7im in capital equipment, such as machinery, and irrigation channels. The latter obviously will be a complete writeoff if something is not done about recharging the aquifer. The equipment no doubt could be disposed of for a fraction of its cost. This is good country; there is a large diversification of crops, a climate suitable for growing both winter and summer crops, soils with water holding ability equal to any in the world, and experienced farmers willing to make and capable of making efficient and profitable use of this Investment for the benefit of the whole community.
At the present time there is a recharge trial planned in which a 1000-foot trench will be dug in the bed of an anabranch of the Condamine, the north branch, on which work is expected to commence in June - July of this year. On the basis of the results of previous trials it would appear that even if recharging proves successful it is certainly doubtful and probably not expected that it will be adequate to maintain the existing supply. This is why it is vitally important to treat this whole project in perspective and to view it within the backdrop of diversion of the Clarence River, construction of smaller weirs, the completion of stage 2 of Leslie Dam, and the recharging of the aquifer. At a time when the Darling Downs is crying out for more water, it is little consolation to remember that only a few months ago during the summer rains and we are in a predominantly summer rainfall area - many millions of gallons of water flowed to the ocean when some of it should have been harnessed for future months. What we are striving for is a two-pronged attack, more surface water and the development of a technique to recharge underground water storages. I ask the Government, therefore, to support research into these matters, matters which are very fundamental to the continued existence and economic stability of so many of my constituents, both employer and employee. 1 pay tribute to the officers of the various government departments in Queensland and to the Executive of the Condamine River Basin Irrigators Association, Mr E. W. Bloomfield, Chairman, K. R. Begbie, Secretary, and D. Stallman, Treasurer, and all other interested parties for their efforts in the past and their undying faith in the future. They have devised a scheme bold in its approach and imaginative in its concept, and it does not deserve to be frustrated in its implementation by pressures exerted by politicians or the furthering of pet policies by some departments. These gentlemen have had as their aim not the development of more irrigation in this particular area at this stage - the short-sightedness of the initial development on an ad hoc basis is now readily visible for all to see - but a stability of enterprises to the people and areas involving substantial investment in both property and enterprises in business activity built up in many centres following increased irrigation production and demands applicable to this. They are concerned about the diminution of underground supplies, particuarly as it is disastrous for non riparian land holders. They advocate, in addition to the construction of stage 2 of Leslie Dam, 2 regulating weirs, 2 diversion weirs and other control structures together with some improvements to the channel of the north arm of the Condamine River to facilitate regulation and provide more efficient use of regulated supplies along the Condamine River downstream to Sandy Creek, to Cecil Plains and diversion of water along the north arm of the Condamine River. They suggest the initial use of additional supply from the second stage of Leslie Dam to replace groundwater use on riparian properties along the Condamine. This is a concrete effort to bring about some reduction in demand on the over-developed and used ground water supplies.
The estimated cost of these works was $2.356m when it was originally costed, and it is probably now much more. It will certainly be much more with the feather-bedding that is going on at the present time by the minority government which is a sedulous and obsequious servant of the union bosses, because it is aware the unions will not re-endorse it for the next election. The question might be asked: Why is not the aquifer recharged by direct inflitration of rainfall and run-off on the soil surface, and why do positive steps have to be taken to replenish these supplies? Investigations have shown that overlying the upper aquifer is a layer of heavy black clay soil and clay sub-soil. The surface soils are self mulching and cause deep cracking as they dry out. Water entry while the soil is in this state is rapid and saturation of the surface soils is accompanied by considerable swelling which closes the cracks. Once saturated the soils exhibit very low permeability, which is typical of clay.
