28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 1 1.30 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That they oppose the Australian Health Insurance Program and any National Health Scheme.
That they wish to retain the right to choose their own medical care by selecting a general practitioner, specialist or any other medical classification of their own choice under the present conditions in private consulting rooms and also the right to choose an intermediate ward or private hospital of their own choice.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measure to interfere with the existing health scheme.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Donald Cameron and Mr Jarman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Cooke, Mr Drury and Mr Wallis.
To the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘Free National Health Scheme’ is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
And your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically. by Mr Giles, Mr McLeay 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 Australia respectfully showeth:
That the undersigned men and women of Australia believe in a Christian way of life; and that no democracy can thrive unless its citizens are responsible and law abiding.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will see that the powerful communicator, television, is used to build into the nation those qualities of character which make a democracy work - integrity, teamwork and a sense of purpose by serving, and that television be used to bring faith in God to the heart of the family and national life.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Morrison, Sir John Cramer, Mr Graham, Mr Kerin, Mr Lucock, Mr Reynolds and Mr Ruddock.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shews:
Your petitioners therefore ask that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education, and so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Jarman and Br Jenkins.
– Are there any questions without notice? I call the honourable member for Farrer.
– The Minister of whom I am seeking to ask a question, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, as usual is not here.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. As today interest rates appear to be rising very rapidly and the real difficulties we face are immediate and in what could be regarded as the short or medium term, can he explain to me why it was necessary to decide that part of the next Commonwealth loan floated would be a long term loan rather than to attempt to concentrate on the short end of the market, that is, up to 3 years, or on the medium term market up to 10 years? In other words, he could have kept the long term bond rate stable - I believe there is every likelihood of that market failing and of more harm being done than he intends to do - ‘and we could have concentrated on the short term area where the money has to be found for the immediate future, and I believe that a far greater amount would thereby be contributed to the series of loans.
– We chose to give a wider range of options. I suggest that the right honourable gentleman ask his question in a fortnight’s time when the loan is closed.
-Will the Minister for Services and Property introduce legislate similar to that operative in the United States to make it compulsory for all political parties to disclose the source of their funds so that the Australian people can see for themselves how much foreign money is being poured into Liberal Party coffers so that it can sell this country out to overseas interests?
– The practice of publishing contributions made to political parties that the honourable member has mentioned is common in a number of countries throughout the world. It is followed in the United States and it is about to be followed in Canada. In a recent visit overseas I saw that this commendable practice was well adopted by those countries. I think all people in this country want to avoid any Watergates, and therefore there is a great case to be made for the names of the donors to political parties to be made public. That particularly applies in regard to multi-national companies, which seek to defeat duly elected governments by contributing funds to their opponents in Australia and other places. I believe also the sources of the $lm fund that the Liberal Party is collecting from these kinds of organisations to defeat this Government should be made known. The Australian Labor Party has under consideration a number of electoral reforms. Very high on the list is consideration of the proposal that we do what the honourable member for Robertson has said and that is to make it necessary by legislation for donors and the amounts they contribute to political parties to be made known. I am hopeful that in the immediate future we may be able to bring down in this Parliament that kind of legislation. Then we will see where the Liberal Party stands with respect to its anonymous donors who seek to defeat this Government.
– In the absence of the Minister for Minerals and Energy I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I see that the Minister has now entered the chamber so I direct the question to him. Is it a fact that in order to bring the Woodside-Burmah gas fields to the position of being able to sell liquefied natural gas overseas, the following approximate costs would have to be incurred: Firstly, production and separation platforms, approximately SI, 000m; secondly, a pipeline of 80 miles to bring the gas on shore, between SI 00m and SI 50m; thirdly, liquefied natural gas plant, S250m; fourthly, 10 tankers at SI 00m each, $ 1,000m; and finally, if required, a pipeline to Perth, $200m. This would make a total of S2,550m, to which would need to be added the operating expenses and the cost of the gas. Did Cabinet agree to the provision of this sum before the Minister told WoodsideBurmah of the Government’s intention to take the product at well-head? Can the Minister be more specific than the Minister for Overseas Trade who, when asked on television if it was in fact a Cabinet decision said: T think there is a Cabinet decision about the general line’?
– The honourable member still believes in fairy tales. It is a question of just what are the realities. The honourable member is incorrect in his calculations of the cost of bringing natural gas ashore. It will cost either $21 Om or $212m. That is the measure of the disparity between the estimates of Woodside-Burmah and those of the Department’s hydrocarbons branch.
– Does that include the platform?
– Just wait for a moment. As for the rest, we are not very interested in exports. This is where the Woodside-Burmah people have been at issue with us in the past. They want to rip out and to rape, over a period of 21 years, the whole of the resources of the north-west shelf, to export them and to maximise their cash return, giving minimum protection in that way to the needs of Australian industry. As for cryogenic tankers, compression plant and the like, I know of 5 or 6 overseas firms any one of which would provide the whole of that equipment and pay an on-shore price for the delivery of the gas. They will do the rest, so forget about the fairy tales, and the rest you will get in due course on Tuesday next when your Party will be misguided enough to move another censure motion.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that the Government has responded to its social welfare commitment by increasing pension payments twice since last December? Can the Minister give an assurance that Government policy will be sufficiently flexible so that pension increases will not be eroded by inflation? Has the Minister noted the remark of a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins, that there ought to be an election immediately with pensions as an issue? Finally, could the Minister inform the House precisely what tangible contribution to pensioners was made under the stewardship of the right honourable member for Higgins?
– The honourable member is correct. The pension increases which have occurred since the Australian Labor Party became the Government have been the most generous and, of course, will continue to be the most generous that have occurred in this country. There will be a further increase early in the new year. I think it is significant that over the long term the standard rate of pension as a proportion of average weekly earnings continued to erode until it was about 18 per cent or 19 per cent on average in the last several years of the previous Government’s administration of this country. That contrasts very poorly with the relationship to average weekly earnings under the Labor Government of the late 1940s, when it was about 25 per cent or 26 per cent.
