28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into 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 Hunt and Mr Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-west Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydroelectric power scheme.
That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented, would avoid inundation of this lake.
That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientificinterest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species offlora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, by Dr Cass.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. The honourable gentleman will be aware of Press reports both in Australia and overseas which have interpreted his comments at question time yesterday concerning President Nixon and the American Presidency as a deliberate and premeditated insult. I ask the honourable gentleman: Were his remarks made deliberately or as a consequence of his characteristic impetuosity and arrogance? In view of the vital importance of future United States-Australian relations will he retract modify or reinterpret the comments which he made at question time yesterday?
– There could have been no deliberate reply or premeditated reply to a question without notice from my predecessor. If there was any insult it was made by my predecessor in using the word ‘Watergate’.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. What stage have his considerations reached in regard to the possible use of Commonwealth land in the Belmont shire for integrated housing development?
– The honourable member for Swan, Senator Cant and Senator Wilkinson recently discussed with me the prospects of utilising land which was made available to or purchased by the Commonwealth, I think in 1946, in the Belmont area of Perth. I understand that about 18 acres of land which has now become quite expensive, is available for use in one form or another. The honourable member’s representations have been discussed by me with the Minister for Services and Property. We are now evaluating a proposal that the land might be developed for various housing purposes including the housing needs of students, migrants, young married couples, aged persons and potential beneficiaries under Defence Service Homes Act. The scheme which has been put to the Minister for Services and Property and me also incorporates proposals involving plaza development, landscaping and the possible utilisation of the site for office development. Yesterday I talked to the Minister for Housing in Western Australia, Mr Bickerton, about this and I informed him that we were contemplating looking at this matter in a general way and that subsequently we probably would have a feasibility study undertaken in co-operation with State authorities and also the local authorities. The Minister indicated his approval of this course of action. If it eventuated it would be a very significant event involving an effective form of partnership between local, State and Federal government.
– I refer to the Treasurer’s recent announcement that he intends to alter the definition of income so as to include as taxable income any capital gain that is realised in the course of 12 months. Can the Treasurer assure the House that the genuine domestic residences of taxpayers will be excluded from his new scheme? Also, why is the Treasurer not prepared to allow losses to be offset against gains?
– I think I have indicated for quite a long time my intention that any gain actually realised during the course of a 12 months period should be treated like any other gain, lt is income - something that comes in - and it ought to be taxed. There is no suggestion that this encompasses a domestic residence. Surely people do not buy and sell domestic residences in the course of 12 months. If they do so they would probably be regarded as property speculators and they ought to be taxed on any enhancement.
– What if they move interstate?
Mi CREAN - I want to say something about the position of people moving interstate. I would like to give honourable members the mythical example of one of the gentlemen in the Press gallery who might be working in Melbourne and buys a block of land or bouse somewhere in that city and then thai most faceless of creatures, the editor, Bends him to Canberra.
– Do you not like editors?
– I think they are very faceless men who sometimes try to think they are a window on the world. I would regard such a case as one where I would not include the proceeds of the sale of the house as income.
– All domestic premises?
– Yes, provided there was aa indication that there was a reason for the selling of the domestic premises other than to make a profit.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. In the interim report of the Committee for the Australian Schools Commission tabled in this House yesterday it is shown that 33,000 Australian children are attending schools and classes for handicapped children. Is the Minister able to indicate whether the Government proposes to adopt the recommendation of the Committee in respect of assistance towards the education of handicapped children? Further, is the Minister able to state what plans the Government has to develop a scheme for the training of the physically and mentally handicapped so that they may acquire the necessary technical and other skills to allow them to lead useful adult lives? Will the Government seek the active co-operation of Australian employers to overcome present barriers which unnecessarily inhibit the employment of handicapped persons in industry and commerce?
– I think it would be quite unlikely that Cabinet will be able to consider the report which was tabled yesterday before 12 June at the earliest. The report does set out a comprehensive scheme of training for the handicapped which I think it would be hard for any rational person to reject. For the first time that I know of an Australian education committee has made recommendations on the subject of the handicapped, setting out with the deliberate object of trying to bring the handicapped to a position of equality with the rest of the community as far as is humanly possible. To this end the Committee has recommended a program that exceeds $50m in cost. However, it should be remembered that this is in most of its aspects a grant to the States. The honourable gentleman will recall that Mr Scanlan of Victoria, who I am thankful to see no longer has anything to do with education, sent me a letter asking for assistance for the handicapped and setting out a Victorian scheme. As far as I can gather the current recommendations would liberate for Victoria more finance than was involved in Mr Scanlan’s plan. I thought it was a good plan and therefore I sent it to the Interim Schools Committee. It is probable that that is the plan, in specific detail, which will be implemented in Victoria. I cannot be sure of that. But what is clear is that we are recommending grants to the States and to private education authorities to be used for these purposes. The details of the administration will be vested not in the Australian Government but in those various State and private instrumentalities.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the disquiet about the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington without an organised arrangement for the President to see him, will he reconsider his visit, or is he determined dogmatically to go to Washington irrespective of whether diplomatic arrangements have been made, which would cause enormous repercussions and undue strains between our 2 countries? I ask the Prime Minister to consider the serious consequences of his deliberately going ahead if suitable arrangements have not been made. What the President’s reasons are for not extending an invitation - I do not know what they are - it would cause these complications. But, heavens above, there have been enough reasons why he should be reluctant to see a Prime Minister who heaps one insult after another on him.
– 1 regret to see another difference of opinion between the Liberal Party and the Country Party, at least in this House. I noticed that the Leader of the Liberal Party - at least, the Leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives - expressed the perfectly proper view that the Prime Minister of Australia when he visits Washington should meet the President of the United States. It is about time that some people grew up about these things. It is 8 weeks before I will be in Washington. Sir Robert Menzies, who was no mean leader of this country or practitioner of the political arts, went to the United States many times in his life as the bead of government in Australia - and I am informed that arrangements were never made that far ahead of his visit
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. It supplements an earlier question relating to the urgent need for an Australian Companies Act. I am grateful to the Minister for his written reply. Whilst I welcome the AttorneyGenera/’s assurance that the Australian Companies Act will be tabled shortly and that steps are in hand to provide adequate regulation of the securities industry, I ask: As a further and equally important step in view of the increasing importance of the corporation in our society and the fact that no basic study of the corporation’s role has ever been conducted by an Australian government, will he take steps to appoint a broadly-based independent committee to inquire into, firstly, the philosophy of company legislation appropriate to our needs; secondly, the activities of corporations, in particular multi-national corporations; and, thirdly, their responsibilities to and impact upon our community?
– It would be wrong for me to give a positive answers to the tatter parts of the question posed by the honourable member for Hawker, but I certainly will discuss it with the Attorney-General and draw his attention to it. Perhaps I can just say this: The honourable member’s interest in the subject of corporations and company law reform is well known. He is concerned, as I understand the question, not so much with the niceties and advantages of having a single Australia-wide companies law that would overcome the ever constant risk that States will change their legislation and we will have a lack of uniformity but rather with the role of the company and the corporation in a changing society. We know that the limited liability company has conferred enormous benefits on modern society. We know that it marshals capital. We know that it also pulls a corporate, veil across activities that are so vital and so important in our country. One knows the difficulties of looking through that corporate veil to find out what is really going on. It has been said that the modern company is capable of a form of deception because people cannot see through the veil. This does pose a philosophical problem. Academics have done a lot of work on it. I do not know of any detailed studies in depth for Australian conditions, but I will certainly draw the Attorney’s attention to the matter. I know that he is familiar with it I will convey the honourable member’s views to him.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Services and Property and refers to the notice appearing in my name on the notice paper proposing a resolution of the House declaring the recent notice of acquisition of land in the Darwin area to be void and of no effect. I understand that this is the first time in the history of the Australian Parliament that such a notice has been given under the Lands Acquisition Act. Is it a fact that when such a notice is given in respect of the disallowance of a regulation and the motion is not called on within 15 sitting days the regulation is automatically disallowed? Does the Lands Acquisition Act provide that either House of the Parliament may, within 30 days after a copy of a notice is laid before it, pass a resolution that the notice shall be void and of no effect, but does it have no provision for the automatic voiding of the notice if the House concerned does not call on a motion to void the notice within the specified time? Does this mean that if my motion is not called on and a decision taken before the House rises the lands acquisition notice to which I have referred will become effective during the winter adjournment when the statutory 30 days expire? If so, what action is proposed by the Government to correct this anomalous situation which means that the Parliament can be bypassed?
– The honourable member will appreciate that the question he has asked is a lengthy and involved one. I answer the final part of it first. The Government has not avoided its responsibility towards private honourable members or towards legislation during this session and has no intention of commencing to do so either at this stage or in the future. I will look into the matter that the honourable member has mentioned and in due course provide him with an appropriate reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. Has action been taken to appoint the long discussed and long prom ised multi-lingual welfare officers to assist migrant integration and settlement? If not, why not, in view of the urgent and serious problems confronting new settlers, particularly in overcrowded inner city areas?
– It is true that urgent problems in inner city areas are confronting, in particular, people who have come to our country to join us, join the work force and join the family. I must say that the most urgent problems probably exist in Sydney and Melbourne at the present time. It is true also that there have been discussions over a couple of years now about a series of multi-lingual welfare officers to help in the attack on the problems which have been created by the unplanned movement of people into the cities. I am very pleased to say to the honourable member that we have advertised for this force of 48 and that the interest was very considerable - in fact, throughout Australia there were more than 600 applications. I am also pleased to say this morning that the long delay has ended and that the selections will be made in time, I hope, for the first of them to begin duty in July of this year.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to some observations made by the honourable gentleman yesterday in which he gave advice to the President of the United States of America and suggested that under the Canberra model of so-called parliamentary government the Executive is answerable to Parliament. Is it not a fact that that is so only when the Opposition has a majority in the Senate that is capable, after infinite effort, of gouging information out of Ministers? This being so, is the Prime Minister advocating that, for the protection of the people against the Executive, voters in the next Senate election would be well advised to perpetuate this situation?
– Neither the Government nor the Opposition has a majority in the Senate. There would be a much more responsible Parliament if either did.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Science in his capacity as the Minister responsible for the introduction of the metric system. I preface my question by referring to the fact that there is considerable danger of overcharging the public by traders, in many instances by design and in some cases by misunderstanding. I have seen already some evidence of this. Can the Minister see that widespread publicity is given to the introduction of the metric system so as to ensure that such overcharging, and for that matter profiteering, does not occur?
– There is an apprehension in the community that there could be overcharging and profiteering from the conversion to the metric system. I have taken the. view, as has the Metric Conversion Board, that this is not to happen. I have given directions that in the event of any complaints being made they are to be throughly investigated. I make it known now to honourable members that if any complaints come to their attention I personally will ensure that each and every complaint is investigated and that a report is given to honourable members. I accept the honourable member’s proposition that widespread publicity and information should be given to the public. This we are endeavouring to do, and honourable members can be assured of the full co-operation of the Metric Conversion Board and the Government in ensuring that in the process of transfer to the metric system there will be no profiteering in Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Against the background of your difficulties, Mr Minister, in accommodating the many demands of your colleagues for greater expenditure in the emerging situation of overfull employment, I refer to an estimate by economist Kenneth Davidson in yesterday’s ‘Australian’, that over $4m could be saved if the Black Mountain tower project were replaced by an alternative scheme which is acceptable to the National Capital Development Commission, I gather, would fully satisfy the Postmaster-General’s requirements and would be acceptable to those concerned for the environment. I ask: Where development, technical and environmental considerations can thus be harmonised and are further supported by the economics of the matter, and still the environmental viewpoint is overruled, does not the Treasurer agree that the professed concern of his party and his Government for the environment, which it is said was an important factor in their winning the last election, is humbug and a sham?
– I must confess to being completely surprised by this question, firstly because of the source from which it came and, secondly, because it ought to have been addressed to my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security: In addition to his comprehensive program for social welfare will he give urgent consideration to the problems of families, and the need to provide increased family assistance so that mothers will not be compelled by economic circumstances to seek employment which would disadvantage her children? Will the Minister examine the feasibility of paying an allowance to mothers who remain at home to care for their children?
– As the honourable member knows, I support the proposal and have made quite a number of statements over several years indicating this sort of support. The Department of Social Security will be producing a quarterly journal from about June onwards. In it will appear contributed articles from people within the Department and some contributed articles from suitably qualified people from outside the Department. The articles will canvass the broad area of social security responsibility. One of the contributed articles in the first issue - the work of certain officers of the Department of Social Security - deals with this subject and canvasses many of the issues which a consideration of this subject must raise. When the honourable member for Macquarie has the opportunity to read that article he will find that, whilst it is a highly desirable principle and one which I applaud and believe is achievable in this community, nonetheless many basic decisions have to be made initially and there are complex issues to be considered before any final decision is made as to how this should best be done.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister in his capacity of Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the fact that there are no free elections in Yugoslavia, does he consider that the Yugoslav Government is more representative of its Croatian majority than the Smith Rhodesian Government is representative of its African majority? Can he assure the Australian people that his Government will do all in its power to prevent activities in Australia which may assist terrorists in Yugoslavia, Rhodesia or any other country? Is he aware that a leader of the terrorist organisation responsible for the abduction and murder of 23 black Rhodesians near the Zambian border last week is in Australia seeking financial and material aid? Is his Government’s welcome for this person consistent with its interrogation and persecution of alleged Croatian terrorists in Australia? Will he give me an objective reply free from both smear and sneer?
-Order! Those last few words are quite unparliamentary.
– I withdraw them, and ask for a reply.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. For a long time in this Parliament the standing order relating to innuendoes in questions has not been enforced. I ask that it be enforced and that this question be ruled out of order.
– Mr Speaker, I also raise a point of order. When you are giving consideration to this question will you also take into account innuendoes in answers given to questions, which are much worse than any innuendoes in questions?
-I think I have already asked the honourable member for Boothby not to use words such as those in a question in future, because they are personal reflections.
– The Government will not condone in any way, terrorist activities promoted or based in Australia. If the honourable gentleman has any information on any such terrorist activities being promoted by people resident in Australia or visiting Australia, I will see the information is followed up promptly.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Education been drawn to a reported critical statement attributed to the principal of Nudgee College, Brisbane, and relating to the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission? Is there any substance in the criticism attributed to this college principal?
– As I understand the reverend brother’s comments, he appears to regard the report as discriminating concerning Catholics and he has announced that action will be taken in the High Court of Australia to prevent this discrimination. Also as I understand his comments he seems to suggest that Nudgee College is in some danger as a result of the recommendations. As it has been reported to me, he said that the report cuts across the policy of the Parents and Friends Association or the Catholic Parents Council and some other body. The report also happens to have changed some of my convictions. The committee was not appointed to do other than investigate impartially and make recommendations. As for discrimination concerning Catholics, the late Government’s policy, taken at the secondary level which applies to Nudgee College, allowing for $104 per capita a year, to rise by 10 per cent to $114 and then to rise by another 10 per cent to $125 - the rises for the primary level would be similar - in 2 years Catholic schools would have received over $80m. In the 2 years under these recommendations they will receive about $120m. I did not know what individual schools would receive but, in view of the comments of the principal of Nudgee, a preliminary estimate indicates that they would go from $104 per capita this year to about $J20 per capita next year and to about $165 per capita the year after. If the Reverend Brother is reported correctly, I am astonished that he should have assessed constitutionally yesterday on a report which obviously he could not have read.
– Is the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that the North Vietnamese Government is continuing blatantly to breach the article of the Vietnam peace agreement which requires the withdrawal of all foreign armed forces from Laos and Cambodia? If he is aware of this, as he surely must be, will he send an official note to the North Vietnamese Government indicating that the Australian Government supports this article and requesting the North Vietnamese Government to honour it forthwith?
– Australia is not a party to the cease fire agreement between North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the other contending parties there. However, we certainly hope that they will observe the agreement which was signed months ago.
– Will the Minister for Immigration give an assurance that he will seek the same visiting rights for Australian businessmen and tourists as we give to overseas visitors and tourists? Is it a fact that Australians are under disadvantage in some neighbouring countries of Asia compared with Europeans? Will the Minister end this disadvantage and seek equal treatment for Australians?
– It is true that this Government has a dedication to the freest possible movement between friends and neighbours particularly in our own region. We are contemplating some new initiatives to bring that about. It is true, as the honourable member suggests, that in one or two locations passport holders other than Australians receive some advantages. For example, in Japan British passport holders have one or two advantages over Australian passport holders. I think this is probably due to the earlier initiatives of the British Government. I hope that the new Australian Government will be able to ensure that we have an equal opportunity with British passport holders to come and go in Japan. I hope that all honourable members agree with that initiative. It is also true that there are considerations in relation to the easier movement of tourists into Australia that will concern the Minister for Tourism. It is very difficult to facilitate tourism if the applicant is subjected to an inquisition as if he were intending to come and stay permanently. It is proposed to try to streamline procedures, to cut the red tape and to facilitate visits between friends and neighbours particularly in our region.
The second point that might be made in j answer to the honourable member is that the * Minister for Civil Aviation is concerned that Qantas Airways Ltd planes often fly out of i Australia pretty heavily laden with tourists r but they do not always return so heavily laden from the same locations. This reflects the difficulties of processing tourist applications in other locations. Certainly we want to streamline the procedure and facilitate visits in our own region. I want to add only one thing to my answer to the honourable member. While we want to bring about this streamlining and improve facilities to visit other countries, particularly those in our region, this can only work if Australia in turn gets a fair deal in the way of tourists out of these who come. Someone who comes to Australia for a visit has to recognise that he is visitor. We love to have visitors, but a visitor is not a permanent member of our family and at the end of his visit he is expected to go. I hope that the proposed Government initiatives will be to the good of our region and Australia.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s previous answer to me in which he indicated that he could emulate the style of Sir Robert Menzies when he visits Washington let me assure him that he is deluding himself if he thinks he has the same standing and the same friendliness and warmth as Sir Robert Menzies. I ask the Prime Minister: Is he, content to go to Washington and hope that arrangements might then be made to see the President of the United States?
– In this matter I will be following the process that Mr Menzies - Sir Robert Menzies - used to follow. I believe that the relations between the American and Australian peoples, allies as they are, were more effective in the way he conducted affairs than they were with some of the frenetic panoply that later Prime Ministers sought.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has his attention been drawn to the savage drought that is threatening the lives of some 30 million central Africans living in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Upper Volta? Has consideration been given by the Australian Government to giving some relief assistance to those countries?
– I have no further information on the matter since the answer I gave last week.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Capital Territory. Have plans been made for the introduction into Canberra of large scale day labour for the construction of houses for the government building program?
– There is nothing that could be called plans but I have certainly had discussions with the Ministers concerned with this matter. One of the features of the policies followed by the previous Government, with over-emphasis on a contract system, was that it created a great shortage of trained, skilled, experienced tradesmen. There was a lack of incentive, I suppose, for tradesmen to use the apprenticeship system in the way in which it was originally conceived. The decision of the previous Government was to let the day labour force that once existed in Canberra, and to which so much credit can be given for the construction of Canberra’s early houses, run down and it has virtually been allowed to atrophy. I have been making strong suggestions that we should reactivate the day labour force. I think it is fair to say that other Ministers share the view that there is enormous advantage to be gained from reactivating it in both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, but that is not a thing that can be done overnight. I think that is the best answer I can give the honourable member.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. In view of the attempts being made by the Opposition to discredit the Minister as Treasurer will he give an assurance to the nation that in the Budget it is not his intention to sock the poor and ordinary people but only to honour pre-election pledges given by the Australian Labor Party to share tax burdens more evenly than was done under past Liberal-Country Party governments.
– Again, I must say that 1 cannot give any previews upon the Budget. I simply indicate that one should not think, merely because there is an array of complicated problems and the social inequities that one finds in the management of an economy, that they sometimes be regarded independently of what might be thought to be the aggregate effect on inflation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. It is a short question but one of very considerable concern to many people throughout Australia. I ask the honourable gentleman to state unequivocally in this House whether it is still possible to save Lake Pedder?
– The answer is that I shall await the report of the committee set up to look into the whole question. I have no idea at all.
(Mr Keating having addressed a question to the Prime Minister) -
-Order! I was about to rule on the question. Matters relating to other political parties do not come within the department of the Prime Minister. The question is out of order.
– I asked 2 questions.
– Mr Speaker, you were ruling out of order the question about the Liberal Party?
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. In its first part the question also seeks a legal opinion, and this is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– Yes, especially if a charge is made for the opinion.
– It was an obvious failure to pass.
– My question to the Prime Minister is supplementary to the question asked earlier by the Leader of the Australian Country Party. I refer to the references made to previous visits to the United States by Sir Robert Menzies and the Prime Minister’s comment in which he said that he did not make arrangements very long ahead. I ask the Prime Minister: Will he now cease acting like a bull in a china shop and follow longestablished protocol in accord with proper diplomatic approaches in this matter in order to avoid unnecessary embarrassment to Australia and the United States of America? Will he make appropriate public statements as arrangements and negotiations for his visit proceed?
– The words I used were that the arrangements made by Sir Robert Menzies were not made ‘that far ahead’, by which I meant 8 weeks ahead. Certainly appropriate statements will be made by me. All the statements I have made have been appropriate.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. It refers to the appointment of a prominent Queensland trade unionist, Mr John Egerton, to the board of Qantas. 1 ask the Minister: Is this an indication of the practice that will be followed by this Government in respect of giving qualified trade unionists representation on appropriate boards? How does this practice compare with the opportunities that were extended to such people under previous governments of recent times?
– In reply to the question of the honourable member about my decision to recommend to Cabinet the appointment of Mr John Egerton to the Board of Qantas, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity of recommending him for that position. I was appalled at the comment by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this was a case of jobs for the boys.
– You ought to read the editorials on the subject.
– I have and they all came out on my side, not on yours. A question was placed on notice by the honourable member for Grayndler and an answer was given on 10 March 1971. The answer which the honourable member received took up 48 pages of Hansard. It set out details of committees, boards, commissions and so on which the Opposition when it was in government was responsible for appointing. If honourable members were to go through that list they would find that with the exception of cases where trade unionists were nominated specifically to be a part of those committees - that is, the trade unionist had to be a part of a committee such as the manning scale committees in my own Department, the tradesmen’s rights committees within the Department of Labour and the like, on which there had to be employer and employee representation - I will defy any member of the Opposition to name more-
– I raise a point of order. In response to a question mere audible conversation is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I think that the honourable gentleman would be aware that the Speaker has never interrupted an answer given by a Minister. The only appeal that the
Speaker makes to a Minister is that he make, the reply as brief as possible.
– I also rise to order. I refer to question No. 697 on the notice paper. I have been waiting for this very answer for some time. I submit that the honourable member’s question is out of order.
-I think that the Minister is giving information other than that required by your question on the notice paper.
– It has nothing to do with the question on notice. I was about to say that with the exception of the appointments to which I referred, I could count the fingers of one hand the number of trade unionists who were appointed by the Opposition when it was in government. Libera] Party supporters made up the vast majority of the people who were on those committees. I can assure the Opposition and the honourable member for Bowman that I intend to appoint a trade unionist to every board for which I am responsible because I believe that trade unionists have something to contribute. I give notice now that I will be appointing a trade unionist to the Australian National Airlines Commission, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission and to any other board for which I am responsible because, as 1 said, I believe that trade unionists have something to contribute.
As far as the appointment of Mr Egerton is concerned, he is one of the most experienced trade unionists in Australia today. Any man who has been in the trade union movement for the last 30 years as an official will have something of major consequence to contribute to the Qantas board, and Lord only knows it needs some trade union assistance because if ever a board has had trouble industrially it has been the Qantas board. I know that he with his experience on that Board will bring great credit to the trade, union movement. When it comes to the appointment of trade unionists, have a look at the same man, Mr Egerton. A Queensland LiberalCountry Party Government appointed him to the Council of the Griffith University. Is there any criticism oi that appointment? It was the same Jack Egerton. I could go on and point out to the honourable members the record of what this man has done in Queensland. It is also interesting to note that he is the first resident Queenslander who has ever been appointed to the Qantas board. After all, this company is registered in Queensland. I think that Queenslanders should be proud of their representative on the board.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. In view of your suggestion a little while ago to the Minister that he should keep his answer short, do you regard his present conduct as defiance of the Chair?
-I think the Minister should terminate his answer. I ask the Minister to make his answer as brief as possible.
– It is an important question. Whilst I made 4 appointments to the Qantas board, only one of them was a trade unionist. Does the Opposition claim that Mr Law-Smith, Mr Ritchie or Sir Lenox Hewitt are members of the Australian Labor Party? Honourable members opposite are complaining about one appointment. LawSmith was their nomination.
– They are there because of their capacity.
– So too is Egerton, and he is the most capable man in the trade union movement today.
– I have appealed to the Minister twice to terminate his answer.
– Mr Speaker, when it comes-
– I take a point of order. The Minister is flying in the face of your request to him to moderate the length of his reply. Could the Minister table all the papers from which he is reading so that we all could get a copy of them after question time?
– You can have my pencilled notes.
-I ask the Minister to be as brief as possible with the remainder of his answer. I have appealed to him twice, as my predecessor used to appeal to Opposition members when they were in government If the Minister intends to continue with his answer I think it would be better if he sought leave to make a statement.
– I want to conclude my reply.
– Make a statement about it. We will give you leave.
– You were running to the Press enough about it.
– It is his one day of glory. He is acting Leader of the Opposition. Give him a go.
-Order! I call the Minister.
– I draw attention to the fact that Lufthansa, which is one of the major government owned airlines, has trade unionists on its board, ls there anything wrong with that? If we are talking about jobs for the boys, how about the appointments of Mr Freeth, Mr Chaney, Mr Roger Dean and the Chief Justice?
– Oh, Mr Speaker!
– Do you want any more?
– I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
– Before calling on the presentation of papers I would like to announce that before this session started, in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country Party, it was decided that the allocation of questions on the Opposition side was to be on a 2 to 1 basis. The score is Liberal Party 185, Country Party 92.
– Sir, might I give an answer to the question that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) asked me without notice?
– Mr Speaker, he asked that further questions be placed on the notice paper and you agreed.
-The Prime Minister is seeking the indulgence of the House to give information that was sought by the honourable member for Robertson in a question without notice. He has the information now and it is in regard to a serious matter about Africa.
– This is a question which the. Leader of the Government did not hear because he was not listening to a member of his own Party. Why should he be allowed to answer it after he has asked that further questions be placed on the notice paper and has prevented members of the Opposition asking further questions? There is no excuse at all for this. The Prime Minister can give the answer as an answer to a question upon notice.
– I can make, a Press statement if the honourable member would prefer mat.
Opposition members - Do that!
-Order! The Prime Minister is quite in order in seeking the indulgence of the Chair, and it is granted.
– I am able to inform the honourable member for Robertson that-
– Mr Speaker, under what standing order does this occur?
– By the general practice of the House.
– The Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee), who assists me. as Foreign Minister, has made a recommendation that there should be a contribution of US$2S,000 to the Sahelian Trust Fund which the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation has set up to support international efforts to alleviate suffering in the drought-striken Sahelian region, namely, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Upper Volta and parts-
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I ask that you indicate that section of the Standing Orders which permits you to give an indulgence to the Prime Minister.
– That is the general practice of the House and in accordance with May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’, and I have been advised by the Clerk of the House that the action I have taken is quite in order.
– Mr Speaker-
– Mr Speaker, the decisions
– Order! Is the honourable gentleman raising a point of order?
– Make way for the disaster.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, the decisions and practices of this House are governed by the Standing Orders. What standing order gives you, as Speaker, the right to interpret or to add to them or to give special indulgence to the Prime Minister over and beyond that which is in accordance with the written Standing Orders themselves?
-Order! That is a reflection on the Chair in regard to my favouring the Prime Minister, and I do not appreciate it. I would not care if it were the Minister for Science, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation or anybody else. It is within my province to grant the indulgence of the Chair to the Prime Minister. I am quite prepared to take my Clerk’s interpretation of May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’ and the Standing Orders as they now stand rather than that of anybody else.
– Parts of Ghana, Togo, Dahomey and Nigeria to the north and Sudan and Ethiopia also are seriously affected by this 5-year disaster. I did discuss it with the Foreign Ministers of four of these countries - namely, Chad, Niger, Senegal and Upper Volta - in Mauritius a few weeks ago.
– For the information of honour-! able members, I present the report of the assessment panel on the Australian Capital Territory Education Authority on a design for the governance and organisation of education in the Australia Capital Territory.
I also table correspondence which passed between Professor Karmel and me in connection with the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission and which I omitted to mention when I spoke to the hon.ourable member for Wannon yesterday.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers with responsibilities for wildlife conservation held at Melbourne on 9 March 1973.
– As Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I present the 144th report of the Committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a short statement.
Mir SPEAKER-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable members will recall that last Thursday, 24 May, I tabled the 143rd report of the Public Accounts Committee covering Treasury minutes on the Committee’s 121st, 127th and 134th reports. The document which I have tabled today relates to an inquiry conducted in 1971-72 into the management and financial administration of the then Department of Education and Science.
In pursuing this inquiry and preparing its report, the Committee has been conscious of the considerable interest shown by members in all matters relating to education - especially the Commonwealth’s role and responsibilities in this field. Accordingly, the Public Accounts Committee has been concerned not only to report on the financial aspects of departmental management but also to provide a detailed commentary on the policies, structure and workings of the Department. Although there have been considerable changes in the structure of the Department of Education and Science since the Committee conducted its inquiry, the information contained in the 144th report provides a useful background for further study of current educational trends and policies.
I suggest to all honourable members that they study the report, particularly where it outlines problems encountered by the Department of Education and Science in building up a satisfactory structure to carry out its various tasks. Matters relating to internal audit, staff training and recruitment and retention of specialist staff are examples of the difficulties encountered. This Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee believes that these problems are common to the Public Service as a whole and are directly relevant to efficient administration in all its aspects. The Committee intends to return to these subjects from time to time when its program of activities permits and, of course, will report its finding on those occasions to the Parliament. Frankly, the numbers and classifications of staff available to the Committee do not allow an investigation of the type outlined in this report to be done in very great depth. A thorough organisation and methods investigation is, for instance, at the present time a function of the Public Service Board. However, we believe that the work which has been done is valuable for reasons already given and because such an inquiry stimulates the Department concerned into a thorough self examination. I commend the report to honourable members.
– I move:
The House of Representatives, recognising the desirability of a thorough review of the Australian Constitution in the light of experience since its establishment and of modern day requirements, welcomes the opportunity for the Australian Parliament to participate with the Parliaments of the States in the Constitutional Convention to be convened for this purpose in September of this year, and at such subsequent times as the Convention from time to time determines, and agrees:
That the Australian Parliament join with the Parliaments of the States in the Convention:
That, for the purpose of the Convention -
a Delegation from the Australian Parliament consisting of sixteen members of the Parliament take part in the deliberations of the Convention, of whom six shall be appointed by the Senate and ten shall be appointed by the House of Representatives;
the ten members appointed by the House of Representatives comprise five members of the Australian Labor Party, three members of the Liberal Party of Australia and two members of the Australian Country Party:
That the Prime Minister, the Honourable E. G. Whitlam, Q.C., the Honourable K. E. Enderby, Mr R. Jacobi, Dr R. T. Gun and Mr G. G. D. Scholes, being members of the Australian Labor Party, the Leader of the Opposition, the Right Honourable B. M. Snedden, Q.C., the Honourable N. H. Bowen, Q.C., and and the Honourable D. J. Killen. being Members of the Liberal Party of Australia, the Right Honourable J. D. Anthony and the Honourable I. M. Sinclair, being members of the Australian Country Party, are appointed members of the Delegation:
that the Prime Minister be the Leader of the Delegation, and the Leader of the Opposition be the Deputy Leader:
that a member of the Delegation cease to be such a member if -
he ceases to be a member of the Australian Parliament;
the House of the Parliament by which be has been appointed terminates his appointment; or
he resigns as a member of the Delegation by writing addressed to the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case requires:
that where, because of illness or other cause, a member of the Delegation is not available to attend a meeting of (be Convention, the Leader or senior available member of the Party in the House from which the member was drawn may nominate an alternate member (being a member of the House by which the first mentioned member was appointed) and the member so nominated shall be a member of the Delegation for that meeting:
In the event of the death or resignation of a member of the Delegation, the Leader or senior available member of the Party in the House from which the member was drawn may nominate another member (being a member of the House by which the first-mentioned member was appointed) to replace the firstmentioned member until that House appoints a member in his place:
that the Leader of the Delegation from time to time make a report for presentation to each House of the Parliament on matters arising out of the Convention, and that the Deputy Leader of the Delegation may make an accompanying report.
– The Opposition has no objection. Indeed, it accedes to and agrees with the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to:
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of the resolution agreed to by the House of
Bill presented by Mr Whitlam, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of mis Bill is to establish the Film and Television School as a statutory body with the status of a college of advanced education. It marks the culmination of 3 years extensive planning for a School which has found general support in the Parliament and from all sectors of film and television in Australia. Honourable members will recall that an Interim Council for a National Film and Television School was appointed at ‘he end of 1969 to advise the Government on the steps necessary to bring the School into operation. It carried out wide-ranging investigations and produced 3 reports which documented firm support for the School from commercial film producers, the Federation of Commercial Television Stations, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Commonwealth Film Unit, guilds and unions, and education institutions. The School was officially initiated in April 1972.
Negotiations have taken place with the Council of Macquarie University for the School to have a site of 5 acres on the University campus, but there will be no formal links with that institution. Professor Jerzy Toeplitz, currently visiting Professor of Film at La Trobe University and former Rector of the renowned Polish Film School, has been appointed Foundation Director of the School. He will take up full time duty at the School in August this year. The intention is that the School will provide, at the highest levels, a wide range of training and experience for prospective creative workers in film and television. It will conduct full time courses in film and television production, and it is hoped that it will become a centre for open school activities, which will include refresher courses, seminars and workshops for people involved in the film and television industry, in education, and for aD film-makers and video specialists in the developing areas of audiovisual communications. (Quorate formed), The School will aim to meet the growing and changing needs of film and television in Australia and also to help our neighbours, for as the School becomes established we may expect it to offer training for overseas students particularly from New Zealand and the Pacific Area. Graduates of the School may expect to find employment in private film and television production, in government production agencies and in other areas connected with the communications media. I mention only universities, colleges of advanced education, teachers and technical colleges as institutions which are increasingly seeking people qualified in areas of film and television production and education.
To ensure that the School gets the best instructors - the professionals whose livelihood is in films or television - many of the senior instructing staff will be employed under short term contracts so that their services may be gained between other professional engagements. Initially, the School will offer courses in the key areas of film and television production for directors, producers, writers, editors and cameramen. As it develops, courses may be offered for unit managers, designers, media economists, writers on general film subjects and communications theorists and technologists. The School should eventually develop facilities for postgraduate study and other advanced research. Training will emphasise direct production experience with all the problems and demands that accompany professional productions. Central to the School will be model film and television studios, and there will be full opportunity for on-the-job training in professional situations. Many sectors of the film and television industry, both government and private, have indicated already that they will make available facilities for such training, subject to equitable arrangements being worked out with managements and unions.
Close collaboration will be sought with the industry, and the location of the School on Sydney’s north side relates to the presence there of a very large concentration of production houses, television stations and laboratories with which the School expects to be in constant touch. The School will work closely with educational authorities, the Film and Television Board of the Australian Council for the Arts, the Department of the Media and related agencies, and with the many bodies representing professional and community interests in film and television. It will also seek close association with the other arts, and bodies such as the National Institute of Dramatic Art and schools of music, art and design. I believe that, in this way, the School will turn out not only competent graduates in the techniques of film and television production but also artistic and imaginative people with a vigorous appreciation of the arts and humanities.
The school will co-ordinate the granting of financial assistance to organisations and institutions concerned with film and television training and education in Australia. Particular encouragement may be given to organisations and institutions wishing to try out pilot training schemes, workshops and activities likely to lead to the development of other specialist facilities and the opportunity for community groups to gain experience in using the media. As well, the school will continue to provide grants-in-aid to people who may benefit through overseas experience, study, or training which is not available in this country. It will provide a resource centre for developing new ideas, techniques and methods and will be ready to make its studios available to producers for training, research and special productions. It will also collaborate in collating, disseminating and publishing data likely to assist the development of film and television in Australia.
I hope to announce shortly the names of those who will form the first permanent Council of the Film and Television School. The members of the Council will be drawn from across the whole spectrum of film and television. The Bill provides that when the school is fully operational the Council will consist of 5 members appointed by the Governor-General, the Director of the school, 2 members elected by the staff from among their number, 2 students elected by the student body, and 5 members elected by Convocation of the school. The Convocation will consist of graduates of the school, all members and past members of the staff of the school, all persons who were members of the Interim Council, all members and past members of the Council, and representatives of all sectors of Australian film and television. I believe that the school will provide an important stimulus to film and television in Australia and I commend the Bill to the House.
– by leave- I am more than glad that this Bill has been introduced. It does bring to fruition and conclusion a very admirable initiative taken by the Government before last. For myself, I agree with the lines on which it is to be established and the tasks which it is to carry out. The 5- acre site which is to be bought from the Macquarie University will be adequate for the school. But I would suggest to the Government that the establishment of the school in this place and on this site gives an opportunity for the acquisition of a greater area and if it were acquired it would be possible at some time in the future to position on that area other cultural schools such as the National Institute of Dramatic Art or a ballet development school, or organisations of that kind which, being in juxtaposition in the one area could, as it were, cross-fertilise each other in the process. This was a matter once considered by the Interim Committee.
I point out that if this were done there would certainly be an initial expense - that is, if a larger area were bought now - but that would either be repaid by the establishment of these other schools in the same area or, if that establishment did not come about, the Commonwealth Government could not but make a profit by disposing of the area after having held it for a while. I know that this is not directly connected with the Bill but what I have suggested does not detract in any way from the proposition. I ask the Government to have a further look at this matter to see whether a cultural complex of this kind could not be established and this proposal followed to the advantage of all of the performing arts in Australia. I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That a Standing Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on -
This matter has already been discussed in the context of the establishment of a joint committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Because of the difficulties the Senate would have in providing members for the committee, due to the requirements of its own committees, we propose that this committee should become a standing committee of the House of Representatives. Appropriate changes have been made to the number of members of the committee. We are suggesting the same number of House of Representatives members on the committee as was proposed initially. That number will be the total complement of the committee. Hence the quorum requirement will have to be reduced from 5 to 3 members. Finally, provision has been inserted that the committee be empowered to confer with a similar committee of the Senate. This motion, in essence, is exactly the same as the one to which honourable members have already agreed.