Recharging the underlying aquifers does not result from the direct inflitration of rainfall and run off on the soil surface. It is replaced by natural down valley flow through the alluvia of the Condamine River and its tributary streams and also to a greater extent from the flow of water in the river itself. This is where the research is to be channelled, and I hope the moneys designated will allow this investigation to be brought to fruition. It is a big program designed to benefit both rural and city dwellers. I fully support any moves that this Government will make to ensure that the underground water supply-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to a matter concerning a Mrs Young of my electorate who belongs to an association called the Australian Adoptive Families Association. Her particular worry, which I told her I would bring up briefly in Parliament at the first available opportunity, is that she says she wrote to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) in December last and has had a telegram from his secretary to say that the Minister will look into a matter of adoption, but she has not yet had anything else from the Minister. She says that she wrote again to the Minister towards the end of February, but this did not make much difference. The problem that the Association poses to the Minister - I will try to make this as brief as possible - is that in order to adopt a war orphan from Vietnam, a child of varied race, which the members of the Association wish -o do, they have to apply for adoption by proxy through a Vietnamese lawyer once the children have been located for adoption purposes. At some subsequent stage they are :hen in a position perhaps to bring a child to Australia.
They wish to ask the Minister 2 questions: Firstly, if the children are under 2 years of age and if they come in as a group, will the Commonwealth bear the cost of the fare of an escort to look after them? Secondly, would these children be eligible to enter Australia on an assisted passage? They then go on to point out that the United States Government has an agreement with the Vietnamese Government whereby a release form is sent to Vietnam and the child can then leave for its new home within 6 weeks of its being located, during Which time the legal adoption process is conducted and completed in Vietnam. My information is that it costs $25 a month while the child is being cared for in Vietnam, and that it takes sometimes 8 to 9 months to complete, the proxy adoption. That is the situation that applies in the case of Mrs Young and I promised her, rightly or wrongly, that I would bring up this matter at the first available opportunity.
– I appreciate fully the problem which has been raised by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). He is giving voice, I might say, to a considerable concern expressed by many in our community at the present time. I want to reply to the honourable member very specifically on one point, namely, that the Department of Immigration of the Australian Government is advised in the basic principle relating to this matter by the various State Departments of child welfare. The biggest problem faced by these families, or at least the individuals, who wish to adopt the children, the dispossessed, the orphans of Vietnam is to validate the adoption through the State authorities. In the first instance, these children must be adopted according to Vietnamese law. When that is done, the next obstacle is in relation to the State department. If the various State departments approve the adoption and when proper clearance has been secured I will give every support - I want to pledge my co-operation in this - to getting the child united with its parents of adoption in Australia. But the essential problem resides with the State department.
In regard to the matters raised concerning the United States Government and its procedures, I must say to the honourable member very specifically and very honestly that I am not aware of these procedures. I will have them studied, as a result of the honourable member’s raising the matter tonight, and I will be in touch with him about them, but please assure all the folk-
– Write to Mrs Young.
– I will do that through the honourable member and I will also let the House know the result of the studies. I am aware of the concern, I share the concern, I am anxious to help. I think it is a matter of acting in partnership and in concert with the State governments concerned.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! It being 11 o’clock the House stands adjourned until 1 1 a.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Draft Criminal Code for the Australian Territories (Question No. 172) Mr Garland asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
To what extent have the provisions of the Draft Criminal Code for the Australian Territories, which the then Attorney-General tabled on 14 May 1969 (Hansard, page 1775), been adopted in any Territory and copied in any State.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
For what purpose and on what terms does the Government propose to secure land rights over 7,500,000 acres of Queensland-held Aboriginal ‘and.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Government is concerned to ensure that the Aboriginal and Islander people of Queensland themselves obtain title to the land set aside as reserves in Queensland. Any proposal that the Commonwealth take over these reserves would be directed only towards this end.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as fellows: (1-3) The components of 25 houses were delivered to the Ngukurr community in 1972; the autonomous Housing Association at Ngukurr has erected 5 of these and has substantially progressed with the erection of a further 5. The remaining 15, to be erected as part of the Government housing program, have suffered some damage and deterioration since delivery. The delays in the erection of these houses have arisen from adverse weather conditions and a shortage of tradesmen and equipment.