Specifically, the honourable member queried the performance of the Gorton Government. In the 1967-68 financial year, during the first period in which the right honourable member for Higgins was Prime Minister, there was an increase of 5.7 per cent in average weekly earnings but no increase in pensions. The following year there was an increase of more than 8 per cent in average weekly earnings and an increase in the standard rate of pension of 7.7 per cent. In 1970 there was a 9 per cent increase in average weekly earnings and an increase in the standard rate of pension of 7 per cent. In fact, there was a princely increase of 50c in 1970. That was a demonstration of meanness which I do not think the Prime Minister of that period would find particularly encouraging or creditable if he wished to make pensions and his performance in particular an issue in any election campaign.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Does the Minister envisage Japanese participation in the development of a petro-chemical industry in the Pilbara region, as outlined in his communications with the Premier of Western
Australia? Has he discussed this matter with the representatives of the Japanese interests at present in Canberra? Will the Minister inform the House of his attitude towards Japanese involvement in the Pilbara proposals, which provide for the use of the natural gas that the Government intends to acquire from the north-west shelf?
– The answer is a simple one. The present proposal that has been under consideration - that is, the desulphurising of overseas heavy crude - falls down very quickly. In view of the world trend in prices due to the activities of the OPEC - the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries - group one would be giving hostages to fortune to commit oneself to such a refinery. It would be designed and structured merely for the purpose of dealing with a specialised type of crude.
– I was talking about a petrochemical industry, not a refinery.
– All right. That is the first point. The second point, which I have made repeatedly, is that we have only 8 years supply of crude. We need to supplement it. That can be best done by the restructuring of the liquids that are derivable from natural gas - in the case of the north-west shelf, in the order of about 40 barrels per million cubic feet. If we do that we will find that we probably can double our supplies of motor spirit.
Restructuring can take place by methanation, alkylation or a straight cracking procedure. In any event, the petro-chemical plant would strip from the liquids ethane which would be the feed stock for the whole process. In the case of Western Australia there is a very obvious example of what can be done. In the Dampier region and also in the Port Hedland region there are extensive salt farms. That salt can be combined with chloride, which in turn will provide caustic soda, which is one of the essential chemicals for the use of the alumina industry. There is no doubt whatever that it is economically viable. We would prefer to have - and we believe that we can have - quite a number of Australian companies in a consortium. I think we will be taking more than a sporting interest ourselves through the structure of the Australian Industry Development Corporation.
– Are you talking about the Japanese?
– -There will be no need for the Japanese to come in. They are our very good friends and our very good customers and we will be very happy to sell them what they may need.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by saying that he would be aware of the interest in and perhaps in some places concern at the changing interest rates. I ask the Treasurer whether he will prepare a table setting out the movement of interest rates over the last 25 years so that honourable members may be better informed of the trends that have occurred over the years and will be able intelligently to debate and understand this matter?
– I thank the honourable member for his question. I will be most pleased indeed to meet his request.
– I address my question to the Deputy Prime Minister. Does he recall stating to this Parliament on 26 September that the number of Army volunteers ‘exceeds even the Government’s expectations’? Does he also recall stating that the Army Director-General of Recruiting had been misquoted in a public statement on the decline in enlistments? I ask the Minister directly: Is it not true, as I am advised by Army sources, that his Department’s statistics show a decline in Army enrolments of 25 per cent and a decline in re-enlistments of 17 per cent? Is it also true that trainees are now shown on battalion establishments immediately after recruitment training whereas formerly they would have been engaged in approximately 3 months corps training? In other words, is some of the increase to which he has adverted due to a change in reporting techniques?
– It is true that I informed the House that the number of applications for enlistment in the Army had exceeded Government expectations. At that time I gave no indication of figures, I did not refer to figures at all. The information that had been conveyed to me by the Department of Defence was that enlistments were running at a satisfactory level. I say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that it would appear that for the month of September - the figures which I referred to previously related to an earlier period - the rate of enlistments has fallen. I have no figures that I can give to the honourable member at this stage. They have not been made available to me. It is conceded that the number of applications during September had fallen somewhat. What I did say to the House and what I wish to reiterate is that I indicated that there had been a satisfactory rate of applications for enlistment up to that period.
– 1 will be happy to give you the figures if you want them.
– I can assure the honourable member that if figures are available and have been supplied to him from the Department of Defence I will have no difficulty in obtaining them myself. I will certainly move to substantiate what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has indicated in relation to the rate of enlistments. I will be happy to let him have the information which is provided to me by the Department.
– Has the Minister for Immigration studied reports that foreign terrorists are infiltrating Australia to interfere with the Opera House opening? If so, are the reports correct? If they are, what precautions are being taken?
– There have been a great many reports about the infiltration, if that is the right word, into Australia by overseas criminals and terrorists. I must say that this has not occurred in the way in which it has been depicted. We have in fact taken the strongest possible precautions but not at this end because we do not have these troubles at this time and we do not want to import them and we do not want to have them here. What I have done as Minister for Immigration is to authorise the suspension in a number of areas of the easy system of tourist visa issuing which was introduced a few months ago to facilitate the movement of people to Australia with the least possible formality and the least possible amount of bureaucracy. In view of the international tensions and difficulties which have been caused by small groups in various parts of the world, those special arrangements which I introduced have been suspended in certain areas. I am confident, and I can assure the House, that all of the organs that are responsible for security at present are well informed and in a good position to keep from our country the kinds of tensions that exist in other places only too sadly at the moment.
– I recall to the Prime Minister a statement that he made at his Press conference yesterday that if the prices and incomes referendum were carried - I hope I quote him verbatim; he will correct me if I do not - ‘the same procedure for determining non-wage incomes as the Constitution has always provided for the determination of wages’ would toe adopted by his Government. He went on to say:
Since the Constitution has always provided for the determination of wages, we would extend the operations of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to specified forms of income other than wages.