– As the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) has said, this matter has been discussed before. The Opposition believes, just as strongly as the Minister, that the establishment of a committee of this kind could be of great advantage and could avoid some of the existing difficulties and impediments to conservation. 1 give an example of what I have in mind. There was, in the area from which I come in the north of Victoria, a time when wild duck used to fly in in such numbers that one could hardly see the sky. This was before people had cars and shotguns. It was then decided that the wild duck should be conserved, so the New South Wales Government brought in conservation measures, the Victorian Government brought in conservation measures and the South Australian Government brought in conservation measures. One government would say that these ducks could be shot on a certain date because the young ones had grown sufficiently to look after themselves; another government would say they could be shot on a different date and yet another government would say they could be shot on another date. It occurred to me that we ought to look at this from the point of view of the duck. Obviously it would have to be a very highly educated bird to know where the State boundary was and whether it was safe to cross it on one day and not safe to cross it on another. This does sound slightly amusing but it has a great bearing on conservation matters generally which are subject, of course, for Commonwealth and State concern but which can be overcome by only one approach. 1 hope that perhaps committees of this kind, co-operating with the States, may lead to that approach.
– The Country Party strongly supports the appointment of this committee. It is a forward step to broaden the terms of reference and consequently the work of this committee from the terms of reference of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation which operated in the last Parliament. The Country Party is very concerned about general matters of conservation. I am sure that the committee will have the opportunity of observing, assessing and reporting upon those broader matters. I have in mind the important consideration of the expansion of water conservation and the bearing this will have on conservation in all its concepts. This is a vital requirement for the future of Australia. There are many incidental matters and I look forward to this committee being one of the effective committees of this House - a committee that will have as its objective the important consideration of Australia being regarded as a young country in which actions can be taken early enough to avoid the catastrophes that have occurred in the past not only on this continent but also on others where conservation measures have been taken far too late. Of course, there must be a balance between practical considerations and those that are purely theoretical. I hope that that balance will be an important feature of the work of this committee.
I think it is true to say that today there is no more sensitive area than conservation, and the environment.
These issues are very much a matter of public concern and they require the scrutiny of a committee that can look effectively into them. The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), who spoke before me in this debate, referred to wild ducks in northern Victoria. I have a special interest in wildlife and I am reminded of what happened a few years ago in respect of the protection- of kangaroos in New South Wales. The then Chief Secretary of that State, Mr Evatt, issued a regulation stating that in a particular season only male kangaroos could be shot. I recall the great difficulty of those who could obtain a licence to shoot kangaroos in discovering which were the males. It was a little difficult to sneak up and lift the kangaroo’s tail to ascertain the sex of the animal before aiming a shot. This is one of the stories of the past. However, whether we are thinking of wild ducks or kangaroos, such stories highlight the importance of a practical approach and the importance of this national Parliament having an opportunity of participating in this important matter, exerting a real influence and coming up with recommendations which I trust will be of great value to posterity.
– I wish to make a few remarks about this subject just to sound a warning. I appreciate the points raised by the 2 previous speakers, but I recall what happened with the Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation. The popular attitude of honourable members was that it had become a ‘save the kangaroo committee’. In fact its field was much wider than that. I want to sound a warning about this new committee. I appreciate what the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said about interstate and even international agreements on wildfowl and what the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson) said about conservation, but this commitee is to be an environment and conservation committee. The terms of reference relate to the environmental aspects of legislative and administrative measures. I hope that the House in passing the recommendation for such a committee will accept that it will not be a committee that deals only with wildlife measures, whether they relate to flora or fauna, it is to deal with the wider environmental aspects as they affect man. After all, this is why we are here - to look after the well being of man, to preserve the environment that he enjoys and to make the greatest use of our natura] resources without ravaging them and leaving the place in an awful mess for coming generations.
I rose to sound that warning. This is to be en environment and conservation committee which is to deal with the broadest aspects of the environment. I trust the House will support it in this full sense.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Telephone Tapping - Royal Brisbane Hospital - Whitlam Government f Question proposed:
That grievances be noted.
– In the last few days the subject of telephone tapping has made the headlines. Since I first arrived in this place in 1967 I have, pursued this subject relentlessly in an endeavour to have the practice stamped out. After making calculations I have noticed that between 1968 and last year I spoke 18 times to this Parliament, either in the form of questions or in a specific speech, expressing my opposition to bugging. The Australian Broadcasting Commission program ‘Four Corners’ on 26 May 1973 contained an element relating to this question. I refer to what appeared to me to be a number of inconsistencies in claims by various individuals. In Queensland the interviewers received an assurance from the Attorney-General’s office. This is what was said:
Since the implementation of the Invasion of Privacy Act in July 1972, there have been no applications from State Police to tap phones.
The interviewer went on to state:
That last October the State Attorney-General had, in fact, directed the Police Commissioner that the Stale Police were not to conduct phone taps, that there was a possibility of Federal legislation being contravened.
That order probably was an indirect result of my campaign over the period I mentioned. I am very pleased to learn that the State Attorney-General has been taking some notice. On the same program, the General Secretary of the Union for Postal Clerks and Telegraphists, Mr John Baker, stated:
Well, there is quite a large variety of equipment that we know of. For example, there is a category of telephones which was supposed to have been made exclusive for use to - sectors of the Postal Technicians within the telephone exchanges.
I am quoting from a transcript of that program but it is a little difficult to read what has been typed. Mr Baker continued:
We have reason to believe that these telephones are now held by people outside of the postal system altogether. Such a telephone allows the holder to dial across the conversation of anybody within the STD system. . .
Mr Baker suggested that if a person acquired one of these instruments it would be possible to dial in on any telephone conversation simply by dialling the number of one of the persons party to that conversation.
Last night on the Australian Broadcasting Commission program ‘PM’ an interview was conducted with Mr John Ryan who claims to be a private investigator from Brisbane. He is not well known to me but I know of him and he is often described as being a somewhat dubious character. But all that aside, it was seen fit to use him on the program as a source of information. I am most concerned because last night he claimed that he knew of at least 20 or 30 instances of telephone tapping in Queensland in the last few months. He went on to say: . . and 1 know of quite a lot in Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra.
One wonders what to believe when one considers the information that comes from the Commonwealth Government and the various State governments, and also from the denials and claims by individuals. I think a claim was made a week before by some chap in New South Wales, also on the ‘Four Corners’ program, that he believed that one of his telephone conversations had been tapped.
Whether it be taping, tapping or bugging, as far as I am concerned it is much the same. It is an invasion of privacy. As I have said before in this place, the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) unfortunately was the only person who ever gave me hope that one day something might be done. My own Party brought pressure to bear on the various State governments, but in my opinion it could have done a lot more to stamp out the blatant breaches of the various Acts introduced for the purpose of protecting the people of Australia. I hope that the new Government will give serious consideration to setting up a committee of inquiry to investigate the incidence of telephone tapping in Australia or, in other words, the intrusion into the privacy of individuals. There has been much conflict. We do not know for certain whether this tapping or taping is going on on a large scale. There is only one way to find out. The Parliament should not just rely on the various current affairs programs to glean snippets of information, what somebody here is claiming or what somebody there is claiming. I believe that we have a duty, if we are sincere in our efforts to protect the rights of the individual, to to something such as setting up a committee.
Alternatively, the Commonwealth Government should get cracking and enforce the Commonwealth Acts which presently exist. It is often forgotten by the people of this country that, just as it is illegal to tap a telephone conversation, it is illegal to tape a telephone conversation. That means simply that if you are having a conversation with somebody you cannot relay that telephone conversation on to a tape recording machine without the knowledge of the other party to that conversation. It is an internal blot on the record of this nation that some years ago the Commonwealth Government stood by and allowed the then Mayor of the city of Cairns in North Queensland to be convicted simply on the evidence of a recorded telephone conversation. From what I heard, the machine had well and truly seen better days. It was an ancient tape recording machine. But the Commonwealth Government stood by and allowed the Queensland Government to prosecute and finally convict the mayor of Cairns. He later died. I can assure the House-
– What killed him?
– Possibly he died from natural causes. I was not there for that part of it.
– You sound like a mourner.
– I do not feel too well today. The Minister is very perceptive. The point I am making is that we owe it to the people of Australia to do everything possible to enforce the presently existing laws, because they are strong enough. I believe also that it would be in the interests of the nation if we were to set up an inquiry to see whether these people who claim to be aware of tapping or who claim to have had their telephone conversations intercepted are speaking the truth. As far as I am concerned, enforcement of the law from now on is not good enough. I would like to know what has gone on in the past. If records of conversations have been made, everything should be done to erase and destroy those illegal recordings.
– I, too, am concerned about rights. The Brisbane Courier-Mail’ yesterday revealed what appears to be another tragic example of the stirling of free speech in Queensland under the Country Party-Liberal coalition Government. It seems that the highly respected General Medical Superintendent of the Royal Brisbane Hospital, Doctor A. F. Knyvett, had to retract statements he had been reported as making only a few days earlier. Queenslanders are suggesting that the retraction was at the request of the Minister for Health, Mr Tooth, a man who apparently cannot bear to hear the truth about the discredited system for which he is responsible. In an internal memorandum Dr Knyvett described in great detail some of the defects he saw present in the Royal Brisbane Hospital. These were wide ranging.
He pointed out that in a 1,000-bed hospital only 3 relatively junior doctors were available from midnight to 8.30 a.m. He also mentioned that people had to wait for long periods at the casualty department without being seen. The picture that was painted of deficiencies and the consequences of those deficiencies is quite terrible. It suggests a deterioriation in the standard of health care in Brisbane’s leading hospital. One would have thought that Mr Tooth, as the Health Minister, would have moved quickly to rectify this potentially dangerous situation, especially the lack of staff at night. But instead he organised what appears to be a witch hunt. Following this he denied the allegations and then tried to explain them away. It is not as though these conditions were unexpected or new developments. Anyone concerned with the Queensland hospital system has been disturbed for years about the decline in facilities provided in our free hospitals. This is in no way reflects on the staff of those hospitals. They have done the best they can do under the most discouraging conditions. I pay tribute to the medical and nursing staff of these hospitals in Queensland. They have certainly done a wonderful job against overwhelming odds on some occasions.
The basic fact is that hospitals need more money. Dr Knyvett said in his annual report in 1971:
One must be pardoned for being dismal sometimes about the future of our hospitals. The gap between what needs to be done and what can bo done with present finances seems to be widening rather than narrowing.
Maintenance expenditure per bed by the Queensland Government on its free public wards would have to increase by 40 per cent to equal the Australian average. The Queensland Government’s expenditure in this area is the worst by far in the Commonwealth. To bring our free public ward hospital services up to the average standard of other States, the Queensland Government would have to provide an extra $2 for every $5 it currently spends, that is, an increase in annual expenditure of $20m. This is far beyond the resources of the Queensland Government. The basic problem is that the hospitals might be called free’ but they are not free at all. When money is spent in providing a free hospital system this means that it cannot be spent in some other area of Government expenditure. Mr Tooth of the Queensland Government knows this. Yet when deficiencies are pointed out by the people best informed to know the truth, that is, the medical superintendent and the staff of the hospital, Mr Tooth intervenes and apparently endeavours to silence these people.
Mr Tom Burns, the Labor member for Lytton in Queensland and Labor’s shadow Minister for Health in the State Parliament, painted out that Mr Tooth did not even deny the shortcomings, inadequacies and problems outlined by Dr Knyvett. What he said was that they were confidential, and neither patients nor the public should know about them. The staff of Queensland’s hospitals must be given freedom of expression to state grievances and point out difficulties in the system to the public without having public service restrictions imposed upon them. If they do not point out the problems nothing will ever be done to improve the system in Queensland. The Queensland Government is not entirely ignorant of conditions in its hospitals. Dr Crawford, a Liberal member of the Queensland Parliament, has pointed out time and again deficiencies in the system and shown that improvements are necessary. But unfortunately he is the only voice in the Liberal wilderness, and Mr Tooth chooses not to hear his voice.
The basic problem of the Royal Brisbane Hospital and some of the other hospitals in Queensland is really one of deficiencies. Queensland hospitals urgently need more money. Fortunately, with the Labor Government presently in office in Canberra they will get this money. Instead of penalising our free public hospitals, as the Liberals did by withholding money for hospitals from the Grants
Commission, the Labor Government will give the Queensland hospitals an extra $30m under the proposals of the Health Insurance Planning Committee. Public hospitals will get a new deal from us. Instead of a measly 82 a day bed subsidy to public hospitals we will be giving them a subsidy of $13 a day or more to improve public facilities and we will be meeting 50 per cent of the running costs of the public hospitals. I wanted to raise this matter because it is important for this Parliament and certainly important to the people of Queensland that they are informed of what Labor’s policy will be.
There will be some opposition to our health plan and a lot of false propaganda will be levelled against it but I am confident that the people of Queensland, with knowledge of the finance that will be made available by this Government to Queensland, will fully support our plan.
– Later in the day I understand we will receive from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) an outline of the Government’s record since assuming office. I would like to give a brief summary of the Government’s sorry record in one area in particular. The sequence of events that led to the raid by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the near hysteria caused by the heaviest security measures ever taken to protect the communist Yugoslav Prime Minister whilst in Australia and the subsequent events are worth recalling in this Parliament on this the last day of this extraordinary session.
Let me say from the outset that one could be forgiven for believing that this Government has been more interested in appeasing the communist world than in preserving the respect of the peoples of the free world for the name of Australia. The Prime Minister’s lack of interest in and opposition to the aggressive actions taken by the communists in IndoChina must surely support the view that his Government is dominated largely by pressures from communist sources inside and outside this country. Firstly, on assuming office in the first week the duumvirate Whitlam-Barnard dictatorship moved to recognise communist China and to dump Taiwan. Then it abandoned national service training and released draft dodgers. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Kirk, of course did not take this sort of action on assuming office. Then we saw tha recognition ot East Germany before Willi Brandt had signed the East-West agreements, before many other European nations thought it prudent to do so. All this was done without reference to this Parliament. We saw the recogtion of Hanoi and the invitation by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) and a few of his friends to representatives of the Vietcong to come to Australia as their guests, arriving here about Anzac Day. We saw photographs of the Minister for Overseas Trade presiding over a conference with these people in the Sydney Town Hall. We have heard the insults that were poured on President Nixon by senior Ministers of the Whitlam socialist Government, using such terms as ‘murderer’. Al) these actions were designed to please and appease the left wing and the new socialist left of the Australian Labor Party - actions that will please the communist world and cause despair amongst our traditional friends.
Let us follow this catalogue further. There was the action to remove our troops from Singapore and Malaysia by the end of 1973, thus threatening the stability of our friendly neighbours in South-East Asia, threatening our Five Power Agreement. The clumsy exposure of the military telecommunications base in Singapore - its presence known to President Lee Kuan Yew - caused the President embarrassment. All these actions are in accord with the left wing socialist policy and are in accord with the strategy of the communist world. Closer to home we have witnessed the efforts by the left wing of the Labor Party to destroy the United States-Australia alliance and to have the joint United States-Australian defence bases in Australia removed.
Now we come to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, which has always been the target for attack by the Australian Labor Party’s left wing socialists. Only 2 years ago the left wing failed by one vote to have the security organisation dismantled in terms of the Australian Labor Party’s policy. We know which camp the Attorney-General supports; on which side of the fence he dangles his legs. Why did the Attorney-General raid ASIO? This question has never been answered. The Prime Minister has never attempted to answer it. On 4 April this year the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) asked the Prime Minister why Senator Murphy raided ASIO. He did not give an answer and he has refused consistently to give an answer to that question Since. Did the Attorney-General raid the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to satisfy the left wing policy objective? Did he raid the Security Intelligence Organisation to discredit it? Did he attempt to discredit ASIO so that he would have an excuse to dismantle the organisation? Why does the left wing of the Australian Labor Party distrust this organisation? Has ASIO too much information about certain members of the Australian Labor Party with left wing tendencies? Why have certain Ministers not agreed to have certain members of their staffs cleared by ASIO. This question has never been answered in this Parliament.
– Mine came from Billy Wentworth.
– I would not have any suspicions about the Minister because he is a right wing Labor man, but how many Ministers in the Government have refused to have their staffs security cleared? Why have they refused? These are the questions not only in my mind but in the minds of a lot of people in this country. What were the files the AttorneyGeneral sealed when he raided the ASIO headquarters in Melbourne? Was he worried about certain information in those files? Whatever the answers, there is a shadow of doubt over the head of the Attorney-General. The whole exercise has been bizarre and frightening. Allegation after allegation has been made by the Attorney-General and excuse after excuse has been offered by the Prime Minister.
An attempt was made by Senator Murphy to smear the former Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, who was accused of being a protector of violent extremists. Then there was a suggestion of conspiracy, then at last the allegation that a document that led to Senator Murphy’s extraordinary action was inaccurate. Who was responsible? We were told that it was an ASIO official. So the whole blame was left to reside with the Security Intelligence Organisation, the suggestion being that it is incompetent. The objective of the actions is in doubt in the minds of many people in this country. This gives the socialist left in the Government the excuse to get on with its job of dismantling what it regards as an evil institution with too much information and knowledge about communist underground activities in this country. The whole nation was led on an emotional goose chase after a few extreme right wing Ustasha Croatians. We were told by Senator Murphy that they were planning to invade Yugoslavia from
Australia. We witnessed the raids on 90 homes in Sydney between midnight and dawn, with 12 arrests and a range of charges including assaulting police. The whole exercise has been a right wing witch hunt to conceal the motive of satisfying the left wing socialists of the ALP. This is all good music to the ears of the communist world - our newly won friends. It is a sad song to our friends and allies in the Western democratic world.
One of the worst features of this whole episode was that the Attorney-General had knowledge of 3 Australian citizens having been shot in Yugoslavia but refused to convey it to the Prime Minister and so embarrassed the Prime Minister of Australia by refusing to act in a responsible way. I wholeheartedly support and approve the action by the Senate majority to set up a select committee of inquiry. It is understandable that the AttorneyGeneral should have attempted to break an understanding and should have attempted to break the arrangement for having pairs in the Senate. He wanted to save himself from the scrutiny that he jolly well deserves. I believe that the majority of the Senate has taken a responsible and sensible attitude to bring into the open the activities and the facts relating to one of the most bizarre incidents in the political history of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 11 April (vide page 1312), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, may 1 have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I should like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the Income Tax Asessment Bill (No. 2) and the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a cognate debate on the 3
Bills? There being no objection, I shall allow that course to be followed.
– On behalf of the Opposition I address myself to the 3 Bills that are before the House to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act. First I shall deal with the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1973. I state at the outset that other members of the Opposition and I are implacably opposed to income tax avoidance schemes which are against the public interest. This Bill is designed to deal with the highest risk area of taxation avoidance being practised in Australia today. I think one ought to make the necessary distinction between taxation avoidance and taxation evasion. The latter is illegal; the former legal. But frequently a number of legal schemes are designed to thwart the intention of the Parliament. The Commissioner of Taxation, the courts and taxation boards of review must decide on the law, but they cannot decide what was the intention of Parliament when it made that law. The intention of Parliament is very difficult to interpret, yet it is something to which the Parliament and indeed the Executive must in the public interest address themselves from time to time.
To define taxation avoidance is very difficult. As a chartered accountant in practice in former years, I have always believed that it is easy in practice, though not in definition, to decide for oneself, what is an unfair taxation avoidance scheme. In practice I have not found any difficulty in making that distinction, but it is hard to set down a definition. There is such a thing as improper avoidance, and this Bill deals with important areas of it. The general run of taxpayers are not able to avail themselves of many complex schemes for taxation avoidance which are operating in Australia. I remind the House that those schemes are not available in the main to public companies, let alone the salary and wage earners or small businesses. Further, to my certain knowledge a number of businesses which could have availed themselves of these schemes have declined to do so, I believe in many cases because they believed them to be not proper or perhaps because they wished to be cautious and did not want to become enmeshed in those complex schemes. I do not suggest that there is necessarily any impropriety in those who practise such schemes or those who advise on them.
There is a continuing battle of the taxation authorities and Parliament against income tax avoiders. This has been so since the beginning of taxes, but more so since the end of the second world war because of the great demand for revenue made by the legislature. Perhaps the demands for revenue by this new Government will be even greater and may be too great. But certainly in many taxation fields, income tax, death duties and even sales tax, there are schemes for avoidance of taxation which must necessarily attract the attention of this House and indeed the Treasurer (Mr Crean), who unfortunately is not in the chamber at the moment. I know that he is particularly interested in a certain sales tax avoidance scheme and took an interest in it when he was in Opposition. I presume that as Treasurer he will do something about it.
In respect of this first Bill I commend the Treasurer and the Government for its introduction, though I intend in Committee to move an amendment which I believe will give better expression to the intention of the legislation as the Opposition sees it. I will refer to the proposed amendment later. I just say at this stage that the amendment provides for additional time for private companies to declare dividends. It has been put to the Opposition and I know to the Treasurer and to the Government that there is an element of retrospectivity involved in the legislation which is feared by many to be unfair. The amendment I propose to move will extend the time available for the declaration of dividends to 15 June this year. It was originally proposed in the Bill that the final date would remain at 30 April. Because this Bill was introduced and its provisions became known for the first time on 11 April this year and it will not become law until it is passed through the Senate, probably next week, there is concern about it being unreasonably unfair. I am aware that those are very general words in relation to this proposed income tax law, but it is because of that concern that the proposed amendment will be moved on behalf of the Opposition. I understand that the Government will accept it.
Of course, the principles of retrospectivity or retroactivity, as some like to call it, are indeed complex. I put to the House that we ought to be very clear - I do not debate this at any length - exactly what we mean by the term in relation to the Bill and exactly what effect they will have on individual taxpayers before too great an objection is made to them. For instance, I do not think that it could be called retrospectivity if legislation is enacted which prevents a taxation avoidance from being completed when it is intended to be carried out over some years to come. Further, I do not believe there is any reason why Parliament should not intercede and chop off that scheme in the middle. I do not even believe it is retrospectivity if Parliament decides to prevent schemes from being continued in the current year. I would suggest that retrospectivity is unacceptable if it affects taxes that have been levied and perhaps paid in the past in such a way that nothing further can be done by the taxpayer who has committed himself in those past years.
I do not propose to discuss the clauses of this Bill or indeed the amendment in any greater detail than I have because they are in the area of most complex law. Any study of them would need to be done by reading and reference to much other taxation law and comment. It is not appropriate for discussion in a speech. But I point out that the schemes which this Bin will bring to an end are not just a little bit of income tax planning or a little bit of probate planning by people engaged in business or investment; they are in the highest risk area of income tax avoidance operating in Australia today. Because so much is said about what is right and what is wrong in respect of income tax law I want to quote the view of one court - the English Court of Appeal. I think for those of us who are not lawyers it is important to have before us views of the courts which would indicate the difficult area we are in when considering taxation laws. In 1941 the Court of Appeal, consisting of Lord Justice Greene, Lord Justice Clauson and Lord Justice Du Parcq, made the comments that I shall quote. The court referred to a section of an Act it was considering and said:
The section -
And one might interpose here, ‘the Bill’ - is a penal one, and its consequences, whatever they may be, are intended to be an effective deterrent which will put a stop to practices which the legislature considers to be against the public interest. For yean a battle of manoeuvre has been waged between the legislature and those who are minded to throw tha burden of taxation off their own shoulders on to those of their fellow subjects. In that battle the legislature has often been worsted by the skill, determination and resourcefulness of its opponents of whom the present appellant has not been the least successful. It would not shock us in the least to find that the legislature has determined to put an end to the struggle by imposing the severest of penalties. It scarcely lies in the mouth of the taxpayer who plays with fire to complain of burnt fingers. . . . The fact that the section has to some extent a retroactive effect appears to us of no importance when it is realised that the legislation is a move in a long and fiercely contested battle with individuals who well understand the rigours of the contest
I believe that those remarks are of direct interest in this debate bearing in mind the number of representations which many of us have received and, I believe, have not fully understood what is intended and, indeed, why it was intended and what our understanding is of the public interest. The previous Government had under examination many of the matters which this legislation covers. So what we have before us today is a part of the continuing effort. I would just remark that I believe that this current Bill - and there have been many such in the past and there will be many more in the future - is the present effort to minimise taxation avoidance. I believe that it is in fact the end of a phase. Those who speak - and the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) did so last year as though he believes this taxation avoidance can finally be cleared up are pretending or are ignorant of the history and development of such matters and reckon without the incentive to avoid payment of taxes and the ingenuity of the human mind.
– You would have to be joking.
– The honourable member would know that tax avoidance has been going on for a long time and I should think that he would not assert that this legislation would mean the end of it. There are many many areas of avoidance: It is as old ah history and it will continue as long as there are taxes. Indeed, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) is on record in a recent speech as saying that taxes are as complex as life and I do not think he would hesitate to affirm that today. I think these proposed amendments to the Act have received the closest examination in many quarters in Australia today with a view to their being overcome and with a view to defeating their intentions. Many people believe that there is unfair retrospective content in this legislation. The Opposition believes that the amendment we will move will make adequate adjustment in that respect. I congratulate the Treasurer and his officials because to the best of my knowledge they have given deep cause to pause to those who are anxious to continue unjustifiable tax avoidance. I believe that this Parliament can be well satisfied with the provisions of the legislation before it. As I said, the previous Government had most of the matters in this legislation under consideration and indeed it had announced that most of the amendments in these Bills would be made to the law.
The Income Tax Assessment Bill contains provisions to deal with so-called loss companies. There are provisions for the tightening of the law in relation to the trafficking in company loss shells in respect of claiming losses to avoid the payment of company tax of primary tax. I think these provisions are the next phase in closing the loop-holes that were discovered as a result of the legislation which was introduced in 1964 and in 1965 when amendments to trafficking in loss companies were first enacted. The Income Tax Assessment Bill also contains provisions for the socalled bad debts companies and again, trafficking in company shells is dealt with. The attempt to avoid taxation in this way uses the same fundamental principle of taxation avoidance. There are also provisions in the Bill in regard to the excess distribution company shells, in which there is large scale trafficking in Australia, designed to prevent the payment of either undistributed profit tax or the. tax on the declared dividends. There exists in the Act a concessional taxation deduction for premiums paid for life insurance policies. There is a widespread practice of making payment of premiums which plainly were not intended by the legislature to be claimed as allowable deductions. That deduction was provided in order to allow a taxpayer to provide for his own retirement or for his dependants on his death. But there are in operation schemes of short term policy duration which are entered into simply to avoid tax.
There are a number of clauses in the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) with which the Opposition agrees. As I said, the provisions are complex and I do not go into them now. I do not think there would be any real benefit in doing so but I repeat that the Opposition has examined them carefully. I will dispose of the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) quickly. This is a cognate debate and we are really debating in the time which has been allotted the 3 Bills together. This Bill deals with changes in provisions in the Act which relate to appeals to courts and to boards of review. The Opposition supports this Bill.
The Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) contains 4 provisions. One will enable full concessional deductions for expenses incurred in connection with the education in spite of the new benefit for isolated children. This Government had previously announced its intention in this regard. Another provision is for the payment of domiciliary nursing care benefits to be exempt from tax. The Opposition warmly supports both provisions. The Bill also provides for the withdrawal of the income tax concession available to visiting industrial experts and exemption from income tax for visiting foreign experts in relation to income derived while visiting Australia. Concessions will be withdrawn subject to the double taxation agreements of which there is a significant number between Australia and other countries. The Opposition supports this change, believing that it is time for the provision relating to visiting experts to be eliminated from the Act although one hopes that there will not be too much discouragement of real know-how coming to Australia as a result of visits by experts. I believe that too often Australians underestimate the need for and the value of that know-how to the Australian community.
The Opposition does not accept the fourth part of Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2). It will be necessary for the Opposition to oppose this Bill because it contains a provision to delete the present benefits given by sections 77c and 77d of the principal Act, putting it perhaps over-briefly, which are provisions, with others, designed to encourage investment by private individuals in companies which in the main are engaged in the exploration and development of minerals. The word ‘minerals’ includes oil and gas. The fact is that private prospectors and small companies have been responsible for finding most and perhaps all of the significant ore and other mineral deposits in Australia. That is an historical fact. Therefore the Opposition makes the strongest protest it can against the Government’s action in this respect.
I wit] take one or two minutes to elaborate the Opposition’s view because there is a strong case for retaining the provisions in those sections of the Act. There is a strong case for retaining the provisions. Retention of these sections is in the national interest as it will assist in ensuring continuity of basic exploration. These sections as such have never been abused in the sense expressed in the joint ministerial statement d otherwise and indeed are not open to abuse.
– Do not kid yourself .
– If the honourable member will pause for a moment I will come to the point I think he has in mind. These sections were and still are the basis of the traditional incentive for prospecting and exploration drilling. They have existed in effective form, though the numbers have been changed, for 30 years. The benefit to the national interest in the activity which is carried out using these sections has perhaps been obscured by section 77a, which was put into the Act in 1959, and section 77d in 1968. The Opposition believes strongly that tha retention of these concessions will help to maintain the support politically and otherwise of the ‘small man’ in exploration who has been the traditional supporter of prospecting ventures in Australia.
I put to the Treasurer that this is a Government which, according to its statements, sees great value in ownership and exploration by Australians as opposed to international companies and particularly large international companies. Yet, by this action the Government is not only cutting out the incentive but perhaps stifling the creation of new exploration companies. If companies cannot receive subscriptions by issuing shares to Australians in fairly small parcels there is little chance, even in times of more enthusiasm about the price of minerals, that they will continue in the exploration field. The establishment of a government managed petroleum and mineral exploration and development agency must take some time if it is to be successful. Of course, the Government is making every tax payer and indeed every citizen of Australia a shareholder whether they want to be or not in a scheme which may have very doubtful expertise. We all will become involved willy nilly in a scheme in which first of all we will gamble that there is oil and gas and secondly that this Government will find it.
Many Australian geologists, geophysicists, engineers and prospectors will have been forced through unemployment to take jobs outside this country or, more regrettably, to be unemployed. The shortage of petroleum, both oil and gas, and hard minerals is now a world pattern and accelerated exploration is needed. Any breaking of continuity and any federal action inducing an avoidable reduction of exploration activity which in due course would replenish known reserves is certainly against Australia’s interest. The Opposition supports the transitional provisions of this Bill which will now apply from 16 July until a date in May, the date when these deductions for exploration provisions are to be removed entirely. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) when he was Treasurer announced the desire of the former Government to cut out the tax avoidance scheme which was operating in Australia and which I think is the objection to which the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) was referring. That was not a genuine use of those provisions. The former Government wished to delete it and, of course, if that Government had been returned at the election in December it would have, as it announced, enacted those provisions and cut out the unjustifiable taxation avoidance involved. But, of course, this Bill goes much further than that. It removes the encouragement altogether.
This debate is being conducted on the last day of this session and it has not been possible at this stage for the Opposition to pick out of this Bill the particular lines, words or clauses to which it takes objection and which it would otherwise seek to delete during the Committee stage. Therefore, reluctantly, the Opposition must vote against the whole Bill. But I give notice-
– Which Bill is that?
– I am dealing with the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2). I want to inform the House that the Liberal Party’s Attorney-General’s committee and economic committee have looked at this matter very thoroughly and if, when this Bill comes on for debate in the Senate we can determine which words we would like to see deleted from the Bill we will move the appropriate amendments at that time. But at this stage we cannot yet see how we can take out the objectionable parts because the contents of the Bill seem to be rather entwined. Therefore we have no option today but to vote against this Bill in its entirety. However, I have made it clear in my other remarks that the Opposition supports all of the other provisions - indeed, we support most of them with alacrity.
I conclude my remarks by saying that the Opposition will be moving an amendment during the Committee stage on the Income Tax Assessment Bill. The Treasurer has notice of the amendment and I hope that it will be distributed. The Opposition will vote against Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) but I want to make it clear that our objection relates only to the provisions which prevent the encouragement of exploration for minerals. The Opposition supports entirely Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3).
I know that the Treasurer has done a good deal of work on this legislation. I have referred to the fact that most of these matters were under the consideration of the former Government last year and we believed them to be sound principles. But there is one matter that does not seem to have come forward yet, and that is the question of tax havens, and in particular Norfolk Island. I would have expected far stronger statements from the Treasurer about what he intended to do about this form of tax avoidance. I would have expected him to make the comment that he will not permit this practice to continue any longer. I thought we would have seen a Bill on this matter by this time. I am quite aware of the complexities involved and I am equally aware that a lot of work has been done already. Indeed, work on this matter was carried out even before the last election. I urge the Treasurer to give his urgent consideration to the question of preventing tax avoidance by the use of tax havens not only on Norfolk Island but in other countries, some of which are near neighbours of Australia. I hope that when the House reassembles in August we will have in front of us legislation to deal with these matters in order that unjustifiable tax avoidance can be minimised in Australia.
– I was very interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland). To my mind he was acting as an apologist for the inaction of his own previous Government. I want to refer briefly to a few of the points that he made. One of his points was that demands for revenue by this Government will be too great. I can assure the honourable member for Curtin that that will not be so. Great amounts of revenue can be obtained simply by blocking the tax avoidance schemes which this series of Bills proposes to do. For the information of members of the House I would like to correct a statement made by the honourable member for Curtin. He said that most of these tax avoidance scheme Bills had been announced by the previous Government.
That is not so, and I shall establish this in my speech. The previous Government had plenty of time to bring down measures to curtail tax avoidance but did very little. It was only by constant pressing from my own side of the House when we were in Opposition that we finally forced the then Treasurer to bring down a Bill on dividend stripping, which in my opinion should have been introduced years earlier. If that had happened this country and the revenue collecting authorities would have been saved hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
Three Bills - the Income Tax Assessment Bill, the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) and the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) - are to be discussed together in this debate. Due to the extremely complex nature of the income tax legislation, the time allowed to me will permit me to deal only with some of the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Bill. I point out that this Bill was introduced into the Parliament by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) on 11 April 1973. So, the Opposition, with the members that it has, has had plenty of time to consider these Bills in detail. I congratulate the Treasurer on introducing these measures so swiftly after this Government took office. This should be remembered: We took office only on 2 December 1972. These measures should effectively close up some of the tax loopholes which have existed for many years.
The previous Government, under successive Prime Ministers and constantly changing Treasurers over a period of 23 years, took no action to plug the gaps. Those Prime Ministers and Treasurers stand condemned for allowing these tax loopholes to remain unplugged. As I have said in this House on many occasions - the Hansard record will evidence this - the Liberal-Country Party governments have consistently looked after their erstwhile friends, namely, the wealthy taxpayers and large companies who, with the aid of skilled members of the legal fraternity and shrewd tax avoidance specialist accountants, have robbed the revenue of this country of hundreds of millions of dollars. I have said this in this House before and I will say it again. I quote the words of a highly respected Second Commissioner of Taxation, Mr P. J. Lanigan, who said: ‘Taxation avoidance is a social evil’.
The taxation burdens which those wealthy people should have borne have, under suc cessive Liberal-Country Party governments, been carried by those least able to carry them - the ordinary people of Australia, the battlers, the young marrieds and the middle income earners who have neither the wherewithal nor the desire to engage in these nefarious schemes. Let me say this to that wealthy section of the community which has thumbed its nose at the revenue collecting authorities for over a decade: The honeymoon is over; the day of retribution is at hand.
A word of sincere appreciation must be given to those capable, trustworthy, honest and efficient officers of the Taxation Office who, at short notice and with great skill, have prepared this legislation at the request of the first Labor Government in 23 years. I include in the laudatory praise the officers of the Department from the Commissioner, Sir Edward Cain, down to his highly skilled group on the legislative side and right through the Central Office of the taxation administration and also the officers in the Taxation Office in each State, who have performed their work with such capacity, capability, industriousness and industry that they are deserving of the highest commendation. It is well known that there are other tax loopholes to be plugged, and I have no doubt that in the near future the Treasurer will introduce additional legislation which will spell further doom for that wealthy section of the community which has no social conscience.
Having said that, I should like to get on to a more detailed explanation of some of the provisions of the Bill. Eminent speakers from this side of the House will cover particular phases of the Bill in more detail. I propose to deal, in the first instance, with companies with accumulated losses. The present law is that a company can deduct its prior year losses if it satisfies tests: Either a ‘continuing ownership test’ - that is, persons owning 40 per cent of its capital, voting and dividend right throughout the year of loss own similar rights throughout the year of deduction; or, alternatively, a ‘same business test’ - that is, it carries on the same business throughout the year of deduction as it carried on immediately before a disqualifying change in its shareholdings. Special additional provisions apply in respect of newly-incorporated loss companies. Special provisions apply also, in certain circumstances, which enable the continuing ownership test to have regard to the indirect rights in the loss company of natural persons who are shareholders in companies interposed between those persons and the loss company.
There have been many abuses of the present law. Proprietors of profitable businesses have been buying up to 60 per cent of the shares in company ‘shells’ with accumulated losses and then transfering their business operations to the loss company to offset those losses against the profits of the transferred businesses. Prima facie, the 40 per cent continuing shareholders are entitled to 40 per cent of those profits, but in practice their shares are worthless. The present law incorporates safeguards against arrangements between the 40 per cent ‘old’ shareholders and the loss purchasers. There are certain inadequacies in these safeguards and also in those provisions which enable continuing interest in the loss company to be traced through interposed companies.
A common method of achieving a tax avoidance situation is for the loss company’s creditors to assign their claims to the loss purchaser for a nominal sum. Alternatively, the loss purchaser may become a creditor on transfer of some of his business operations to the loss company. In either case, the profits of the loss company are applied in payment of those debts, so that the ‘old’ shareholders, namely, 40 per cent or more as the case may be, are effectively shut out of any share in those profits. When the losses have been deducted, the position is that the ‘old’ shareholders sell their worthless shareholding to the loss purchaser for what he is prepared to give. The loss company’s profits to this point remain available to meet the loss purchaser’s claim on the company as a creditor.
In addition to these arrangements, the special provisions relating to newlyincorporated companies are also being widely mis-used to avoid tax on profitable businesses. Some indication of the scale of tax avoidance involved in the trafficking in past year company losses is evident from advertisements appearing regularly in financial newspapers. Losses required or for purchase, ranging up to $lm are common; in one case a loss company with $2. 5m in ‘guaranteed tax losses’ was offered for acquisition. I seek leave to have some of these advertisements incorporated in Hansard.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– Honourable members will note that those advertisements in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ date from 10 March 1971 to 27 October 1972. I pose this question now: Why did the previous Government not take any action when there were advertisements dating back as far as 10 March 1971 which set out in some cases losses for sale of more than $lm? I think that effectively disproves the claims made by the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) that the Government at that time - the now Opposition - had any intention of ever introducing this legislation.