The Housing Association’s building supervisor has recently resigned and the Association, with the assistance of my Department, is recruiting a replacement. Owing to delays in the delivery of materials, caused by unfavourable weather, contractors at present at Ngukurr have been unable to proceed with the construction of the new rural health centre and are assisting the Association with supervision. The target date for completion of the Housing Association program is the end of June.
There is an urgent need to proceed with the construction of the remaining 15 houses and my Department is negotiating with the Housing Association on a price for their erection. If necessary, to achieve an early start on building, my Department will post a works supervisor to Ngukurr.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable m ember’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The following reply assumes that part (2) of the question relates only to Aboriginal applicants:
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These matters are the subject of a study being made by expert consultants, who will also prepare proposals for a development program and estimatees of likely Income. Decisions relating to the provision of land for the Gurindji will be taken in the light of the report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Government aid to mission communities in the current financial year provides for:
special assistance to individual Aboriginals whose regular income is insufficient to enable them to provide adequately for themselves and their families;
Aborigines’ Petition to the United Nations (Question No. 221)
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Government has pledged itself to substantially reduce the infant mortality rate among Aboriginals as a matter of highest priority; it is reviewing housing assistance schemes implemented by the previous Government, with a view to increasing the effectiveness of Aboriginal housing programs; the Government has already decided to use Aboriginal languages as a medium of education in schools, wherever this is practicable, and a program of public information, with special emphasis on the provision of suitable materials for schools, is being developed. The Government also accepts the need for anti-discrimination legislation and will introduce such legislation as soon as possible.
The petition also requested payment of $6 billion to enable Aboriginals to achieve economic parity with other Australian citizens, and associated this claim with a claim for land rights. The Government has acknowledged Aboriginal rights to land on reserves in the Northern Territory and has appointed the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission to inquire into means of implementing its policy.
I will be looking in particular to the National Aborigines Consultative Council, when it becomes fully operative, to advise me on further action which might be taken in relation to the matters referred to in the petition.
asked the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
A National Committee for Sites of Significance has been formed by the Institute, including nominees of the State and Northern Territory relics authorities and Aboriginal representation.
The committee is responsible for the overall planning of the program including examination of applications for site recording projects, establishment of priorities and general supervision of field projects.
Grants have been made already to the State relics authorities in South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales to enable them to commence recording programs immediately. Six researchers, including one Aboriginal, are going into the field on site recording projects. Aboriginals will be involved as consultants wherever work is carried out and in many instances,they will be employed on a full time basis to participate in the recording, conservation and preservation of sites associated with their heritage.
A grant has been made to the Western Australian authorities to support special studies on the development of techniques to prevent the deterioration of Aboriginal monuments in Australia.
In respect of mining as it affects the conservation of Aboriginal sites, executive members of the Institute have met with representatives of the Mining Industry Council with the objective of overcoming the problems associated with mining and the conservation of Aboriginal monuments, antiquities and sites. Further discussions with the Council will be held to formulate plans for special site recording projects in areas where mineral exploration and development are concentrated.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I would also point out to the honourable member that the provisions of the Science Facilities and Libraries Programs do not apply to the Territories of the Commonwealth.
New South Wales
St Pius X School, Adamstown
St Anne’s High School, Adamstown
Bethlehem College, Ashfield
De La Salle College, Ashfield
De La Salle College, Bankstown
Nagle Girls’ High School, Blacktown
Patrician Brothers’ St Patrick’s College, Blacktown
Christian Brothers’ St Anne’s High School, BondiBeach
St Joseph’s High School, Broken Hill
St Patrick’s College, Campbelltown
St Gabriel’s School for Deaf Boys, Castle Hill
Our Lady of Dolours Girls’ High School, Chatswood.
St Pius X College, Chatswood
St John’s College, Dubbo
St Patrick’s Marist Brothers’ High School, Dundas.