Since hitherto the Arbitration Commission has always declared a minimum and not a maximum wage and, indeed, until the referendum is carried may have no constitutional power to declare other than a minimum, not a maximum, wage, does the statement by the Prime Minister mean that, if the referendum is carried, he will instruct the Arbitration Commission under his new powers to outlaw over-award wages and payments, or does the statement mean that he will instruct the Arbitration Commission to declare minimum, not maximum, levels for other incomes and allow those other incomes to have over-award incomes. Now, since he has-
– I ask the Prime Minister which he means? If his statement that he intends to apply the same procedure means anything, it must mean -
-Order! I do not wish to appear rude, but would you ask your question?
– If he gets these new powers, does he intend to. use them to instruct the Arbitration Commission to outlaw overaward wages, or does he intend to use them to allow the Arbitration Commission to declare minimum rates for other incomes and to allow over-award rates of those other incomes? Which does he mean?
– The honourable gentleman seems to have had his thinking vitiated by his leader’s advocacy of a wages freeze. The Government has never advocated a wages freeze. It is true enough that by pressure, appointments and manipulation in respect of the old Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration 20 years ago a wages freeze was virtually procured by an earlier Liberal government. But this has not been the method nor would it ever be a method adopted by an Australian Labor government. We believe that the Australian Parliaments conciliation and arbitration powers are well exercised by the tribunals appointed by legislation of the Parliament. We have no intention whatever to have freezes in that sense. Where the Australian Parliament has the power, as it has in respect of conciliation and arbitration, then it ought to be quite clear that the present Australian Government would never exercise that power in order to produce a freeze. However, it is clear from looking at the statistics for the last 20 years or so that the amount of the gross domestic product represented by wages and salaries has gone down but other forms of income have gone up. I presume the thinking of the Leader of the Opposition when he advocated a wages freeze, I think in July and then in August - later he did extend it to an incomes and prices policy - was to have a freeze on other forms of income as well. It ought to be clear to the honourable gentleman who asked this question that there are at present very considerable limitations on any Australian Government’s jurisdiction in respect of other incomes. There are 2 instances where there have had to be ad hoc committees of inquiry because the Australian Parliament and the Australian Government did not have constitutional powers. There have been ad hoc tribunals in respect of academic salaries. There have been ad hoc tribunals in respect of medical fees. There have been such ad hoc tribunals under the previous Government and there are under the present Government. But it would be better still if an experienced standing body like the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission were to have such powers in respect of incomes as a whole, particularly in respect of specific fields.
– I rise to order. The Prime Minister has not answered my question. I simply asked him which he meant. I did not ask him about these other questions at all.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is not making a point of order. He is making a speech. The Chair is not responsible for the way in which a Minister answers a question. That is entirely a matter for the Minister.
– Mr Speaker, you have referred in this House to the Standing Orders which require that answers must be relevant to questions. You have also very rightly pointed out that your predecessors had been somewhat liberal, perhaps too liberal, in the interpretation of the rules and that you, Sir, intend to endeavour to the best of your capacity - which is a pretty good best when at its best - to ensure that the Standing Orders were in fact applied strictly and that Ministers therefore should give relevant answers to questions which are asked. The Prime Minister is not doing so on this occasion.
-I did advise the right honourable member for Lowe - and he has acceded to the request - that he should place an item concerning this matter on the agenda for the next meeting of the Standing Orders Committee.
– I have already done so.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. In view of the unique servicing position of local government at the grass roots level of Australia’s economy and in view of the fact that already 25 per cent of local government income is going to be used to pay interest on borrowed money, will the Treasurer consider exempting or partially exempting local governments’ 1973-74 borrowings from any increase in interest rates or can their difficulties be eased in some other way?
– Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to point out that the Prime Minister, myself and other Ministers are meeting with the Premiers tomorrow with a view to better integrating local government into the overall financial processes. I would prefer therefore to leave the matter open.
– My question is to the Minister for Social Security and relates to an allegation which he made during question time on Wednesday of the last week of sitting. Does the Minister recall that he said he had received a bundle of letters from Gympie in Queensland protesting against the proposed national health scheme and that he said many were written on the same note pad and that one person ‘had written more than one of the letters? Is the Minister really conscious of the very widespread concern existing in Gympie over the national health scheme proposals and the Deeble report, evidenced by a hundred letters I have received over the last 2 days? As Gympie is in my electorate of Fisher, will the Minister agree to show me the letters to which he referred and will he demonstrate to me as the member for Fisher the basis on which he made such serious allegations before he dismisses these letters from my electors as insignificant?
– I too have received many letters which give me encouragement in what we are doing, but I will not delay on the other points that the honourable member raised because they scarcely seem relevant.
Opposition members - Oh!
– If honourable members opposite want me to debate now the health insurance program which we are about to bring in, I will be very happy to do so, but I would not have thought that this was a proper course at question time, although I am being invited to do so.
– Go on; show me the letters.
– Well, I could start off by pointing out that ours is a more equitable scheme than the present one.
Opposition members - Oh!
– There you are - honourable members opposite have invited me to discuss it and when I attempt to do so they behave like some of those Brahman bulls at the back of Cloncurry that Bob Katter sings to now and again. I was about to say before I was so rudely interrupted by the Opposition that I am very happy to show the honourable member the letters to which I have referred and, although it is a simple task, nonetheless I will face the challenge of trying to indicate to him the similarity of the handwriting in some of these letters and the consistent similarity of the pad paper which has been used in all of them.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of reports of food shortages in some lines? Have these reports any validity and, if so, what are the shortages and how can they be overcome?