It is proposed in the Bill to strengthen the continuing ownership test’ and to incorporate additional safeguarding provisions against artificial compliance with it. The amendments in this Bill will, firstly, increase the 40 per cent continuing ownership test to require a more than 50 per cent continuity of capital, dividend and voting rights in the loss company; secondly, remedy certain deficiencies in the safeguarding provisions relating to arrangements intended to defeat the purpose of the continuing ownership test; thirdly, remedy deficiencies in the existing tracing provisions to enable continuing interests in the loss company to be traced to natural persons through companies, trustees and partnerships interposed between the loss company and those natural persons; fourthly, enable the loss deduction to be denied in certain circumstances where the benefit of tax loss deduction is to be derived by ‘outsiders’ or where it is clear that the continuing shareholders in the loss company are not intended to receive the full monetary benefits of their apparent continuing interest in the company; and, fifthly, repeal the special provision relating to newlyincorporated companies. The operation of the same business test’ is not affected by the amendments. In general, the dates on which the amendments will come into operation are set out in the Bill.
I turn now to bad debts which are written off after changes in shareholdings. The present law is that a deduction is available for debts owed to a company that are written off as irrecoverable in the year of income if the debts have been included in assessable income of the company or are in respect of loans made by the company as a money lender in the ordinary course of business. The company has the choice of when it writes off such debts as bad, irrespective of when they became so. Some other special kinds of debts may be deductible in the year in which they become bad. There are no restrictions under the present law relating to the deduction of company bad debts, such as the ‘continuing ownership test’ and the ‘same business test’ which apply to the deduction of past year company losses.
I will now instance some of the abuses. The shares in insolvent companies with substantial ammounts of potentially bad debts on their books are purchased for a nominal consideration by highly profitable groups with a view to writing off the debts for deduction against income that will be diverted to the insolvent bad debt companies. Some such cases have involved extremely large amounts of debts. Remedies are proposed in this Bill to prevent this type of tax avoidance. The bad debts provisions of the present law are open to substantially the same tax avoidance devices as have been employed in relation to past year company losses. Bad debts are in substance unrealised past year losses. Basic tests and safeguards similar to the losses proposals are incorporated in this Bill. Debts which are bad at the time of a shareholding change will be treated in the same way as other losses established at that time. A debt which is not bad when shareholdings change will not be affected. Under this Bill a deduction for a bad debt will be available to a company which, subject to the same safeguarding provisions as are to apply for company losses, satisfies, firstly, the continuing business test, portion of which I have previously explained, and, secondly, the same business test, portion of which I have also previously explained. The application of the amendments to the Act is set out in the Bill. 1 turn now to the companies with excess distributions of profits. The present law provides that a private company is required ito distribute a certain level of its profits - called a ‘sufficient distribution’ - as dividends within a prescribed period, that is, the 12 months commencing 2 months before the end of the income year, or pay an undistributed profits tax of 50 per cent of the amount, which is called the ‘undistributed amount’, by which dividends paid in the period fall short of a sufficient distribution of that year’s profits. Under the present law, dividends paid by a company in excess of its sufficient distribution for an income year can be carried forward without restriction to be treated as a dividend paid by the company when determining the sufficient distribution required of its profits for a subsequent income year.
However, the present law is being misused. That is why it has been necessary to introduce this legislation. There are no provisions in the present law to prevent proprietors of private companies with profitable businesses from acquiring shares in company ‘shells’ with excess distributions, transferring their business operations to the ‘shells’ and offsetting the excess distributions against sufficient distributions required in respect of the profits of the transferred businesses. The end result of all of this is that the excess distribution provides relief from undistributed income tax, which is at 50 per cent, or personal income tax, which is usually at a high marginal rate in view of the fact that wealthy taxpayers and companies are seeking advantages from it, for a new set of shareholders in relation to the profits of a different business. Excess distributions ranging up to $2m have been advertised regularly in at least one financial daily. I have no fear of naming it. It is the ‘Australian Financial Review*.
The remedies proposed under this Bill are that the excess distributions of a private company should be taken into account for undistributed income tax purposes only if it satisfies tests similar in principle to those which are to apply to the deduction of past year company loses. Subject to similar safeguarding provisions, the excess distribution will be taken into account if the private company satisfies either a continuing ownership test, which I have previously explained, or a same business test, which I have also previously explained. These amendments will have application from the dates set out in the Bill.
New provisions will apply in relation to certain private company dividends. A more than 50 per cent continuing ownership test and an alternative same business test are proposed for undistributed income tax purposes in respect of dividends paid by a private company during the last 2 months of an income year. Without those tests these dividends could be used by new shareholders before they become, technically, an excess distribution, and thus provide scope for avoiding the full effect of the excess distribution tests. The purpose of this legislation is to close up another tax avoidance scheme.
As I am running short of time, I will confine my remarks to a few closing comments. In my view the dividend stripping legislation came in too late. I do not believe that that was the fault of the officers of the Taxation Office: I blame the previous Government for it. There are tax havens other than Norfolk Island, which was mentioned by the honourable member for Curtin. The previous Treasurer announced, following constant pressing from me, that the Norfolk Island tax gap would be closed, However, the previous Government refused to answer the question I placed on the paper which sought to find out the names of some of the shareholders and directors of the companies using Norfolk Island as a tax haven. I do not know what it had to hide, but obviously it had something to hide because it would not answer my questions.
I have a suggestion to make to the Treasurer about tax havens, one of which is Vila in the New Hebrides, and what can be done to close the gap in relation to Vila and any other tax havens which are thought up by certain scheming people. There is already in the Income Tax Assessment Act a provision known as section 226 which provides that up to a 200 per cent penalty - it is not called a penalty in the Act; it is called an additional income tax - can be imposed by the Commissioner at his discretion in cases of tax avoidance or, as it is called in the Act, tax evasion. I would suggest, for the consideration of the Treasurer, in relation to those companies, many of which are Australian, which are using Vila in the New Hebrides as a tax avoidance scheme and are somewhat difficult to get under the existing legislation, that he should make an announcement or determine a policy whereby they will be forced in some way to make a full and true disclosure of the relevant particulars of any tax avoidance scheme at the time of the first income tax return lodged after the one for that tax avoidance scheme was due for lodgement. He could have inserted in the Income Tax Assessment Act a provision which says if they do not disclose the tax avoidance scheme in their return the Taxation Office will, when it finds out - and it will find out - impose a full 200 per cent penalty. In other words, give them a choice of owning up.
They should not be permitted to avoid contributing to the revenue of this country. The people who cannot afford to do so should not be forced to contribute the share of these companies. Give them the opportunity to be honest citizens, if they can possibly be called that. If they are not prepared to be honest citizens, apply the full rigours of the law and impose under section 226 a 200 per cent omitted income penalty. I commend the Bill to the House.
– As this is a cognate debate - and I appreciate the need for that - I will not have an opportunity to speak to more than one Bill, that is, the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1973. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) was right when he said in his second reading speech that this Bill and the memorandum to it were voluminous. It most certainly is voluminous. It calls for a lot of study. I spoke about this Bill with many highly qualified people. I would like to make one comment in that regard. I want to express my appreciation to the Commonwealth Taxation Office for the great deal of information and help I received. My opinions do not always coincide with the office’s, but I very much appreciated the assistance I received. I think much of this Bill is acceptable. It is described as a measure which is designed to close certain loopholes in the existing law. Of course, that is extremely necessary.
The first one being dealt with is the concessional deduction applicable to short term endowment assurance policies. In my extensive accountancy practice I have not seen this used to any extent, but I accept the. Treasurer’s statement that it is a widespread practice and have no objection to his taking this action. I think this makes sense. In fact, the Treasurer’s comments on the purposes of this deduction and the purposes of life assurance are quite in accord with my own views. He said that they should be provided to encourage a person to make, financial provision for his own retirement, or for his dependants when he dies. Perhaps, too, there are a couple of more permissible rules for taking out insurance. One is assistance to and payment of premiums for an initial period for dependent children until they are able, to assume responsibility for their own premiums. This is done, of course, because the earlier in life premiums are started the better the cover obtainable at a reasonable cost. It also allows self-employed people and rural producers to provide some sort of superannuation for themselves.
Another important point is that it is a means by which a person can make some provision for the payment of the often crippling and indefensible incidence of death duties. Successive Budgets have given certain concessions in this realm but this has been largely nullified because of fast rising values and inflationary pressures. I say briefly in passing that I hope the Treasurer will, in his Budget considerations, look at the $1,200 allowance that is now permitted as an income tax deduction concession. I believe that when all these considerations are taken into account there is a case for this amount to be increased because a policy that looks quite attractive when it is taken out and which operates over a fairly long term is not nearly sufficient by the time it matures. That is all I have to say about that matter. I hope that the Treasurer Will at least look at this concession in the light of what I have said, because I feel that it can now be claimed to be inadequate.
The part of the Bill which is aimed at the elimination of loss company trading is understandable. I have no serious objection to the intent of the Bill on this point. I do not oppose the greater portion of this Bill but there is one portion of it that I am very unhappy about because it introduces a principle which is unacceptable, unpardonable and unfair. In dealing with excess dividend distributions by private companies the principle of retrospectivity has been introduced. I believe that this has not been done in the history of the Australian revenue laws. I believe it should be avoided because retrospectivity would be unprincipled, immoral and revulsive. It is to be condemned in this case because it is not an adjustment that resulted from an unexpected court interpretation nor a reinforcement of existing tests. On the contrary, it is a breach of a simple provision in the present Act which allows excess distributions to be carried forward and offset against a future under-distribution. I do not think that this provision will be readily translatable because many experienced professional men have gone to the Press and have spoken to me about their differences as to the extent of this retrospectivity. I have even heard suggestions that, in the light of proposed new section 106a, it could involve returns as far back as 1936. I did not read this into the provision and I will not pursue it. There is still some retrospectivity in the Act.
I started with the intention of moving an amendment to the second reading, but I am heartened indeed to see the amendment which has been proposed by my colleague the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) and the amendment which is to be moved by the Treasurer. This will take a lot of sting out of whatI have to say but nevertheless I think these things should be said because there are one or two other aspects to consider. I know that my proposed amendment will be sweeping and I do not intend to press it to the division stage. However, I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the Bill be withdrawn and re-drafted so that those sections which relate to dividends and excess distribution shall not have retrospectivity’.
My colleague, the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) is prepared to second the amendment. Excess distribution companies will be of no value in the year from 1 June 1972 unless certain stringent tests of continuing shareholding and continuing business apply. Retrospectivity is certainly attached to companies with respect to income derived by companies after 1 July 197.1. Returns for the year ended 30 June 1972 have been lodged, they would have been assessed and companies would have had to declare dividends by 30 April - a date which has now passed. The Bill will result in the rather unusual and unprecedented position of the Taxation Office going back, an effect, into a year that has closed. In fact, it means that actions of some companies which were legal say in April 1972, will now find them retrospectively, illegal. The proposed committee amendment seeks to allow a greater time in which these dividends can be more or less paid back - the process reversed. This, I suppose, would take care of a great number of the cases. I want the Treasurer to be clear on this point. I am not defending the company shells and the practice of trading in excess distribution companies. I am not defending that at all, and I am not defending the Treasurer’s right to come down on those companies. I agree that he has that right and that duty. I do not have, and never have had in my professional association, anything to do with sharp practices. Therefore I want the Treasurer to know that I am not defending, for one moment, the continuation of this trading in company shells. I put to him however, a most unfortunate case - it has been looked at by the Taxation Office - which does not involve deliberate tax avoidance and yet it will be caught in the net of the proposed process, which is not reversible. That is the reason I have moved the amendment.
If ever we introduced the principle of retrospectivity where would we end up? In fact, how could public accountants, tax agents or consultants of any kind assist forward planning or give sound advice when legal measures which are specifically enumerated and allowed under the Act can at some future date, because of the principle of retrospectivity, be deemed to be illegal and even attract penalties? Private companies have always had one serious disability. Public companies are not required to make specific dividend distributions. Their only consideration is the satisfaction of the shareholders. What they do may be different but that is the rule that binds them. They are not bound to make any specific dividend distributions but can, without penalty, conserve funds and make provisions for capital and expansion needs. A private company does not have these privileges. I agree that it has a privilege rate of tax of 37.5 per cent up to $10,000 profit and 42.5 per cent thereafter. After profit is assessed and tax is calculated, 50 per cent of the remainder must be distributed as dividends to avoid an undistributed profits tax of 50c in the $1, so it is always difficult to conserve funds. Expansion is severely hampered and it renders them not so able to compete with public companies. The Act provides some little help in this regard and private companies have used this Act to carry forward over-distributions. They have used this rule so that at some convenient time they were able to take these factors into account and were able to go into capital projects.
Perhaps the amendment I moved is very sweeping. I believe that this portion of the Bill could net something like $50m in taxation for the Treasury. That could well be true because I know - certainly not as much as the Treasurer knows - that there are a lot of excess distributions around.
Soon after the election the Treasurer made certain of his intentions clear. I think this was advisable and admirable; it let people know where they were going. He sounded a clear warning of his intentions with regard to short term endowment assurance policies. People who took out policies after 1 January cannot say that they were not forewarned. He told us what he intended to do about trading in loss companies, and the legislation is totally in line with what he said. But I did not hear him sound any warnings about the extent of his proposals on excess distributions. As the Bill now stands, without the amendments that are proposed, no time is allowed for adjustment; no transitional period is allowed. The retrospective nature of the Bill means that the new concept of continuity of shareholding between 2 periods will be these 2 periods: Firstly, the one commencing on 1 May 1971 and ending on 30 April 1972 and, secondly, the one commencing on 1 May 1972 and ending on 30 April 1973. Any dividends paid by a company during those 2 periods will not be taken into account for the purpose of excess distribution if there is not a continuity of shareholding - the same shareholding and continuation of business principle.
I want to bring a case to the notice of the Treasurer. I do not think it is fully covered by the amendment. I have referred this case to the Commonwealth Taxation Office. It is one that has been caught up in the net and I would like note to be taken of it. This is an acual experience and I do not know how many more cases there would be. I am talking about a trading company in New South Wales. For tax purposes it is a private company. In February 1972, a long time before any of this happened, it commenced negotiations with a public company for the acquisition of 4 very large retail hardware stores. Included as a basic part of the deal was a company which owned a property in which one of the 4 hardware stores operated and which also held a large sum of money by way of deposits from the public. This is where the problem arose. The company could acquire that other company only if all the unwanted assets and reserves were taken out, and this necessitated a substantial dividend declaration immediately prior to the transfer of the company early in May 1972. It was this dividend which gave rise to the substantial excess distributions in question and this, of course, made a difference in the continuity of shareholding.
The then company wanted to finance this acquisition and it borrowed very heavily from its bankers. U still could not quite manage. So, in assessing its ability to repay the bank over an 8-year period, it found that if it took into account these excess distributions it would not have to pay any dividends to the shareholders for a period. If this Bill becomes law as it stands, that company will be forced to pay each year a substantial part of its profits from its new acquisition to its shareholders. Thus it will be prevented from meeting its commitments to the bank. It looks as though it will have to sell its new acquisition. This was a commercial transaction and had nothing to do with tax avoidance. This firm never has had anything to do with tax avoidance. However, it cannot satisfy the continuing business test.
This matter is rather complicated, but the Taxation Office has had a look at it and feels that this is a correct assessment of the position. The company cannot pay out these dividends by way of shares to the shareholders concerned because they then would be confronted with a tax bill which they could not meet; it would ruin them. The company cannot meet its commitments to the bank and, even if it struggles on somehow, a credit squeeze would be absolutely disastrous. That is why I say that, although the amendment will take care of many of the retrospectivity problems, nevetheless there are cases such as this that will not be taken care of. In fact, I am a little worried that the amendment might take care of the very companies whose practices the Treasurer seeks to stop. I refer to companies which are trading in these company shells where the process can simply be reversed. The amendment could help them out. However, the case I have mentioned is a genuine one relating to a commercial transaction that could well and truly be caught up. This matter has given me considerable worry, and that is why I have moved the amendment. In principle I agree with the Bill. I believe that tax avoidance must be looked at by any Treasurer and I agree with what the Treasurer is trying to do. But, where this principle of retrospectivity comes in, I think I have been able to show not only that it is dangerous but also that it can be most unfortunate.
I want to say a couple of other things about this legislation. The last speaker on the Government side, the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin), made certain comments which I think were not completely right or completely fair. I have been assured that almost all of the provisions in the clauses of the Bills that we are now considering had reached at least the drafting stage during the life of the previous Government. I do not think that he was being fair when he said that the previous Government was not responsible enough to look at these matters. It was responsible enough to do that. These matters had been brought to its attention by the Taxation Office - which, of course, is natural, necessary and right - and it was in the process of drafting legislation along similar lines. I ask the Treasurer to look at the matters I have raised. I am concerned about them and I am serious about them. That is the reason why 1 have moved the amendment. I want him to be clear about my reason.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Is the amendment seconded?
MrHallet - I have pleasure in seconding the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 12.58 to 2.15 p.m.
– I rise to support the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1973 which deals with deductions for capital subscribed to mining companies. Before I deal with the more technical aspects of this legislation I would like to take up a couple of points raised by the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland). He said that the Liberal Party will oppose the Bill because at believes that it is against the interests of Australia to break the continuity of the exploration by small companies for oil and minerals in Australia. It has been the aim of the Government to rationalise exploration for oil and minerals in this country. As this Government inherited virtually a shambles in this area on 2 December 1972, we felt that it was incumbent upon us to bring some sort of rational thinking to the whole question of exploration and production of oil and minerals.
Under the terms of the present legislation a lot of small companies have benefited by this legislation. Whilst that is a healthy thing, the fact of the matter is that a lot of the small companies spawned during the mining boom of 1970-71 and early in 1972 were set up just to have some sort of scrip on the market by which the founders of the companies were able to realise a capital profit. They reaped the benefits of sections 77c, 77d and 78 of the Income Tax Assessment Act in so doing. Whilst there were a lot of genuine small explorers operating in Australia and whilst they did gain some of the benefits from those sections of the Income Tax Assessment Act, nevertheless a lot of the sharks and lurk merchants jumped into the act in 1970. I refer to companies like Harbourside Oil NL which was founded by the famous Alexander Barton. The technique used with these companies was to set up a small company with a fairly limited scrip, and once it got on to the market in those boom conditions for no other reason than the fact that it was an exploration company there was an increment as soon as it hit the stock exchange. Then if the scrip was successful one found that members of the family and companies associated with the founders of the company were able to take up options once they had proved that the scrip had a certain market value. They then reaped a capital profit. These companies were able to reap the benefits of this section of the Act.
The Government has recently taken away the subsidies for oil exploration in this country. At the same time it is cancelling the subsidies under section 77 of this Act. In a Press release yesterday and in a statement in the House by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) it was stated that the Government’s desire is to assist genuine Australian mining ventures in their initial stages if they are capable of being developed into substantial producers. In other words, any small companies that really have something reasonable to explore will be looked at by the Bureau of Mineral Resources and, if the Government feels they are worth supporting, it will tip some of the capital into them that it has saved by taking this concession out of the Income Tax Assessment Act.
On 7 May 1973 the Government decided to withdraw the income tax concessions provided by sections 77c, 77d and 78 of the Income Tax Assessment Act for capital subscribed to companies for expenditure on mining or prospecting for oil and minerals. On 16 July 1972 the previous Government foreshadowed amending legislation to curb misuse of those concessions. The present Government decided to adopt these proposals. Amendments are proposed by this Bill to give effect to both decisions. As the law stands at present, section 77d provides for an income tax deduction for Australian resident shareholders who subscribe capital to companies engaged in mining or exploring for petroleum - including oil and natural gas - or minerals. The deduction is allowable to the shareholders where the companies concerned lodge with the Commissioner of Taxation a declaration that the moneys they have subscribed are for expenditure on prospecting or mining activities. As the legislation exists, the company making the declaration forgoes the right to deductions against its own income for the expenditure of moneys specified in the declaration. A company interposed between the shareholders and the mining company can, by a similar process of declaration, pass the entitlement to a deduction under section 77d back to the shareholders.
Section 77c provides a deduction of onethird of calls paid on shares issued after 9 May 1968 in mining or afforestation companies by residents and non-residents of Australia. Where the calls are paid to companies, the deduction is available if the company makes a declaration to the Commissioner of Taxation that it will itself expend those call moneys on exploration for minerals obtainable by mining operations. The mining company is not required to forgo entitlement to deductions for expenditure on prospecting. Section 78 (1) (b) applies to calls paid on shares issued prior to 9 May 1968 to mining companies by residents and non-residents of Australia. This is a long-standing concession which permits a deduction of one-third of the calls paid without the need for a declaration by the mining company.
This Bill proposes the withdrawal of the concessions provided by sections 77c, 77d and 78 for capital subscribed after 7 May 1973 to companies mining or exploring for oil or minerals except where payment is made by a person who owned the share on that date in respect of a call made on or before that date. It does not withdraw the concession for calls paid to afforestation companies. A special transitional provision is also proposed to cover the situation where, before the termination date, a listed public company had raised new capital or made a call to enable it to provide capital to an associated mining company for expenditure on exploration or mining. In these circumstances the associated company would be able to lodge a declaration under section 77d in respect of the capital subscribed by the listed public company. This will preserve the entitlement to deductions of shareholders in the listed interposed company.
The existing legislation is typical of what I think is the shortsighted and ill thought out concessions which successive Liberal governments have handed out to special interest groups. These tax concessions have proved an expensive and inefficient form of Government assistance to the mining industry. The number of explorers who were spending up to $50,000 per annum on exploration declined from 539 in 1971 to 395 in 1972, but the 395 represented 61.3 per cent of all explorers. This year seismic search in Australia has declined to its lowest point since 1965. So the concessions have not been very valuable to the mining and exploration industry. The Bill quite properly deals with the misuse of the concessions for tax avoidance purposes which has put revenue at risk to the tune of several hundred million dollars. The amendments were foreshadowed by the former Treasurer on 16 July 1972 and will apply in respect of capita] subscriptions made between that date and the termination of the concessions. Basically, the proposals are aimed at arrangements designed to obtain deductions under the concessions while at the same time recovering the major part of the capital subscribed, without risk, by the subscriber. The concession is always open to this kind of misuse and abuse.
A typical example is the arrangement whereby a number of investors enter into an agreement with a public listed company for the purchase by it, at a discounted price, of shares in a mining company they have formed and invested in, either directly or through an interposed mining investment company. Through the use of section 77d they obtain tax deductions that may be worth up to 68 per cent of their investment and then recover through the sale of the shares about 85 per cent of their invested capital. The effect of these arrangements is that, at most, only 15 per cent of the capital subscribed is new money available for exploration and mining. Yet some honourable members opposite still tell us that it is an efficient way to assist the mining industry. In many cases the established mining company which acquires the control of subscribed funds is substantially owned by overseas interests. To overcome this type of scheme the Bill proposes that if at any time after 16 July 1972 shares in a mining or exploration company are sold to a mining company or to a mining investment company and, at the time of sale, the capital subscribed on the shares has not been expended by the mining or exploration company in accordance with a declaration under section 77c or 77d, the deduction otherwise available to the subscriber will be reduced, in the case of section 77d, by the sale price of the shares and, in the case of section 77c, by onethird of the sale price. The Bill also includes safeguarding provisions to cover cases of indirect acquisition of shares by an established mining company and cases where shares are sold for inadequate consideration.
The proposed amendments will not apply where the shares being sold are shares in a public listed company unless arrangements have been made between the vendor and an established mining company that in any way depended on the right of the vendor to sell his shares. The second anti-avoidance pro posal is directed at misuses of section 77d concessions in a way that can effectively confer 2 income tax deductions on taxpayers for moneys subscribed on mining shares acquired for resale at a profit. This type of scheme involves the subscription of capital for mining shares acquired for resale through an interposed company which lodges a declaration in favour of its shareholders. When the interposed company sells its mining shares it can claim a deduction against the sale price for the capital subscribed on those shares despite the fact that it has lodged a declaration to confer a deduction for this amount on its shareholders. This is another weakness in the existing legislation which should have been plugged a long time ago. The amendments proposed in this area are to the effect that a company that has lodged a declaration for share capital subscribed to it after 16 July 1972 will not be entitled to claim a deduction in its own right in respect of expenditure of the capital on shares in a mining company. In other words, it cannot have it both ways. Certain technical defects in the provisions of section 77d are also to be rectified.
The amendments may be summarised in simple form in this way. Firstly, they will make it clear that where a mining or exploration company fails to expend moneys subscribed to it after 16 July 1972 in accordance with a declaration under section 77d, any reduction in the level of deductions allowable to its shareholders will also be carried through to the shareholders of an interposed company which had benefited from the declaration lodged by the mining or exploration company. Secondly, they will enable companies to lodge section 77d declarations at any time before the expiration of one month after the end of the year of income in which it receives share moneys. Finally, they will make it clear that expenditure on exploration and mining development made by a company is to be regarded as having been paid firstly out of any moneys that have been declared by the company under section 77d. The last mentioned amendment will overcome the technical deficiencies in the present law that can permit a productive mining company to defer payment of tax on income up to the amount of deductions that it has transferred to its shareholders by a declaration under section 77d.
Basically the Government has been very concerned about the misuses and abuses of the income tax provisions for mining companies. While I said that these proposals for amendment were foreshadowed by the previous Government, they should have been introduced a lot earlier, because the openings that were available to all the fly-by-night companies which were developed during the mining boom for a capital appreciation of stock and which at the same time were reaping the benefits of the present taxation provisions, should have been plugged. At the moment small exploration companies, in which the Opposition now claims to be so vitally interested, are in a dilemma in this country because most of them do not have the money to prove and to reach production stage in any of the areas that they are exploring. It is a pity that the Opposition when in government did not make some effort to see that a company such as Woodside Australia Ltd was given the capital that it needed to explore, develop and produce in areas which it was given on the north-west shelf of Australia. But of course it had to ask the Burmah Oil Co. of Great Britain to subscribe moneys to it so it could carry on this work.
Even now there are only 50 exploring companies in Australia that spend over $500,000 each on exploration in any one year, and only 30 of these companies have a budget of over $lm. In the field of oil exploration and production not one of these companies would be able to drill and prove one hole offshore in one year. So we can see the complete fallacy of the talk from the Opposition about small exploration companies. Where small exploration companies are searching for minerals there is certainly a case to be made where the small company, through ingenuity and persistence, can come up with a result, but at the same time we believe that these small companies can be assisted in a much better way by direct assistance, after some scrutiny by the Government through the Bureau of Mineral Resources of the area to be prospected by these companies. So instead of just having a blanket provision in the income tax legislation and making subsidies available directly, leaving their use to the discretion of the company directors concerned, properly the discretion will now be left with the Government.
Of course the reason that some of these smaller companies still exist is not that they are interested in exploration but that they are interested in keeping enough money in the company - money which they raised during the mining boom and which they would have no chance of raising today - so they can milk it for directors’ fees for the next 20 or 25 years. If they seriously wanted to invest their funds in worthwhile projects the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association and other organisations could band the small companies together so they could take up some promising areas like those to be relinquished by Woodside Burmah on the north-west shelf. A conglomerate of these small companies could explore these areas on a farm-in basis. There was never any encouragement for this sort of activity by the last Government. Consistent with our line of thinking on these matters, we believe that sections 77c, 77d and 78 are not being used for the intention for which they were created. They are being abused. They are not helping exploration and mining in this country, and therefore I support the proposals offered by the Treasurer.
– The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) has done much the same as I intend to do during this cognate debate, and that is to direct my attention to one aspect of one of the 3 Bills. Nevertheless I wish to make some reference to the main Bill, if we can describe any of them as the main Bill, which refers to excess distribution and loss companies. While members of the Opposition stand as one in their condemnation of those persons who exploit every conceivable means to avoid paying tax, I believe that the Parliamentary Counsel, the Government departments and the Parliament itself have a responsibility to ensure that when legislation is first introduced it is of such a standard that the holes which we have come to expect do not materialise. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) in his second reading speech uttered the words in this age of enthusiastic and ingenious tax avoidance’. If those days are upon us it behoves all those responsible for legislation to make the legislation so tight that people do not move out of the confines of the law, take advantage of the errors of this place and in the drafting of legislation, set themselves up in business and then suddenly become victims of the heavy hand moving in just over 9 months after the commencement of a financial year.
My colleagues and friends, the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) and the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland), made certain comments this morning and there is little point in repeating the views they expressed, especially with this session of the Parliament drawing to a close. However I would like to take up some of the views that the honourable member for Blaxland has put here today. He is a young man and one would have thought there would have been hope for him, but unfortunately he suffers from the same syndrome as a great percentage of the members on the Government side of the chamber: Anything that they see as representing success or anything that has a shadow of free enterprise could be evil and must be stopped.
The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), who is also with us today, is one who - I say this kindly because he cannot help the way he thinks - looks at the development of our mineral and oil resources as something which would have happened anyhow and believes, seeing that it has happened, that we should move in and grab the resources. He does not see that thousands upon thousands of Australians have risked and lost millions upon millions of dollars in outlaying the finance which has allowed the oilfields and the mineral fields in Australia to be found. It is a fact of life that the great majority of the finds in this nation have been by small prospectors.
I noticed one aspect of the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) and the Treasurer’s speech on it, where reference was made to the withdrawal of the income tax benefits for visiting experts. In his speech the Minister said:
For ali of these reasons it was decided to withdraw these income tax concessions, and introduce in their place a system of direct grants to Australian enterprises employing visiting experts.
That is fair enough. The wording of the Treasurer’s speech indicates that he realises that Australia cannot shut the door on experts. But what the Government is proposing in this Bill has no alternative. In relation to money invested within the provisions of clause 77c and clause 77d, the Government is slamming the door against hundreds of thousands of ordinary Australians who are risking some amount of capital on oil and mineral exploration. It is dismantling the rig of proven progress. It offers nothing in its place but a socialist dream of an island Texas of 3 million square miles with the Minister for Minerals and Energy on the Treasurer’s payroll digging an occasional hole with the hoe of hope. That is about the extent of what will happen in Australia unless the Govern ment sets itself to finding an alternative proposal to encourage the private companies and individuals to go out and seek oil and the mineral wealth of Australia.
We know that the Australian Labor Party is based largely on Sydney and Melbourne and that without those 2 cities it would not be in Government today. If some members of the Labor Party get the opportunity to go beyond their freeways and highways, out to the prospecting camps where the geologists and the oil and mining exploration companies work, they will learn that one just does not walk along with a divining rod which suddenly points down to indicate oil or some mineral lode. It is not like that at all. The only reason we have been so successful in Australia in recent years is that we had a system whereby we encouraged individual Australians - every Australian - to play a part in financing the development of this country.
For the benefit of honourable members who think that these are just my words and that my view is not shared by others, I draw attention to an article in today’s ‘Australian’. The article, which may not be accurate, reports the President of the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges, Mr M. S. McAlister as saying:
If the tax concessions were being abused why not eliminate the abuse, rather than a system which has helped mobilise millions of dollars of countless private investors in Australia, so helping to create a more progressive market.
I wish that the Treasurer was here at the moment so that he could answer that question. Perhaps the Minister for Minerals and Energy might answer it. Why is the Government completely destroying what existed in the past without, at this stage, offering a viable alternative? I have been told, although I cannot vouch for the truth of this, that in recent weeks the stage has been reached where of 50 drilling rigs in Australia, 48 have been stilled and only 2 are presently being used. There has been such a loss of confidence by that sector of our society that many are giving it away. Perhaps the Minister for Minerals and Energy thinks gleefully that this is good and that the Government can now buy up those 48 rigs at a good price. That is perhaps the stance that he might adopt and the action that he might take. Realising the restrictions being placed on us in relation to time, I ask the Government to try to see beyond the syndrome which leads Government supporters to believe that anything that stands for capital is bad. The Government should try to recognise that we on this side of the House are prepared to join with it in eliminating bad practices, but there is no point in completely dismantling the proven formula.
In conclusion, I hope that if searching for these resources in Australia is to slow down or grind to a halt, the Government will soon devise a scheme whereby search might be encouraged again. We on this side of the House recognise that there has been some abuse of this system in the past and that the abuse must be eliminated. But let us not destroy the entire system, because it is one which has proved itself. It would have continued to prove successful if the rough edges had been removed and people throughout the nation had continued to receive enticement honestly to contribute money to finance the search for oil and minerals. The only endeavour that has been made is to remove what are considered by the Labor Party to be the evil aspects of the present system.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (2.43)- The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) made reference to members of the Australian Labor Party belonging only to the cities.
– You are the exception.
– 1 should like to inform him, although I think he has already recognised the fact, that I have spent more shifts underground and on the surface of mining leases probably than he has during his life time. I believe that the Government should be congratulated for plugging up the loopholes in tax concessions to shareholders for capital subscribed to mining and prospecting companies. Those tax concessions were said to be introduced in the interest of the nation. As has already been proven by my colleague the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), they have done little to attract finance for exploration and mining development in Australia. On the other hand, they have opened wide avenues for tax avoidance under the guise of developing our mineral resources. I think that the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) has produced concrets evidence to show that the present Opposition had been aware for some time of what had been going on in regard to tax avoidance. Previous governments did little to eliminate the methods of avoidance. It is a strange thing that when anyone who is remotely connected with the Labor Party happens to get a job of some type on a board we hear the cry from the Opposition that it is a case of ‘jobs for the boys’. But it is surprising how our taxation laws have been left wide open and how the people who are normally considered to be the friends and supporters of the Opposition have been able to get in on the lurks and perks. The Labor Party is not opposed to any capable person holding down a job but we are opposed to financial manipulators who use the tax laws at the expense of the development of our mineral resources. I believe that the curtailment of taxation concessions, which in many cases only amount to subsidising investment by overseas companies, is long overdue. This also applies to the provisions in this legislation which give effect to the decision that income tax concessions available to visiting experts are to be withdrawn. Most of these so-called experts have little general mining knowledge. Often they are expert only in some special area. If they are experts or if they have some expert knowledge in a special area they very seldom pass it on to Australian mining engineers. As a matter of fact when their term of duty in Australia has expired they often are replaced by someone else from overseas.
These experts often are looked upon as tipoffs for a foreign company and their visits cause disruption in mining staffs. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) has already informed us that 90 per cent of the visiting experts are brought to this country by foreign owned enterprises. I know that there are many sincere people among them who have settled in Australia but in the majority of cases they are treated with suspicion. It is no longer necessary to bring these so-called experts into Australia because we have an ample supply of Australian mining engineers. In any case this Bill contains provisions to make a special concession available to Australian mining companies should it be necessary to bring these persons into Australia.
The fact that the Government has made an examination of the weaknesses in taxation law which allow financial manipulators to cash in on Government attempts to assist in the exploration and development of our mineral resources speaks well for the future. The fact that the Government is taking action to ensure that the assistance which is given to mining companies will be used for the real development of our mineral resources is very encouraging. The Government is aware of many large untapped mineral resources in which Government assistance could yield a rich and long term harvest. Some of these deposits are near rural towns. They could be the means of sustaining these towns while rural industries are recovering from the recent crisis. I would like to put forward some suggestions on how the development of these resources could be assisted but I have been asked not to take too much time in this debate so I will pass on.
The Government has already shown that it does not intend to forget mining centres which are already employing many thousands of people and which contribute millions of dollars yearly to the State and national welfare in royalties and taxes. One place which I have in mind is, of course, Broken Hill. The militant history of that town is well known. It is often distorted and publicised. As matter of fact the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch) and the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) have done that very thing in this House. What is less well known is the heavy nature of the work of hard rock mining. In this field the effective life of a miner is said to expire at 62 years of age. These miners have to retire at 62 years of age. Some of them get part time jobs and others retire under a pension scheme the benefits of which are little better than unemployment benefits to which they contributed. Also little known are the other problems that hamper the operations of the mining industry. The contributions that the mining industry has made to the development of this country is surprising. Taking Broken Hill alone, the 4 companies in the year 1969 produced 2.7 million ounces of silver and concentrates containing two-thirds of the nation’s zinc and two-thirds of the nation’s lead production. One mine - New Broken Hill Consolidated - for the year ended 1968, before royalties and tax earned $11,675,000. The same mine in the year 1969, before royalties and tax, earned $15,570,000, or an increase of 33 per cent on the 1968 earnings. But after royalties and tax the increase on the previous year amounted to only $480,000, or 7.6 per cent. Tax provision amounted to $5,048,000 which was $1,688,000, or 50 per cent, more than was set aside in the previous year, 1968.
Royalties increased to an amount of $4,752,000, or an increase of 61 per cent on the previous year. This means that additional earnings of nearly $4m was reduced to $480,000 because of added tax and royalties.
I am not mentioning these things because 1 feel sorry for the companies because as a rule what they take out of one pocket they have a habit of putting back in the other pocket. But I am wise enough to know that sometimes the interests of the employees and of the companies coincide. Companies cannot be expected to give their ore away. The rate of company tax could mean that companies might curtail employment and of course if they did so the employees would suffer. I think that we should be aware that there are 2 major factors that determine the life of any mining field. One is the current price of metal on the world market and the other is the grade of the ore that is being mined. High grade ore at Broken Hill is reaching the end of its life but there is a large body of low grade ore. We believe that the Government should be conscious of the contribution that Broken Hill has made to the welfare of Australia and that some assistance should be given towards the exploration for and the mining of this body of low grade ore. I am aware that the responsible Minister is already conscious of this and is looking for ways to assist in the development of this large body of low grade ore at Broken Hill.
I congratulate the Government on the action it has taken under this legislation and particularly for the grants under the isolated children’s education scheme. Recently I attended the annual conference of the Isolated Children’s Parents Association at Bourke. One of the problems raised at that conference was whether recipients under that scheme would be taxed on the grants they receive. It is very nice to know so soon after that conference that the Government has come out and made a clear statement on the way in which the taxation will apply. I believe it is unfortunate that more time was not allocated to me in this debate. However, the Government should be congratulated for this amending legislation. The matters that I have had to leave out of my speech will be taken to the Treasurer and other Ministers in the hope that further development will be undertaken in the Broken Hill area.
– I was glad to hear the honourable member for Darling (Mr
Fitzpatrick) point out that he also does not have proper time in the national forum to put forward views on behalf of his electorate about fuel and oil exploration which are vital to this nation. I commence my speech by protesting once again about the lack of time given to honourable members to speak in this place, which is turning this national forum into a farce. Honourable members cannot get up and properly debate the issues that are of concern to the nation as a whole. Like the honourable member for Darling I too have not been given the opportunity to debate these important matters. I have been gagged on 3 occasions so far this session when I have been speaking on the subject of oil. Even today I have not been given adequate time to debate the Labor Party’s policy on these matters.