Our Lady of Mercy College, Epping
Patrician Brothers’ College, Fairfield
Our Lady of Mercy College, Forbes
St Scholastica’s College, Glebe Point
Our Lady of Mercy College, Goulburn
St Aloysius’ College, Grafton
St Aloysius’ Girls’ High School, Hamilton
Holy Trinity College, Inverell
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Kensington
St Joseph’s Girls’ School, Kogarah
Mary McKillop High School, Lakemba
Christian Brothers’ College ‘The Boulevarde’, Lewisham.
Marist Brothers’ High School (Junior), Lismore
St Mary’s College, Lismore
Patrician Brothers’ Regional College, Liverpool
St Mary’s High School, Liverpool
St Joseph’s College, Lochinvar
Marist Brothers’ High School, Maitland
Christian Brothers’ College, Manly
Stella Maris College, Manly
St Joseph’s College, North Goulburn
Marist Brothers’ High School, North Sydney
Monte Sant Angelo College, North Sydney
De La Salle College, Orange
Mt St Benedict High School, Pennant Hills
Marist Brothers’ High School, Pagewood
Brigidine Convent, Randwick
Marcellin College, Randwick
De La Salle College, Revesby Height
Sacred Heart Convent, Rose Bay
Brigidine Convent, StIves
St Catherine’s College, Singleton
St Patrick’s College, Strathfield
Christian Brothers’ College, Sutherland
Mary Immaculate College, Sutherland
St Mary’s Cathedral School, Sydney
Christian Brothers’ College, Tamworth
St Dominic’s Priory, Tamworth
St Edmund’s School Wahroonga
Mater Maria College, Warriewood
St Clare’s College, Waverley
Catherine McAuley Girls’ High School, Westmead
Parramatta Marist High School, Westmead.
Edmund Rice College, Wollongong
Holy Cross College, Woollahra
Mt Carmel College, Yass
St Joseph’s Technical High School, Abbotsford
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Bentleigh
St James’ College, Bentleigh
Our Lady of Sion College, Box Hill
St Leo’s College, Box Hill
Geoghegan College, Broadmeadows
Chavoin College, Burwood
Holy Cross Presentation Convent, Daylesford
Whitefriars College, Donvale
St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully
Stella Maris College, Frankston
Kilmaire College, Hawthorn
Xavier Preparatory School, Kew
St Patrick’s School, Manangatang
Cathedral College, Melbourne
Kilbreda College, Mentone
St Bede’s College, Mildura
St Joseph’s College, Mildura
Padua College, Mornington
Avila College, Mount Waverley
St Aloysius College, North Melbourne
St Joseph’s College, Orbost
Loreto Convent, Portland
Vaucluse Convent, Richmond
Aquinas College, Ringwood
St Patrick’s College, Sale
St Kevin’s College (Junior), Toorak
Presentation Convent, Windsor
St Teresa’s College, Abergowrie
St Columban’s School, Albion
Marist Brothers’ College, Ashgrove
St James’ School, Brisbane
St Joseph’s College, Brisbane
Loreto Convent, Coorparoo
St Columba’s Convent, Dalby
St Mary’s College, Dalby
St Ursula’s College, Dutton Park
Gladstone Co-Instructional High School, Gladstone
Christian Brothers’ High School, Gympie
Brigidine College, Indooroopilly
St Edmund’s College, Ipswich
St Mary’s High School, Ipswich
Iona College, Lindum
Our Lady of Mercy College, Mackay
Christian Brothers’ High School, Maryborough
McKillop College, Mount Gravatt
St Joseph’s College, Nudgee
Convent High School, Rockhampton
St Stanislaus College, Rockhampton
St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe
St Joseph’s Convent, Stanthorpe
Convent of the Sacred Heart, Stuartholme
St Patrick’s College, Townsville
Assumption College, Warwick
St Columba’s College, Wilston
St Ursula’s College, Yeppoon
St Michael’s College, Beverley
Salesian College, Brooklyn Park
St Mary’s Dominican Convent, Cumberland Park
Rostrevor College, Magill
St Joseph’s College, Mitchell Park
Mount Carmel College, Rosewater
Pius College, Albany
Santa Maria College, Attadale
St Thomas Aquinas College, Bedford
Christian Brothers’ College, Fremantle
Our Lady of the Missions High School, Fremantle
St Anne’s School, Harvey
Christian Brothers’ College, Kalgoorlie
Prendiville College, Kalgoorlie
Christian Brothers’ College, Leederville
St Brigid’s Ladies’ College, Lesmurdie
St Brigid’s Convent of Mercy, Midlands
St Benedict’s Boys’ School, New Norcia
Catholic Secondary Girls’ School, Sorrento
Christian Brothers’ St Mary’s Agricultural College, Tardun
St Keiran’s College, Tuart Hill
Clontarf Boys’ Town, Victoria Park
St Joachim’s High School, Victoria Park
St Joseph’s Convent, Waroona
East Coast College, Glenorchy
Matriculation College, Glenorchy
Sacred Heart Convent School, New Town
Mount Carmel College, Sandy Bay 1. (c) (i) Secondary Schools Science Faculties Program - Other non-government schools which will acquire science accommodation during the period 30th March 1973 to 30th June1975.