– My attention was drawn to some reports of alleged shortages of some processed foodstuffs. I did look into this as a matter of very keen interest and concern to all of us and discovered that, in fact, there had been a suggestion by a processor that he was not obtaining the supplies of the product that he sought. However, this was essentially related to the price that was offering. In some cases, of course, there has been no effective increase for 10 years in the producers’ return on some of these lines. As a matter of fact, in one particular instance a product which was produced for, I think, something like 3.5c per lb had retailed for many years at 26c and 27c per lb. My own impression and information is that if beef prices in the saleyards dropped by SO per cent per lb in the morning, the steak would still cost the same as before in Sydney, Melbourne and the other cities. I certainly will draw the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry to the concern expressed by the honourable member and I will also ask the Minister to use every device at his disposal to probe the very long pipeline of costs between the consumer and the producer, or vice versa, because it seems to me that this is where most of the trouble in relation to high food prices lies at present.
– My question is to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Have any feasibility or cost benefit analysis studies been made, or are any now being made, of the development of a national pipeline grid and further exploitation and exploration of the north-west natural gas reserves? How much capital investment will be involved and how much of that capital investment will be by way of public funds? Will the Minister table these reports immediately?
– The answer is a very simple one.
– Make it understandable.
– I will try for your benefit. The cost of the Sydney-Gidgealpa pipeline-
– It is not that.
– Just listen to me, please, and you will learn.
– Do not be so sure.
– Very well. I stand corrected. The cost of the Sydney-Gidgealpa pipeline will be between $190m and $200m. We will need to go beyond Gidgealpa to Palm Valley and that will cost, with a liquids line, which will be necessary, another $190m.
– It is only taxpayers’ money after all.
– And excellent security for it. The reasons are simple. At present the dedicated reserves of Gidgealpa are doubtful and it is considered that they will not cover for more than 12 to 14 years the present commitment to supply the city of Sydney. In the case of Adelaide, unfortunately a very heavy commitment has been made to the use of natural gas for the generation of electricity. Natural gas is a high premium fuel and we have to face the situation as it is. There is also a project for the establishment of a petro-chemical industry at Redcliffs. To provide the necessary backup for the short fall from Gidgealpa, there is no alternative but to go through to Palm Valley. If the Commonwealth had not come into the picture it would have been beyond the financial competence of the Australian Gas Light Company to provide the necessary facilities.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The Minister clearly has not heard the question which I asked. His answer bears no relevance whatever to it. If question time is to have any meaning, a question needs to be understood by the Minister and answered by the Minister. For those reasons I would like to repeat the question. The question I asked was this -
-Order! It is not in order for the right honourable gentleman to ask 2 questions in succession.
– No, one question.
-It would be 2 questions. As I said before, the Chair is not responsible for the way in which a Minister answers a question. The right honourable gentleman has already asked his question. The way in which the Minister answered was a matter entirely for him. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to ask another question he will have to wait until such time as it is his turn.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minster and it is in connection with Australian volunteers for the war in the Middle East. Is the Prime Minister aware that certain Australian nationals have expressed a desire to volunteer to go to the Middle East to assist or fight on the side of one of the warring nations in that tragic war now taking place? Will the Prime Minister use any power at his disposal to prevent any Australian nationals leaving this country to take part on either side of the warring factions in the Middle East?
– When Australian citizens seek, passports they do not have to state the purpose for which they seek them, and I do not propose to institute any system of requiring information about the purpose for which a passport is about to be used. To take the specific instance mentioned, I do not propose to require persons who are seeking passports or who are leaving the country and who do not need any other documentation, to give undertakings or answer questions about whether they are going to any of the belligerent countries in the Middle East.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Have any feasibility studies been made of the manner in which uranium contracts that have been entered into by potential or current Australian producers of uranium are to be filled? Has any decision been reached by the Government to prevent some potential producers from honouring their contracts and to put them into the hands of other producers? If such feasibility studies have been conducted, will the Minister table -them? Have any feasibility studies been made by the Government as to the potential for future markets for Australian production of uranium?
– The Leader of the Opposition can be very certain that the Government is most familiar with the current world prices for uranium. At the present time the prices are inadequate.
– Will the Minister table the report?
– This is not a dialogue. I want to answer the right honourable gentleman’s question. I cite the advice of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which is of the considered opinion that until 1980 there will not be a true market for uranium. Contracts that were entered into prior to the recent election will be fully honoured - the interested parties have been told that - despite the fact that in some cases there was what might be termed a death bed repentence. One contract was approved 2 days before polling day, another 7 days before and the oldest of them about 3 months before.
The prices are unsatisfactory. The best of those prices was $US7.25, which is worth about $A5 today. The United States of America is desperately seeking to obtain more uranium. It does not want to import it for that reason. In the last 3 years it has spent more than $100m searching for uranium within its own boundaries. It anticipates a shortfall of approximately 850,000 tons by 1985. The true market will arise between 1980 and 1985. In the meantime, when the Opposition’s censure motion is moved next Tuesday the Government will be giving the further details of the proposals it has to give relief to Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd and to the other associated producers in respect of the preelection contracts, which the Government will honour.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Housing and Minister for Works. Is it intended to amalgamate the Departments of Housing and Works? If so, what advantages could accrue to the home building industry?
– Consistent with the declared attitude of the Prime Minister, it is intended that all Ministers will hold only one portfolio, and accordingly the 2 departments will be amalgamated. The marriage of the Departments of Works and Housing will bring the Department of Housing into association with about 14,000 employees of the Department of Works. The Department of Works is a very large and accomplished department, as honourable members know. It is responsible for servicing other departments and it expends something like $600m a year. When the merger takes place - it will not happen next week, of course, but it will happen as quickly as possible because there is a need to take into account the welfare of the employees - it is likely that the amalgamated department will be called the Department of Construction and Housing. It seems to me that considerable benefits would accrue to the housing industry by bringing the expertise of the Department of Works into relationship with housing. About half the personnel of the Department of Works comprises a technical force of engineers, architects and the like of world renown and they undertake work of a very important nature overseas. The expertise in the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation also would be available to assist in endeavours that might be directed towards the housing industry. It seems to me that there is a great deal of merit in heading out to achieve every possible degree of economy and efficiency in the utilisation of all our construction resources, whether they are manpower, material or anything else. This Government’s inclination is not to put housing into a backwater. It is the intention of the Australian Government to take whatever initiatives it can, in proper consultation with the States, to undertake housing enterprises in the name of the Australian Government Towards that end there will be hard and accelerated application to such matters as national building codes and research authorities so that we can’ get into proper relationship the 3 facets of the construction industry - money, manpower and materials. In addition we will be looking at ways of building houses less expensively, and I am hoping that it will not be long before the Government gives approval to a proposal to introduce a task force which will examine-
– Another one?