I feel for the honourable member for Darling and people who have employment problems brought about by the Government’s policy in this matter. I would like to quote part of an article which relates to a speech made by Mr D. A. Wittwer in Adelaide yesterday. It states: . . there seemed to be a bland assumption in Canberra that the establishment of authorities such as the National Minerals and Petroleum Authority would automatically create a flow of oil.
I presume he means other than words -
It was one thing to set up a government authority, but it was another matter to attract other explorers who had the technical, managerial and financial expertise and resources to work with such a novice organisation.
The prospect of the Government’s operating alone somewhat stretched the imagination, Mr Wittwer said.
To maintain a high degree of self sufficiency during the next 20 years Australia would have to find nine billion barrels of crude - 4 times known reserves.
I will let that statement speak for itself. I wish to move on to the reasons why I put my name down to talk on these associated Bills. Frankly, I rise today to put forward views which have been suggested to me by a prominent company lawyer and several taxpayers’ associations, including the Taxpayers Association of South Australia. However, before saying more in relation to these matters I also want to emphasise, as did the honourable members for Fisher (Mr Adermann) and Curtin (Mr Garland) in 2 very competent speeches, that I support the general principles of the Bills insofar as they aim to eliminate schemes of tax avoidance where these cases are against the spirit of the legislation. I would differentiate - perhaps others might not - between, say, the purchase of tax loss companies or indeed the temporary provision of life insurance on the one hand and the genuine cases frequently of people applying themselves to the letter of the law on the other. But be that as it may, in my view the Government has not only the right but the responsibility to amend the law in both of these instances if it is not satisfied with the manner in which that law is operating. That, I presume, is precisely what the Government has as its intention this afternoon. I repeat that I do not object to the aims of the Government in this regard. But on the other hand I wish, without being mistaken I hope as regards my intention, to mention some of the anomalies that can and will occur even though notice is taken of the views put forward by competent people, and in this case through me, to the national Parliament.
I do not intend to touch on the amendment that will be moved by the honourable member for Curtin as I want to save the time of the House. But I would say that I support his views and his amendment most fully as they overcome some problems that I had in mind prior to getting to my feet today. I trust that the Government will be impressed by the amendment to be moved by the honourable member and indeed the other amendments and will during the afternoon find itself in the position of being able to accept at least the proposition of the honourable member for Curtin when he moves his amendment during the Committee stage. Nevertheless, as I said earlier, I consider several aspects of the Bill to be unsatisfactory. Broadly I suppose it can be said that the Bill proposes that bad debts and past losses incurred by companies should not be deductible and dividends paid should not be taken into account for sufficient and excess distribution purposes unless the company in question satisfies a ‘more than 50 per cent continuity of beneficial ownership’ test or alternatively a ‘continuity of business test’. I might quote an example. The. ‘more than 50 per cent continuity of ownership’ test may work hardship in that, in its present form, it may seriously penalise some private companies in quite genuine cases. This is because, for example, the particular sections dealing with the ‘more than 50 per cent’ test will be mandatory - unless of course the continuing business test is satisfied - and are not alleviated by any saving provision, such as there is in relation to the tests of public company status, which would authorise the loss to be allowed, notwithstanding failure to satisfy the continuity test, if, say, the excessive changes in ownership are explicable by ordinary business or family dealing and had no substantial fiscal motive.
It is not difficult to imagine some situations in which the new test could work anomalously. Let us assume that two equal partners operated in company form, the business incurred losses, and on: partner bought the other out with a view to re-establishing profitability. If the business had been making losses he might wish to make considerable changes in its methods, transactions, product lines and so on. Section 80s may thus not apply and, as he originally held only SO per cent of the capital and not a majority share, the company could not satisfy the ‘more than 50 per cent’ test. Another anomaly could arise if we assume that there was a more than 50 per cent change, over the 7 year period in which a loss can be carried forward, in the beneficial ownership of a company’s shares due to family circumstances such as sons and sons-in-law coming into the business, trusts for infant children being created and so on. This certainly would not be an impugned ‘tax loss company sale’ yet the loss would not be deductible unless section 80e was satisfied, lt has been submitted to me that these 2 instances should be put before the Parliament for consideration.
The third matter that I want to mention relates to the remarks of my friend the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) on the other side of the House who pointed out that no loopholes should ever be allowed to exist in this type of legislation. I would have thought that he would have knowledge at the grass roots level of this sort of legislation and would realise that probably no legislation has been brought forward which has been free from the possibility of doubtful transactions which work against the spirit of that legislation. I want to refute the remarks that were made earlier by the honourable member for Banks that any government, be it the last one or this one, will ever have a perfect law in relation to these matters. The example which I want to quote to the honourable member for Banks concerns the continuity of business test, which may still be capable of exploitation for tax avoidance purposes. It then goes on to say why this is so. This comes from the Australian Federal Tax Reporter’. So, I just say again that there is no complete purity in these matters and I think the honourable member for Banks, with his experience as a civil servant, could well remember that.
The next example on which I wish to touch concerns a provision on which in many ways I would entirely agree with the Government. However, I hope that in the example that I intend to put before the House, the Government will see the sort of anomaly and difficulty which I find in the provision. This example is a case where one family bought the shares of their relatives who held just over 50 per cent of the shareholding. The relatives bought shares in other companies. The price was fixed on the basis that substantial tax benefits would accrue under the existing law because of more than 40 per cent continuity of ownership under section 80A. Tax losses had been incurred in substantial development of a large pastoral property in a low rainfall area, including heavy expenditure of research in conjunction with State departments and on other experiments. These experiments were carried out in a new area where one could produce a pretty good case to suggest that this sort of experimentation was necessary. It was to encourage exactly that sort of research, presumably, that the current Act left this opening, and in this case the opening will be closed.
I repeat what I said: There are very many instances - this is the difficulty of drafting legislation - in which I would agree with the Government, but that is one in which I would not agree with the Government. In fact, if one wished to prolong the debate on this issue, one could say that, although family enterprises in Australia represent the most efficient sector of farming, in effect the operation of the Bill that the Treasurer has before the House today could hand this sector over to corporate farming and limit the value of this efficient sector of farming, that is, if we ignore the lower level which hardly pays taxation. Although this is not the type of debate in which I should raise this matter, I point to it in passing because a well known and reputable company lawyer sees this sort of problem arising.
The continuity of business test under section 80e no longer applies in this case as the same company now also conducts other enterprises and the continuity of business test has been construed too strictly for this section to apply. That completes the difficulty that, I gather, this legislation will bring about. Changes could be exempted, it has been suggested to me, by ‘the explicable by ordinary business or family dealing clauses’. I refer to that just in passing in case the Government might wish to have a look at that in due course. That expression is taken from the judgment of the Privy Council in Peate’s case on section 260 which dealt with the formation of companies by medical practitioners, in its original form in Newcastle.
In order to hasten the debate along, I will finish with one small comment on the retrospectivity problem that has been debated already by other speakers. I will quote the Taxpayers Association of South Australia. That Association says:
This Association is strongly opposed to the retrospective nature of these provisions.
I might add that many of these problems would be overcome if the Government accepted the amendment to be proposed by the honourable member for Curtin. The Association continues:
The effect of the Bill is to deny tax benefits to taxpayers who acted in good faith in accordance with the law in existence at the time … A person acting in the terms of the law as it is written on the statute books is surely entitled to rest assured that he will not subsequently be penalised or be found to have acted outside the law under legislation passed years after his action.
I will now give up my space on the floor of the House. Although I admit that doubt exists on the retrospectivity angle in relation to various clauses of these Bills, I hasten to add that I personally and, I am sure, all other members on this side of the House will always try to make sure that retrospectivity is never implemented to the disadvantage of any people in Australia, where they be taxpayers or not.
– in reply - Before this amendment is put to a vote I should like to thank honourable members on both sides of the House for the interesting debate on this very intricate piece of law, particularly that section which deals with the amendment to private company law. I indicate to the spokesman for the Opposition, the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland), that we intend to accept the Opposition’s amendment in the Committee stage. I also have a technical amendment that I want to make to the Bill. But I thank honourable members who have participated in this debate for the way in which it has been conducted.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 23 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
– I move the following amendment:
After sub-clause (3), insert the following sub-clause: (3a) In relation to assessments in respect of income of the year of income that commenced on 1st July,
sub-sections 80b (9) and 80da (1) of the Principal Act as amended by this Act have effect as if the references in those sub-sections to sub-section 80a (5) of that Act as so amended were references to sub-section 80a (2) of the Principal Act; and
section 80da of the Principal Act as amended by this Act has effect for the purposes of the application of that section in relation to a loss, or a part of a loss, incurred by a company as if a reference in that section to continuing shareholders in the company were -
in a case to which sub-paragraphs (ii) and (iii) do not apply - a reference to persons referred to in sub-section 80a (1) of the Principal Act;
if section 80c of the Principal Act applies for the purpose of determining whether the loss, or the part of the loss, is to be taken into account for the purposes of section 80 or section 80aa of that Act - a reference to persons referred to in paragraph 80c (1) (b) of the Principal Act; or
if section 80d of the Principal Act applies in relation to section 80a of that Act for the purpose of determining whether the loss, or the part of the loss, is to be so taken into account - a reference to persons referred to in sub-section 80a (1) of the Principal Act as affected by section 80d of that Act.’
It is proposed by the Bill that the requirements of the ‘continuing ownership test’ that applies in determining whether a company may be allowed a deduction for a prior year’s loss be replaced by more stringent requirements in relation to the 1973-74 income year and subsequent years. It is proposed also to reinforce this test with safeguarding provisions to apply first for the 1972-73 year to ensure that it is not circumvented by devices designed to defeat its application. Through inadvertence, the proposed safeguarding provisions may not in all cases apply as intended in relation to the 1972-73 income year. In certain circumstances they may be inapplicable and in others they may apply to deny a deduction that ought to be allowable. The amendment is intended to change the transitional provisions of the Bill to remedy this defect, and will ensure that the safeguards apply as evenly in relation to the current year as in relation to future years. I commend the amendment to the Committee.
– The Opposition supports this clarification of the law. I understand that the former AttorneyGeneral, Senator Greenwood, may well have been responsible for initiating some clarification. We will be glad to see the amendment made to the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move the following amendment:
At the end of the clause, add the following subclause:
Where, but for this sub-section -
there would be an undistributed amount in relation to a private company in relation to the year of income that ended on 30 June 1972; or
the undistributed amount in relation to a private company in relation to that year of income would be increased, by reason that the whole or any part of an excess distribution made by the company for an earlier year of income is not, by reason of the amendment made by section 19, included in a notional dividend that is deemed to have been paid by the company during the period that is the prescribed period in relation to the first-mentioned year of income, then, any dividends paid by the company during the period that commenced at the expiration of that prescribed period and ends on 15 June 1973, to persons who were shareholders in the company at the expiration of that prescribed period and continued to be shareholders in the company until the dividends were paid, shall, If the company elects not later than 30 June 1973, by notice in writing to the Commissioner, that this subsection should apply in relation to the company, be deemed, to the extent to which those dividends do not exceed the undistributed amount or the amount of the increase, as the case may be -
to have been paid by the company during that prescribed period; and
not to have been paid by the company in any period that is the prescribed period in relation to another year of income in so far as the time of payment of those dividends is relevant for determining whether the company is deemed, for the purpose of Division 7 of Part 111 of the Principal Act as amended by this Act, to have made a sufficient distribution, or to have paid in dividends an amount in excess of the lowest amount that would have been a sufficient distribution, in relation to that other year of income’.
This is a lengthy amendment and, I think, to be understood must be read in quiet somewhere. As I mentioned during the second reading debate on the Bill, the amendment attempts to provide an extended period to enable private companies to make a declaration of a dividend up to and including 15 June 1973. The Opposition believes that it overcomes to a large extent an element of retrospectivity on which many representations have been made and that, in the main, it satisfies fears of retrospectivity and, at the same time, will not result in any unjustifiable loss of revenue.
– As has been indicated, the Government accepts this amendment. I regard that as being a sign that the Government does not believe, as did some other governments, that all wisdom lies on one side of the chamber. In matters of this kind contributions can be made from both sides of ‘the chamber. While I am not aware of any actual cases of difficulty, as I have already said in reply to other representations I am prepared to give careful consideration to the circumstances of particular cases insofar as that is possible.
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.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 16 May (vide page 2217), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 23 May (vide page 2500), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Crean) read a third time.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr Connor) agreed to.
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Minerals and Energy moving an amendment to clause 13 of the Pipeline Authority Bill during the consideration in committee of the whole of amendments made by the Senate in the Bill.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Connor) agreed to:
That the amendments of the Senate be taken into consideration in the Committee of the Whole forthwith.
Senate amendment No. 1 -
After clause 13, insert the following new clause: 13a. No pipeline work exceeding in cost $2m shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless and until it has been referred to the Public Works Committee pursuant to the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972 and has been authorised in accordance with that Act’.
Senate amendment No. 2 -
After clause 16, insert the following new clause: 16a. (1) The Authority shall be deemed to be a common carrier and to have the obligations of a common carrier.
Senate amendment No. 3 -
In paragraph (a) of sub-clause (2), after ‘land’, insert: or, where such notification is impracticable, shall obtain a Magistrate’s warrant for the purpose’.
Senate amendment No. A -
In paragraph(a) of sub-clause (1), leave out seven’, insert ‘thirty’.
– Before dealing with the Senate’s amendments I propose to amend clause 13, which reads in part:
Subject to sub-section (2), the functions of the Authority are -
In sub-clause (1), after paragraph (c) insert the following paragraphs:
The Government wishes to spell out in the greatest clarity, for the information of the Senate on the return of this Bill to it, the full range and scope of the functions of the Pipeline Authority. Amendments contained in clause 16A as inserted by the Senate would reduce the Authority to the basis of a common carrier and in fact substitute public investment for what would have been substantial private investment in a pipeline.
The policy of the Government, as established by its Party conference in 1971 is for the ‘transmission of natural gas by an interstate ring main to ensure continuity of supplies and uniformity of price’. A national authority must think and act in national terms. There is already uniformity of motor spirit pricing in the major capital cities of Australia. The larger States have similarly introduced uniformity of bulk electricity charges to county councils and local government corporations throughout their terms. To match uniformity of energy charges, our objective is to ensure uniformity of heat and fuel prices. This has particular relevance to the future development of inland provincial cities and major and medium sized country towns located within economic service distances of the proposed trunk line system, and which the Authority will supply at uniform prices. This objective is of equal importance to the decentralised cities which we propose to establish or expand.
Honourable members may not realise that there is considerable disparity in the calorific value of natural gas, and also the percentage of impurities which it may contain. The BTU - British thermal unit - content of natural gas ranges from 1050 to 1320 per cubic foot in the major producing areas which will be linked by the pipeline grid. To permit, without regulation at the well head gate valve, the entry of natural gas with any of its undesirable associated gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen would produce chaos in the system. Each producer, in the rights of using a common carrier, could set a rival and excessive pricing structure according to its whim and belief as to what the market would stand. Only by purchase by the Authority could the pipeline truly function. Again the Pipeline Authority would need to insist upon freedom from impurities, of which the most noticeable is carbon dioxide, and ranges up to 40 per cent in certain of the Gidgealpa consortium field output.
Another feature unknown to honourable members is the quantities of liquid condensate and petroleum gas and other similar derivatives of hydrocarbons which need to be separated from natural gas, and again vary vastly as between producing centres. These elements are contained in ‘wet’ gas and can range as high as 70 barrels or more per million cubic feet. These condensates and gases are commercially ‘stripped’ and retailed separately. These constituents are capable of being restructured in suitable refining processes, known as isomerisation and alkylation, into high grade motor spirit, of 100 octane rating, without the need for any anti-knock additives.
I have been informed by the Hydrocarbons Branch of my Department that, in aggregate from the proved and possible reserves, and at a conversion factor into motor spirit of 65 per cent, they would yield 1,620 million barrels. By comparison, in the refining of Bass Strait crude, the volume of motor spirit obtained is 51.5 per cent of the volume of crude oil. Applying this conversion factor to the total Australian reserves of crude oil, the motor spirit equivalent of these crude oil reserves at present available is 1,280 million barrels. From this it will be seen that there is here a source of additional motor spirit which exceeds by 25 per cent the much vaunted Bass Strait potential. Only 65 per cent of the present crude through-put of Australian refineries comes from Australian reserves, the residue is imported. On this basis, our recoverable Australian crude oil will be exhausted in 12 years. The potential from restructuring of these hydrocarbons into motor spirit would provide an additional 15 years supply. Suitable refining facilities can be provided by a new refinery or modification of an existing plant. Implicit in the Senate amendment is the-
-I rise on a point of order, Mr Chairman. The Minister said: ‘Implied in the Senate amendment’. Surely we are not considering the Senate amendment at all at present. The Minister has moved for the insertion of paragraphs (d), (e), (f) and (g) to sub-clause (1) of clause 13.
– It is a matter of public knowledge that the reports of the Senate proceedings have been circulated.
– Order! I accept the point of order. The Committee is considering the insertion of additional paragraphs to clause 13. The Minister may refer to the other matters when the Committee is dealing with the Senate amendments.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr Chairman. I will rephrase my speech. Any proposal to commingle gas would result in the right of any producer of natural gas containing motor spirit ingredients to transport them and sell them overseas. Fuel still urgently needed for Australia’s internal combustion engines would be lost. Legal opinion in the United States of America has held repeatedly that if gases are commingled in a pipeline for transport, they become indistinguishable in law thereafter, as in fact they do. With the proposed common carrier concept, one producer may wish to pass through the pipeline a gas stripped of ethane and liquefied petroleum gas, whilst another party may wish to supply to the pipeline a gas containing some petroleum gas, which would remain in the gas phase during transport, but which he may desire to remove for separate sale at the market terminal.
If these gases are commingled under the common carrier concept, the subsequent removal of liquefied petroleum gas at the market may be rendered completely uneconomic, since the entire volume of all gas would need to be passed through the extractor plant at the market terminal. Even if this were to be economic, increased costs of liquefied petroleum gas covered could be incurred due to the commingling in transport. The position becomes even more complex where different parties supply to the. pipeline, gases of different composition, not only in regard to liquefied petroleum gas or calorific value, but also in regard to inert constituents such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen, and to possible corrosive constituents such as hydrogen sulphide and water vapour. In simple terms, common carrier operation would be utterly destructive to a uniform delivered price structure.
Also implicit in the common carrier concept is the right to consign natural gas to export points without regard to Australia’s proven reserves and long term needs. I need not remind honourable members of the foreign affairs speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) last Thursday night, and the role which Australia’s reserves of energy could play in Australia’s international relations, foreign policy and their implementation. There could be a grave, danger of the rape of north-west shelf natural gas by unlimited production and exploration under the terms of the current Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. In the statutory period of 21 years for a production lease, the whole of the north-west shelf reserves could be exported. I ask honourable members to consider the objectives of Woodside-Burmah, with a notably minority Australian ownership, in securing a ‘quick buck’ under the terms of the current legislation. I also draw honourable members’ attention to the failure of the Victorian natural gas producers to penetrate adequately the Victorian fuel market. The penetration rate is 9 per cent on a black coal equivalent basis instead of the planned 30 per cent. This means that sales are seriously restricted, and these producers are desperately anxious to supply the New South Wales market at very substantially reduced prices to those prevailing in Victoria. This stupid situation is a legacy to Victorian gas consumers from Sir Henry Bolte.
The pipeline will at the earliest stage reach Newcastle, and the magnificent gas-making black coal reserves of the Hunter River Valley. At a later stage, when linked with Victoria, the world ranking brown coal deposits of the Latrobe Valley will also be available. The economic life of the pipeline will be 60 years with modern proofing treatment. If, within that period, Australia’s natural gas reserves are exhausted, synthetic natural gas, of high calorific value, can be fed back from these deposits into the pipeline to meet our national needs almost without future limits on availability.
In summary, equality of price and certainty of supply are Labor policy. These are requirements which only a national pipeline authority could achieve. Unregulated use of a pipeline, on a common carrier basis by rival producers, with differing pricing policies, wide variations of gas quality, and control by overseas majority shareholders, would be chaotic. Only a national authority can enforce equality
Qf pricing in the national interest, and conserve these valuable resources on a planned basis for Australia’s future requirements and survival.
– This is a quite incredible situation. As the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) said, we are turning the national forum into a farce. This has been exhibited in this House today. A Bill has been returned to this House from the Senate. The Bill took many months to prepare. It was debated and the Opposition in the Senate brought forward a number of amendments, some of which have been put into the Bill. Suddenly, we are presented with some additional amendments produced by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). The Minister had months to produce a Bill which apparently he thought was adequate and satisfactory when he introduced it in the House. He said it was adequate anyway, whether he thought it was or not. Yet, now, major amendments are being proposed by the Minister. After chasing around the House this morning I finally got a copy of the amendments at about 9.30 and the Opposition is expected to deal with them only hours later. They relate to matters extremely difficult for anyone to understand, or to see their implications, whether they be experienced in this field or not. The Opposition has been given only a few hours to consider the position, yet it is expected to contribute to this debate. Whilst I am Opposition spokesman in this field, as the Minister knows, I cannot give my own views on this subject. I have to put forward the Opposition’s view and therefore the matter must be considered first by the executive of the Opposition and secondly at the Party meetings of the Opposition.
It is quite incredible that attempts should be made by the Minister to change his own Bill at such short notice. Of course, we are debating these amendments against a background of delays that have already been caused by the Minister in bringing natural gas to Sydney from Gidgealpa. We know that the managing director of Santos recently informed the Australian Gas Light Co. Ltd that because Of the actions of the Minister there will be a delay of at least 6 months in bringing natural gas to Sydney from Gidgealpa. We do not propose to cause any further delays although we are strongly opposed to many aspects of this Bill. All I can say is that times will change and when they do we can amend this and many other Acts at our earliest opportunity.
Although I raised a point of order I think that the Minister continued to read his prepared speech which covered the whole field instead of the amendment which he had actually moved to clause 13. The amendment spells out the functions of the Authority. These functions are to be extended in 4 ways. Firstly, the Authority will ‘ensure continuity of supplies of natural gas, that is free from impurities’. I do not know why it is necessary to include those words. For some years now, Australia has had supplies of natural gas. It now has natural gas at Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. There never has been any lack of continuity of supplies. Special actions are taken by any authority to ensure that there will be continuity. This does not mean that they have to join up an additional field so that if there is a temporary disruption in one field backup supplies are available from another which might be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Obviously to do this would involve an unacceptable cost. Instead, existing justification plants are maintained using coal, liquid petroleum gas or various other fuels to provide a temporary continuity of supply until such time as the problem is rectified. We do not oppose that part of the amendment, but I do not see why it is necessary.
The second paragraph of the amendment states that a function of the Authority is:
To ensure that natural gas supplied by the Authority is available at a gate-valve delivery price that is, at all times, uniform throughout Australia, after making due allowances for differences in the calorific values of natural gas obtained from different sources’.
We think that is a fine aspiration. One would like to see an equality of price so that one person does not suffer vis-a-vis another. The Opposition parties, when in Government, went out of their way to see that the price of petrol was subsidised in the more remote areas of Australia so that it would not he more than 4d above the price in the capital cities. Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has a uniformity of price at capitals for its steel products. However, one of the extraordinary anomalies is that to take steel from Wollongong to Melbourne the railway has to be used, and that railway passes through such cities as Wagga and Albury where the price of steel is higher than it is at Melbourne which is at the end of the line. Basically, as an aspiration, we do not quarrel with this part of the amendment, but
I can visualise situations in which these would be a disadvantage to remote locations.
If there is to be a standard price for natural gas in Australia it certainly would react adversely to Alice Springs. The people in Alice Springs, being close to the enormous Palm Valley gas supply, would expect to be able to get gas cheaper than it is in Melbourne or Sydney. If they could do so it could well be that they could attract industries to that area. This would encourage decentralisation. However, if an industry can set itself up in Melbourne or Sydney and get Palm Valley gas for the same price at which it could get it at Alice Springs, it would be very hesitant to go to Alice Springs. As an aspiration or an objective, the second part of the amendment may be ideal. However, we have to look at its practicality. This is a very major topic and no-one in this House could be expected to debate it fully a few hours after looking at it. This is something which would have to be worked out over quite a long period of time.
I turn now to the final 2 paragraphs in the amendment moved by the Minister. They also relate to the functions of the Authority. They are:
I am at a loss to understand why it was necessary for the Minister to seek the addition of these functions. He knows perfectly well that as the Minister he now has the power to agree to or refuse any applications for export. It seems to me that what he is seeking to do is to transfer from himself to the Authority the power to decide whether there should be exports. I intend to move what I regard as a minor amendment to the Minister’s amendment with which I hope he will agree. I move:
In proposed paragraph (f), after the words ‘to ensure that’, insert the words ‘sufficient quantities of.
That paragraph then would read:
To ensure that sufficient quantities of condensate, petroleum gas and other substances derived from natural gas are retained. . . .
As the proposed clause is now written it is virtually a directive to the Pipeline Authority that in no circumstances at all should there be exports. It virtually prohibits export of any sort. I believe that there are cases in which it would be necessary for exports to occur because without them the cost of developing and bringing into production some of these fields could be excessive and they might not be brought into production. Therefore I do not think we should say that in all circumstances there is to be a prohibition. The amendment I have moved has been circulated and will be seconded. The Minister has transferred to the Authority, and not even to the fuel and energy authority, a power which he already has, a power which one would expect to be exercised by the Government after it had available to it the best possible information.
-I second the amendment.
– There are 2 things before us at the moment. Firstly, the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has introduced amendments to the original Bill. Also he will be speaking to the amendments made in the Senate, of which notice has been given to the House of Representatives. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) went to great lengths to say that he could not understand what appears to me to be a simple amendment. The Government should not be held responsible for the intellectual inadequacy of the Opposition. I first saw this amendment, or a detailed draft of it, only an hour ago and I can understand why it is necessary. Clause 13 says that the Authority will construct pipelines to convey petroleum and that it will convey through the pipes operated by it petroleum belonging either to it or to other persons. The Bill says that it will be able to buy and sell petroleum. The Minister’s amendment clarifies the situation because it states:
It is obvious that the Minister has moved this amendment to clarify the intention of the Government in regard to the functions of the Authority because in view of the way the Bill has been emasculated in the Senate one could be excused for believing they did not understand the Government’s intention. The Senate’s amendments have totally destroyed the concept of the Bill.
The Minister’s amendment has been moved so that, in the unhappy event that the Liberal and Country parties take office again, honourable members opposite will have the very arduous task of facing the Australian people and saying that they want to take these amendments from the Bill and change the operations and functions of the Authority. That is why they are quite properly to be put in there. While discretion is vested in the Ministers and the Authority if the Parliament makes it clear what it envisages the Authority as doing, successive governments of the persuasion of honourable members opposite will not be able to wreck it in the future as they have wrecked a lot of other national ventures. They are the reasons why these provisions have been included. They are reasonable provisions. It is the aim of the Government to make sure that this pipeline is not just a common carrier but a public utility to serve the nation, to provide natural gas at a uniform price throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. People will have natural gas supplied to them at a uniform price whether they be in areas in the middle of New South Wales or South Australia or in the capital cities of Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.
If that sort of concept had appealed to the previous Government the people of Victoria would not be held to ransom as they are being held now by the slap-happy deals concocted in the past. We now find that the Victorian producers. Esso-BHP, are trying to get into the New South Wales market. They have indicated that they can supply gas to New South Wales at a price dramatically below that offered to Victorian consumers. So, thanks to the previous Government’s efforts in the past, the Victorian people are being sold down the drain, day in day out, while they use natural gas. That is why the Government is clearing up this matter. The second stage of the operation will be to reject the Senate’s amendments. I would like to speak at that stage of the debate.
– Order! The honourable member will be out of order if he discusses that now.
– 1 am just saying that I intend to speak at that stage of the debate. I will leave my remarks on that matter until later. It is as clear as the nose on your face why these amendments are being proposed. It is not the Government’s problem that the Opposition cannot understand simple amendments.
– The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) complained about the minimal notice he received of these amendments. I would like to echo his sentiments and explain that, although I asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) a minute ago for copies of the amendments, I find that there is an additional one which he still has not moved. I refer to the amendment to insert the words ‘a warrant from a justice of the peace’ etc. I have only just received a copy of it.
– It is a very simple one.
– That may be so. The point of the whole exercise is that this is an extremely important and complex measure. It is important that there be an opportunity for members of this national Parliament to consider the implications of what is the first of the nationalisation Bills to be introduced into this place by the Labor Government. On the second reading I opposed, on behalf of the Australian Country Party, everything other than the planning conception for this Authority. The amendment now before the committee will give to the Pipeline Authority a significantly extended role which will enable it to undertake the functions which were previously included within clause 13 of the original Bill. Also it will now provide further restrictions which indicate to me that the role of private enterprise in the development of petroleum resources in Australia will be virtually eliminated in future. I think that that is by no means too strong a way to define the way in which I see the implications of the further extension of powers included in the Minister’s amendment.
Within the concept of regulating supply there would be advantages if one could ensure that the different communities in Australia would pay a standard or uniform price. There would be advantages if the resources could be directed through a common pipeline in such a way that the maximum benefit for a minimal outlay could be passed on to the consumers. But under proposed paragraph (f) the extended powers would allow the Authority to control condensate, petroleum gas and other substances derived from natural gas in
Australia and processed in Australia. A decision which would normally be made by the Government apparently will be passed over to the Pipeline Authority. In other words, it will not be the Government or this Parliament that will have an opportunity to decide who will be using petroleum gas and in what way; the Pipeline Authority will be doing that. To my mind, whilst the Authority might have a body of expertise which is missing in this place, it should not be given the responsibility on its own to decide such a fundamental matter of prime responsibility to a Government.
Similarly I am apprehensive at the extension of the power included in proposed paragraph (g), to secure, control and retain reserves. Does that mean, as one may presume, that if in the normal course of exploitation a commercial operator should seek to retain a percentage of the reserves within its own field, this Pipeline Authority will be capable of directing a change in its commercial decision? Presumably it would do so. It could mean a diversion of the reserves of that commercial operator. It could mean the manipulation of those reserves in such a way as to be to the distinct disadvantage of that commercial operator but not necessarily to the advantage of the economics of consumption of the Australian people. Again it will be the Pipeline Authority that will be doing so much more than planning. It will be undertaking the whole range of responsibilities within the control of petroleum exploitation and development and the control and application of the reserves in Australia. To my mind, the implications of this further extension of power are quite frightening for those who have to date contributed significant sums of money to the discovery and exploitation of resources around this country.
The Bill has been returned to us for reconsideration. Of course, it is not open to us to do anything other than discuss this particular extension of authority. To my mind, the extension is only a further step along the line towards complete control of the private sector’s intervention in this part of the Australian economy. Because it is an intervention which is being passed to a statutory authority, its implications to the community are even more frightening. It is necessary that there be a body of knowledge and expertise available to apply the resources in a manner meaningful to the whole community and to reduce the power involved in the amendments is just a further step towards removing the actual right of decision from the Government and removing the opportunities for exploitation which’ have been paid for significantly by private investment, albeit with the supplement of the subsidies provided by the previous Government. The Australian Country Party believes that this is an area within which there needs to be the maintenance of an opportunity for private sector investment. It is an area in which there seems to be little justification for the application of taxpayers’ funds. It is an area in which there needs to be regulation, co-ordination and comprehensive planning. But those are all areas which can be accomplished without the application of the specific provisions which these amendments are now providing.
For that reason, on behalf of the Australian Country Party I would like to express my reservations about the amendment which is now introduced. I believe that the amendment will not be to the benefit of the Australian consumer or to the benefit of the exploitation of Australian resources. I believe that it is most unfortunate that, in the circumstances of this parliamentary sitting, it is not open to us to oppose the amendment and to take the matter further. The only reason that I do not press opposition to this amendment is that it is necessary to have an early commencement of the construction of the pipeline. Already, as the honourable member for Farrer has explained, there has been a significant delay in the construction of the pipeline - a delay that has been caused solely by the intervention of this Labor Government in a contract that was entered into by a private company, the Australian Gas Light Corporation, for the construction of the line to supply Sydney. It is true that in terms of the construction of the pipeline the action of the Labor Government is the significant factor in delaying construction. It is imperative, however, that there be no further delay. I am in accord with the amendment moved by the honourable member for Farrer. I express my own strong reservations about the implications of the measure that has been introduced by the Minister.
– Like the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), I am disappointed that measures of this complicated character are brought in at the last moment. These are very extensive amendments. I was surprised that ai though the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) was speaking to the amendment he moved, actually most of his speech was devoted to matters outside the amendment. I will be coming to those matters later. When the matter of the Pipeline Authority being a common carrier is brought before the Committee - the Minister mentioned this at length - I will be reminding the Minister of what he said in his second reading speech. He said that the Authority would have the role of a common carrier. We will be putting this on the line when the matter of the amendment from the Senate relating to the common carrier aspect is before us later this afternoon. I mention this in passing.
I turn to the amendment before us. Again I say that this is something which really raises the most complicated and complex questions. I am not in a position to take a final view on this at the moment because, in common with other members, I received a copy of the amendment only this morning and I have not had an opportunity to consider all its various implications. There are 4 clauses of the amendment. I think the first is fairly superfluous. The Minister spoke of the continuity of gas supply free from impurities. This may be a matter for the Authority; it may be a matter for the owners of the gas. I agree entirely with the view put forward by the Minister that the operation of the pipeline must have regard for the quality of the gas delivered into it and the fact that no deleterious substance should be introduced. I believe that the technical advice that he has given to the Parliament, however, is to some extent misleading, and I wish to come to this later when the relevant amendment is before us. But I agree with the principle that the operation of the pipeline has to have regard to the quality of the gas introduced into it from time to time.
The next amendment, which is the substantial one, relates to the uniformity of price throughout Australia. Admittedly this is attractive, certainly at first sight. It has one or two difficulties, and the main difficulty in my mind is that it will operate quite effectively against a program of decentralisation. This is a substantial point, because the new industries which may come into Australia may depend upon supplies of gas at a low cost. Let me put this as succinctly as I can. There will be a big shift in the petro-chemical industry, whose main base is in the United States, and that shift will come about because the supplies of feed stock - natural gas - in the United States are rapidly dwindling and will shortly diminish significantly. Under those circumstances the petro-chemical industry at present so largely based in the United States will find other locations in the world. One of those locations might well be Australia but for Australia to be chosen as against situations in North Africa, the Middle East or wherever else gas is available, it will be necessary for the feed stocks to be available at a reasonably low price. This cannot be done unless the industry is situated near the gas fields and does not bear transportation charges.
I am right with the Government in its desire to maintain for Australia adequate supplies of natural gas. At the present moment we have no idea how big our fields may be. We know that they are of a very significant size, and that may well condition their use for purposes other than Australian consumption, but I think it is probably, not certain, that exploration in the future will show our resources off-shore to be vastly greater than those which are at present proved. If that be so, and only if that be so, Australia may be one of the bases for a major world petrochemical industry in the future, and I am inclined to think that we would be unwise to do anything which would prejudice that possibility. I say that, making the reservation all the time that if these extra reserves of gas arc not proved we should not become the base for a petro-chemical industry looking to export markets. It all depends on something which I believe to be probable - the discovery of very major extensions to our gas reserves. I think this is very probable but not certain.
It has been said that the policy of uniformity of the price of gas in Australia is equivalent in a way to the past Government’s policy on the uniformity of petrol prices. I think this is misleading because it depends upon the ratio between transport costs and total costs. When that ratio is low, not for the outlying areas but for the major sources of consumption in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or wherever it may be, as it is for petrol, you get one thing; when you get a high ratio, as it will be for gas, you get another. Yet, as against that, there is another kind of consideration. Once the decision has been made that the pipeline be of a certain diameter and the pipeline is in there may well be a case to be made out for writing off some or indeed the major part of the capital charges and passing gas through for Australian industry and home consumption at a transportation cost which ignores most of the fixed charges which have been incurred.
But again, when we are considering the best diameter for the pipe and the nature of the capital charges which should be involved it may well be that this is relevant and that the policy announced in paragraph (e) of the amendment will prejudice a proper economic decision as to the diameter of the future pipeline. All these are very complicated matters. I do not put forward any solution. Indeed, all I put forward is that at present these matters are so complicated that when they come up for consideration this first time, and with only a few hours of the session left, it is impossible for us to have any rational decision taken on the matter at all.
I feel that the Government is very wrong in bringing in this kind of complicated amendment - far reaching, may be good, may be bad, but incomprehensible - at short notice. It should’ not be brought forward at this present time. I have simply endeavoured to illustrate some of the complexities involved. I do not want to indicate that I know my way through this complex jungle, but neither does the Government and neither does anybody, I believe, in this Chamber because these matters have been brought down as an afterthought and at the last moment.
– Here it is, five past four on the last day of this session of Parliament, and on a matter which the Government has said is one of major importance it has introduced a number of most significant amendments to the Bill. It is quite unacceptable to the Opposition that those amendments should be introduced in this way. We have had the second reading speech and debates on this Bill in the House. It has been through the Senate. Government supporters in the Senate have put forward the Government’s propositions and views there. Now, when it has come back to this Chamber, we have to consider these amendments which, as has already been pointed out, have far ranging significance and the widest ramifications for the petroleum industry in Australia - not only for the industry itself, but also for the consumers, the people of Australia, about whom we hear so much said, supposedly on their behalf, by this Government
These amendments brought down at this time are really nothing more than a shoddy political trick. The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) said that these amendments were introduced to show to the Senate the full range and scope of the functions of the Pipeline Authority. If it is necessary to introduce “these amendments now, how much more necessary was it that they should have been placed before this chamber right at the outset of the discussion on this Bill? To do so now at a time when debating time and time for consideration is so limited can, as I have said, be described as nothing more than a shoddy political trick. The extent to which it can be so described has been demonstrated by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). He pointed out that in the Minister’s second reading speech he referred to the Authority as being a common carrier. Likewise, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), who is now about to leave the chamber, at page 2195 of Hansard of 16 May said:
Honourable members opposite talk about setting up this massive investment in an authority. But the authority will act only as a common carrier to carry the gas of some private company.