New South Wales
Scots College, Bathurst
Marsden Girls’ School, Bathurst
Scots College, Bellevue Hill
Ascham School, Edgecliff
Ravenswood Methodist School for Girls, Gordon
Danebank School, Hurstville
Sydney Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Moss Vale
The Kings School, Parramatta
Kambala Church of England School, Rose Bay
Roseville Girls’ College, Roseville
Seventh Day Adventist School, Strathfield
St Andrew’s Cathedral School, Sydney
Tamworth Church of England Grammar School, Tamworth
St Catherine’s School, Waverley
Ballarat College, Ballarat
Clarendon Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Ballarat
Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Burwood
The Era School, Donvale
Carey Baptist (Junior) School, Kew
Carey Baptist (Senior) Grammar, Kew
Haileybury College, Keysborough
Mentone Grammar School, Mentone
Caulfield Grammar School, St Kilda East
St Margaret’s Church of England Girls’ School, Albion
Somerville House, Brisbane
Thornburgh College, Charters Towers
St Hilda’s School, Southport
The Southport School, Southport
The Scots College, Warwick
Woodlands Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Glenelg
Cathedral Grammar School, Bunbury
Christ Church Grammar School, Claremont
Methodist Ladies’ College, Claremont
St Mary’s Church of England Girls’ School, Doubleview
Kobeelya Church of England Girls’ School, Katanning
Penrhos Methodist Ladies’ College, Perth
Hale School, Wembley Downs
Scotch College, Launceston 1. (b) (ii) Secondary Schools Libraries Program - Catholic schools which will acquire library buildings during the period 30th March 1973 to 31st December 1974.
New South Wales
St John’s Girls’ High School, Auburn
Nazareth College, Bankstown
St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst
Christian Brothers’ College, Bondi Beach
Marist Brothers’ College, Broken Hill
St Joseph’s College, Broken Hill
Our Lady of Mercy High School, Burraneer
Oakhill College, Castle Hill
Boys’ Town, Engadine
Our Lady of Mercy College, Goulburn
Patrician Brothers’ High School, Granville
Griffith Catholic High School, Griffith
St Joseph’s College, Hunter’s Hill
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Kensington
Marist Brothers’ High School, Kogarah
St John’s School, Lakemba
Christian Brothers’ College, Lewisham
St John’s College, Lismore
Christian Brothers’ College. Manly
Stella Maris College, Manly
Holy Family High School, Marayong
De La Salle College, Marrickville
St Brigid’s College, Marrickville
Dominican Convent, Moss Vale
St Matthew’s College, Mudgee
Loreto Convent, Normanhurst
Marist Brothers’ High School, Pagewood
Mount St Benedict High School, Pennant Hills
St Joseph’s Girls’ Regional School, Rozelle
Christian Brothers’ College, Tamworth
Mater Maria College, Warriewood
Christian Brothers’ College, Wollongong
Mt Carmel College, Yass
Mater Christi College, Belgrave
St Mary’s College, Bendigo
Chavoin College, Burwood
Salesian College, Chadstone
St John’s Regional College, Dandenong
St Bernard’s College, Essendon
Mazenod College. Mulgrave
Vaucluse Convent, Richmond
Aquinas Boys’ College, Ringwood
Our Lady of Sion College, Sale
Sacred Heart Convent. Shepparton
St Paul’s College, Traralgon
Our Lady of Sion College, Warragul
Christian Brothers’ College, Warrnambool
Presentation Convent, Windsor
Our Lady’s School, Annerley
Sacred Heart College, Booval
St James’ School, Brisbane
St Joseph’s College, Brisbane