– Another one, but it is regrettable that in the 23 years of Liberal administration no headway was made towards meeting the need to produce houses less expensively. In the words of Rudyard Kipling: How very little since things were made, things have altered in the building trade. We will make certain that things do alter in the building trade in the sense that we will produce houses in an inexpensive way as quickly as possible. I mention these matters to indicate the potential which will derive from the sensible bringing together of these 2 departments, and I have no doubt that home seeking Australians will derive very great benefit when effect is given to these amalgamations.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for Social
Security (Mr Hayden), who in answer to a question which I suspect he arranged endeavoured to indicate to the House that during the period of time when I was Prime Minister the lot of the pensioner deteriorated or was not properly taken care of. The facts are that in every Budget brought down during that time the purchasing power of the pension either increased or was held steady, as it was on one occasion.
– Come off it.
– They are pure facts. The fact that there is now an increase in monetary payments to pensioners is not a measure of increased benefits to the pensioners but merely a measure of the increased inflation due to the Labor Party’s economic mismanagement.
– Mr Speaker, I would like to correct the record.
-Order! Is the Minister seeking to make a personal explanation?
– Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. In relation to the effects of pension increases for which this Government and I as Minister for Social Security have been responsible. I point out very quickly that in the financial year just concluded the increase in pensions, for all of which we are not responsible, of course, although we are substantially responsible, was 17.8 per cent and the increase in average weekly earnings was only a little over 11 per cent. The increase which has just gone through Parliament will effectively have increased the pensions since June 1972 by over 26 per cent. The increases are the most substantial and generous that have occurred and they will continue. But former Prime Minister Gorton when he came into office in 1968 took no steps to increase the pensions, and in fact there was no increase in pensions in the financial year 1967-68 although average weekly earnings increased by nearly 6 per cent. I repeat that that was mean and unworthy of a man of the stature claimed by the former Prime Minister.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the right honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I was misrepresented this morning by the Prime Minister when in answering a question he persisted in saying that ‘I had advocated a wage freeze. Left in those terms, it is a misrepresentation. I am quite sure that the Prime Minister knows that what I have said is that the attack on inflation must be by a full range of policies, that only by a full range of policies will an attack on inflation succeed, and that it is not necessary for any extra powers to be given to the Commonwealth for that full range of policies to be put into effect. I did say that with inflation at an annual rate of more than 13 per cent it would be necessary to have a circuit breaker to interrupt the inflationary psychology and therefore there should be a freeze on both incomes and prices for a period not exceeding 90 days. I said that it must be temporary and that a wage freeze or a prices freeze could not in itself arrest inflation and should not be a permanent feature of economic management. I said that it had failed everywhere else and it could be used only as a circuit breaker.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I regret that I did not hear the beginning of the right honourable gentleman’s remarks but I gather that he claimed I had misrepresented him. I want to be quite precise as to what I was relying upon when I answered the question asked by the honourable member for Mackellar. On 26 July the Leader of the Opposition delivered a radio address from which I quote these 2 sentences: we would institute a prices-income policy. With prices and wages rising at the rate they are, we need to arrest them for a short period - as a sort of economic circuit-breaker. Then this should be followed by carefully applied guidelines to allow the prices to be held within specific limits.
On 28 August in commencing the debate on the Budget the right honourable gentleman-
– May I inform the Prime Minister that I think there is some misunderstanding. When I said that he had misrepresented me I said it because he said today that I had advocated a wage freeze and did not associate it with a prices freeze. What he is now quoting are my own words, which I certainly used, and in which I advocated, as a 90 day temporary issue, a circuit breaker and an incomes and prices freeze.
– I know that it is not easy to follow the right honourable gentleman’s sequence of thoughts and such development as takes place in his thoughts, but I am endeavouring to rebut any allegation that I have misrepresented him. I am therefore quoting his precise words. In his speech opening the debate on the Budget on 28 August the right honourable gentleman included these words-
– How long is this going to go on?
– I did not initiate it. The Leader of the Opposition said:
Incomes would need to include wages, profits, dividends and interest …. I believe a temporary total freeze on all incomes and prices will be necessary. This freeze should not exceed 90 days. Circumstances of the time could require an extension for a further short period. This action would break the circuit of inflation expectation which forces prices and wage settlements to be higher than they need be.
In conclusion, last Sunday the right honourable gentleman referred in a broadcast and telecast to prices and incomes and the power to control them. I have used all the documents readily available to me in which the right honourable gentleman has made references to wages freezes, incomes freezes, circuit breakers, temporary circuit breakers and the like. It was on the basis of those statements that I expressed the view, in answer to a question asked of me today, that the questioner had had his thought vitiated by the use of the word ‘freeze’ by his Leader. I believe that I have demonstrated that the right honourable gentleman did use these terms.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Speaker.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. A few moments ago the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) used the phrase ‘in answering a question asked by the honourable member for Mackellar’. With all respect, the Prime Minister did not answer that question; he evaded it.
Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker -
-Is the honourable member for Wannon seeking to make a personal explanation?
– No, Mr Speaker. I ask for leave to make a very short statement concerning some false information given to the House during question time.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– The information was given by the Prime Minister -
– Order! Leave is not granted.
– I will seek other ways to correct it.