I should like the Minister and the honourable member for Blaxland to acknowledge publicly that that is the purpose and primary function for which this Authority is being set up; to act only as a common carrier to carry the gas of some private company. The Minister should also acknowledge that in all that he said this afternoon he denied that statement by one of his own colleagues who I assure honourable members is his protege - the one who hangs to the Minister’s coat tails like no other back bench member in this place.
– Give me the page and the quote.
– I quoted from page 2195 of Hansard. I assure honourable members that I did not quote out of context. I quoted the words that were used. The amendments are proposed to be added to the clause of the Bill which expresses the functions of the Authority. I have driven the honourable member for Blaxland out of the House. Quite obviously he cannot take it.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Stirling should confine his remarks to the matter before the Chair.
– The amendments state the function of the Authority as being to ensure various things. How is it proposed that the Authority will ensure that natural gas shall be delivered at a uniform price throughout Australia? We are not told by the Government. How is the Authority to ensure that condensate, petroleum gas and other substances are retained and processed in Australia? We are not told. Is it intended that this pipeline authority will buy all the producers’ reserves in the ground? Otherwise, how will it ensure that those reserves are retained and processed in Australia? How is the Authority to secure, control and retain reserves of petroleum which are adequate to meet the long term needs of the Australian people? Again, is there to be a wholesale takeover of all these reserves? Is there indeed to be a rape by the Government of the reserves that have been discovered by private explorers who have risked capital? When the Minister speaks as he does with a pathological opposition to the Woodside-Burmah group which is exploring on the north-west of Western Australia, I wonder in truth whether it is not the intention of this Government to rape those reserves and to deprive that company of some fruits of the effort and money that it has put into its exploration, and to deprive the people of Western Australia of the benefit of the development of those reserves.
I return to paragraph (e) of the amendment to sub-clause (1). This states that the purpose of the Authority is to ensure that there is a uniform price. I asked the Minister whether it is intended that, for example, if there was a local pipeline taking gas from the north-west shelf, within Western Australia, to other parts of that State for the purpose of being used for the purpose of development there where it is intended that the price to be charged to the consumer in Western Australia is to be different from the price that would be charged if there were a pipeline across Australia from Dampier to Sydney? One would have thought it obvious for effective regional development of an area that local energy sources be used as cheaply as they can be used to support local industry. I ask the Minister on behalf of the people of Western Australia: Will that kind of thing be permitted? Will the people of that State be able to use the natural resource which is so close to their shores as cheaply as the energy is available to them? What is being discovered on the north-west shelf can mainain what can only be described as a massive industrial complex, even greater in dimension than the Pilbara concept of which this Government and the Western Australian Government are undertaking a feasibility study.
In the short time that I have left to me I should like to point out a dangerous precedent inherent in paragraph (f) of the amendment to sub-clause (1). It is stated that the Authority will have a function to ensure the retention and procession in Australia of natural gas reserves. The Government, of course, has in its hands full power to prevent exports which are against the national interest. It can do that by the exercise of its export control powers. But what is inherent in this Bill is that export control, which is a proper functon of government, is being delegated to a pipeline authority. I point out that there is nothing in the Bill to give the Minister for the Government any power or direction over the Authority. Its activities can only be controlled through the financial regulations of the Treasurer. But in terms of policy, the Authority is autonomous. I would have thought that it was a grave as well as dangerous precedent for the Government to hand over to an independent authority controls of a vital nature to the public interest, such as export control power. The Government has ample power to preserve in the national interest whatever natural resources we have. There is simply no need for the function that is proposed by this amendment.
There are other matters which have been pointed out by other honourable members who have spoken on this Bill. Uniformity of price and conservation of resources are easy catchcries and on the surface they will have public support. But what the Government has failed to do continuously throughout the debate on this Bill is to tell the Parliament and the people of Australia exactly what are the policy and administrative ideas which lie behind the Bill. It has provided a legal framework but that is all. And it is only by the efforts of the Senate in moving the amendments that it has moved that we have uncovered some - and I venture to think only some - of the true policy ideas of the Government in establishing a Pipeline Authority. So I think that the people of Australia can be thankful for what the Senate has done and for what its actions have disclosed.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Chairman-
Motion (by Mr Keating) put
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment to proposed amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move:
That Senate amendment No. 1 be disagreed to.
The Government policy opposes this amendment, which states that no pipeline work exceeding $2m in cost can be undertaken until it has been referred to the Public Works Committee. In the Senate debate it was acknowledged that the works of other statutory corporations were not liable to be considered by the Public Works Committee. The immediate objective of the Bill, in setting up a Pipeline Authority is to enable it to acquire the 5 ordinary shares of the East Australia PipelineCorporation Ltd, which are wholly owned by Australian Gas Light Co. Full feasibility studies have already been completed by overseas consultants on behalf of East Australian Pipeline Corporation Ltd. A survey was made of a chosen route and environmental impact studies provided to the New South Wales Government in respect of 3 distinct routes linking Gidgealpa and Sydney.
A major order for 206,000 tons of 34 inch pipes has been placed with Japanese suppliers by the same company with the intention of its constructing a pipeline and being ready to take delivery of gas supplies within 2$ years from the dedication of the gas supplies by the Gidgealpa consortium. The pipe specifications were to the X65 specification of the Battelle Institute (USA) and its notch-test requirements. Under the terms of the arrangement entered into between the Commonwealth and Australian Gas Light Co. and East Australian Pipeline Corporation Ltd, the Commonwealth acquires the benefits of the feasibility study, technology and planning work already done, and in turn accepts responsibility for the various commitments of those companies. In all respects it will stand in the shoes of East Australian Pipeline Corporation Ltd by acquiring its company structure. The staffs of East Australian Pipeline Corporation Limited and those of Mr James Donald, the executive officer of the Authority, are working continuously in exchange of information. The EAPC staff will be given the right, to transfer to the service of the Authority.
Five shipments of Japanese pipes, being of 34 inch diameter, have already arrived in Australia. Property in all pipes has been transferred to the Commonwealth and payment has been made by the Commonwealth on shipment. They are being located at Newcastle, Sydney and Adelaide in accordance with transport proximity to various sectors of the pipelines, and tenders have been called for the supply of necessary gate valves. The continued employment of 600 foundry workers in Melbourne and Ballarat is dependent on the valve contracts.
The nine producing companies of the Gidgealpa consortium, with the special need for refining equipment to remove the impurities I have mentioned in the debate on clauses 13 (1) (d) and 13 (1) (c), are in a most difficult financial position. Their commitment over the 25 years of their contract for such equipment will be approximately $320m, of which $133m must be invested between now and the end of 1976. Only three of these companies which have the Adelaide gas supply contract have paid any dividends. Their profits have not been adequate to service the exploration effort and short term loans have had to be obtained to make up the deficiency. Between them the consortium companies can provide only $33m of the commitment until the end of 1976, and the other $10Om must come from bank accommodation. Stringent requirements are being imposed on them by their respective bankers.
The first gas processing plant will require 20 to 22 months to complete and finance will be available from the bankers only when they are satisfied on the broader aspects of the Cooper Basin development project. All of these companies are carrying on with borrowed funds and have been seriously embarrassed by the 5 months delay during the New South Wales environmental impact inquiry and consideration of the Commissioner’s report and findings, which have not yet been published. EAPC will be in a position to call tenders within 3 weeks of publication, award a contract within 15 weeks, commence construction in 27 weeks, and finish the main line of the central route in 85 weeks. If the southern route is adopted an additional 25 weeks will be involved. In a project of this type, large contracts provide for continuity of production, economies of scale and continuity of employment, preventing the loss of skilled and experienced mcn.
The Sydney-Gidgealpa project has already been thoroughly costed under the terms of the feasibility study obtained and adopted by the Australian Gas Light Co., which is the oldest and most experienced company in gas production in Australia, lt has hard fisted administration and whatever may be the merits of a Public Works Committee investigation, there can only be delay, difficulties and financial losses to the Authority and all other participating interests if further examined. In the United States of America there are 170,000 miles of natural gas mains to serve 210 million people. On a proportionate basis 11,000 miles would be economically practicable for Australia’s 13 million inhabitants. The proposed national grid system would be less than 5,000 miles in length. The Government rejects the Senate amendment in clause 13 a.
– Firstly I think I should point out that if there was ever an example of the fact that we have rushed into this matter wilh great speed, it is the prepared speech of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), which has been just circulated to me, in which it is stated that in the United States of America there are 170,000 miles of natural gas mains to serve 210,000 million people.
– I hope his other figures are better than that.
– Yes, I hope the other figures are a little better.
– I said 210 million.
– AH right, but this shows that the speech was prepared in an enormous rush-
– Why quibble? That is typical of you.
– At least the Minister ought to get his figures correct. The Minister has been quibbling and has tried to put the blame on to the environmental inquiry. I pointed out to the House the other day that this is not so at all. Because the Minister for Minerals and Energy was not in the House at the time I asked the Prime Minister the following question:
Is the Prime Minister aware that the Managing Director of Santos Ltd has written to the Australian Gas Light Co. advising that its ability to maintain the 1 December 1974 target date for the completion of all planned facilities relating to this initial supply to Sydney will begin to slip as it has been necessary to terminate arrangements with the engineering contractors for detailed design and specifications . . . that this action was deemed necessary because the Minister for Minerals and Energy advised Santos Ltd during an interview that, until such time as the situation as to the ownership of the pipeline had been clarified, the consortium should not undertake any major capital investment?
– Why do you not quote the letter in full?
– I will quote it later on. I have also given a copy to the Prime Minister so that he could see this letter. So it is quite obvious that the Minister cannot blame the environmental inquiry.
Let me get back to the. amendment which has been proposed by the Senate. What the Senate is trying to do is see that the House of Representatives is given full documentation of the need for the building of any pipeline before it agrees to the expenditure of vast sums on that project.
– Why do you not have that?
– Well, we have not got it and we are trying to see that the Parliament is informed. I had a discussion with the Minister earlier and he said that any assessment that is made available to him will be made available to the Parliament. I hope that the Minister will confirm this because we have grave doubts. All that the Minister has done in some areas so far is to paint with a broad brush on a map 6,000 miles of pipeline which he says will be built by the Authority. We have grave doubts so far that many of these pipelines will be necessary. Until such time as there has been a full, responsible and thorough investigation and a feasibility study I think we have the right to ask whether these are necessary. For example, I pointed out that the Minister has said that he will be seeking to join Palm Valley and the south of the Northern Territory with Kalgoorlie and Perth. We know that Perth already has a supply of natural gas and that the cost of this additional back-up would be some $240m. Surely we are entitled to ask that before the Parliament agrees to an additional expenditure of this sort a full documentation of the assessment of the cost of providing the project, the need for it and of any other benefits that may be available from it, should be available. So, that is all we are trying to do. We are not trying to apply this amendment to the Gidgealpa pipeline because we know that it was properly costed and analysed by private enterprise. Therefore, perhaps the wording of the amendment which has been inserted by the Senate did not correctly convey the full meaning of the Opposition. We are not anxious to cause delays in the present scheme. The Senate amendment states:
No pipeline work exceeding in cost $2m shall be undertaken or constructed by the Authority unless and until it has been referred to the Public Works Committee. . . .
Perhaps it would have been better to have said ‘no project’ because one can see that if we say ‘pipeline work’ it could well be that every time an additional compressor pump or something of that sort was put in the matter would have to go to the Public Works Committee. What we intended to refer to was a project.
I would call the whole of the Gidgealpa to Sydney pipeline proposal, with its off-shoots to Albury, Wagga and Newcastle, one project and I would think there would be need for only one report to be made by the Public Works Committee. But I say to the Minister for Minerals and Energy that we must be convinced of the need for these things. So, will the Minister accept an amendment on the lines that, firstly, it does not apply until, say, after 1 December 1973 - which certainly would exclude the Gidgealpa pipeline - and, secondly, it applies only to the full project, not to every individual pipeline work that is being undertaken?
– The Senate amendment obviously must be unacceptable to this Committee. People have waited for some considerable time for a decision to be made regarding the distribution of natural gas. They have waited for the fulfilment of the program enunciated by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). It now has reached a stage, as the Minister has outlined to us this afternoon, where pipes have been bought and stored and arrangements have been made to commence this important distribution of Australian energy. Yet this afternoon we are facing a Senate amendment that can do nothing but hold up a decision that is vital to the distribution of natural gas.
In one case which came to my attention and about which I have written to the Minister, the Bathurst City Council in the near future will be compelled to build a new gas works unless the distribution of natural gas is speeded up. It is important, therefore, that the Parliament should now decide this matter once and for all and that the Senate should heed the responsible view of this House as expressed in earlier decision. Therefore, I put to the Committee that we should decide to proceed along the lines indicated by the Minister so that natural gas will be flowing at the earliest possible date and so that the benefits will be distributed throughout the region as proposed in the legislation.
Mr KEATING (Blaxland)- Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, in a classic display of intellectual dishonesty by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner). The honourable member for Stirling implied that during my speech on this Bill I said it was intended that the national Pipeline Authority would be a common carrier. My speech is reported at page 2195 of Hansard of 15 May 1973. The honourable member for Stirling should have read further, where I stated:
I think it would be foolhardy to restrict this Authority to the limits of an Act which do not allow it to purchase and sell gas.
Earlier in my speech I said:
The Authority will act as a primary reticulation authority . . . and -
. will purchase natural gas and will convey it to the city gate . . .
– The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) made a very good case indeed for not having an inquiry by the Public Works Committee into the building of a pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney. None of us is arguing with this. We realise that an examination of this proposal has taken place in great detail. I agree with the honourable member for Macquarie and the Minister that this would be a wrong use of the Public Works Committee. It would delay the proposal. But that is not the point of the Senate amendment. As indicated by the amendment suggested by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), the Senate amendment is asking for a Public Works Committee inquiry into future pipelines.
– Tell us why.
– I will tell you why, in the future, projects should be subject to Public Works Committee examination. The Public Works Committee has never been expected to have any great expertise in building or in the construction of aerodromes, for example; but it does give an opportunity for a problem to be exposed. I am glad to see the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) in the chamber. He was an adornment to that Committee for many years and he would be well aware of the value that comes from a Public Works Committee examination. The problems are exposed.
In this instance, the problems of the routes of the pipelines can be spelt out. The public can have an opportunity to present its case. There would not be one person in this chamber who would not accept that because of the operation of the Public Works Committee system we have had a much better understanding of the reasons for public works being constructed and the sites for them. Why should we not adopt this course in this case? I refer not to the pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney but to the future, when there will be great uncertainty in the public mind about the route of any particular pipeline. Why not have the problem exposed, allow the public to be reassured and allow an expression of opinion? I do not think anybody in this chamber who knows the traditions of the Public Works Committee would not accept that there would be a great deal of public acceptance and, indeed, understanding if that happened.
It has been said that authorities are not necessarily subject to inquiries by the Public Works Committee. This, however, is not a hard and fast rule. Only, I think, 2 years ago the Public Works Committee made an examination of a project put forward by the Port Authority in Darwin. It is a separate Authority, but it was thought proper to conduct a Public Works Committee inquiry because of the issues of public interest involved. I accept that the pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney should not go before the Committee because of the delay that would cause. All the eloquence of the Minister for Minerals and Energy was devoted to making that point. However, I cannot understand why he will not accept the amendment suggested by the honourable member for Farrer, namely, that in future the projects be examined by the Public Works Committee. The Parliament and the public would be better informed if that happened.
– In reply to the honourable members for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) and Wakefield (Mr Kelly), let me state the position briefly: As the honourable member for Wakefield said, the Gidgealpa to Sydney pipeline concept has been well assessed, but it so happens that even the proven reserves in Gidgealpa are not sufficient to meet the fully contracted obligations of the consortium. I have a letter from the Santos company, dated 25 May, in which it points out that the reserves are deficient in aggregate in view of the commitment to South Australia of 1.3 trillion cubic feet of gas. The logical corollary of this situation is for the company to extend the pipeline to Palm Valley, which was precisely what the Australian Gas Light Co. had in mind. As to the quibble about particular rights of the Public Works Committee, I refer honourable members to clause 25 of the Bill, which states:
The Authority may, with the approval of the Treasurer, borrow moneys . . . The Treasurer may, out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of this Act, make advances to the Authority of such amounts and on such terms as the Treasurer determines.
What more do you want than that?
– How about the first 2 subclauses? This is a fraud because you can borrow on the first 2 sub-clauses.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will cease interjecting.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. The Minister asked me what more I wanted than that and I told him that what he is saying is fraudulent.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order!
– It is quite simple. The matter must come before the Parliament on appropriation and there will be annual reports by the Authority to the Minister. In turn those reports will be tabled. There is to be a complete, adequate and even utter supervision by the Parliament of all the activities of the Authority. We are not prepared to accept any further amendment.
Amendment disagreed to.
– I move:
That the Senate amendment No. 2 be disagreed to.
Senate amendment No. 2 relates to the insertion of the proposed new clause 16a, which is referred to as the common carrier clause. In my own case, I stated that the Pipeline Authority would be in the position of a common carrier. I should have added that that would be in relation to a special contractual arrangement with the Australian Gas
Light Co. Ltd and for no other. That is the very essence of the arrangement which was entered into and which we will honour to the letter. The agreement has yet to be finalised, but it will be a matter of about 20 to 25 per cent of the capacity of the pipeline being allocated to the transmission of gas the property of the Australian Gas Light Co. Ltd.
– As one who has made it quite clear that he is not opposed to this concept of a national gas pipeline, I want to express a measure of dismay and apprehension that this Senate amendment is not acceptable to the Government. I think it is an apprehension which the people of Australia ought to share. The purposes of the Senate amendment were to prevent the possibility of the Pipeline Authority’s discriminating between one producer and another for any reason which seemed to be good to the Authority, and from perhaps ruining one producer and advantaging another with no recourse for those producers who felt that they were badly treated and, indeed, with no recourse to this Parliament because the Authority is apparently to be entirely autonomous. One of the main reasons for this amendment was to prevent this kind of discrimination. I do have dismay and apprehension that this is not an approach acceptable to the Government.
Another reason for it was to prevent a different kind of discrimination, that is, the charging of different prices to different producers for the use of a pipeline which should be available to all. That is another example of action which, taken by an authority outside the control of this Parliament, could very gravely damage the interests of particular producers who would have no recourse if their interests were so damaged. Indeed, the reasons given by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) in the speech he has just made for rejecting the amendments, or one of them, is that there would be a difficulty if various gases were mixed into the pipeline. There may be something in that. But does it mean, as one could come to the conclusion it means, that the only gas which will be transported through this pipeline is the gas that is bought by the Authority? If it is impossible to mix gases from the various producers, and particularly to separate them after they get to a processing plant, it would seem that we could be well entitled with some apprehension to believe that this will be not only a carrier pipeline but also the monopoly pipeline which will carry only fuel and gas bought by the Authority, except for the Australian Gas Light Co. Ltd’s gas. I believe that that would not be the proper way to use a national pipeline ring of which, in principle, I approve but which I think would be very badly used if it were used in this way.
There is another reason why I have apprehension about the refusal of the Government to accept this amendment. As the Bill stands it would be perfectly possible, particularly if the only gas to be transported were to be gas bought by the Authority, for the Authority to buy gas and transport it to the only processing plant somewhere in Australia - that gas being the Authority’s property - and process it there and export it, thereby getting for itself an export premium which ought to be available to the explorers and producers who found the gas field in the first place. These are all dangers which should be guarded against. If we do not have the numbers to see that they are guarded against here on this occasion and if the arguments we put forward fall on deaf ears, we will have a responsibility - there is a demand on us - to point out to the people of Australia and the producers in Australia that these hidden dangers do exist, to tell them that these problems are there and to give an undertaking that at the first opportunity we have to be a government again we will, while we are happy to continue the general concept, not be happy to continue a regime where individual producers - those who risked their capital to find the fields - are being discriminated against either one against the other or one against a Government owned authority that is not subject even to the Government.
– This is the most obnoxious of all the amendments to the Bill that were made by the Senate. It is one which defeats the intention of the Bill and seeks to have the national Pipeline Authority as merely a common carrier. The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) has just said that he supports the concept of the Bill. That is just humbug. The concept of the Bill is, as the Australian Labor Party said in its policy speech and as is contained in its platform, to provide for the transmission of natural gas by an interstate ring main to ensure continuity of supplies and uniformity pf price. It is not just a milking horse that is to be put there at enormous public expense so that private companies will have a cheap supply line to their markets. The Senate’s second amendment reads:
Listen to this - the Authority shall, subject to the capacity of its pipelines, be under obligation to accept petroleum at any point on its pipelines for delivery at any other point on its pipelines, and to charge for such service a fee which is not greater than -
What does the Opposition in the Senate think we are by forwarding this sort of amendment to the House of Representatives - lop lollies? It is just impertinence on the part of the Opposition in the Senate to use its numbers to defeat the provisions of a Bill for which the Government has the clear mandate of the people. This is one of the programs mentioned by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in his policy speech and one of the platforms upon which the Australian Labor Party was elected to office. We reject out of hand this amendment. We could not possibly reach any uniformity of price and rationality of supply if the Authority were to be at the whims of various producers along the line whose produce we were obliged to transmit in the pipeline. The whole concept of the buying and selling of gas is that we would operate as the New South Wales Electricity Commission operates; in other words, we would wholesale the natural gas in the same way as it wholesales electricity, and we would sell to every reticulation authority throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth gas at an equal price.
There are special provisions in the Bill for the Australian Gas Light Co. Ltd in relation to Gidgealpa-Sydney, because of the complexities of the situation, nevertheless the meaning of the provision and the totality of the concept of the Pipeline Authority requires it to acquire, transmit and sell natural gas at a uniform price. We will not be discriminating against producers. We will rationalise the supply. I do not know where the discrimination will be because the producers who supported the Liberal Party under a Liberal government will have access to the pipeline - anyone else will be left behind. The way that this is taken out of the control of the Parliament and put in the hands of a statutory corporation, which would rationalise the supply, would make sure that the price is uniform throughout Australia. The technical difficulties mentioned by the Minister about impurities - carbon dioxide, nitrogen and wet gas - being pumped into the line, are valid. The Government’s amendment seeks to overcome those problems by making sure that the Pipeline Authority is able to pump the gas it buys itself.
The stark, staring example which I mentioned earlier - I will not dwell upon it - is the Victorian situation. The Victorian people have been sold a pup. They are paying a price for the natural gas, but the producers in Victoria can offer to New South Wales consumers gas at two-thirds of that price. If this Authority comes into being, as envisaged in the original Bill, it will be able to supply all the people of Australia with gas at a reasonable price. The Government rejects the Senate’s amendment out of hand. It is impertinent of the Opposition in the Senate to propose these amendments and it is impertinent of the Liberal Party to suggest now that it will use its numbers in the Senate to defeat the amended Bill.
– I cannot help smiling at the reference by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) to impertinence. He mentioned as one of the justifications for the Government’s amendment that it would provide for a common price. I am certain that the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has not realised the significance of what he is doing. The natural advantage that Alice Springs, for instance, would have will disappear because the price will be the same in Sydney. There will be no inducement for someone to establish a plant at Alice Springs if gas is cheaper in Sydney.
– Are you saying that electricity should be dearer at Alice Springs?
– Gas should be cheaper at Alice Springs because Alice Springs will have a natural advantage but under this proposal it will be the same price in Sydney as it is in Alice Springs. Obviously the natural economic place to establish a plant to use the gas will then be Sydney. The Gidgealpa pipeline will be close to Port Augusta. The South Australian Premier has suggested the establishment of a petro-chemical plant at Port Augusta where there is a natural advantage, but this advantage will disappear and a!l the economic pressures will be for it to be located in Adelaide. Adelaide is much closer to Gidgealpa than is Sydney but gas will be available at the same price in both capital cities. What inducement is there for a real policy of decentralisation? I am certain that the Minister has not realised the significance of the step he has taken. All honourable members have been preaching a real policy of decentralisation. I was glad to see it coming to fruition but what the Minister has proposed inevitably will result in a movement towards centralisation. I notice that the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) is listening and revealing his usual intelligent interest in such matters. If the pipeline passes close to Bathurst the natural advantage that Bathurst would have will disappear because the price of gas will be the same in Sydney as in Bathurst. Such a proposal must act contrary to decentralisation.
Another aspect of the common carrier argument, which was tackled sensibly by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), is that one of the inevitable results will be that if a company is successful in finding gas yet knows that it has no right to get its gas into the system, and knows that the Authority can impose price conditions that make it unattractive, it must lose the incentive to go looking for gas. We are not trying to stop the Authority being formed; we just want to make certain that it will work in the way the Minister wants it to work. I issue the grim warning that there will be an inevitable barrier against searching for gas if people engaging in that risky exercise know that they will not be able to get their gas into the system. That is why we are putting this argument and I think it should be listened to with more respect.
– Briefly, in reply, I refer honourable members to paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1) of clause 13 which provides power to convey through the pipes operated by the Authority petroleum belonging to the Authority or to other persons. I think that is an adequate protection. Without reducing the Authority to the status of being a common carrier, it would enable any producer who felt he was being unfairly discriminated against to take the Authority to court by way of writ of mandamus to see he received a proper service. It is far better to have it that way than to have an arbitrary declaration of the pipeline as a common carrier as a matter of primacy. As for the rest of the argument, it becomes nothing more than a bare-faced attempt to grab a public enterprise for the purposes of private profit. I move:
That the question be now put.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I said that I was going to speak.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will resume his seat.
– The Minister has been saying things that are untrue and he will not allow anyone to answer him.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member for Mackellar will not intervene.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment disagreed to.
– I move:
In Senate amendment No. 3, omit the words ‘a Magistrate’s warrant for the purpose’, insert the words ‘a warrant from a Justice of the Peace authorizing him to enter upon the land, being a warrant granted after the Justice has been satisfied, by information on oath, that it is impracticable so to notify the occupier of the land within a reasonable time’.
My purpose in moving this amendment to the Senate’s amendment is that as it stands ‘Magistrate’, being spelt with a capital ‘M means that only a stipendary magistrate, which is a superior rank of the magistracy, can be approached for the purpose mentioned in the provision. This would cause intolerable delays because stipendary magistrates are located only in major centres of population throughout Australia. The amendment is designed to facilitate the Senate’s amendment and to allow a reasonable application to be made on oath and by information to a justice of the peace and the necessary warrant for entry to be sworn and taken out.
– The Opposition accepts the amendment. I am glad that the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has seen fit to move it in terms so close to the amendment inserted by the Senate and has realised the necessity for it.
Amendment to Senate’s amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Mr Connor) proposed:
That Senate’s amendment No. 3, as amended, be agreed to.
– Again I thank the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) for having accepted this amendment. I am sure that having looked closely at it, it was the correct thing to do. I am glad that the Government has had an open mind and has accepted the amendment.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Motion (by Mr Connor) agreed to:
That Senate’s amendment No. 4 be agreed to.
Motion (by Mr Connor) proposed:
That the report be adopted.
– In speaking to the motion, I want to point out the conduct of the Government during the Committee stage. On 2 occasions the gag was moved-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes>Order! The honourable member will be out of order if he debates the proceedings of the Committee at this stage.
– I beg your pardon, Mr Deputy Speaker; I think you are wrong there.
-The honourable member will be out of order if he debates the proceedings of the Committee.
– Would you be good enough to refer me to your authority?
-The motion before the Chair is: ‘That the report be adopted’. The honourable member can debate the question whether the report should be adopted by the House, but he cannot debate matters which already have been debated in Committee.
– No, Sir. I am proposing to refer to matters which were not debated in Committee.
– That also will be out of order.
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member that the decisions made by the Committee or the decisions made by this House are the decisions of the Committee or of the House. If the honourable member wants to oppose the motion That the report be adopted’, he has a perfect right to do so; but he has no right whatsoever to revive the debate in the Committee. He cannot refer to debates that have taken place already.
– With all respect, I do not intend to do so. What I want to do is to refer to the fact that things were not debated in the Committee stage. That is quite a different question. It is a very good reason why the report should not be adopted.
-Order! If the honourable member persists in informing the House that he intends to revive the debate in the Committee stage, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat. He may debate the question before the Chair; that is the only matter that he may debate.
– To revive a debate is the last thing I would want to do. What I want to do is to point out that at no time has the Government answered the substantial questions involved in this report. At no time has the Government told us that the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) said in his second reading speech that the Pipeline Authority would have the role of a common carrier. Now, in this report, why does the Government refuse to accept as part of the Bill what already has been stated as policy in the Minister’s second reading speech? This is beyond comprehension. Surely this illustrates some bad faith on the part of the Government. If the Government were honest in regard to this, it would accept in the Bill the things which were stated in its second reading speech. As I said a moment ago, the Minister has blown his own cover because in his speech in this House he made it very clear that when he said-
-Order! I suggest that the honourable gentleman is out of order in reflecting on the decisions of the House.
– I am not reflecting on them - not for a moment.
-The honourable gentleman is reflecting on the decision of the House. He is questioning the decisions that the Bill be read a second time and that the Bill be read a third time. What we are debating now is a report of the Committee which has considered motions relating to amendments from the Senate plus one additional matter. We are not debating the second reading speech and we are not debating the original decision of this House to convey the Bill to the Senate. Any suggestion that the passage of this Bill through the House was other than a proper procedure is out of order. That is well covered by Standing Orders.
– Indeed, Sir; but I would like to put an elementary fact before you. The fact is that the House has not considered this question. This is a matter of the report from the Committee to the House, and the House now is considering this report for the first time. In no respect am I trying to canvass a decision of the House, because there has been no decision of the House. The House is capable of criticising the report of its Committee. That is why the report of the Committee is brought before the House, and for no other reason. The way in which you are ruling, Sir - I say this with no disrespect for the Chair - shows a very poor appreciation of parliamentary procedure,
-Order! If the honourable gentleman is not satisfied with my rulings he knows what he can do about them.
– This matter has not been before the House. The report is before the House for the first time.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is canvassing my ruling. All of the matters contained in this Bill, with the exception of the motion which was introduced, have been before this House and have been debated. They passed through this House on a previous occasion. The honourable gentleman was reflecting on the original decision of the House to pass this Bill on to the Senate.
– No, Sir, I am not. I am trying to speak to the report of the Committee, which is before the House.
– That is correct; but the honourable gentleman is not doing so.
– Because it is before the House for the first time, I am able to criticise what has gone on in Committee. It is before the House for the first time. I am not reflecting on any decision of the House. The House has made no decision about the proceedings of the Committee. However, Sir, I suggest that you might read the Standing Orders and practices. In the meantime, I shall sit down while you study your duties.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw those remarks. Clearly, they are a reflection on the Chair.
– Well, Sir, if you do not want to study them, do not let me ask you to do so. I withdraw those remarks.
-I suggest that the honourable gentleman study his own speech when it appears in Hansard. Then he will know where he referred to the previous passage of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Connor) agreed to: That Mr Keating, Mr Jacobi and the mover be appointed a committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to Senate amendments Nos 1 and 2.
– On behalf of the Committee appointed to draw up the reasons for the House disagreeing to Senate amendments Nos 1 and 2, I present those reasons. They have been circulated to honourable members and, with the concurrence of the House, I incorporate them in Hansard. (The reasons read as follows) -
Reason for disagreeing to Senate Amendment No. 1
The Australian Gas Light Company has entered into a Letter of Agreement, operative from October 1972, with a consortium of natural gas producing companies at Gidgealpa in the Cooper Basin of South Australia to purchase supplies for its use under its statutory franchise at Sydney. To transmit the gas it established a subsidiary company. East Aust. Pipeline Corporation Limited, whose share capital it wholly owns, and which has already obtained the necessary feasibility study and technical advice and costing to pursue the construction of the pipeline, and has entered into various contracts for that purpose. The said company also entered into a contract with Mitsubishi (Australia) Pty Ltd for the supply of 206,000 tons of 34 inch diameter pipes for the construction of the pipeline. The said company has assigned to the Commonwealth of Australia the benefit of its pipe contract and a substantial proportion of the pipes have been delivered to the custody of the Commonwealth of Australia, and a sum of about $7m paid by it for them.
To permit of the construction of the first stage of its national pipeline project, and to also supply to Australian Gas Light Company its natural gas from the Gidgealpa consortium, the Commonwealth of Australia is acquiring the shares of East Aust. Pipeline Corporation Limited, so that it may assume the responsibilities and receive the benefits of that company’s contractual arrangements, feasibility studies and technology.
The Commonwealth is also entering into an appropriate contract with Australian Gas Light Company to transmit by the proposed pipeline its contracted supplies of gas from the Gidgealpa consortium.
Under the terms of its contract with the Gidgealpa consortium, Australian Gas Light Company is obliged to complete construction of the pipeline and accept delivery of gas for transmission within 2i years from the date of the contract. The nine members of the Gidgealpa consortium will be committed to the expenditure of S330m for the necessary refining and processing plant, of which $130m must be spent to synchronise with the completion of the pipeline. $ loom of this money must be obtained by bank accommodation on stringent terms, contingent on the early commencement and completion of the pipeline.
Completion of construction has been already delayed for four months, pending completion of an Environmental Impact Inquiry constituted by the Government of Nev/ South Wales, and consideration by that Government of its recommendations.
Members of the Gidgealpa consortium are being increasingly obliged to continue operations on borrowed funds, at high rates of interest, pending completion of the pipeline.
Tenders have already been called for the supply of the necessary pipeline gate valves, and the continued employment of 600 men in foundries at Melbourne and Ballarat are dependent on the allocation of the contract to them.
Mr James Donald, who will be the Executive Member of the Pipeline Authority, is in a position to call tenders within three weeks of publication of the recommendations of the Environmental Impact Inquiry, and can award the necessary contract within fifteen weeks thereafter, and commence construction in 27 weeks. The completion of the construction will be either 85 or 110 weeks, dependent on the final route recommended by the Environmental Impact Inquiry.
The Australian Gas Light Company is the oldest and most experienced company in gas production and pipeline engineering in Australia, and, prior to the arrangement with the Commonwealth was proceeding to construction in accordance with the feasibility study and the cost estimates associated therewith. Consequently the construction involves the substitution of the Commonwealth as constructing authority for the project, taking over from Australian Gas Light Company through ownership of East Australia Pipeline Corporation Limited, under an arrangement whereby the Commonwealth would stand in the shoes of Australian Gas Light Company Limited, who would not be disadvantaged by the Commonwealth assumption of responsibility.
In these circumstances, the proposed investigation by the Public Works Committee would result in delay and serious financial loss to all parties concerned, and would only confirm the already established economic and commercial viability of the project.
No other statutory authority, constituted and functioning under Commonwealth legislation, has been subjected to the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act, as would result under the terms of the Senate amendment.
Reason for disagreeing to Senate Amendment No. %
Clause 16a would reduce the Pipeline Authority to the status of a common carrier, and substitute public investment for what would otherwise be a substantial private obligation to invest in its own pipeline.
The Senate amendment, imposing the obligation on the Authority to accept petroleum at any point on Its pipelines, for delivery to any other point on such pipelines, would completely frustrate operation of the pipeline by the Pipeline Authority, and in particular its powers under Clause 13 to buy and sell natural gas on its own account.
The objective of the Government is to establish a national pipeline grid for the transmission of natural gas at a uniform price, and ensuring continuity of supply.
Each Australian producer of natural gas claiming its rights from the Pipeline Authority as a common carrier could set up a rival and excessive pricing structure, according to its whim and belief as to what maximum return it could obtain.
In its conduct of the pipeline, the Authority would need to regulate most carefully the British thermal content of the natural gas which varies greatly from the different Australian production basins.
The entry of natural gas into the pipeline without power to enforce the removal of undesirable associated gases would also produce chaos in the system. With the unregulated commingling of natural gas on a common carrier basis, rival producers would seek to pass through the pipeline gas with such a wide variety of impurities that it would be impossible to ascertain and enforce a common pricing structure, and uniformity of quality for consumers.
– I move:
That the committee’s reasons be adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Connor) agreed to:
That, in the message returning the Bill to the Senate, the Senate be requested to reconsider the Bill in respect of the amendment made by the House of Representatives to clause 13.
Debate resumed from 24 May (vide page 2652), on the following paper presented by Mr Whitlam:
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement - 24 May 1973 - and on motion by Mr Enderby:
That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Parramatta speaking for a period not exceeding 43 minutes.
– The first concern that I wish to express, in debating the statement on foreign policy made last Thursday by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), is that far too large a proportion of it was couched in vague generalities. The Prime Minister spoke of his intention of developing more constructive, flexible and progressive approaches. He says that an approach to foreign policy which is solely an extension of defence policy is bad and he will avoid that. The fact that this has never been anyone’s approach in the past does not seem to trouble him. He says that the Government’s policy rests on the belief that Australia is well placed to make a serious contribution to the preservation of peace and the promotion of the welfare of our neighbours while at the same time and by the same path promoting her own interests and security. There are pages of this stuff. It is like saying that our policy is to make everybody healthy, wealthy and wise. One could hardly disagree with the sentiment but it is a sentiment, not a policy.
In a foreign policy statement in this House honourable members are entitled to hear specific policies and courses of action which the Government has followed and intends to follow. It is the right of the Australian people to hear this in a major foreign policy statement. We are entitled to be told the objectives and the means to be adopted to attain those objectives in our relations with other countries. This has been the practice in the past. I regret to say that this statement falls far short in this respect. These particular sections of it could have been written by any recent, competent university graduate who had studied political science but who had had no experience whatever of foreign policy. On a few occasions the Prime Minister condescended to give us some detail. One such occasion was in his reference to the recognition of the People’s Republic of China. This is a step with which most Australians agree. But a large body of Australians is in disagreement with the way in which the Labor Government has treated our longstanding friend and valued trading partner, Taiwan.
Many Australians are disturbed at the concern, approaching dismay, which has been stirred in many of the capitals of South East Asia. In Bangkok, Singapore, Djakarta and to a lesser extent perhaps in Kuala Lumpur and Manila there has arisen a questioning and an uncertainty about Australia’s future intentions. The reasons for this concern include not only the headlong nature of the rush to reach Peking but also the recognition of Hanoi while the ink on the agreement for a cease-fire was hardly dry. It includes also the invitation to the Vietcong to visit Australia and their entertainment here by senior members of the Government. They are, after all, a body dedicated to the overthrow of a friendly government of a country with which we have diplomatic relations and beside whose people our men have recently been fighting. The eagerness to carry Australia into the so-called Third World, so often expressed if somewhat moderated in the Prime Minister’s statement, has added to the uncertainty of our neighbours about Australia.