Christian Brothers’ College, Bundaberg
St Patrick’s Convent High, Bundaberg
St Monica’s College, Cairns
St Mary’s College, Charter’s Tower
Loreto Convent, Coorparoo
Christian Brothers’ College, Dalby
St Columba’s Convent, Dalby
St Patrick’s High, Gympie
Brigidine Convent, Indooroopilly
Cardinal Gilroy Convent, Ingham
St Theresa’s Agricultural College, Ingham
Iona College, Lindum
Our Lady of Mercy Convent High, Mackay
Seton College. Mt Gravatt
St Joseph’s College. Nudgee
Convent High School. Rockhampton
Marian Secondary School, Rockhampton North
Marist Brothers’ College, Rosalie
Sacred Heart College, Sandgate
St Mary’s High School. Ipswich
Christian Brothers’ College. Shorncliffe
St Joseph’s Convent. Stanthorpe
Our Lady of the Assumption College, Warwick
Christian Brothers’ College, Warwick
Mt Carmel College, Wynnum
St Brendan’s College. Yeppoon
St Ursula’s College, Yeppoon
St Mary’s College, Adelaide
St Michael’s College, Beverley
Salesian College, Brooklyn Park
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Enfield
St Paul’s College, Gilles Plain
Mary McKillop College, Norwood
Mt Carmel College, Rosewater
St John’s College, Whyalla
Marist Brothers’ College, Churchlands
Loreto Convent, Claremont
Brigidine College, Floreat Park
Christian Brothers’ College, Highgate
Mazenod College, Lesmurdie
Aquinas College. Manning
St Benedict’s College. New Norcia
St Gertrude’s College. New Norcia
St Kieran’s College, Tuart Hill
Sacred Heart College, Launceston 1 (c) (ii) Secondary Schools Libraries Program - Other non-Government Schools which will acquire library buildings during the period 30.3.73 to 31.12.74:
New South Wales
Ascham School, Edgecliffe
Newcastle Adventist School, Hamilton
Church of England Grammar School for Girls, Newcastle
The King’s School, Parramatta
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Pymble
Kambala Church of England School, Rose Bay
Sydney Grammar School, Sydney
St Margaret’s College, Berwick
Firbank Church of England Girls’ School, Brighton
Mt Scopus College, Burwood
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Burwood
Shelford Girls’ Grammar, Caulfield
Korowa Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Glen Iris
Hamilton District School, Hamilton
Ruyton Girls’ School, Kew
Timbertop School. Mansfield
Wadhurst Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Melbourne
Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Ringwood
Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Wendouree
St Paul’s School, Bald Hills
Brisbane Girls’ Grammar, Brisbane
St Hilda’s School, Southport
The Southport School, Southport
Brisbane Boys’ Grammar, Toowong
Concordia Memorial College, Toowoomba
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Toowoomba
Prince Alfred College, Kent Town
Westminster College, Marion
Cathedral School, Bunbury
Missionary College, Carmel
Christ Church Grammar, Claremont
Methodist Ladies’ College, Claremont
Perth College, Mt Lawley
Seventh Day Adventist School, Victoria Park
Church of England Girls’ Grammar School, Launceston
Oakburn College, Launceston
Note: Schools which have been paid an initial building grant up to 31st March 1973 have been regarded as having acquired accommodation and have been excluded.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following Commissions or Enquiries have been set up:
The Department is also involved with the Enquiry into National Schemes of Rehabilitation and Compensation.