– Order! This is personal explanation time.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) in his personal explanation said, by way of an aside, with regard to the question I put to the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) this morning: ‘I expect he arranged it’. The Minister did not arrange the question; I did.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the annual report of Qantas Airways Ltd for the year ended 31 March 1973, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the initial report of the Migrant Task Force Committee of Western Australia. I present also the report on the survey of interpreting and translating needs in the community, dated October 1973.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be given to the honourable member for Henty owing to his absence from Australia as a member of a parliamentary delegation.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be given to the honourable member for Prospect on the ground of public business overseas.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Engineering services, Malak and Karama neighbourhoods, Sanderson district, Darwin, Northern Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Banking Bill is one of 4 Australian Bills required to transfer the responsibility for the control and supervision of banking in Papua New Guinea to the Papua New Guinea Government and its authorities and to pave the way for the establishment of a separate Papua New Guinea banking system and central bank.
At present the Australian Government’s legislation, namely the Reserve Bank Act, the Banking Act and the Commonwealth Banks Act, extends to Papua New Guinea and, accordingly, the responsibility for control and supervision of banking in that country rests with the Australian Government and, in particular, with the Reserve Bank of Australia.
The effect of these Bills will be to withdraw the application of this Australian legislation to Papua New Guinea at a date to be agreed with the Papua New Guinea Government and to facilitate the transfer of responsibilities.
The transfer of such responsibilities in this important area is essential for a country shortly to achieve self-government and moving towards independence. It will also open the way for the development of a banking and financial system appropriate to the particular needs and circumstances of Papua New Guinea and will ensure control by Papua New Guinea in the planning of future developments in these areas. The development of a separate banking system for Papua New Guinea was the subject of a detailed examination by a committee of Australian and Papua New Guinea Government officials established by the previous Australian Government. The report of that committee, which was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 29 August 1973, was accepted in principle by the Papua New Guinea Government as a suitable basis for action to establish a separate banking system in Papua New Guinea.
The principles on which the Papua New Guinea banking system is to be established were set out in a joint Press statement which was issued by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison), the Papua New Guinea Minister for Finance and myself in April 1973. Those principles include: That responsibility for control of banks and financial institutions operating in Papua New Guinea be vested in the Papua New Guinea authorities as soon as practicable; that a central bank be established in Papua New Guinea on the basis of the Port Moresby office of the Reserve Bank of Australia and be endowed with a full range of powers to act as a central monetary authority for a separate banking system, even though some of these powers could not be usedin the immediate future; that a national banking institution be established in Papua New Guinea through the setting up of a new Papua New Guinea Government commercial bank; and that except where certain accounts give rise to special contractual or financial problems the Papua New Guinea business of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation be transferred to the Papua New Guinea Government Commercial Bank.
These principles are embodied in 2 ordinances relating to banking which have recently been passed by the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly. The first of these ordinances is the Central Banking Ordinance which authorises the establishment of Papua New Guinea’s own central bank to be called the Bank of Papua New Guinea. The Bank will take over the role at present carried out in that country by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The Australian Government included in its grant to Papua New Guinea this financial year financial assistance to help in the establishment of this new central bank. The second ordinance is the Banks and Financial Institutions Ordinance which contains the detailed provisions relating to the licensing and supervision of banks and financial institutions. The Papua New Guinea Government has indicated its intention, if possible, to bring these 2 ordinances into force on 1 November 1973.
Since the Australian banking legislation extends at present to Papua New Guinea, the Papua New Guinea Government can bring these ordinances into operation only when the application of the Australian banking legislation to that country is withdrawn. I commend to the House this Banking Bill, designed to allow the withdrawal of the application of the Australian Banking Act to Papua New Guinea, and the other associated Bills which I am introducing concurrently to facilitate the establishment of a separate banking system in Papua New Guinea.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Commonwealth Banks Act is the third of the Australian Acts relating to banking which extend to Papua New Guinea. This Act is being amended to provide that, at a date to be determined, Papua New Guinea will be excluded from the operation of the Act. This Bill is related to the agreement outlined in my joint Press statement in April 1973 that, subject to further consideration of particular aspects, the greater part of the Papua New Guinea business of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation be transferred to a new Papua New Guinea Government Commercial Bank which is to be established. As I indicated in the paper ‘Australia’s External Aid 1973-74’ which was presented on the occasion of my 1973-74 Budget Speech, a payment of $15m will be made to the Papua New Guinea Government in 1973-74 to facilitate the establishment of this proposed Government Commercial Bank.
Given the commercial nature of this activity, the financial assistance to be provided for this purpose will comprise a grant of $1Om and a repayable advance - the exact terms of which have yet to be determined - which is currently estimated at $5m but could vary depending upon the level of and trends in deposits and advances, etc., when final settlement occurs. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
This Bill provides for the withdrawal of the application of the Reserve Bank Act to Papua New Guinea. As I indicated in introducing the Banking Bill, this Bill is to facilitate the establishment of a separate banking system in Papua New Guinea subject to local control and with its own central bank.
The Bill also provides for specific authority for the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank of Australia to lend to associations of co-operative associations as well as individual co-operative associations engaged in primary production. This minor amendment, which would have retrospective application from March 1971, removes any legal doubts there might be about the authority of the Rural Credits Department of the Bank to lend to these associations of co-operatives. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill allows for the transfer of certain assets and liabilities from the Reserve Bank of Australia to the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the country’s proposed new central bank. It also provides for the transfer of certain assets and liabilities from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to the proposed new Papua New Guinea Government owned commercial bank. The provision relating to the Reserve Bank comes in force from the date that the Reserve Bank Act ceases to apply to Papua New Guinea. On that date the Reserve Bank will hand over all the business which it conducts at its Port Moresby branch. The Bill makes provision for a financial settlement between the 2 banks arising from this transfer. The provision relating to the Commonwealth Banking Corporation will come into force on the date the Commonwealth Banking Act ceases to apply to Papua New Guinea. The Bill provides for certain business of the Commonwealth Trading Banks and the Commonwealth Savings Bank in Papua New Guinea to be transferred to the proposed new Papua New Guinea Government commercial bank with any necessary settlement to be effective on terms agreed between the 2 Governments. Certain accounts of the Commonwealth Trading Bank giving rise to special contractual or financial problems will not be transferred to the Papua New Guinea Bank and this business will be conducted at a special branch of the Commonwealth Trading Bank opened for that purpose and which will be excluded from the transfer. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Grassby, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Wheat Tax Act 1957-1966 to provide for a maximum rate of tax of 15c per tonne to be paid upon wheat that is delivered to the Australian Wheat Board. Under the terms of associated legislation, the Wheat Research Act 1957, the proceeds of the levy derived under the provisions of the Wheat Tax Act are appropriated to the State wheat research committees in each mainland State in the proportions in which those proceeds are collected in the States for expenditure by the committees on wheat research. The Bill also makes provision for regulations to impose any lower rate of tax, than 15c per tonne, after consideration by the Governor-General of a report to the Minister for Primary Industry by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation.