The Prime Minister gave less than due credit to the progress which the previous Government had initiated and advanced towards normalisation of relations with China and the extent to which the previous Government had factually recognised China in its dealings. Trade was substantial. Last year we had substantial orders for sugar, steel, wheat and other products. We had an order for $50m for wheat. The movement of persons was free - at all events from our end. Perhaps Mr Francis James might have some reservations. But Australia and the People’s Republic of China both had embassies in capitals such as Paris, Cairo and Belgrade. We both had missions at United Nations. In New York in October last year I had a useful talk with the leader of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations who was then serving his term as Chairman of the Security Council. China subsequently supported us in our election to the Security Council. I believe that had the Liberal-Country Party been returned to government we would have recognised the People’s Republic of China in a relatively short time - perhaps within a year. But we had not given away our negotiating position in advance, as the Prime Minister did during his visit to Peking.
The Prime Minister has said in this House that the formula he secured with China was the same as the Canadian formula. This is not so. Canada simply noted China’s position regarding Taiwan; Australia was required to acknowledge it. There is more than a semantic difference between noting a claim and acknowledging it. We would have negotiated better terms regarding Taiwan, as Japan did, and we would have acted in consultation with our South East Asian neighbours, with whom we had been discussing the matter for some time. The blow to our trade with Taiwan has been substantial. There are difficulties in obtaining visas, difficulties in trading, and trade has been reduced. Any increase in our trade with the People’s Republic of China will, in turn, have to be substantial if it is even to make good the ground which has been lost. As I have said, I believe that most Australians consider that the formal recognition of the People’s Republic of China was right. But most Australians also believe that the Labor Government has treated our friend and trading partner - Taiwan - in a shabby fashion. The approach of the previous Government was cautious but at least it had integrity and consistency. There is an air of selfcongratulation and exaggeration in the Prime Minister’s remarks on this subject.
One policy presented with a flourish and some air of novelty is what the Prime Minister describes as a ‘resources policy’. It is, of course, true that a country must make a careful and continuing assessment of its natural resources and its own needs now and for the future. Also it must assess the relationship of its resources to those of other countries. To a considerable extent this work had been done under the previous Government. A draft White Paper had been prepared. It was not finalised or laid upon the table of this House for a number of reasons which need not be expounded here. This is an extremely complex field where projections of the extent and significance of resources for any length of time ahead are constantly falsified by fresh discoveries and by advances in technology. The previous Government had also made particular studies in regard to resources and resources policy. For example, the study of resources was one of the subjects which occupied the attention of the joint AustraliaJapan Ministerial Committee which met in Canberra last year. The then Minister for National Development joined the Deputy Prime Minister and myself in these discussions with the 5 Japanese Ministers who visited Australia. As was pointed out in the communique, a joint study by officials of both countries in relation to resources policy was decided upon.
But apart from his overlooking of the historical facts insofar as they might be favourable to the previous Government - after all, I suppose this is politics - the Prime Minister advanced as a new idea the use of natural resources as a weapon of international political influence. Apparently we are in for a period of resources diplomacy. I read a suggestion in the Press this morning that the successful renegotiation of iron ore contracts with the Japanese, to which the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) contributed, is an illustration of resources diplomacy. Of course, this is nonsense. This re-negotiation was purely a commercial exercise, as the Minister for Minerals and Energy himself has been at pains to point out. The Minister also stated flatly that the transaction with the Japanese was not an exercise in resources diplomacy. I congratulate the Minister on the success of his contribution to the negotiations and also on his frankness. A true example of resources diplomacy would rather be the action of the People’s Republic of China in assigning political reasons for its refusal to purchase wheat from Australia during 1971. This was resources diplomacy operating in reverse. It was done to bring political pressure on Australia at a time when China was seeking admission to the United Nations.
The deliberate use of the economic weapon in iinternational politics can be a hazardous exercise. Of course, our growing economic strength and standing in international affairs under the previous Government contributed to the importance of our voice in international affairs. We were invited to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We became a member of the Committee of Twenty dealing with international monetary policy, and so on. But the proposal to mix economics with international politics is a different proposition. After all, the world is far from short of many of the minerals of which we have a supply. Japan, for example, regards us as an attractive source and supplier of its iron ore requirements and it does so for 3 reasons. First, our ore is of high quality. Secondly, the distance between us is relatively short. Thirdly, we have or at least until now had, been regarded as a politically stable country. If the offering or withholding of iron ore is to be dictated on political and not on economic grounds the third element which has contributed to our position favourably - that is, confidence in our political responsibility - will disappear. We will cease to be an attractive or reliable source and prudence will then inevitably dictate that Japan increase its endeavours to find other sources of supply. There are many possible suppliers. Japan might look more to Brazil, to India, to Russia, to China. One result may be that by mixing politics with economics we finish up damaging our industries, discouraging investment of capital and effort, putting men out of work and slowing down our development. Perhaps the Prime Minister does not really mean us to use resources diplomacy in any practical way. Perhaps it is just a matter of giving a new trendy, high sounding name to what we already do and, in effect, is merely the expression of a hope that he personally can do it a little better.
I come now to some of the particular matters referred to by the Prime Minister in his statement. The first of these is his series of references to the United States. One can only confess to listening to him with a growing feeling of disbelief that what he said truly represented his own views, let alone the views of the Australian Labor Party. Certainly his remarks ran counter to known and declared Labor policy and were the opposite of many previous statements. The Prime Minister has been a bitter critic of previous Prime Ministers who have praised American Presidents. Now, is his statement at least, if not elsewhere, he almost leads the field. Why? Is he sincere or is he opportunist? Certainly his Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), his Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and his Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) have taken quite a different view, and have not hesitated to express it in the most insulting terms. The Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has also offered a laboured insult to America, saying only 3 things are certain - death, taxes and the devaluation of the American dollar. The Prime Minister’s own real real views were revealed in the answers to questions this week in the House. First I asked him in this House about Dr Wilenski’s meeting with Dr Kissenger. He simply could not resist the temptation to intrude into his reply a slighting reference to Mr Haldeman and Mr Ehrlichman. Again, yesterday in answer to a question in the House he made remarks advising that the President would not be in such a parlous condition, as he put it, if only he held Press conferences in Washington like the Australian Prime Minister holds in Australia. These remarks can only be interpreted as a gratuitous insult to the President and Administration of the United States.
In his statement the Prime Minister spoke of the United States as ‘our great ally’. His practice in the past has been to ridicule
Liberal-Country Party Ministers who used such phrases. I do not think there is a member sitting in the House, excluding the new members, who will not recall attempts made to turn such phrases as ‘our great and powerful friend* into terms of ridicule and contempt. Why has the Prime Minister changed? Is he sincere? Has he suddenly left his comrades? Then he spoke of ANZUS. He said:
The maintenance of our alliance with the United States under ANZUS remains most important for our security.
It could be a Liberal Minister speaking. Every member of this House knows it is not Labor policy. Why did he say it? Every member knows that the Australian Labor Party changed its policy on ANZUS at its conference in Launceston. Prior to that Conference it was stated in the Labor Party platform that ANZUS was crucial. At that conference this reference was removed from the platform. At that Conference bitter criticism was made of ANZUS because it was a military alliance with the United States. Following a plea by the Prime Minister to the Conference that he did not want an intolerable burden placed upon him to carry into an election, a rather bland resolution was passed. A statement was left in the platform about making ANZUS an instrument for justice and peace and political, social and economic advancement in the Pacific area. That is the actual policy of the Labor Government. According to Labor’s policy at the present time ANZUS, as we know it, is to be converted into a kind of human rights convention. The military heart is to be surgically removed.
Mr Bill Hartley, a member of the ALP Federal Executive, was so moved by the Prime Minister’s statement in this House regarding the maintenance of ANZUS that he quickly moved to correct any wrong impression which may have been created by the Prime Minister. He was interviewed on Channel 9’s current affairs program ‘Federal File’ last weekend. The commentator introduced Mr Hartley after referring to the forthcoming ALP Conference in July, saying:
Socialist Left spokesman Bill Hartley says the socialist Left now has the numbers to start breaking our American Alliance.
Mr Bill Hartley during the interview said:
I think the Socialist Left will eventually be success ful In getting a non-aligned policy and that would, of course, mean the end of ANZUS.
I recall a speech given to the AustralianAmerican Association last year by the then Labor spokesman for Foreign Affairs, now the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison), who is sitting at the table. He will recall that in that speech he bitterly attacked ANZUS. His speech was completely the opposite of one which I made at that time in Sydney arguing the very proposition now put by the Prime Minister that ANZUS should be maintained. Take the question of United States bases in Australia. For years, the Prime Minister and his Party have been bitter critics of these bases. Now he refers to them in his statement in terms which broadly correspond with the policy of the previous LiberalCountry Party Government, except for some slight reservations about the North-West Cape signals station. One almost wonders whether the Prime Minister may not be feeling so insecure against the pressure of the left wing of his Party that he is feeling his way towards the possibility of a national coalition in case some crisis should occur within his own Party. Only time will tell.
Another feature of the Government’s policy is its eagerness to seek for Australia observer status at the next non-aligned conference in Algiers later this year under the sponsorship of Yugoslavia. There have been 3 non-aligned heads of state and government conferences. The first was in Belgrade in September 1961, then at Cairo in October 1964 and the next at Lusaka in Zambia in 1970. There was also a conference of Foreign Ministers of nonaligned countries in Georgetown, Guyana, in August 1972.
Yugoslavia, which had its own reasons arising from the situation in Europe, was one of the main sponsors of the first conference, to which it was host in Belgrade. It has continued to be one of the moving forces and the conference in Zambia probably could not have taken place without its active support. Apart from the question which inevitably arises in view of the recent difficulties with Yugoslavia over the incident of the execution of 3 Australian citizens in that country, about having that country as our sponsor, 2 other questions arise. The first is whether there is not an irreconcilable inconsistency between our attendance at such a conference as an observer on the one hand and on the other hand our maintenance of ANZUS and the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the continuance of American bases in Australia, including the North West Cape signal station. The Prime Minister has sought to gloss over this inconsistency. But even Mr Bill Hartley, as he made clear on his weekend television interview, could spot the inconsistency at once.
The attempt by the Prime Minister to gain observer status at the non-aligned conference suggests that Mr Hartley’s assessment of the general direction in which Australia’s foreign policy is moving and will continue to move may be a more frank and realistic assessment on this particular issue. The second question relates to our relations with our northern neighbours. The Prime Minister’s actions and statements again evidences his lack of understanding or concern for the sensitivities of those countries. The non-aligned conference has shown little regard for the interests of South East Asian countries. It will be remembered that the delegates of Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos walked out of the Georgetown Conference of August 1972. Singapore, whilst raising objections, did not walk out. These considerations suggest that before conducting this exercise with his guest Mr Bijedec, the Prime Minister might have been well advised to have conulted at least with Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. If he did so, he has made no mention of it.
The Prime Minister in his statement has gone a little soft on his plan for a greater Asian regional association. He said in his statement: . it will be a slow and delicate growth.
At the Summer School of The Australian Institute of Political Science held in January of this year the Prime Minister put this idea forward with some panache. The association was to include the Peoples Republic of China. He announced that he would consult with Indonesia and Japan. The Prime Minister appeared to be about to enter upon the scene and solve the outstanding problems of the region. Others have put forward similar schemes regarding regional associations and areas of neutrality in Asia - not least Soviet Russia and India. Even in my speech to the United Nations General Assembly on behalf of Australia in 1971, I stressed the importance of regional associations and cooperation in this area. But the Prime Minister’s way of handling his plan has reflected this same lack of understanding of Asian thinking and Asian sensitivities, which is disturbing when found in an Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
In mentioning that he would consult with Indonesia and Japan he failed to take account of India’s views regarding its role in Asia, or, indeed, of the fact that it is not so long since India was defending itself against troops of the People’s Republic of China.
When visiting Indonesia to discuss his plan he followed his usual practice of first announcing his views through the Press and he failed to take account of the remembrance which Indonesians have of Peking’s relationship to the bloody events of 1965 in their country. The Indonesians lacked enthusiasm for his methods or his plan and the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Adam Malik was stirred to administer a mild public rebuke. With India the previous government had established a good and confident relationship. Its actions following the IndiaPakistan War in organising recognition of the new State of Bangladesh, its ready and effective help during the time that the refugees presented such a problem for India and its economy, and the cordial talks which I had with Mrs Ghandi and with the Indian Foreign Minister, Mr Swaran Singh, during my visit as Foreign Minister to New Delhi last year, all contributed to the strength of this relationship.
I only hope that when the Prime Minister visits New Delhi early in June he will be able to repair some of the damage that has been done. It is no answer for the Prime Minister to say, as he did in response recently to a question about this matter in this House, that he has received cordial communication from Mrs Ghandi. This is customary with incoming Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers. Convention would require no less. It is irrelevant to the matter I have raised. With Malaysia and Singapore too, with whom the previous government had established a close understanding and relationship, especially by reason of our entry into the Five Power Arrangements, our relationship has now become clouded. The backing and filling of the Labor Government and some of its Ministers over the Five Power Arrangements and the Prime Minister’s extraordinary statement that it was necessary to keep 600-odd troops in Singapore in order to conceal the presence of an Australian spy unit there, which he thereby publicly revealed, has made Australia look ridiculous and has reduced our reputation and standing in those 2 countries.
His gratuitous advice to Thailand regarding ridding themselves of the presence of American armed forces in that country has caused resentment there. Even in the case of PapuaNew Guinea, the sound relationship established by the previous Government, valuably contributed to by the previous Minister for External Territories, Mr Andrew Peacock, has been shaken by the marked insensitivity shown in their dealings with the Territory by the present Minister for External Territories, Mr Morrison, and the Minister for Transport, Mr Charles Jones. The Minister for External Territories seems more in haste to obtain Australian independence from Papua New Guinea than he is in helping the Territory in a responsible way to attain its own independence. However, since the Chief Minister, Mr Somare, has been rude to him, the Minister for Shipping and Transport seems to have repaired some of the damage done by his ham-fisted method of dealing with the question of Papua New Guinea’s airline. The risk is that the way the present Government is handling the question of Papua-New Guinea may place strains upon the Territory’s Ministers, including the Chief Minister, which may prove almost too much for them to bear.
No-one should underrate the continuing importance to Australia of a strong, friendly and united Papua New Guinea. All this doctrinaire talk of getting rid of colonialism is, in present circumstances, so much nonsense. New Guinea is not a colony. It was a mandated territory under the League of Nations; it is now trust territory under the United Nations. We must discharge our trust in a proper way. The Government is developing a habit of reminding us that we live in a multi-polar world. The Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, referred to this yesterday in his defence statement. I would not disagree with that description, although the balance of power in our region is not easy to assess because the poles are of different orders of magnitude and of interest. But the conclusions which the Government draws from this new multi-polarity and the reduction of tension which has followed from the visits of the President of the United States to Peking and Moscow are dangerously simplistic. The conclusion that we may now relax is quite unproven. Indeed, an alternative view is that the new multi-polar conditions contain the seeds of new possible conflicts of interest; that the new balance is precarious; and, that the causes of tension have not yet been removed. Whichever view proves to be correct, one thing is clear. In the present situation we need to be extremely careful. Sir, I believe and certainly I hope that the period of the Cold War is now behind us. All the peoples of the world must be glad, as we are, that the period of confrontation has been superseded by a period of negotiation. Detente is wonderful.
But if I may adapt some words from an article in the ‘Economist’ in May last year, about the time of President Nixon’s visit to Moscow, there is at present insufficient evidence for us to conclude finally that the ideological war of the twentieth century is ready to follow the wars on religion into history just yet. And the position is complicated. In a worried world there is a seductive attraction in the belief held by some that Marxism might have something to offer, if only it could get over the totalitarian organisational concept of Leninism and the aberrations of Stalinism. In our situation I believe that we have to make every effort to establish international contact and international accord. May I remind the House that while I was Foreign Minister we substantially improved our relations with Soviet Russia - and I recall a most useful conversation with Mr Gromyko, the Foreign Minister of that country. We established diplomatic relations with the communist States of Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Mongolian People’s Republic. We supported a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly to admit the People’s Republic of China though, as is known, we opposed the simultaneous expulsion of our friend Taiwan. I believe we must press forward with our efforts to improve international contact and international accord. This direction of policy in the Prime Minister’s statement is in line with our own. But in doing so we must never allow our foreign policy to be dictated simply by a priori assumption or rigid ideological convictions whichever party is in power in Australia. We must look at the realities and remember that those who will not learn from history may be condemned to repeat it.
I pass now to a different topic. The Minister for Defence in his statement yesterday referred to the strategic assessment that no direct threat to Australia was seen as being likely for the next 10 years. Sir, this proposition was first advanced a couple of years ago, yet those who mention it continually move the period of 10 years forward. The proposition when first advanced referred, as I understood it then and as I understand it now, to the threat of direct intrusion upon Australian soil. Some people loosely tend to take it as referring to threats of any kind. I believe there is much sense in the comment made, I believe by Dr Millar, that it is not threats but situations from which threats may arise at which Australia should be looking. History shows that the threats to Australia which have arisen in recent years have not been clearly seen 10 years in advance but have developed inside that time scale.
As to the importance of looking at situations rather than looking at threats let me mention just 2 illustrations. If the recent Moslem uprising which occurred in the country to the north of us had gained Moslem support in the 2 other countries from which it was sought, this would have involved implications for Australia. Again, if Papua New Guinea after independence became fragmented and if, for example, Bougainville separated and approaches to Bougainville were made by some great power for the concession of a naval base in return for aid, this again could have implications for Australia. These are situations, not threats. But they are situations which do not involve any 10 year time scale, and it would be wrong to ignore them. The lesson is that this is not the time for us to relax into an ideological or theoretical dreamtime in foreign affairs or defence. We should be cautious, prudent and far sighted. Above all, we should look the facts squarely in the face.
I realise the pressures upon the Minister for External Territories, who is seated at the table, and upon the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has to carry heavy burdens for the Australian people at the present time, as does anyone who occupies the office of Prime Minister. But his statement does nothing to allay the fears of those who believe that the burden of the 2 portfolios - that of the Minister for Foreign Affairs as well as that of Prime Minister - are too much for one man. Indeed, the very elements of knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence - some would say over-confidence - which induced him to take upon himself these 2 burdens themselves carry the seeds of danger. Sir, we should never be content to see Australian foreign affairs in the hands of anyone who by reason of his position as Prime Minister is inevitably under pressure - beyond that on any other Ministerto be concerned with rhetoric for domestic consumption and with domestic public relations or subject to excessive temptation to cut a figure on the world stage. Foreign policy at the present time is too important to us for this. It demands a full-time, quiet and prudent consideration of the complex, deep and abiding interests and responsibilities of Australia in our relations with the other countries of the world.
Debate (on motion by Mr Morrison) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Mr Uren) agreed to:
That the amendments be taken into consideration forthwith in Committee of the Whole.
Consideration of Senate amendments.
Clause 3. « « * o « « *
Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the words -
Part II - The National Urban and Regional Development Authority (sections’ 5-14).’ and substituting the words-
Part U - The Cities Commission (sections 5-14).’.
Section 4 of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section substituted:
The heading to Part II of the Principal Act is repealed and the following heading substituted:
Part II - The Cities Commission’.
Section 14 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (1) and substituting the following sub-section -
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 -
Senate amendment No. 1 -
In clause 1, leave out sub-clause (1), insert the following sub-clause:
This Act may be cited as the Cities and Regional Development Commission Act 1973.’.
Senate amendment No. 2 -
In clause I, sub-clause (3), leave out ‘Cities Commission Act 1972-1973’, insert ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission Act 1972-1973.
Senate amendment No. 3 -
In clause 3, line 12, leave out ‘Cities Commission’, insert ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission’.
Senate amendment No. 4 -
In clause 4, line 5, leave out ‘Part II - The Cities Commission (sections 5-14)’, insert ‘Part II - The Cities and Regional Development Commission (sections 5-14)’.
Senate amendment No. 5 -
In clause 5, line II, leave out ‘Commission’ means the Cities Commission established by this Act:’, insert Commission’ means the Cities and Regional Development Commission established by this Act;’.
Senate amendment No. 6 -
In clause 6, line 19, leave out ‘Part II- The Cities Commission’, insert ‘Part II- The Cities and Regional Development Commission’.
Senate amendment No. 7 -
In clause 7, in proposed section 5.(1), leave out Cities Commission Act 1973 - ‘, insert ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission Act 1973 - ‘.
Senate amendment No. 8 -
In clause 7 in paragraph (a) proposed section 5 (1) leave out ‘Cities Commission’, insert ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission’.
Senate amendment No. 9 -
In clause 11, in proposed sub-section (1) of section 14 leave out ‘Cities Commission Advisory Committee’, insert ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission Advisory Committee’.
Senate amendment No. 10 -
In clause 13, sub-clause (2), leave out ‘Cities Commission Advisory Committee’, insert ‘Cities and Regional Development Commission Advisory Committee’.
Senate amendment No. 1 1 -
In clause 14 leave out ‘Cities Commission’, insert Cities and Regional Development Commission’.
– I move:
That the amendments be disagreed to.
The Cities Commission is an independent arm of the Department of Urban and Regional Development. The Cities Commission as an arm of the Department will be concerned with cities, old and new. It will be concerned with new cities in regions. The Cities Commission will assist the promotion of regional development by the establishment of new cities. A major role of the Cities Commission will be to go out to State governments and local government bodies as a promoter of better ways of achieving urban and regional development. The name ‘Cities Commission’ provides a sharp focus for its activities and one which gives it a separate identity from the Department. The suggested amendment would leave the Commission with a lengthy and cumbersome title and one which would cause the Commission and the Department to be confused.
– The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has not accepted the Senate’s amendment which seeks to change the name of the Cities Commission to the Cities and Regional Development Commission. I find this hard to understand because I believe this was a very practical and sensible alteration. It is one that the Government could well have accepted in order to give the sort of connotation that the Minister has been expressing for some time with respect to regional development and decentralisation. Unless the Government, or for that matter any government, approaches the problem of decentralisation or regional development in a comprehensive fashion so that we get a comprehensive approach to the problems of our major cities, principally Melbourne and Sydney, and the need to try to build up the population in some of the centres that have an inherent growth capacity - centres such as Orange and Bathurst, which has been named, and also Dubbo, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour and perhaps Griffith in time to come - I believe we will not make a real impact on the total problem of regional development.
I would have thought that the Government would see the wisdom in giving to the statutory body a name which would imply the real, or what should be the real, intention of the Minister and the Government. The body proposed in this legislation will need to take into account the needs of the major cities of Australia, the need to make those cities more attractive and more livable and also the need to achieve a more comprehensive spread of population if the whole expensive exercise is to be of value to the people of Australia. The Bill which was introduced by the former Government to establish the National Urban and Regional Development Authority was bailed by people on this side of the House and people outside of the House as the most significant step that had been taken by any government in Australia to try to alter the trend of ulgy development in Australia. Of course, the whole philosophy behind the move at that time was to try to approach the problem on a comprehensive scale.
I am disappointed that the Minister and the Government have not seen fit to accept what I thought was a very constructive amendment. The Senate’s amendment simply proposes to change the name from the Cities Commission to the Cities and Regional Development Commission. I cannot see why the Government does not want to accept this as a fair name, as a name that would give the right and real meaning of its intentions. Perhaps the Minister will concentrate the efforts of this Commission on building new towns on the fringes of existing cities.
– Albury-Wodonga and BathurstOrange.
– Perhaps he will follow the idea of corridor development between Sydney and Melbourne.
– That is right.
– Is that right?
– Of course it is.
– That is your corridor development?
– I have told the honourable member of the corridor. I have told him about several places and several corridors.
– How do Griffith, Dubbo and Tamworth get on in this sort of corridor.
– You support dispersed decentralisation, which has been a failure.
– Not really.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member address the Chair. Also, if the Minister wishes to enter the debate again he can do so at the appropriate time.
– I take heed of your warning Mr Chairman. So all I can say is that I express great disappointment and dismay at the Minister and the Government for not being able to accept what I regard to be a sound and sensible amendment to change the name of the Commission from the Cities Commission to the Cities and Regional Development Commission. The Minister has just told me that he believes in corridor development, that there should be a great corridor between the existing metropolitan complexes of Sydney and Melbourne at the expense of the rest of Australia. I can well see from that why be has refused to accept this amendment. Of course it is a Cities Commission. It is a Commission which will build fringe towns around the existing metropolitan areas of Australia.
– Do not be so pompous.
– What a disappointment. I am not pompous; I am disgusted. I thought the Minister was a man who had a great degree of sincerity in approaching the problem on a broad national scale. But he has not done this. He is prepared to sacrifice and forget and to wipe the rest of the countryside except for the strip of country between Sydney and Melbourne. I am absolutely shocked and I am sure the people outside of that strip of territory will also be shocked.
– I wish to join with the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) in expressing disappointment that the Government has refused to accept this simple amendment which can in no way affect the actual operations taken under the Bill. If this new authority is to be responsible for regional development as well as city development, and we are told that it has an interest there, what is the reason for this obstinate refusal to put the words ‘regional development’ into the title of the authority? I can only suppose that the importance of regional development as compared to the importance of city development is being played down and that this is an indication of the Government’s approach, because good as it is for Albury-Wodonga or Bathurst-Orange to be developed, there are regions around them which are equally important. The whole thing needs to be developed. Here we have in an overt way a refusal by the Government to put into the description of its authority the responsibility for that kind of development. All I can say is this: I hope that the people living in regions throughout this country will note what the Government has refused to do. I hope those on this side of the House will use every opportunity to bring to the attention of country dwelling members the fact that the Government has refused to put into this Bill a responsibility for regional development. I will leave it to them to draw thenown conclusions that this may well be another example of the bias against the countryside and against country dwellers which has been shown in various other actions of this Government.
It would be a simple, gracious and reasonable thing to do to put into this Bill the title which properly describes it. If it is not done we can only draw our own conclusions and regret the conclusions that we have to draw.
– I do not want to delay the Committee, but I want to explain that both spokesmen for the Opposition do not really comprehend the purpose of the Cities Commission. A Department of Urban and Regional Development has been set up and the Cities Commission will be a physical arm of that Department. It will be. a bridge between the Commonwealth and the States. I might say in answer to the humbug that the 2 former Ministers spoke that during the 23 years of their Government’s administration the population of the rural areas of this country fell from 31 per cent to 14.7 per cent of the total population. That shows how much the previous Government cared about regional development.
This Government will be developing regions in corridors. Albury-Wodonga, between Sidney and Melbourne, is the first area which will be developed. We will be developing, in co-operation with our State colleagues, growth centres in other areas such as the Bathurst-Orange area. We will be conducting studies in the corridor between Sydney and Brisbane. We will be conducting studies and arriving at decisions in respect of the corridor between Melbourne and the La Trobe Valley. We will be making studies in areas in the corridor between Melbourne and Adelaide. We will be developing growth centres in these areas. But let us be clear about it; we oppose completely the concept of the Country Party and the negative attitude of the Liberal Party - the former Government that was in government for so long - of dispersed decentralisation. Our concepts will be determined on the basis of special regional growth areas. That is where our energies will be directed, and this Cities Commission will play an important physical role in that development.
Amendments disagreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Uren) agreed to:
That Mr Daly, Mr Enderby and the mover bo appointed a committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate.
– On behalf of the committee appointed to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate, I present those reasons. (Thereupon the Clerk read the reasons as follows):
Because the Cities Commission is an independent arm of the Department of Urban and Regional Development.
The Cities Commission as an aim of the Department will be concerned with cities, old and new. It will be concerned with new cities in regions. The Cities Commission will assist the promotion of regional development by the establishment of new cities.
A major role of the Cities Commission will be to go out to State and local governments as a promoter of better ways of achieving urban and regional development The name ‘Cities Commission’ provides a sharp focus for its activities and one which gives it a separate identity from the Department. The suggested amendment would leave the Commission with a lengthy and cumbersome title and one which would cause the Commission and the Department to be confused.
Motion (by Mr Uren) agreed to:
That the committee’s reasons be adopted.
– I table a progress report of the investigations of residents associated with criminal extremist activities.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1972-73.
Appropriation Bill (No. 6) 1972-73.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:
That Mr Ian Robinson be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and in his place Mr Adermann be appointed a member of the Committee.
Sitting suspended from 6.10 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, next Saturday, 2 June, it will be 6 months since this Government was elected to office. It is appropriate that on the last day of the present sittings of the House I should bring together the achievements of the Government, particularly through the Parliament, towards the full implementation of its program. In my policy speech, I said we would take the people into our confidence by making available, through the Parliament, the greatest possible amount of information as promptly as possible. We have done this. Since the Government came to office we have appointed a large number of boards, committees, task forces and similar groups to open up new policy initiatives in a whole range of matters. I pay tribute to the many people from all fields of national life who have readily agreed to offer their particular skills and experience in this new work. Sir, I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard this list of the committees, etc., which we have appointed.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Aboriginal Languages in Schools - Advisory Group on Teaching. (Report tabled 15.4.73)
A.C.T. Education Authority-Assessment Panel on. A.C.T. and New South Wales - Impact of growth of Canberra.
Australian Council for the Arts. (Interim Report tabled 24.5.73)
Australian Schools Commission - Interim Committee. (Report tabled 30.5.73)
Biological Effects of Nuclear Explosion Fall-out - Academy of Science. (Report tabled 2.5.73)
Biological Effects of Nuclear Explosion Fall-out - Meeting between Australian and French Scientists. (Report tabled 17.5.73)
Employment Problems in the Port of Portland. (Report tabled 3.4.73)
Health Insurance Planning Committee. (Report tabled 2.5.73)
Homeless Men - Working Party on.
Immigration Advisory Council - Committee on Community Relations.
Institutions of Teritary Education in Sydney, Melbourne, Albury/Wodonga - Location, Nature and Development of. (Report tabled 3.5.73)
National Commission on Social Welfare.
National Hospitals and Health Services Commission - Interim Committee of the proposed. (Report tabled 30.5.73)
National Population Inqury (as extended on 4 March 1973).
Protection Commission - Inquiry reformation of.
Recreation in Australia - the Role, Scope and Development of. (Report tabled 25.5.73)
Social Security/Welfare - Advisory Council on.
Steel Prices - Inquiry into proposed increases. (Report tabled 28.2.73)
Superannuation pensions - Commonwealth Inquiry into adjustments after retirement (extended terms of reference). (Report tabled 10.4.73)
Urban Centres - Components of the growth of. Urban Land Tenure - Inquiry into.
– I thank honourable members. I also ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard the list of thereports of committees etc., which have already completed their work and whose reports have been tabled in the Parliament during the present period of sittings.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
– I thank honourable members. We have not concealed or suppressed these reports. We have not delayed their publication until the Government had taken decisions on them. The people, through the Parliament, have been kept informed. As further reports become available these will also be tabled in the Parliament. With legislation, as in other fields, the real measure of achievement must always be quality rather than quantity. We believe that, in qualitative terms, history will judge these first sittings of this Labor Government as a period of major legislative progress. The legislation enacted or set in train already marks the 28th Parliament as one of the great reform Parliaments in our history.
Nonetheless, numbers - as the Leader of the House, the father of the Parliament, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) constantly reminds us - are very important too. During the sittings, 114 Government Bills have been introduced into the House. Of these, the House has passed 103, and the remainder will be passed in the Budget sittings. As there are 4 Bills in the Senate which that chamber has not yet sent to the House, we have a grand total of 118 Bills which the Government has put before the Parliament in these sittings. Far be it for me to make odious comparisons, but I might recall that in the life of the previous Government - between 1950 and 1972- the average number of bills introduced into the House during autumn sittings was 53, with a peak of 81 in 1970 - and that including some private members’ Bills sponsored by the Labor Party in Opposition. Since Federation, the highest number of Bills passed by both Houses in a whole year was 157 in 1968. Already we are well on the way to overtaking that figure by a considerable margin.
I think it is appropriate that I should take this opportunity to thank members on both sides of the House for the way in which they have coped with the heavy burdens that have been placed upon them. I cannot, however, promise them any respite in the Budget sittings. It is also fitting, I believe, that I should pay special tribute to the work of Mr Charles Comans, the First Parliamentary Counsel, and his officers. They have responded magnificently to great pressures. We must particularly bear in mind that so much of their work was of a pioneering kind.
Mr Speaker, we have also made a practice of informing the Parliament to the greatest extent possible of the details or at least a summary of the outcome of discussions held between the Australian Government and the State governments. Our predecessors consistently refused to take the people into their confidence on what went on between these two tiers of government in Australia. We shall not fail to do so. Therefore, I asked all Ministers to ensure that the Parliament is kept informed of such discussions. I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard a list giving details of the papers presented to the Parliament detailing Australian Government and State Government discussions on a wide range of matters.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
1 March: Communique of meetings between Prime Minister and Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria at Albury-Wodonga on 25 January 1973- Prime Minister. 6 March: Statement made on 2 March 1973 following meeting between Prime Minister and Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia concerning River Murray end River Murray Commission - Prime Minister. 13 March: Communique and Points of Agreement of the Ministerial Council Meeting concerning Albury-Wodonga (Aspects of Development and Decentralisation) - Mr Uren. 15 March: Statement regarding meeting on 15 February 1973 between Minister for Housing and Victorian counterpart on proposed Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement - Mr Johnson. 27 March: Statements made with regard to the Australian Transport Advisory Council meeting in Hobart on 16 February 1973- Mr Jones. 3 April: Meetings of Australian and State Labour Ministers on 23 February 1973 in Melbourne- Mr Cameron. 11 April: Components of the Growth of Australia’s Major Urban Centres- Mr Uren. 17 May: Proceedings of Conferences between Australian and State Ministers for Housing (Canberra, 23 March 1973 and Adelaide, 5 April 1973)- Mr Johnson. 31 May: Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers with Responsibilities for Wildlife Conservation (Melbourne, 9 March 1973)- Dr Cass.
– I thank honourable members. Finally, Sir, I should like to remind the House that no fewer than 21 treaties have been presented to the Parliament over recent months. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard ‘he list of treaties presented to Parliament since the Government came to office.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave k granted. (The document read as follows) -
3 April: United Kingdom/ Australian Trade Agreement - letters exchanged during the process of termination of the Agreement. 4 April: International Cocoa Agreement 1972. 15 May: Convention 131 concerning minimum wage fixing adopted by the International Labour Conference at its 54th session. 22 May: Convention 111 concerning the abolishment of discrimination in employment and occupation adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1958. 29 May: Treaties to which Australia has become a party by signature:
Agreement which has been signed by Australia and which will enter into force after Notes have been exchanged by the signatories:
Treaties in relation to which Australia has deposited instruments of ratification:
Statute to which Australia has become a party by accession:
Convention and Treaties to which Australia is considering becoming a party by ratification:
- Mr Speaker, 1 have touched on a number of matters which my Government has achieved since we came to office. Mostly I have dealt with the evidence of our solid achievements in many fields which has been placed before this Parliament. A great deal of activity has gone on and is going on in nearly every field of policy. The achievement of this program of reform, upon which we embarked last December, would not have been possible without the counsel and co-operation of the men and women who comprise the Australian Public Service. We have had the benefit of professional and impartial assistance from the Civil Service directed to the speedy achievement of our policy objectives. This is no small thing, as the very breadth of the reforms which we are determined to bring to our society has imposed a great workload on our public servants. I have already said publicly that my experience since becoming Prime Minister has confirmed my strong belief in the worth of our career Civil Service - in the worth of a service which is expert and is free of nepotism and patronage. Therefore, Sir, this catalogue of my Government’s achievements is in part a tribute to the professionalism, integrity and industry of the Australian Civil Service. I present the following paper:
Work of the Session and Government Achievements -Ministerial Statement, 31 May 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– We have just had a statement from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) which was grandly entitled in Latin - I do not guarantee the pronunciation - ‘Apologia Pro Vita Sua’. Apparently one should not take the word ‘sua’ as being spelt as it is normally spelt in English but as it is spelt in Latin. Apparently it is an apology for the life of the Prime Minister. From the title, the whole tone is set - as sarcasm, a swollen head and confusion. The basic assumption is that multiplying members of boards, task forces, Bills and treaty ratifications is a measure of actual achievement. It rests on the Fabian view that a pamphlet changes and achieves, and pamphlets do not do that. It has the ring of rusting carriage wheels, it is so old. It attempts to measure performance by quantity instead of quality. It goes through this extraordinary process of thanking both sides of the House. The way in which the Government has ruthlessly used numbers in this House- (Honourable members interjecting)
-Order! The House will come to order, and that includes those sitting on my extreme right.
– Mr Speaker, would you ask the Minister for Health (Dr Everingham) to return to the left. We do not want him on this side of the House while we are here. It will not be long before he deserves a place on the Opposition benches. The Prime Minister says that we have borne a burden. We have borne a burden as has everyone in putting up with this Government for its period in office. The Prime Minister says, in a hopeful tone, that he does not promise that the burden will be lighter. That is the problem in Australia today - the Government will not lighten the burden that we have to bear with this Government.
While we were sitting here listening to this remarkable speech we thought of the hypocrisies that are normally delivered at the end of the year and we decided that all that has happened is that the Leader of the Government has advanced Christmas by 6 months. They are hypocrisies of the kind that we all deplore in this House. The Prime Minister, in his pamphleteering mood, did not turn all the pages of the pamphlet. It is my intention now to turn a few pages of that same pamphlet. The Prime Minister commenced in office by setting the most dangerous precedent to parliamentary democracy that we have ever seen in this country - a government of 2 men. One of them-
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point is that the Leader of the Opposition is not speaking to the Chair. He is speaking to his own side and he has not even converted them.
-Order! There is no point of order.
– One of this 2-man Government was the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) who within weeks was mauled by public opinion for incompetency. He is still without confidence or authority with the Australian public or in his own Party. The Opposition, when in Government, was moving to recognition of China but the Prime Minister by his rush left us with no negotiating position on the terms at all. The Prime Minister’s dreamtime in Asia has led to a rebuff from Indonesia and name calling from Thailand. His Ministers’ abuse and his own rudeness have brought alienation in Washington and the United States of America. There has been bungling in Belgrade, and we all know that story. His ‘may be so - may be no’ over the Five-Power Arrangements has left our allies amazed and unknowing about the Government’s intentions, as least until the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party meets in July. He made unprecedented disclosures to the Press of highly classified security information, wishing it to be seen as coming from unknown Public Service sources. He then has the gall to stand here and thank public servants for what they have done. Whenever the Labor Party Government is in trouble it blames the Public Service. The Prime Minister’s ego has taken precedence over Australia’s interests. He uses foreign policy for public relations purposes.
His Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has raped the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on which this country depends for internal security. His actions have created scenes reminiscent of a police state - put fear in the hearts of many new Australians and prejudice in the minds of other-
-Order! The House will come to order or I will have to take action, despite from which side of the House the noise is coming.
– The Government’s actions have put fear in the hearts of many new Australians and prejudice in the minds of others. It has arrested the flow of security intelligence information to Australia from our allies. The Prime Minister has tried to shift the balance in industrial relations to union supremacy and away from arbitration to industrial power without regard for the public interest. He has trampled over the States in a deliberate attempt to destroy the Federal system and bring all power to Canberra. He claims, as a credit to him, that he wants a unitary system, then he has the gall to seek leave to table a list of negotiations he has had with the States. If he would only start having negotiations and table a document of his intentions we would understand it.
His Government inherited a good economy but has put it at risk by supporting a Treasurer who has no understanding of economic management. Inflation was largely under control at 4.5 per cent last year. It is now at a rate of 8 per cent and we are facing 10 per cent through the actions of the Treasurer because the Prime Minister knows nothing about economics at all. He well understands his lack of knowledge. He has maintained a myopic and cynical sham in his approach to inflation. We hobbled it; he is feeding it. He claimed he would create certainty for businessmen. Never before has there been such confusion about current policies and Government intentions. This is happening in the investment, tax, mineral exploration and development fields. The Treasurer says that he is on top but he will go off the top of his head on any tax issue and on any economic issue on any day of the week and at any question time.
The Prime Minister’s Government’s actions are leading to the choking off of migration. Public relations do not get migration; the quality of the nation gets migration, overseas capital and overseas expertise. The Prime Minister and his Government have ridden roughshod over the mining industry and is freezing out the valuable enterprises that should make this nation grow through mining developments. There has been Government self-satisfaction and contempt, particularly from the Prime Minister, for the Parliament of this country. High-handed arrogance and conceit to all groups and individuals in the community makes a mockery of the humanity and equality said to be the base of the Labor Party’s social philosophy.
The Whitlam Government after its first fine careless rapture has now turned in on itself. Cabinet and Caucus leaks, aimed at the destruction of rivals and competing factions, are in every paper every day of the week. It is now turning inward on itself to feed on itself. Where is the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson)? He has become a Minister for sugar. He is a sugary little guy. He has been humiliated but the AttorneyGeneral has been sustained. The Prime
Minister has put the Minister assisting him, the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee), in a very humiliating position in order to sustain Senator Murphy. The Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) received a warm welcome with warm handshakes when he walked into the chamber this evening before dinner. He is conducting Australia’s foreign relations. If one looks at the list of Ministers of the Whitlam Government one finds that the Prime Minister is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, but the Minister for Overseas Trade is conducting foreign relations. But I must make this point: The Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry does leave the arts to the Prime Minister. This is the Government about which the Prime Minister is strutting. Mr Speaker, I move:
That the following words be added to the motion: and that the apologia be accepted’.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on a matter which I think the House would be quite interested to hear. When the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) entered the chamber tonight he made the most obscene remark about the Prime Minister when the Prime Minister was speaking. This obscene remark was overheard and I ask him to withdrew it.
– There is no substance to the point of order. Objection must be taken immediately after an incident happens.
– Mr Speaker -
-Order! There is no substance to the point of order. I ask the honourable member for Chifley to remain quiet while I am speaking.
– I invite the honourable member for Gippsland to repeat what he said when he entered this chamber.
– No point of order is involved.
– Mr Speaker-
-Order! The honourable gentleman would have to seek leave to make a statement.
– -I rise to take a point of order. The amendment moved by the Leader of the
Opposition, whilst it is a clever use of words, is completely out of order according to the forms of the House.
– No, it is not. It is quite acceptable. I call the Leader of the Australian Country Party.
– I am very happy to support the amendment that the apologia be accepted. I am pleased to be able to make some remarks about the topic before the House. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made a statement extolling the virtues and achievements of the present Government. All of us who listened to him must agree that it was a statement of self praise and self adulation, which is hardly proof of the sound performance of a government. The statement was calculated to smooth over the irresponsible unco-ordinated, blustering and autocratic attitude of the present Government. This statement has not given this nation any confidence about the course which the Government is following. What the Government has done has been to create great uncertainties, fears and strains throughout all sections of the community in this great nation of ours.
The community at large is wondering where this Government is taking us. New Australians, because of the actions of the Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy), really are in fear that we are heading towards a totalitarian police state. Our overseas friends, particularly in the United States of America, whose President has had one insult after another cast upon him not only by senior members of the Government but also by the Prime Minister, are wondering where its old friend and ally stands. The Public Service is in absolute confusion about the direction in which it is supposed to administer the policies of the present Government.
Even in this House we have seen a new level of contempt set by the Prime Minister and the Ministers of his Government - the Government as a whole - in answering questions and providing information during this session of Parliament. We have tried to elicit information time and again, only to be treated in a very snide and slick manner. The Government has been pandering to the Press or to the Australian public while trying to evade answering the issues which honourable members on this side of the House have tried to bring forward. We have seen debates in this
House limited on many occasions. The gag has probably been applied more times in this session than we have seen for the last 24 years in this Parliament. We saw the guillotine applied to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Prices Justification Bill, the Pipelines Authority Bill and Seas and Submerged Lands Bill. We saw the debate on the abortion Bill limited although many honourable members on both sides of the House wanted to have a say and to express their point of view. We are not seeing democracy work as it should work, yet the Prime Minister had the audacity to enter this House and preen himself about the number of Bills that had gone through this House during this session of Parliament. Any person can get Bills through this House if he wants to use absolute authority, if he wants to ignore free expression and deny to everybody a right to state a point of view. The statement tonight by the Prime Minister was-
– You had better get Jack Kane to write another speech.
– I am glad honourable members on the Government side give some credit to somebody. Thank you very much. The few achievements that the Prime Minister mentioned tonight highlight the achievements which he has ignored. Many of the Government’s achievements have not been very noble or honourable. He did not tell us anything about the great damage done to export industries by the Government’s policy on revaluation. That was a notable and lasting achievement.
– What did they say this week?
– Order! The honourable member for Casey will remain silent.
– The decision to revalue was most noticeable because of the impact that it has had on the Australian community in reallocating resources from the peoplein export industries and those who depend on export industries to people in the consuming industries. We have seen a period in Parliament in which the whole emphasis of policy has been directed towards 2 principal areas of Australia - the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne, where live the people who are the great voting strength behind the Labor Party. In other words, the Government is putting the whole of its efforts behind the votes that it receives in those areas and it could not give a damn about the rest of Australia. The
Prime Minister did not tell us anything in his statement about the strains that have been created with our friends overseas. He tried in a foreign affairs statement to gloss over the position of Australia in regard to the United States of America. Everybody knows that a new relationship has been developed and that the Australian people are concerned and worried about it.
The Prime Minister did not tell us anything in his statement tonight about the conflict which is developing and emerging between the Commonwealth and the State Governments of Australia. He did not mention anything about his declared attitude towards a unitary government or his belief that there ought to be one central government. He has not told us anything about the legislation that came before this Parliament during this session to give greater authority and domination to the Commonwealth in the “rea covered by the Grants Commission Act, legislation which will override State governments in providing much needed assistance to local government authorities. He did not tei! us anything about the legislation relating to Trans-Australia Airlines in respect of which 16 or 17 amendments were forced on the Government in order to moderate its effects. He has not told us about the seas and submerged lands legislation, which is going to completely submerge the influence of the State governments. He has not told us about the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation which could become a dominant Commonwealth construction and consultant authority, overriding the Commonwealth and the States. He has not told us about the housing proposals of the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) which have completely by-passed the States. The Minister has told them to go back into their corners and that the Government will do what it believes the Australian people want. These are some of the things that the Prime Minister has not told us.
He has not told us about the uncertainty that he has created in the rural sector of the community by not agreeing to any long term proposals for the wheat industry, rural reconstruction and a whole host of other matters. He has avoided telling us about long term low interest funds for rural industries. He said yesterday that the Government would provide $20m at an interest rate of 7 per cent to 8 per cent. Is that what the the Government calls low interest? Is that what it meant in its policy speech? Is that what the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) meant when he talked about $500m at 3 per cent? I am starting to understand that we have been completely deceived by the present Government in its policy presented to the people cf Australia at the last election. The manufacturing industry has been slugged pretty hard by revaluation. It has no doubt about what will happen with export incentives and ;he investment allowance. These things have bien promised for one year and no longer, no doubt with the possibility of a general election in view, so this one year may carry the Government through the intermediate period.
The Prime Minister has not told us about the socialistic policies of the Labor Party by which it is interfering more and more in private enterprise and business. This is leading to a lack of confidence in the private sector of the community. People - certainly overseas people - are tending not to show the same degree of confidence to want to invest ;n this country. We need this investment if we are to develop it along the lines we have bean so keen to pursue and have been so successful in pursuing over the last 20 years. He hits given us no clear indication of a firm and consistent Government economic policy to counteract one of the most serious threats to this nation at the moment. I refer to inflation. All we have seen is a staggeringly high rate of government expenditure. We have seen no resilience or resistance to counter the union demands for higher wages, shorter working hours and better conditions. No ma*.r.sr how worthy these demands may be, they are having very serious consequences on the average Australian in the form of higher costs and prices in every direction. Whilst the Government refuses to recognise the impact of these pressures on the inflationary forces there can be no curbing of the pressures that are developing in the community an J giving concern to everybody.
I mentioned the contempt with which the Prime Minister answers questions in this Parliament. It is highlighted no better or more clearly by the words of one who is well known to us, Mr Alan Barnes, a writer for the ‘Age’. He said:
At times, frankly, the Prime Minister has acted like a mug lair in his disdainful handling of Opposition questions.
We have seen a new brand of government style since this Government has been in action. There have been irresponsible, uncoordinated statements and attitudes of Ministers. In fact, the caucus has even had to tell them how to make their decisions. We have seen Ministers arguing in public. We have seen Ministers defying the Prime Minister. The Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) said: I will say whatever I like on foreign affairs policy’. We have seen absolute confusion on some of the Government’s policy aspects.
Let me refer to the Minister for Immigration. The immigration policy is up; it is down; it is stopped; it is started. We do not know what is the level of immigration in this country at the moment. We do not know what the complexion of the population will be. We have seen a new style of government in the socialist intervention in the economy. The Australian National Airlines Bill was no doubt produced to try to bring monopoly into the airlines business as well as into a number of other adjacent areas. The Pipeline Authority Bill no doubt wants to bring government involvement into this area to control energy resources. The minerals policy is creating great fears amongst those who have developed and helped to put Australia on the map. But now it is clear that the Labor Government wants to intrude and thinks it can do a better job. The style of the Government which caused the Anglican Primate of Australia last week to express fears for the future of our democratic traditions is an indication of the fears that are felt within Australia at the moment. The Government’s actions are disturbing. I believe time will prove that the stewardship of this Government has led to very adverse, lasting effects on Australia, a nation which we are proud to have developed over the past 23 years.
– Mr Speaker-
-Order! I remind the Leader of the House that he must speak to the amendment only. I ask honourable gentlemen to resume their seats and to remember that this is not a circus; this is the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I can speak with great knowledge of either the motion or the amendment. We have just witnessed the third most important member of the Opposition speaking from the other side of the House. He is what might be called the innocent young bridegroom who is courting that dear old lady, the Democratic Labor Party. I suppose one could liken them to Kane and Unable.
– I rise to order. I crave your indulgence, Mr Speaker. You said quite rightly that this is not a circus. Do we permit a clown to parade in the chamber?
-I ask the honourable gentleman: What is the point of order?
– I do not know whether the clownish performance is in keeping with your injunction.
– There is no point of order involved.
– I am sorry that the honourable member took offence. I thought I was being complimentary in view of the ages of the respective parties. Won’t it be a great marriage, when it comes about, with this handsome, young, valiant crusader fighting for the leadership against the aging Senator Gair or Senator McManus? What fluency they will bring to the Parliament; what knowledge. This is the union that is running away from the name of the Country Party. Members of the Country Party always speak about the country people, and now they want to change the name of their Party. If you were in the Country Party or the DLP, why would you not want to change your name? Why would they not be ashamed of their record? The Country Party reduced the rural industries to ruins and the DLP has practically reduced this country to ruins by its actions.
It will be a great union. They may marry. It will be lovely when they are churched, because as a good Christian I do not like to see people living in sin. Let us hope that we are all there for the filming of the wedding night. Won’t it be great. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) will probably be the bridesmaid. His colleagues in the Senate will probably be train bearers. Won’t it be a magnificent marriage. It will be one of those we all dream about - Mr Gorton and Mr Fraser arm in arm singing. What a disaster that would be. We can see them as they sing Here we are Again’ or ‘For they are Jolly Good Fellows’. Members of the Labor Party might even go along to look at it.
These are the honourable gentleman who say that this Government does not have a magnificent record. They talk about disagreements in public between Government members. I suppose that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) was being complimentary when he said the other day of the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser): If he became leader it would be a disaster’. Is that the kind of friend you want to have around? Both these honourable members walk along together and sit pleasantly on the front bench, each hoping that the other will drop dead politically. Smilingly sitting in the wings is the former Prime Minister, and he does not care much about either of them. I can see him nodding assent.
– I rise on a point of order. Even I, a new member of the House, have heard this speech before. Is the honourable member in order in repeating himself tediously?
– Order! There is no point of order involved.
– I think the honourable member must be the only maiden in the House.
– Mr Speaker, I have been seriously misrepresented. The Leader of the House has not known me long enough and obviously I have not known the Leader of the House long enough, but I am the father of 7 children.
– Order! The point of order is taken. The Leader of the House cannot make such an accusation unless he can prove it.
– Might I say, Mr Speaker, that in spite of your comment I have no intention of proving it even under the Gorton motion. On a more serious note I want to say that it ill behoves the Opposition to say that this Government does not have a magnificent record. Tonight as one saw the benches on the Government side crowded by members listening proudly to the great record of achievement of this Government one could not help but wonder how those who sit opposite had lasted so long to do so little. The situation is, and I put it on the record, that since the first day of this year we have initiated 114 Bills and that in the Senate another 12 have been initiated. The total time of the sitting, including suspensions of the sitting, up to and including 30 May was 355 hours 21 minutes. Adjournment debates, which have been allowed to take place every night except one when the Opposition, led by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), stopped the business of this Parliament, totalled 29. Every due Thursday the grievance debate has been called on and on 4 occasions general business has been considered and disposed of on every occasion. Only 5 matters of public importance were raised by the Opposition and they were given adequate time for debate.
– Five Bills were guillotined.
– Despite what is said by the Leader of the Country Party - the handsome, young, smiling bridegroom who does not know what he is in for - on only 2 occasions was the guillotine used, and that was to put through Bills of tremendous importance. There have been 89 divisions, and the Government won the lot. On only 37 occasions did we need, because of the obstruction of the Opposition, to curtail debates, and we are still about 300 behind on the number of gags that were moved by honourable members opposite when in Government. There have been 690 petitions presented. Open government, freedom of the people - this is what we stand for. Questions placed on the notice paper numbered 722, which is not really a large number, but I think the Opposition gave up the prospect of asking intelligent questions openly and honourable members opposite hid their light behind a bushel by putting them on the notice paper. There have been 504 questions without notice. I will tell the House what else was done. We have not sat till 3 o’clock in the morning. The question that the House should now adjourn is put on Tuesday nights at 10.45.
– So that the Leader of the House may haveone gag from this side, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Snedden’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
– It is a matter of interpretation and depends on how one reads it.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– by leave - I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent a Privy Council Appeals Abolition
Bill 1973 and a Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Bill 1973-
being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of the Bills together, and
the consideration of the Bills in one committee of the whole.
So that the Opposition will be somewhat more calm than it now appears to be, I state that the purpose of this motion is to facilitate the introduction of the second reading of this measure.
– Mr Speaker, I would like to see the terms of the motion which has been moved by the honourable member for Grayndler.
-I will hand a copy to the honourable member. This motion has been moved only for the purpose of allowing the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to introduce the Bills and to make a second reading speech, nothing else. I assure the House that the Leader of the Opposion (Mr Snedden) will be given the opportunity to move the adjournment of the debate as soon as the Prime Minister has finished his speech.
– It is only to allow the second reading speech to be made.
– Mr Speaker, the reason I asked to see the terms of the motion - I think an explanation needs to be given - is that as the motion was read out I thought it was predetermining the way in which the debate would take place. But if it is as the Prime Minister agrees, a motion to enable the Prime Minister to introduce the Bills and to make a second reading speech then the Opposition has no objection.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills presented by Mr Whitlam and together, read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Mr Speaker, I informed the House on 1 May of my talks in London, just after Easter, with the British Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary,
Lord Chancellor and Attorney-General regarding the abolition of appeals from Australia to the Privy Council. I gave the House the reason for the Government’s policy on this question. The reason is obvious and sound. It is that the High Court of Australia must become the highest court of the land in all matters pertaining to Australia and to the legal rights and obligations, in Australia, of Australian citizens. That state of affairs should long since have been attained. The present position is utterly anomalous.
Recent reports have come to my notice that the States are proposing to petition the Queen to refer certain seabed questions to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council under an Imperial statute of 1833. That such action can be contemplated serves only to underline what I am saying. It is no longer appropriate that any possibility should still remain of any government in Australia taking legal questions to, or of Australian citizens litigating their differences before, the courts of another country.
The course embarked upon in 1968 when the Government of that time, with the support of the Australian Labor Party, introduced the legislation contained in the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968 for the purpose of limiting appeals from the High Court to the Privy Council, should now be brought to its logical conclusion, a conclusion which we at that time advocated in supporting the Bill. The introduction of the Bills that the House is now asked to consider takes the next and final step in that direction.
Mr Speaker, when I spoke in the House on 1 May I foreshadowed that the Government would follow the course of introducing legislation requesting and consenting to the enactment of British legislation abolishing appeals to the Privy Council from State supreme courts in State matters. I said that the enactment of such legislation by the Australian Parliament would provide the opportunity, if so desired, for a challenge to be made to the validity of the legislation. If there were to be no challenge within a reasonable period, or if the validity of the legislation is upheld under challenge, the Australian Government would expect that the British Government would introduce into the British Parliament the legislation requested and consented to by the Australian Government and Parliament.
The first of the Bills that I now present and describe to the House is the Privy Council Appeals Abolition Bill. The Bill is based both upon the Australian Constitution and the Statute of Westminster. The Bill has a twofold operation. First, clauses 4 to 7 are what I may call self-operating provisions, that is to say, they will operate of their own force by virtue of the powers vested in the Australian Parliament. Secondly, clause 8 requests the United Kingdom Parliament to enact legislation in the terms of the Bill scheduled to the Act. Both sets of provisions are directed to the same end, namely, to bar appeals to the Privy Council from Australian courts other than the High Court and to bar the reference to the Privy Council of matters, not being appeals from courts, that arise in or in relation to Australia.
The provisions which I have described as self-operating have been included in the Bill on the basis that the Australian Parliament, as well as requesting and consenting to the United Kingdom legislation on this matter, should assert all powers open to it to achieve the same result. Clauses 4 and 6 (1) of the Bill are directed to the abolition of appeals from Australian courts other than the High Court. Clauses 5 and 6 (2) are directed to ensuring that Australian matters that are not appeals from courts shall not be referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. These clauses are intended to exclude resort to the Privy Council in cases of the kind that the States, according to reports, presently have under consideration. The Schedule to the Bill contains the terms of the legislation which we would expect the British Government to introduce in the British Parliament. Clauses 2, 3 and 4 are to the same effect as the clauses in our own Bill that I have just described to the House.
In connection with the petition on seabed matters which the States are reported to be contemplating, I should inform the House that I have sent a message to the British Prime Minister. The substance of that message is that the Australian Government considers it would not be appropriate for Her Majesty to refer any such petition to the Judicial Committee.
I made the point to the British Prime Minister that the provisions of section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1833, under which the States apparently propose to petition Her Majesty, will be included among the provisions that will be repealed when the British Parliament enacts its legislation on the request and consent of this Parliament. I added that this Parliament already has under consideration the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill which, when passed, will provide opportunity, if it is desired, for all relevant seabed questions to be determined by the High Court. The possibility of there being 2 streams of authority must be avoided. The proper forum for the determination of these important questions of Australian constitutional law is the High Court of Australia.
Mr Speaker, the second Bill is the Privy Council (Appeals from the High Court) Bill. This Bill completes, so far as the High Court is concerned, what the Privy Council (Limitation of Appeals) Act 1968 commenced. The Act of 1968 abolished appeals to the Privy Council from the High Court in all matters except purely State matters and the so-called inter se questions. The Constitution itself excludes appeals in respect of inter se questions excepting upon the grant of a certificate by the High Court. The High Court has granted only one certificate - and that in 1912. For all practical purposes there is no appeal to the Privy Council from the High Court in respect of inter se questions. As to appeals to the Privy Council from the High Court in State matters, the Australian Labor Party moved an amendment to the Bill of 1968 to remove altogether the right of appeal to the Privy Council from the High Court. The amendment was not accepted. What I have referred to as the second Bill completes the process that the Australian Labor Party would have liked to have seen completed when legislation was before the Parliament 5 years ago. Mr Speaker, I believe that by passing this Bill the Australian Parliament will demonstrate its view that the Australian courts can and should exercise the final judicial authority in this land.
Honourable members Hear, hear!
– I appreciate the cries of support which come from all parts of the Chamber. We all know that in the High Court we have a Bench whose learning and authority are respected wherever English law runs. I commend the 2 Bills to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Snedden) adjourned.
– I present the fourth report of the Publications Committee sitting in conference with the Publications Committee of the Senate.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed (vide page 2998).
– Foreign policy is an integral part of the total national policy of all countries and will be seen as serving that country’s own national interest. We can and do exercise influence directly and through multi-national organisations on the actions of other countries, but our own national interest is the real basis on which all foreign policy decisions must ultimately be made. Foreign policy must serve the interests and promote the welfare and security of the Australian people. We live in closer contact today with our fellow men than ever before. We must, therefore, be more tolerant, more generous and franker in our international relationships than ever before. But Australia must always assert its independence of decision and freedom of choice in foreign policy. We must recognise that we live in a world where interdependence, mutual trust and effective cooperation is essential. This makes foreign policy one of the most dynamic and at the same time complex aspects of national policy.
The last 2 decades of growth in Australian diplomatic capacity were also ones of vast change in the international scene - changes to which the Liberal Party was able to adjust in a mature and statesmanlike fashion because a major element of its foreign policy was flexibility. We acted after proper consideration of the national interest and with circumspection, never with impetuosity. We faced the critical years of reconstruction after the war and the bitter years of the cold war. We dealt with the upheaval in international affairs over recent years when the Vietnam conflict and the emergence of new great powers transformed the international environment. We recognise that military strength is not the sole criterion of the ‘great power*. There are many factors which made the United States of America, the Soviet Union, China, Japan, Europe and India the major actors on the world stage. We were in the process of fitting
Australia’s foreign policy to the new multipolar realities of the world and to the emerging spirit of detente which we have always sought to encourage.
In the spirit of the emerging detente we, in government, established diplomatic relations with several eastern European countries including Yugoslavia, where we established a diplomatic mission as early as 1966. The Labor Government has damaged relations with Yugoslavia through naive and impetuous bungling. We must also ask how the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) now reconciles his Government’s close ties with countries such as Poland and East Germany and his Party’s stated policy to work for an end to all foreign military presences in those countries. Last week he conceded that nothing has been done to implement his Party’s policy, though he would presumably claim a mandate to do so, and it has not been taken up with the governments concerned.
The Prime Minister’s sincerity must be questioned in saying as he did in his foreign policy statement that ‘the Government has decided to establish diplomatic relations with Poland’. The Liberal-Country Party Government did that in February 1972. Did his memory fail him or was he unaware that on 20 February 1972 in a joint communique the Australian and Polish Governments announced that they had ‘decided to enter into diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level’?
The basic elements of the policy developed during those dynamic years appears to have the approval of the present Government from what the Prime Minister has declared. He has said that 4 commitments are the bases of the Labor Party’s foreign policy. These were first, our own national security; secondly, a secure, united and friendly Papua New Guinea; thirdly, achieve closer relations with our nearest and largest neighbour, Indonesia; fourthly, promote the peace and prosperity of our neighbourhood. None of these is new. The Liberal Party has actively pursued each of them. Not one of these purposes has been advanced by the Labor Government’s actions since 2 December. Instead, our national security is jeopardised. Papua New Guinea has been alienated in the most arrogant fashion. Indonesia has rebuffed the Prime Minister and his plans for a grand new regional design. The neighbourhood to which he refers is confused and bewildered as to just what the Australian Labor Government is doing.
The Australian people are greatly concerned. At one moment the Prime Minister claims bold new initiatives - at the next a continuation of former Government policy. It is essential in these circumstances to make clear the major purposes of the Liberal Party in foreign policy. It is important thai the Australian people should know what we stand for. We are for an independent, coherent and responsible foreign policy as we always have been. Vague talk of neutralism and nonalignment serves no useful purpose and can only cause friendly nations to question our integrity and purpose. It is therefore heartening to note that the Prime Minister has at last rejected non-alignment for Australia and has specifically committed his Government to a policy of alignment. He has, of course, characteristically neglected to say alignment with what or whom. We do not yet know that. But what did the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) mean when he argued on 3 April - I ask the Deputy Prime Minister who is at the table to listen to my quotation of his own remarks for if he is to follow me he may be able to give an answer to it - for the development of ‘bonds of inter-dependence between countries’. He then pointed out that ‘neutrality will follow from inter-dependence’.
– Is that the Deputy Prime Minister?
– The Deputy Prime Minister. Has the myth of neutralism for Australia been rejected by the Government?
– You would not know.
– I do not know. The question that I put to the Deputy Prime Minister was: Has the myth of neutralism for Australia also been rejected by the Government? I was quoting him. The Deputy Prime Minister said to me: ‘You would not know’. That is the truth; I do not know. I am asking what the Government’s view is. The Deputy Prime Minister will not answer because he has not had instructions. For the Liberal Party, independence of action and decision is, and always has been, the essential factor. It must be regarded as basic to all foreign policy action. We will consult our allies and friends within the context of the alignment the Government now apparently acknowledges.
We are for close and continuing relations with the United States of America and New Zealand. We support ANZUS as an essential element of our total international relationships. We will not stand by and see ANZUS eroded either deliberately or by default. The insensitive and brash actions of the Labor Government, and particularly some Ministers over whom the Prime Minister seems unable to assert his authority, have caused a serious decline in the close ties that Australia established between 1949 and 1972 with the United States. Our relations will undergo change as they must, but this does not mean that our links should be weakened. It is regrettably very late for the conciliatory tone that the Prime Minister injected into his 24 May statement. The harm done by the words of three of his Ministers was made indelible by the Prime Minister’s failure to rebuke them or even to dissociate himself from the sentiments. The 24 May statement restored the United States as ‘our great ally’. Yet a week later the Prime Minister presumes to tell the President of the United States that he ought to hold regular Press conferences and revamp the Government of the United States so he and the Presidency itself ‘would not be in their present parlous position*.
The arrogance and insult of such a statement condemn the man who made it. The Prime Minister has said:
ANZUS is a legal embodiment of the common interests of the people of Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Those interests remain constant beyond changes of administration in Washington, Wellington or Canberra.
I endorse those sentiments. I am sure most Australians would do so. I wish the Prime Minister and his colleagues would live up to them.
We are for a co-operative relationship with New Guinea based on mutual respect in accordance with policies introduced when we were in government. We endorse the attainment of self-government later this year. Independence must be a matter for the people of Papua New Guinea or their representatives to decide. We are a colonial power only because we have an obligation to the people of Papua New Guinea. It is not for us to say when Papua New Guinea will be independent. We have a responsibility to Papua New Guinea and we have an obligation on which we cannot and must not walk out. Under no circumstances and at no time now or in the future should we attempt to impose our will on the people of Papua New Guinea or their elected representatives. Again the Prime Minister has failed to assert control over his Ministers, one of whom arrogantly presumed to tell the people of Papua New Guinea how to run their airline system. It was a dramatic example of narrow personal prejudice being permitted to damage relations with our neighbour. The Prime Minister did nothing about it. In the future we shall have a clear obligation to provide aid at a continuing high level. As with all aid, this should be provided without strings and at the request of the Papua New Guinea Government - not on a whim from Canberra.
We support, as we always have, the strengthening of our ties at all levels and in all fields with Indonesia, Japan and the countries of the South Pacific. Our relationship with each of these will continue to be of great mutual significance. I have referred to the problems which have already arisen with Indonesia over the Prime Minister’s undiplomatic efforts to press his vague ideas on regional organisation. Problems are now emerging with Japan. The Australia-Japan Business Co-operation Committee has been critical of the Government’s failure to clearly define its policies in relation to trade and investment. A leading Japanese trade negotiator has referred to the Government’s ‘all too hasty’ policy actions in relation to export prices, shipping and natural resources.
With respect to the South Pacific, the uncalled-for presumption of the Prime Minister and the Labor Party was well illustrated in their policy speech before the last election. The Prime Minister said:
We should be the natural leaders of the South Pacific. A Labor government will give that leadership. . .
He referred to 2 immediate issues as examples. Who are we to assert that we are anybody’s natural leader? We may aspire to be a friendly partner, but to claim for Australia the role of leadership is not only insensitive but also absurd. That statement, together with the Prime Minister’s posturing with the use of HMAS ‘Vampire’ at the recent South Pacific Forum, has served to alienate many of our friends in the South Pacific. Perhaps it is not surprising; but it is tragic because it is unnecessary. It has undone much of the effort in developing our role - a modest but helpful role) - in the South Pacific Forum by the previous Government. It is noteworthy that on his return from the South Pacific Forum the Prime Minister felt sufficiently chastened by the coolness of his reception to drop his claim to leadership and say that his Government ‘in no way wishes to dominate in the region’. The point is that ‘it should never have presumed to do so.
We continue to .place special emphasis on Australia’s relationship with the countries of South-East Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The total Asian-Pacific partnership is crucial to any efforts we might make to ensure Australia’s full and effective contribution to international stability, progress and welfare. In this respect the Deputy Prime Minister has claimed that the ‘treatment of India by the previous Government is a prime example of neglect due to India’s perceived irrelevance to Australia’s defence’. The absurdity of that statement is obvious. The very close and understanding relationship which we in government had with India is well known. It should be nurtured by continued high level representation and regular consultations to explain our policies and attitudes.
We sought, when in government, to normalise Australia’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China. There were differences on both sides, determined in large part by the events of the tumultuous post-war years when the Government of the People’s Republic of China was established. We sought, in a spirit of co-operation, to overcome these difficulties. Talks were begun in an effort to further this development. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the House. We had close links in several fields and it was our intention to continue that progress towards an amicable and mutually acceptable arrangement. In Opposition the Labor Party made an open-ended commitment to recognise and establish diplomatic relations with Peking. It was left without any negotiating ground. The basis on which relations were established is evidence of that. But, while we have reservations about the precise terms on which recognition was negotiated, relations have been established. We accept the reality of the situation. We would not wish to damage Australia’s existing relationship with the People’s Republic of China.
We will work for the further development of our long and traditional relationship with Britain and the countries of the ‘New Europe’. Our fundamental cultural ties continue to be with Europe and much of our social and political sustenance is drawn from there. The enlarged European Economic Community offers us the unique opportunity to expand this relationship. But it will be a 2- way .process of mutual benefit. The Govern- ment must ensure that this opportunity is not lost, for we stand to gain much from it. We must also fit into this context the new Atlantic Charter which indicates the dynamic role the United States and others might play in the new Europe.
A matter of immediate significance to al) Australians in our relations with Europe is the question of the continuation of French nuclear testing in the atmosphere in the Pacific. We value our long-standing friendly relationship with France and we would nol wish to see this damaged. I stated recently that we strongly oppose atmospheric nuclear testing by any country and our feelings must be aroused when such testing is conducted in our own region and against the wishes of most Australians. The Liberal Party sees danger in the proliferation of devices of nuclear war which threaten the future cf mankind, and all Australians deplore any action which in any way threatens the earth’s environment and possibly the lives of people now or in the future. We are unequivocal in our opposition to all atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by any country.
We support the maximum possible aid to developing countries within the means of cur country. The Liberal Party Government made Australia one of the world’s leading aid donors with virtually all aid given as grants. Aid should not be used to further our own interests. It should be provided in response to the needs of our fellow men in a humanitarian spirit. There is need for continuing increases in our aid programs to assist, in particular, our neighbours in Asia and the Pacific. We support the United Nations and endorse its charter, just as we endorse the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We will continue to work, as we did in government, to strengthen the United Nations as a body to alleviate the suffering of all peoples and to maintain the peace and stability of our international community.
In his Statement last Wednesday, the Prime Minister discovered the importance of resources. Though there is no evidence of it from his statement, the Prime Minister should have known that the previous Government had taken action through the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Foreign Affairs to develop a resources diplomacy for Australia, particularly in view of the rapid consumption of the world’s resources and the real prospect of an energy crisis. We did not, of course, seek to use it to bolster our personal or national prestige.
– Gunboat diplomacy.
– We regarded it as a matter of diplomacy - not public relations or gunboat diplomacy. The previous Government had for many years been concerned and had acted to develop not only a resources diplomacy but also a trade diplomacy, an immigration diplomacy, an international transport diplomacy and many other diplomacies. From his statement the Prime Minister seems unaware of the complexities of the field of foreign policy - a field which he has said he finds ‘exhilarating’. The previous Government considered it sufficiently complex and important to be regarded as a full-time job.
During the years of Liberal-Country Party Government, Australia became a respected member of the international community, especially in Asia and the Pacific. When the Labor Government came to power in 1972 it inherited a widely respected foreign policy. We had developed a distinctive role in keeping with our character as a European people located on the periphery of Asia between the great Pacific and Indian Oceans. We had the confidence of other nations. Now we can only be dismayed at the uncertainty and doubt in the minds of our friends and neighbours. For example, the Governor-General’s Speech said that the Government ‘will honour the terms of the Five-Power Arrangements, but looks forward to the achievement of a neutral zone in South East Asia ultimately involving the phasing out of present military arrangements such as the Five-Power Arrangements’. The uncertainty and confusion that that view and subsequent qualifications and contradictions have aroused in our neighbourhood does not need to be elaborated. Another example is in the Prime Minister’s statement last week that SEATO ‘must be modified if it is not to become completely moribund’. If it is to be modified he should say how this might be done - or does he intend to let it become completely moribund? The Australian people and our allies deserve an answer to that question.
The Government has spoken on several occasions of its support for proposals for neutralisation in South East Asia and the Indian Ocean. But this does not represent a new definition of the role, of foreign policy. It does not explain where the Government is going or what its intentions are. It is deliberately vague. There is now an urgent need for the Government to make clear what its foreign policy and its defence policy - if one can be decided upon - amount to. The regional cooperation for which we actively worked and which we will continue to support is being undermined. The Government must define how it sees Australia’s total role in our ocean and archipelago environment.
The Government’s attitude to Australia’s role in relation to the Indian Ocean and its littoral states should be defined. The Prime Minister did not do so in his statement. Similarly, as I have already mentioned, the Prime Minister took it upon himself to suggest to the nations of our region that they should form some sort of amorphous regional organisation. His reception, particularly in countries such as Indonesia, is well known and can only have damaged our standing. Having been rebuffed he is now prepared to concede that the development of any such organisation or arrangements would be a ‘slow and delicate growth’. It should also, of course, be the subject of diplomatic and proper consultation with the countries that might be involved.
One can hardly criticise a government for keeping its options reasonably open. However, no option in the history of international relations can ever have been so open as the one the Prime Minister has now declared to be his bold new initiative. What does he mean when he says: ‘We remain completely flexible on the timing, structure and membership of any future arrangements’. It could mean anything and we must assume that it is intended to do so. If that reflects the sort of proposal he put to others it is little wonder that they have shown bemusement. The Government’s impetuosity in international affairs has not been tempered by the salutory experience of actually having to do the job instead of theorising. Until it learns it will continue to damage Australia’s interests.
– I believe that too much attention has been directed at the changes in Australia’s foreign policy which have been introduced by the new Government and that not enough recognition has been given to the broad continuities of policy within which the changes represent an evolutionary advance. Let me emphasise that what has happened since the election is not that Australia has suddenly swerved into a series of unpredictable and unrelated moves that are out of the mainstream of movements in world affairs. On the contrary, what we have done is solidly based on a clear appreciation of the gradual but nevertheless real shift in international affairs which has been going on for years and which can be summed up as a change from the bipolar world which characterised the years of the Cold War to the multipolar world which emerged from such events as the split between the Soviet Union and China, the integration of Europe through the European Common Market, the emergence of Japan as a major power and the Nixon Doctrine of greater self reliance in defence preparedness. These were real changes which were duly noted by many people in Australia, but for some strange reason the previous Government was loath to give them full recognition in its policy-making. Perhaps the reason was that the Liberal and Country Parties had found simple anti-communism of such great electoral advantage in the 1950s that they could not afford to give up their old shibboleths without the risk of electoral defeat. One of the consequences was, of course, that for some years it was not the then Government that was setting the pace in foreign policy but the Labor Opposition. It was we who took the initiative in opposing our participation in the Vietnam conflict, in calling for more foreign aid, in proposing an end to racism in our international dealings, in co-operating with the movement of self government and independence for Papua New Guinea and in opening up normal relations with China. Nevertheless, even the previous Government, reacting to responsible and realistic advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and prompted by the initiative shown by the Labor Opposition, was showing some signs of moving in these directions: and given time - more time than we could afford - perhaps it might have belatedly arrived at the same position on these matters as has the new Government
What I am saying is that we have not moved erratically or against the mainstearm of world opinion. A great deal of what we have done has been catching up on the backlog of questions that were begging for constructive answers and acknowledging in practical ways that the world has in fact changed. The solidity of our foreign policy can be further demonstrated by pointing to some instances where there has been no change whatsoever in the policy that we have adopted. One case that immediately comes to mind is in our attitude to the ANZUS Treaty with the United States and New Zealand, upon which we continue to place great emphasis.
This is not the same as saying that we intend to perpetuate the completely uncritical posture towards our allies that was an embarrassing feature of the previous Government’s foreign policy in the days of ‘All the way with LBJ’. I do not think that that is the sort of ally that the United States needs or respects, nor is it the sort of attitude that a mature and independent Australia needs to adopt to win friends and influence people. It is far better for both allies if the relationship is one of mutual co-operation and respect. After all, our relations with the United States span a far wider spectrum than the matters of defence that are relevant to the ANZUS Pact. The strength of our alliance with the United States in the ANZUS Treaty is increased by our association in other areas such as trade, investment, technology, aviation and culture. As I have said previously, we continue to value highly the great contribution to the development of our defence capability which flows from our close association with the United States in various areas of defence. This should establish beyond doubt the fact that in this particular area the policies of the present Government show evidence of solid continuity over time.