To investigate -
NATIONAL SUPERANNUATION COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY TERMS OF REFERENCE
The terms of reference of the National Superannuation Committee of Enquiry are as follows -
In fulfilling this task the Committee will have regard to the Government’s objective to abolish the means test within the life of the present Parliament for those aged 65 years and over and to increase the basic rate of pension to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings progressively by twice annual increases of at least$ 1.50 a week.
The Committee will also include in its examination an investigation of the following matters -
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON SOCIAL WELFARE TERMS OF REFERENCE
Propose measures which would give all relevant bodies - Commonwealth, State, Local Authority and Voluntary Agencies - access to available information and technical assistance.
Investigate and report on suitable policies to provide skilled staff to allow the successful development of the Government’s social welfare programs to proceed;
To inquire into and report on the scope and form of. and the manner of instituting and administering, a National Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme appropriate to Australia, and which in principle the Australian Government has decided to establish, for the purpose of rehabilitating and compensating every person who at any time or in any place suffers a personal injury (including prenatal injury) and whether the injury be sustained on the road, at work, in the home, in the school or elsewhere or is an industrial disease with particular reference to -
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The initiative lies with each nursing home proprietor to seek a review of fees and ki this way due consideration is given to the particular circumstances of each case. It is not considered necessary for the Government to carry out a broad review of the fees charged in nursing homes generally.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Will the Government use its influence to motivate relevant United Nations Agencies to set up machinery as soon as possible to cope with the huge effort that will probably be necessary in order to save 15 million Indian people from starvation due to the lack of monsoon al rainfall.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Indian Government has indicated that while the situation arising from the current shortage of foodgrains is serious, it is confident of its ability to meet the present shortage. We understand that India recently advised the United Nations Disaster Relief Office in Geneva that it did not need its assistance.
India had almost achieved self-sufficiency in foodgrain production, but the failure of last year’s monsoon reduced the autumn harvest by about 10 million tons, to just over 53 million tons.
Buffer stocks were depleted, initially by generous contributions of food aid to Bangladesh, and later by internal demands. In order to cope with the shortage, India has purchased 1.65 million tons of foodgrains from abroad. The current spring crop has benefited from early Government action to increase it and from favourable weather. The crop, of approximately 46 million tons, is expected to reach the market this month, thereby relieving the immediate shortage. While the situation remains serious and is likely to cause some hardship, there is no evidence of starvation. It is hoped that the forthcoming monsoon, which is due next month, will remove anxiety about the 1973-74 crop.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
What details of the proposed fourth university in Victoria had been received by the Australian Universities Commission, prior to the tabling of ils report on 3rd May 1973, other than from Press reports.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Universities Commission received a broad outline of possible ways in which the fourth university might be developed in discussion with tha State Minister of Education on 13th October 1972. At that time the State had not taken a decision about the form of the university or its location. On 12th February 1973 the Premier of Victoria made an announcement that the proposed fourth university would take the form of a multi-campus university with branches at Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong and provided some further broad details of the State’s decision. Some further information was provided by the State Minister of Education in a letter to the Australian Universities Commission in February 1973 but the detailed information sought by the Commission had not been provided prior to the tabling on 3rd May 1973 of the ‘Report on the location, nature and development of institutions of tertiary education in the Sydney, Melbourne and Albury/Wodonga Region’.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) To a woman who buys monthly, the cost of a month’s supply of oral contraceptives is one dollar, where the prescription was written after 1st February, 1973. The cost of a month’s supply a year ago was $1.99*, if purchased monthly.
The cost of a month’s supply a year ago was $1.79* if purchased every 2 months.
The cost of a month’s supply a year ago was $1.37* if purchased every six months.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730515_reps_28_hor84/>.