The measure implements the proposals of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. In line with the recommendation of the Federation, it is envisaged that following the passage of the Act, regulations would be prescribed to set the operative rate of levy at 11c per tonne on deliveries to the Board commencing with the 1973-74 season. This would apply from 1 October 1973. The rate of 11c per tonne represents an increase of 20 per cent over the existing rate which has applied since 1965. On a delivery level of, say, 10.9 million tonnes or 400 million bushels, wheat tax collections would increase by around $200,000 to an overall figure of $1.2m.
The Government at present matches industry contributions towards the cost of wheat research. These moneys are made available by annual appropriation from the Budget to finance research programs recommended by the Wheat Industry Research Council, constituted under the provisions of the Wheat Research Act, and approved by the Minister for Primary Industry. The Government has decided that it will continue to provide funds to match industry contributions at the new rate of tax proposed, that is, lie per tonne. The research projects financed from the tax collections and Government contributions have provided results of considerable value to the wheat industry. This is evident by the willingness of the industry to increase its contributions to programs investigating a wide range of projects in the fields of soil fertility, plant nutrition, wheat breeding, wheat diseases, storage problems and economic studies.
Since the levy for research purposes was last increased, there have been considerable increases in costs, particularly the salaries of research scientists. To provide for a continuation of the research efforts in the face of this situation, the available funds must be supplemented to sustain the total campaign. The maintenance of the wheat research program is of importance because, with the major portion of Australian wheat production grown for the export market, there is a need for continuing research into all aspects of production and storage and to improve quality standards of wheat to compete effectively with other exporting countries and to meet the requirements of new markets. It is for these reasons that the Government has agreed to the proposed increased rate of tax and is prepared to meet the additional liability it will incur by continuing to match the funds contributed by the industry. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Grassby, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for an extension of the wheat industry stabilisation arrangements, currently scheduled to expire with the disposal of the 1972-73 season’s wheat crop, to cover the marketing of wheat of the 1973-74 season. The first wheat industry stabilisation plan was introduced by the Labor Government in 1948. Stabilisation arrangements have since then been continued in 5 yearly rests, the existing plan covering the wheat crop of the 5 seasons 1968-69 to 1972-73 inclusive. All of these plans have followed a general pattern, in as much as they have contained provisions for wheat growers to contribute to a wheat prices stab.lisation fund a proportion of their returns from export sales in seasons when prices have been in excess of a pre-determined level; the moneys so contributed being returned to the growers to supplement their returns in the market place when prices have fallen below that level.
The Australian Government has been a party to these arrangements by its agreement to provide funds to subvent growers returns whenever the stabilization fund has not contained sufficient moneys from industry contributions to lift prices to the specified level. The State governments are party to the orderly marketing and stabilisation arrangements in that, under law, they vest the ownership of wheat produced within their borders in the hands of the Australian Wheat Board and authorise the Board to market wheat within the Australian States at uniform home consumption price levels. The States have always complemented the Federal legislation to give effect to the marketing and stabilisation arrangements and have agreed to continue to do so for the purpose of the 1973-74 season’s extension of the existing arrangements. The Government is providing for this extension pending the outcome of a thoroughgoing review of the operation of the wheat industry stabilisation plan. Under direction of the Government a review group in the Department of Primary Industry will in the fairly near future be presenting its report for our consideration. We will then be moving to consideration of our position in relation to negotiations with the wheat industry and the States for stabilisation arrangements to apply for the period beyond 1973-74.
With the present benefit of hindsight, it is of interest now to reflect upon some aspects of the second reading speech by the then Minister for Primary Industry, when he introduced the enabling legislation in 1968 to implement the existing stabilisation plan. In that speech the then Minister drew attention to the amount of money that had been contributed by the taxpayers under the terms of the Government’s guarantee for stabilisation purposes in the period up to 1968. As he stated at that time, that amount of money was $156m, of which $95m was provided during the 5 years ended 1967-68. He SUBrested that this was a considerable sum to provide to one of the most prosperous rural industries and would of itself be sufficient justification for changes in important features of the stabilisation plan.
The then Minister in 1968 indicated that the stabilisation proposals put forward by the industry at the time would have cost an amount estimated at $250m over 5 years and said that this would have been an intolerable position and could not be justified. He said that the shape of the guaranteed price arrangements on wheat exports being provided by the Government would cost at least $68m over the 5 years, if the cost experience in the ensuring 5 years and the level of export prices turned out to be much the same as in the previous 5 years. It eventuated that in the first 4 years of the current 5 year plan, the price of wheat in the international market place consistently weakened. There were several reasons for this. There was some oversupply of wheat in the main producing countries and certainly severe competition between exporters for markets. But these recurring problems of divergence between supply and demand cannot be avoided, at least in total. In the event the current stabilisation plan in the first 4 years of its operation has cost the tax payer $129m - a figure substantially more than anticipated by the then Government at the time of its introduction.