The fallacy into which honourable members opposite seem only too prone to fall is to assume that by opening up relations with other countries we have to break down relations with our existing friends and allies. It is true that we are opening up normal diplomatic relations with China, North Vietnam, East Germany and Poland and normal trading relations with the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba, North Korea, North Vietnam and China. But to try to argue from this, as honourable members opposite attempt to do, that Australia is joining the communist bloc, or that Australia is becoming non-aligned, shows very little respect for the intelligence of the people of Australia.
Of course, we are normalising relations with as many countries as we can. So are most other couitries in the world. It is to Australia’s benefit that we do and it is in the interests of world peace, because by building up bonds of co-operation between countries we help to create a world in which each country has a vested interest in the survival and stability of every other country. And this we can do without in any way jeopardising the good relations that we already enjoy with our traditional friends and allies. It is not a position of nonalignment that we have adopted; it is a position which acknowledges the multiplicity of our interests and relationships.
In security matters our closest relationship is with the United States of America, but that does not rule out participating in the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations, honouring our obligations to our partners in the Five-Power Arrangements, including Malaysia and Singapore, encouraging the development of Association of South East Asian nations and the concept of a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality in South East Asia and engaging in defence co-operation with other countries in our region. Similarly, in tradition and sentiment, we have especially close ties with the United Kingdom and the other countries of Western Europe which were the original homelands of most Australians, as in trade we are aligned mainly with the other great trading nation of this part of the world, Japan. The truth is that our relationships with other countries concentrate on different aspects of our national interests and that is a healthy sign, both from the point of view of opening up options for ourselves and from the point of view of assisting world stability.
In the case of Japan, which I have just mentioned, I completely endorse the statement of the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam) that under previous governments too much attention has been devoted to developing merely a commercial relationship with Japan and not enough thought has been given to the ways in which Australians and Japanese may come to understand each other better and to benefit from each other’s traditions and insights. In an address recently to the Australia-Japan Business Co-operation Committee I pointed out that there was a need for more opportunities for all groups - government, business, trade unions and others - in both countries to get together much more often than they do until discussions and meetings lead to mutual understanding. The Government believes that it is high time that initiatives were taken to help bring this about. The fact that this even has to be a matter for initiative at this time shows how far Australia has lagged behind until now in improving relations even with a country which we have regarded for some time as a major trading partner. And that, Mr Speaker, is the point that I would impress on the House about all the initiatives which the Government is undertaking in the field of foreign policy.
We have taken the initiatives and we have made changes, but they have been to the advantage of our traditional friends and allies. By catching up with developments in the wider world we have facilitated the development of a more mature and a more realistic relationship with them than in the recent past and have won for Australia a new respect in the community of nations as a constructive, humane, responsible and reliable partner in trade, aid and conflict avoidance and resolution.
The mistake that honourable members opposite make far too often in their approach to foreign policy is to appeal to fear - fear of this country or that country or even just fear of the unknown. It seems to me that a much better approach in the present period is to go out, as we are, to deal constructively with the causes of conflict and discontent in our region rather than to react negatively to the symptoms. As I have argued elsewhere, even in defence policy, a negative approach is inadequate when it is possible to combine a policy of maintaining strong national defence forces at home with a policy of active defence co-operation with other countries through aid, training, technical assistance, joint exercises and continuing consultation.
Much of our defence aid to other countries contributes in a positive way to development. I mention my recent announcement of the maritime patrol project which we are now developing in conjunction with Indonesia. The patrol boats and Nomad aircraft which we are supplying will help Indonesia in the detection, interception and deterrence of smugglers, pirates, illegal fishing and illegal immigrants. Search and rescue constitutes another important maritime patrolling activity.
One question that could be asked about our defence co-operation with the countries of our region is whether this does not conflict with our support for the ASEAN concept of a zone of peace, neutrality and freedom in
South East Asia. The answer to such a question is that neutralisation can only come about gradually. One of the ways of helping it to come about is for the various countries of the region to take more responsibility for developing their own defence capability. And it is easy to see that it is in each country’s interest and in the interests of the region as a whole if this is done with as much cooperation and mutual aid as possible.
The sort of defence co-operation which Australia now extends to these countries on an equal and friendly basis is well-designed to help raise national confidence by the gradual development of defence capabilities, which is one of the prerequisites of neutralisation. It also helps to foster regional interdependence, which is another prerequisite. So I do not see any contradiction between the sort of defence co-operation which Australia now offers and the ASEAN concept. Rather I see it as working towards a situation where that concept can ultimately be realised. Of course, I know that what developing countries need in terms of assistance as much as or even more than defence aid is economic aid.
I have already mentioned that much of our defence aid in the region has an economic value to our neighbours and helps them in their development. Also, the more defence aid that we provide the more they are relieved of the need to devote their own resources and scarce foreign reserves to building up their own defence capability and to use them for national development. If this can be achieved by a constructive and positive defence policy, how much more can be achieved through our foreign policy. I refer honourable members to the fact that our civil aid to Indonesia is 21/2 times the value of our defence aid, that we shall be giving even more economic aid to South Vietnam in the coming year than the previous Government did in the past, and that we intend to raise Australia’s level of official economic aid programs until they comprise 0.7 per cent of the gross national product by the end of the decade.
We accept that proposition. One of the very few points I found acceptable in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) was on the question of foreign aid. It was the decision of the Australian Government - a decision in the terms of the platform of the Labor Party - to increase our foreign aid to 1 per cent of the gross national product. This, of course, is in line with the recommendation adopted by the United Nations. Perhaps in this respect there is a bipartisan attitude on the part of the Government and the Opposition, and so there should be. If we are to provide assistance to countries in South East Asia - the developing countries in our region - economic aid must be provided not only by this Government but also by other governments in this area which are in a position to provide that assistance. (Extension of time granted.) I thank the House. I will conclude on this note. Australia, in its foreign policy has established a sound and sensible course in international affairs which has the merit of taking advantage of the new opportunities opened up by the present relaxation in world tension at the same time as we retain the advantages we already enjoy with our traditional friends, allies and trading partners. In the short time that this Government has accepted the responsibilities not only in general fields of administration but also particularly in relation to foreign affairs there has been a shift in emphasis. As I have indicated on a number of occasions both publicly and in this Parliament - in this context I have been supported by the Prime Minister - defence will follow foreign affairs, rather than vice versa as in the past. I believe that the Prime Minister, despite what may have been said this afternoon by the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) who led for the Opposition in this debate, has demonstrated that he has the capacity to provide the leadership which is needed in this country and which has been lacking for so long and that, in addition to carrying out that onerous task, he has demonstrated a capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs that this country has not enjoyed for more than 23 years.
Debate (on motion by Mr Sinclair) adjourned.
– by leave - In my statement to Parliament on 23 May 1973 concerning the redistribution of Western Australia into electoral divisions, I said that I would inform the House as soon as possible of the names of the distribution commissioners to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral. The Governor-General will be invited to proclaim and direct a redistribution of Western Australia into electoral divisions and I am now in a position to inform Parliament that the Governor-General also will be invited to appoint the following persons as distribution commissioners: Bobbie Sydenham Nicholls, Willian George Henderson and John William Robson. Mr Nicholls is Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of Western Australia and will be recommended to be chairman of the distribution commissioners. Mr Henderson is Deputy SurveyorGeneral for the State of Western Australia and his appointment has been agreed to by the State Government. Mr Robson is Deputy Commissioner, Repatriation Department, Western Australia. He served as a distribution commissioner for Western Australia at the time of the 1968 redistribution.
– I wish to inform the House of the following nominations of members for the Standing Committee on the Environment and Conservation: Dr Jenkins, Mr Kerin, Mr Lamb and Mr Sherry have been nominated by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam); Mr Bourchier and Mr Fox have been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden); and Mr Ian Robinson has been nominated by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony).
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to: That Government Business be postponed until after consideration of General Business notice No. 1.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of section 12(2) of the Lands Acquisition Act 1955-1966, this House resolves that the notice of the acquisition of land by the Commonwealth in the Hundred of Bagot, County of Palmerston, Northern Territory, for the purpose of the planned development and control of the City of Darwin and its adjacent areas, which appeared in Gazette No. 59 of 24 May 1973, and which was laid before the House on 24 May 1973, shall be void and of no effect.
After the charade earlier this evening by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), I feel as though I am speaking in an unclean circus tent. I bring before the House a matter concerning people. It concerns the affairs of ordinary everyday people, citizens of Aus tralia, who have a common and real problem. I feel as though the problem has a somewhat similar taint to that which I have mentioned already. I notice that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who is responsible for a lot of this, is not in the. House at the moment. I do not know whether he is in the precincts of the House.
I refer to a question which I asked the Minister for Services and Property earlier. I asked whether it is a fact that, when such a notice is given in respect of the disallowance, of a normal regulation and the motion is not called on within 15 sitting days, the regulation is automatically disallowed. However, in the case to which I refer, the Land Acquisition Act provides:
Either House of the Parliament may, within thirty days after a copy of a notice has been laid before it in pursuance of the last preceding sub-section, pass a resolution that the notice shall be void and of no effect, and thereupon the notice shall be void and of no effect . . .
That is the matter to which I refer. The first point I make is that, if the motion I put on the notice paper - notice No. 1 of 29 May - had not been called on and a decision taken today, the lands acquisition notice to which I have referred, and which was gazetted on Thursday, 24 May, and brought into this House on the same day, would have become effective automatically during the winter recess after the statutory 30 days had expired.
The acquisition notice was tabled without any explanatory papers. All that we members of the House were told was that the public purpose approved by the Governor-General was the planned development and control of the city of Darwin and adjacent areas. Honourable members knew nothing else about this matter. They had been given no information. How big is the proposed acquisition area? How many people are to be affected by the acquisition, particularly those who live in the area? What plans are there for the development of the area? What is the reaction of the people of the area to the acquisition? What is the degree of urgency? Does this acquisition involve a change from freehold to leasehold over the whole area? Members have received none of this information. We do not know whether the royal commission under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Else-Mitchell has been asked to investigate the proposal. The House has been kept in the dark. Surely honourable members are entitled to some explanation and, in view of what I am about to say, I think it is disgraceful that the Minister has not bothered to give one.
Here are some of the facts: The Government is acquiring 20,480 acres of freehold land compulsorily, using guillotine provisions rather than the normal notices to treat. It will all be converted to leasehold. There are several hundred people living in the area - probably nearer 1,000 - and nearly all of them are small owners and battlers. Some of them are permanent residents whose families have held the land for 2 generations. These people, and a couple of thousand others who live nearby and who have been threatened that they are next on the list for the axe, are strongly against the way in which this acquisition is being carried out. They are not against acquisition for public purposes when such action can be clearly justified and properly carried out. The Minister would be well aware, from his personal experience of visiting the area, of the strength of local feeling.
The Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, including members of the Australian Labor Party, has opposed the move and has appealed for variations. No plans are available Or have been started for the area. The Minister might say that a committee is in the Northern Territory investigating at the moment, but it arrived there only last week. A royal commission has been set up to look at the administration of urban land in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory and has been asked to provide a report within 6 months. So, why cannot the people affected by this acquisition appear before that royal commission and have their position considered? The consultants, P. G. Pak-Poy and Associates, have indicated that areas within the present city of Darwin are available immediately, or could be made available within the next few years, and they could accommodate 100,000 people in addition to the 46,000 people living there now. All honourable members know that the Pak-Poy report has been mentioned widely. It is a broad-brush report, however, and does not contain details of the intimate things that people want to know when they are to be thrown off their land.
Honourable members must realise that this guillotine process to which I refer has not been used before in the Parliament. In brief, from the time of tabling, 30 calendar days - not sitting days - are allowed for disallowance. This is a safety clause whereby the public and the legislature may make an examination of the situation and, if not satisfied, move for a disallowance. It is typical of the ruthless approach of this Government and its disregard for the welfare of the small individual of whom it so often talks so glibly. The Government has allowed only one day - that is, today - for the issue to be considered, and only then when I forced its hand. Ideals are one tiling but people are another. Surely there is still room in this country for both. Ii the Government has any regard for people, especially the little people and not just some academic ideas, it will take notice of the fact and disallow this acquisition. It could still proceed immediately to negotiate with some of the landholders who are prepared to surrender. They represent 8,000 or 9,000 acres, which would be ample for the next IS or 20 years. In the meantime the Government could draw up proper plans and the balance of the small landholders would know where they stood in the future. The overall cost to the taxpayer will be approximately $20m. This proposal has been thrown in here at a moment’s notice and discussed for a few minutes. I am appealing for justice for the people of the Northern Territory. I strongly commend the motion.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak at a later stage.
– One who had any knowledge of the facts - the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) does have knowledge of the facts - could be forgiven for being angry at some of the things he said. There was a note of hypocrisy about his remarks. He gave notice of his intention to have the resumption declared null and void on 29 May, which was the day before yesterday, when it was known that this Parliament - which had sat longer than ever before - was determined to rise tonight. As he knows, if the Government had wanted to do what the previous Government did so many times, it need never have brought it on for debate at all and he would have automatically lost. As he said himself, it is a law of long standing, not a law made by the Labor Government. The LiberalCountry Party coalition Government, which was quite properly and rightly ejected from power in December last year, made the Land Acquisition Act. It made the 30-day rule. We could have done what it did to the Aboriginal Embassy - nothing. As a result of the lateness of the notice of intention to move this motion I find myself - the honourable member for Northern Territory is in no small part to blame - with less than 5 minutes to speak, because the Standing Orders require that this sitting shall come to an end.
– We are quite happy to meet next week.
– Of course you are. In 4 or 5 minutes I will try to say what happened. In July last year - here is where the hypocrisy comes in - the then Minister for the Interior recommended that the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government do what we have now done. That Government did not proceed with it because it found an election on its hands and it was fighting for its life. It did everything else but it forgot to do that. It swept this matter under the carpet. I repeat that in July 1972 the then Minister for the Interior, who sits in the House tonight, recommended that about 32 square miles of freehold land adjacent to the existing Darwin acquisition area be acquired for future urban development. The previous Government found better things to do. It was fighting for its life in an election. It did not do this. It knew this had to be done. We have done it. The experience of Darwin is well known to honourable members. The population there is growing at a rate of 12 per cent per annum. When I go to Darwin - I go there as often as I can - I find speculators from Canberra there buying the place up.
– Name them.
– Name them in 4 minutes? I will not name them. Because of that everincreasing urban sprawl the Government decided to do what should be done. No one will suffer from this. No one will come to harm. That has been made clear. But for cheap, shoddy, narrow political reasons the honourable member tries to champion the very persons he has never championed before - the so called little people. There is an increasing urban sprawl in the area. The honourable member knows it; I know it. Regardless of any decision to develop separate towns in other areas, we can do with the aid of the Northern Territory Legislative Council what has been done so successfully in Canberra. The previous Government never wanted to do it. The present land development up there is haphazard and devoid of proper roads and services. Some of those people do not even have good title. They have bought from bodgie land developers who do not have title to confer on them. They have put their life savings into it. The honourable member has the audacity to come along here and talk this hypocritical nonsense.
The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) will know of the Lanyon case wherein the Government with which he was associated did nothing. The people of Canberra, irrespective of what happens, will have to pay 10, 15 or 20 times the rates and charges for their land that they would have had to pay if his Government had done what we have done, 5, 10 or 15 years ago when it should have been done and when that Government was told it should have been done. The asking price is $3 5m. Honourable members opposite know that. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) who was the Minister for the Interior in the previous Government knows it. The asking price for Lanyon is $35m. I was not going to have a Lanyon scandal on my hands, and the Government took action. That will be passed on to the landowners of Canberra.
This matter was put to the previous Government last year. When the High Court decision is known we will know who was right. No one in the Northern Territory will suffer. Those people do not even have electricity. They do not have roads or sewerage. They have nothing. I have been to speak to them. When did the honourable member for the Northern Territory ever speak to them? It is his electorate. I have received deputations saying: ‘Good on you. You have done a good job’. Honourable members opposite come along here and stir, and then wait to see what happens. There can be no doubt that what has been done up there has been done in the interests of proper development for the Northern Territory, in the interests of the people who live there and in the interests of giving them sewerage, electricity, lighting, security of title and a good life. They know it. I know it. Those honourable members sitting opposite, who make cries that sound like bankrupt cockatoos on a dead tree, know it too.
– I think you are getting worked up.
– I am getting worked up when I hear hypocrisy being uttered. It has been made clear that there will be lease back arrangements pending the proper development of this area, the provision of services and the implementation of the Pak-Poy report and all the facilities that this Australian Government can place behind the proper development of the Northern Territory and the proper development of Darwin.
That the motion (Mr Carrier’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 19
Port of Albany - Broiler Industry - Poverty in Australia - The Smith Family Organisation - Margarine
– Order! It being past 10.15 p.m. in accordance with the order of the House of 1 March, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Tonight I wish to draw to the attention of this national Parliament the plight of some of our small outports around the coast of Australia. In doing this I wish to refer to the Port of Albany in Western Australia as an example of such ports. Concern in the town of Albany has been expressed for many years by the local authorities, the port authorities - in fact by all those concerned with the wellbeing of the town and the region. Albany is a beautiful, natural and safe port on the south coast of Western Australia. This port services a vast region stretching hundreds of miles into the hinterland. I would like to refer to the port itself. In its present natural state it has a depth of 34 feet. With very little effort this depth could be increased to 40 feet in Princes Royal Harbour which is the inner harbour. There is a safe big outer harbour which has a natural depth of 70 feet. That is King George Sound. It would be quite possible to develop a major port there. In fact, it has been estimated that in the Gull Rock area a major port 70-feet deep could be developed without any trouble at all for approximately $7m. In the interests of decentralisation this port should be improved. With the connection of a standard gauge rail link through the wheat belt of Western Australia it could service and ship all the grain from the southern area of Western Australia. This would relieve the congestion at Fremantle and Kwinana.
I turn now to the figures relating to freight shipped from that port for the area around Albany and, to indicate its growth, to compare them with the figures for Fremantle and Kwinana over the last few years. In 1967-68, freight shipped into Albany amounted to 200,000 tons approximately. Freight discharged at Albany in 1971-72 was 137,000 tons. It can be seen quite readily from those figures how the shipping at this port has dropped over the last few years, despite the fact that it is a magnificant port and a growing region. It is very hard to draw a comparison between the export figures for Albany and Fremantle, but putting Fremantle and Kwinana together the ship-out figure is in the vicinity of 6,482,000 tons. The figure for Albany is 647,000 tons. One can readily see from these figures that whilst Albany has grown as an export port in the last few years, as have Fremantle and Kwinana, there is just no comparison in the tonnage shipped from the ports.
I feel that it is terribly important that I should bring this subject up tonight because the community, the municipality and particularly our mayor, Mr Harold Smith of Albany, who is a true believer in decentralisation, have been very active in promoting the port. Mr Smith has been working for the promotion of the port for a number of years. He has been battling, as have the Industrial Advisory Committee and the other groups that are concerned with Albany and the region, for many years to try to stop the downgrading of the port of Albany. Only in the last 2 days, after consultation with and letters to the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association, a reply was received. After all the work that had been put into trying to promote Albany as a port and so help the town and the region, this is the attitude that the OSRA took. I quote from the reply to the Albany Town Clerk. It reads in part:
The port of Albany lacks the necessary facilities to cater for cellular container ships which were introduced progressively from 1969 into the AustraliatoEurope trade in an endeavour to restrict the extent of freight increases resulting from the traditional methods of operating labour intensive conventional vessels. The economics of operating these specialised cellular container ships dictate that concentration of cargo should take place at a limited number of major ports where considerable capital investment in shore facilities has been necessary to handle these ships.
The letter ends:
Taking all the circumstances into account we are unable to give you the assurance you have asked for.
That was for concerned consideration for service from OSRA -
But the Conference members that operate ships physically capable of loading directly at Albany will give consideration to berthing such vessels there subject to the availability of sufficient cargo to warrant a direct call.
That is reasonable, but they have been saying that for quite a number of years now. Last year this Conference Line lifted very little wool from Albany, although I might say that last year the Western Australian Government, in its wisdom, introduced a 50 per cent rail concession for the whole region stretching about 150 miles north of Albany for farmers who shipped their wool through Albany. The direct purpose of this was to assist the port and the wool selling centre. Yet today, although it is fair to say that the Conference lines that operate to Japan ship from Albany all the wool purchased for Japan, barely a bale is shipped through the port of Albany to Europe. There were 109,000 bales sent to Japan through the port of Albany, but 63,000 bales for European destinations were sent to Fremantle for containerisation.
The Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) is not in the chamber but I ask, especially in relation to the wool situation, what is the validity of the continued statements by all those concerned - mainly the shipping companies - that cellular containers are the most economic method of transporting all cargoes? What is the premise for this attitude in respect of wool? What does the Government consider is the future of these outports such as Albany, Portland and Bunbury? While this Government espouses a theory of decentralisation, the Conference lines which service Australia believe in centralisation. What is the Government’s attitude to this situation and can it assist in any way the smaller outports of Australia?
– I want to take the opportunity during the adjournment debate tonight to bring to the notice of the House the serious position which obtains in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia concerning the broiler industry.
– The what industry?
– The broiler industry. I am sorry that the honourable gentleman is not aware of the term or of the very serious position which exists in the industry at present. Mr Speaker, I know that you personally would be very aware of the conditions in this industry which are causing such great concern to growers. If urgent action is not taken on a Commonwealth and State level to ameliorate the situation, the ramifications will be felt by every Australian who buys chicken meat and particularly by the producers who are suffering such adverse economic conditions at present. Victoria is second only to New South Wales in the number of chickens slaughtered each year and also in the dressed weight of chickens produced. I point out that some 90 per cent of Victoria’s broiler growers live on the Mornington Peninsula which is within the boundaries of the Flinders electorate which I have the honour to represent in this Federal Parliament.
Since its inception the broiler industry has become a significant area of this nation’s rural sector. In the 1950s it produced approximately 8 million birds a year. Its growth is reflected in the fact that in the 1971-72 season production had risen to approximately 113 million. This growth highlights the manner in which the broiler industry and in fact all sections of the Australian poultry industry have benefited from technological progress which has been made in recent years. The figures for the decade between 1960 and 1970 illustrate the dramatic changes which have taken place in performance, productivity and consumption. If overseas experience in relation to consumption, particularly in the United States of America, is any real guide, as I believe it is, there is major potential for further immediate improvements in Australia. And yet during the period which I have mentioned there was a concomitant reduction in gross returns per pound to the grower.
The Victorian Government - one of the most far sighted governments, of course, throughout this land - has recognised the seriousness of the situation among broiler growers in that State. At the request of the former Minister for Agriculture, Sir Gilbert Chandler, an all-party parliamentary meat inquiry committee began in January of this year an investigation into the structure of the broiler industry. It has already produced an interim report and is expected to bring its final report before the State Parliament of Victoria at its next session. The major recommendations of that committee, which necessarily I summarise because of the restriction of time in this debate, were: Firstly, legislation to introduce uniform contracts for broiler growers to give them continuity of production extending over a period of 2 years; and secondly, the negotiation of final price, density and batch sizes before an independent arbitrator. The Victorian Minister for Local Government, Mr Alan Hunt, M.L.C., who represents South-Eastern - a magnificent parliamentarian in the State of Victoria - has promised legislation incorporating the recommendations as soon as possible in the next session of the Victorian Parliament.
But the problems besetting the broiler industry are by no means restricted to Victoria. In fact, consultants in the poultry industry say Victoria is fortunate compared with the worsening economic situation in other parts of Australia. There is therefore a fundamental need for a wide ranging inquiry to be initiated by the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) at Commonwealth level so that the best expertise available at the national level can be matched with that which is available as a result of the Victorian inquiry to which I have referred. In recent years the broiler industry has, with few exceptions, enjoyed a level of prosperity somewhat unique in the Australian primary production sector. However, adverse economic pressures are now being experienced with very considerable impact on the growers. I would hope that it is obvious to honourable members on both sides of this House that solutions must be found which will ensure the long term viability of the industry.
In the interests of the industry, particularly the growers and also the consumers, I call on the Minister for Primary Industry to undertake an urgent and comprehensive inquiry with a view to developing a clear response to the major and fundamental problems which have emerged. This is an industry which is in very real difficulty. I hope that these remarks, when conveyed to the Minister, *vill convince him of the urgent need to undertake a public inquiry. Such an inquiry would, as I mentioned, maximise the knowledge of the industry at the national level. This must lead to urgent action to remedy the problems facing so many growers during the adverse economic conditions which currently exist for them. An inquiry also would lead to public recognition of the impact which those conditions have on the nation at large.
– As an ex-chicken farmer I have been very interested in the comments of the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch). I am pleased to advise him that quite recently I took to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) a delegation of all the State’s broiler growers. We are looking at quite a few areas very seriously. The honourable member accurately described meetings which have taken place on the Mornington Peninsula. I was also very interested in the remarks of the honourable, member for Forrest (Mr Drummond), who referred to the future of the smaller ports around Australia. I am quite sure that eventually he will be told what we are being told about the problems of the Conference lines and concurrent loading. At some of the small ports a lot of cargo can be picked up but it is very hard to get much cargo to put down at them. With the advent of objective measurement of wool there is a good case to say that we will be able to assemble large parcels of wool at some ports. However, this will be over a period of only four or five months a year and cargo loading is given no continuity.
I want to speak tonight about some basic philosophical issues. There are 2 rather large elements in .the debate that is constantly waged between the major parties in this House. One view is that we need a larger economic cake to look after the people in our society who are least able to cope with their problems. Our side wants to redistribute the cake. Both arguments have a great degree of validity. The Church of England Diocese of Sydney has stated in a report that about 2,215,000 people are living in poverty. This is rather a crushing indictment of our society. The figure, calculated by the Reverend Peter Hollingworth, is the sum of a statistical breakdown of the under-privileged into numerous categories - civilian and service pensioners, unemployed, chronically ill, widows and single parents and many thousands of families whose total income from gainful occupation or from assistance schemes is below $50 to $60 a week. The extensive activities of the Church of England in alleviating human distress make it a competent witness to talk about the nature, degree and causes of poverty. A further report recently issued showed that one in five of Sydney’s inner city primary school pupils is mentally disturbed; one in 10 is not getting enough to eat; and one in 12 is poorly clothed. These are the figures that I say make a shocking indictment of our society. It is the reason why honourable members on this side of the House say that we must redistribute the cake, as a basic philosophical point.
I would like now to refer to something closer to my electorate; that is the activities of the Wollongong branch of the Smith Family. This year the Smith Family will be looking after about 7,000 people in that area. Those people are helped when in a crisis situ ation and are not those who are sometimes termed ‘professional bludgers’. They are people in a crisis situation and in dire need. I will cite some of the figures illustrating the activities of the Smith Family in a period of 6 months from December 1972 to May 1973. The figures are as follows: New cases 258; number of adults 1602; number of children 2373, making the total number of persons helped 3975. The composition of the cases in the area is as follows: Deserted wives 335; unemployed 193; people on sickness benefits 51; husbands in gaol 11; temporary crises 174; pensioners 302; unmarried mothers 64; advice only needed 273; referrals from other agencies 28; home visits by Smith Family welfare officers 111; migrants 870; food parcels as family hampers 206; food parcels as small hampers 98; clothing issued 694 families; furniture issued to 86 families; and food vouchers for perishables issued to the value of $146.
The Smith Family organisation meets crisis situations. A while ago I was lucky enough to get $87,000 for a nursing home in Bowral to look after about 26 additional people. While I do not knock that, I point out that because an agency was set up to help people who need social welfare $87,000 was obtained for 26 people. The Smith Family, which will look after something like 7,000 people this year, would give its back teeth to get its hands on even $5,000 in the present situation. The Smith Family in Wollongong runs a white elephant auction every Saturday at which it sells off the goods people donate to it. In this way it is cutting down its overdraft. But virtually it leads a hand to mouth existence going from one week to the next trying to get enough money to help those people in a crisis situation. This is why I say, just getting back to the basic philosophical point that I raised, that we must redistribute the cake.
– On 23 May I raised the matter of the granting of a licence to produce a quota of 300 tons of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory. 1 questioned the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) on a number of matters regarding the company to which he granted a unilateral licence, and I am sorry ‘that he is not in the chamber at the moment to hear what I have to say. I believe that this action is an affront to the great national dairy industry. I even went so far as to suggest to the Minister that his actions in doing all these things created grave doubts about the ethics employed by him. I am compelled to raise this matter again tonight. The Minister for the Capital Territory appeared to be very concerned when 1 last raised this matter that I had not informed him that I would speak on the subject of the granting of a unilateral licence. With a flurry of words he cleverly evaded the main topic but assured me that he would read my speech and if it needed a reply he would do so the next day.
– He has not been game to reply to it.
– That is right. Apparently the questions I asked and the information I gave to this House made him duck for cover because I did not hear from him the next day. On 24 May, the following day, I asked the Minister a series of direct questions in the House. Again I got a long dissertation, the essence of which was that the Minister did not believe in quotas and that there are no laws governing the manufacture of table margarine in the Australian Capital Territory. He could make one at short notice but he believed that Marrickville Holdings Ltd could be trusted. Who makes a business deal on trust only?
In the Senate the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in reply to a question said that he had been approached by the Minister for the Capital Territory after the February meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council and asked whether he had any objection to the production of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory. Senator Wriedt said he had the clear understanding that the Council was not in disagreement with this course being adopted. Thirteen days ago the Australian Agricultural Council met. This was the day after the Minister for the Capital Territory had surprisingly announced that Marrickville Holdings had been given the Australian Capital Territory licence. At the Australian Agricultural Council meeting 13 days ago the point was clearly made to both Senator Wriedt and the Minister that at the February meeting the Council had said that it would consider at its next meeting the concept of the Australian Capital Territory going into margarine production. In other words, the Minister for the Capital Territory preempted consideration by the Australian Agricultural Council.
The question to ask is: Why? The answer to that question can be found by examining the relationship between the Australian Labor Party and the company which got the Australian Capital Territory margarine quota - Marrickville Holdings Ltd. The relationship is financial. Marrickville Holdings is one of the fat cat backers of the ALP. It has always enjoyed a good-buddy friendship with the ALP. Last year it was rumoured that Marrickville Holdings gave $100,000 to the ALP election funds.
– On a point of order! The honourable gentlemen is making a number of allegations. Unless these allegations can be substantiated I ask that they be withdrawn.
– The honourable member is referring to an outside body so the question of allegations is not involved. His statements can be refuted. There is no point of order.
– I said that it had been rumoured. Also, there are reports of gift giving by Marrickville Holdings Ltd to Labor Party officials. Now let us take a look at the sequence of events in the curious granting of this licence. In February, the Minister for the Capital Territory raised at the Australian Agricultural Council meeting the possibility of the Australian Capital Territory having a margarine factory, even though adequate supplies of margarine are available from interstate sources. On 23 March, an Australian Capital Territory registered company, Pearga Pty Ltd, acquired the premises of the Tip Top Bakery at 3 Lithgow Street, Fyshwick. The 3 listed shareholders of that company are: Arthur John Dean Garrisson of 33 Melbourne Avenue, Forrest; Minnie Dean Garrisson of 47 Urenulla Road, Point Piper, New South Wales; and Peter Wolsley Garrisson of 445 Wattle Road, East Malvern, Victoria. It may be as well for the House to know that one of these men was involved in a public company scandal as a director of Testro Bros International Pty Ltd in Victoria some years ago.
It is 3 Lithgow Street, Fyshwick, which will be the site of the Canberra margarine factory, on the admission of the Minister for the Capital Territory. During April, workmen were employed for labouring at 3 Lithgow Street, Fyshwick, Australian Capital Territory, by an indoor bowling company. It is also interesting to note that within the Marrickville group of companies are the following 2 indoor bowling companies: Olympic Bowl Pry Ltd and Australian Bowling Corporation Pty Ltd. I ask this question: Would not Fyshwick be a very strange place to put an indoor bowling alley? It is the centre of Canberra’s industrial area.
– Do you think that Gough would open that bowling club?
– I do not know. All that has been done at the site is that the building has been cleaned up and prepared for the installation of machinery. On 17 May the Minister for the Capital Territory announced the allocation of a margarine quota licence to the Marrickville company. I discovered in the next few days that good old 3 Lithgow Street, Fyshwick, would be the site of the margarine factory. I wonder why the Government will not demand a full inquiry into the activities of all those connected with the granting of this unilateral licence. Why is the Minister being allowed to have his own way? The whole business is the subject of some conjecture as to where we are going. Newspapers and other magazines have all expressed interest in what is really happening. TheCanberra News’ of 30 May highlighted a series of conflicting announcements made by the Ministers, Marrickville Holdings Ltd, the manager of that company and the people who are concerned with the purchase of the building. The Bulletin’ has made similar comments.
I have recalled some incredible facts. It is well known that the Minister for the Capital Territory desires to free Australia from the margarine quota system. It is also well known that some of his fellow Ministers, particularly the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), are very hostile because they realise that the decision could lose them votes. Section 92 of the Constitution gives the company immunity. Canberra is well situated to serve the larger New South Wales and Victorian markets and would have to do so because the Australia Capital Territory market is too small to justify setting up a plant just for the production of 300 tons. I believe that the whole business could become a public scandal. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) must be hiding his head inthe sand if he claims to have no knowledge of the matter. The fact that poly-unsaturated table margarine uses a large quantity of imported oils makes a complete mockery of the Australian Labor Party’s expressed rural policies, which I believe never really existed. I believe that the Minister for the Capital Territory should be banished from his office. If he is not, the rural people will make sure that his colleagues in rural seats are banished from this Parliament at the next election.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.49 p.m. to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr Speaker as determined by the resolution of the House.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
On one occasion if my response to a question on a television programme ‘Monday Conference’ broadcast on 12 February 1973 could be regarded as a discussion. I answered a question put to me by a member of the audience who turned out to be Mr Baltinos of the New Settlers Federation and I presume it is this Federation to which the question is intended to refer.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The estimation of the number of aliens eligible to apply for citizenship in Australia is based on a computer table, following the transfer of the manual records into computer system. Conversion to computer processing has resulted in a validation of the manual records previously maintained. This validation has resulted in some variations to figures compiled under manual methods before June 1972.
The estimation of the number of aliens eligible to apply for citizenship in Australia is based on a computer table, following the transfer of the manual records into computer system. Conversion to computer processing has resulted in a validation of the manual records previously maintained. This validation has resulted in some variations to figures compiled under manual methods before June 1972.
Note: The statistics in parts (1) to (4) relate solely to the grant of citizenship by naturalisation. During the periods in question citizenship was also (i) granted by registration to 7,085 and (ii) acquired by notification by 5,512 persons from Commonwealth countries, Ireland, Rhodesia and South Africa. These represent a very small proportion of the total number of settlers from these countries.
Note: 29,296 persons, including those covered in the certificates listed above, were granted Australian citizenship in 1971-1972. This number represented only 9 per cent of those eligible to apply for Australian citizenship but who had not done so in 1971-72
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In the majority of schools with Cadet Units membership is an extra-curricula activity of an entirely voluntary nature. There is no compulsion by the Services for any youth to join the Cadets. I understand there are some schools where cadet training is an integral part of the curriculum with a consequent obligation on students to join.
It is Government policy that military training in any form be voluntary. Schools with Cadet Units are being advised that official support will be withdrawn, and a Unit disbanded, if compulsion or pressure is exerted on pupils to participate in Cadet activity.
asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice: (1) How many people residing or wishing to reside on farms have applied for a Home Savings Grant since the inception of the Scheme.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
National Servicemen Remaining in the Army (Question No. 398)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
How many National Servicemen will remain in the Army on:
30 June 1973
30 September 1973
31 December 1973 and
31 March 1974.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Estimates of the number of National Servicemen remaining in the Army at the dates specified are:
30 June 1973-2,700
30 September 1973-1,800
31 December 1973-1,100
31 March 1974-0.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
By what criteria was the target of 31,000 Army volunteers by June 1973, mentioned In his press statement of 20 March 1973 selected.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The target strength of 31,000 was based on the advice of the Secretary, Department of Defence, the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chiefs of Staff of the three Services who recommended, in December 1972, interim manning and organisation arrangements for the Australian Army pending the outcome of a study, for the first time, of the future size and shape of the Australian Regular Army.
Strengths and Recruitment Rates of the Services (Question No. 420)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
In what way does the extension of the integration services to meet the special needs of migrant children by the provision of bilingual or multi-lingual officers trained in welfare work, announced by him as an initiative of his Government, differ from the proposal on the same subject announced by the previous Minister on 31 August 1972.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In my statement to the press on 11 March 1973 I said that my Department would be seeking approval (from the Public Service Board) to appoint 48 multi lingual welfare officers, some of whom it was proposed would work with migrant children in schools and between the schools and migrants’ homes. These proposed appointments were identical with those to which the previous Minister referred in his statement to Parliament on 31 August 1972. The intention to make such appointments was first discussed however at a meeting with State education authorities on 12 January 1970, and there is reference to my Department’s intention to assess the need to extend its normal integration services, through the provision of interpreters and welfare officers to meet the requirements of the child migrant education program, in the Ministerial Statement made to Parliament on 23 April 1970 by the then Minister for Immigration.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
In what way do the new migrant education centres, announced by him as an initiative of his Government, differ from the proposal on the same subject announced by the previous Minister on 31 August 1972.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The network of planned new migrant education centres in all States to which I referred in my statement to the press when opening the first of the new centres in Perth on 21 February 1973 does not differ from the proposal on the same subject to which the previous Minister referred in his statement to Parliament on 31 August 1972. In my statement to the press in Perth I acknowledged (as reported in the Melbourne Age’ on 22 February) that the network of new centres was first planned by the previous Government. The concept of migrant education centres in the States is not however new. A centre has been in existence in Melbourne since 1952, when my Department obtained accommodation for the adult migrant education section of the Victorian Department of Education. So that classes could also be held in the centre, a move was made to larger premises in December 1959 and in 1967 the centre was again moved to its current address at 200 Little Coffins Street. New and larger premises are planned for Melbourne to accommodate the increased faculties which we are now providing under both the child and adult migrant education programs.
Soviet Activity in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Question No. 477)
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Can he say how many Soviet naval units and mercantile marine units have been deployed in -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 May 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730531_reps_28_hor84/>.