This Government - and I suppose all governments - shares the concern of the previous administration that stabilisation provisions which would leave the way open for potential subvention to the wheat industry of the magnitude that has occurred in the last decade or so cannot be allowed to continue. I might mention that, whereas in the earlier years of wheat stabilisation, the stabilisation fund was self-supporting - that should be remembered - and there was no call on the Treasury prior to the 1959-60 season, the Government has since been required to contribute in every year up to the 1971-72 season. Thus, as I have already indicated, the Government has moved for an in-depth review of the arrangements that might apply beyond the 1973-74 season. It is an approach which has been accepted by the State governments which are party to any arrangements and by the wheat industry through its central spokesman, the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation. Pending this review and the negotiation of new arrangements with the industry and the States, this Bill seeks to continue the existing stabilisation provisions for next year. Without attempting to prejudge where the review group in the Department of Primary Industry is likely to come out, I must express the view that a strong case seems to exist for future stabilisation arrangements and the guaranteed price provisions of such arrangements, to have regard to realistic market forces.
Turning to the main substance of the Bill, the measure provides for the guaranteed price on exports of 5,443,108 tonnes (200 million bushels) of wheat from the 1973-74 season’s crop - the same guaranteed quantity as at presentto be set at $58.79 per tonne ($1.60 per bushel) f.o.b. This figure has been accepted by the States and the industry as indeed have all other features of the Bill. The other basic provisions of the Bill are: That in line with the existing arrangements, the home consumption price for the 1973-74 season will be determined according to movements in cash costs, in rates of interest and in rail freight and handling charges; that the 1973- 74 season be defined as a ‘quota season’ -
– You are still stuck with that.
– Decisions of the States and of the industry - I would reiterate - are open to review. Other basic provisions of the Bill include: That the legislative arrangements for the marketing of wheat, that is, those excluding the guaranteed price and stabilisation arrangements, be extended for one season to cover the 1975-76 season. This continues existing arrangements whereby the Wheat Board is empowered to carry out its functions relating to the marketing of wheat for 2 seasons beyond the end of the period of stabilisation.
The opportunity has been taken by means of the Schedule to the Bill to convert all quantities in the principal Act to their metric equivalents. It seems probable that the existing high and abnormal value of wheat in the market place will not recede in the next year or so to a level which would require any call on Treasury funds in terms of the Government’s price guarantee. On the other hand the likelihood is that the industry could contribute the maximum amount, set under the terms of the scheme, to the stabilisation fund, that is, $5.51 per tonne. On anticipated exports from the 1973-74 season’s deliveries to the Australian Wheat Board of 8.4 million tonnes this contribution would be of the order of $46m.
– Not a bad cop.
– Not a bad contribution.
– A very good contribution. I am glad to see that it is recognised on all sides of the House. I have said that the extension of the plan as proposed for one year has the support of the industry and State governments. The passage of the legislation by the Australian and State governments will provide the industry with the security afforded by orderly marketing and stabilisation while arrangements for the future are being formulated. I commend the Bill.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The question is: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May I take a point of order? I ask the Minister why copies of the second reading speech on the previous Bill have not been circulated. Will we be getting copies of this Bill immediately or will we have to wait?
-Order! I think the honourable gentleman is out of order. It is a requirement that copies of Bills be distributed but not copies of second reading speeches.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Grassby, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Wheat Export Charge Act 1968 to extend its application by one year to cover the 1973-74 season. It is complementary to the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1973. A basic feature of succeeding wheat stabilisation schemes has been that growers contribute a proportion of their returns from export sales to a stabilization fund - the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund - when prices exceed a pre-determined level. In particular, the Wheat Export Charge Act 1968 imposes a charge on all exports of a pool when the export return exceeds the guaranteed price plus $1.84 per tonne (5c per bushel), up to a maximum charge of $5.51 per tonne (15c per bushel).
Moneys contributed by growers as an export charge are thereafter available for withdrawal from the Stabilization Fund to raise the return on exports to the level of the guaranteed price on a specified quantity of the pool’s exports. Once growers’ moneys in the Fund are exhausted there is an obligation upon the Australian Government to provide from Consolidated Revenue the funds necessary to return growers the guaranteed price. Growers’ moneys in the Stabilization Fund were exhausted before the closure of the 1959-60 season’s pool and since then the Government has been obliged to meet its commitment on the export guarantee.
It is well known that there has been a dramatic change in the world wheat market over the past 12 months or so. Prices are now very much in excess of any previous level and are almost three times the depressed levels of 1972. As a result, it seems very likely that growers will be required to contribute to the Fund in respect of exports from the 1973-74 pool to the full extent of the export charge - that is, $5.51 per tonne. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned. Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of Dripstone High School, Darwin.
The proposed school is designed to cater for 1,100 pupils and is required for occupancy at the commencement of the 1977 school year. It will comprise the following major elements of accommodation: Administration, libraryresource centre, subject areas, science department, art-craft department, theatre, assembly area and lunch area and canteen. Several of the facilities will be available for use by the community outside school hours. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $4.37m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 9 October (vide page 1805).
Department of Aboriginal Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $89,326,000.
– I rise to speak on the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs very conscious of the fact that we have seen a transfer of ministerial responsibility in this area during the past day. The first thing I should like to do is to pay a tribute to the honourable Gordon Bryant, now Minister for the Australian Capital Territory, for the leadership which he has given to this Department during the period of this Government and, indeed, for the leadership which he has given to the whole Aboriginal advancement movement for a great number of years. It is one of those unfortunate things that when ministerial responsibilities are changed, the media ascribe various motives to the Prime
Minister (Mr Whitlam) or suggest various reasons why such a transfer should have been made. The honourable member for Wills, of course, leaves a responsibility of enormous complexity to go to another difficult responsibility of taking care of the needs of the people who reside within our national capital. I can only say that if he is able to bring to his new responsibilities the same energy and devotion that he brought to his previous responsibilities, the people of the Australian Capital Territory will be well served.
Because we are dealing with the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, I should like to repudiate some of the suggestions which have been made that in some way all is not well in Aboriginal affairs in this country because of the way in which public money is being expended. I know that this is a matter which has been of great concern to the Minister, as indeed I am sure it was to previous Ministers, and to the various departments concerned, and that it will remain as a matter of great concern to the Australian Labor Party committee dealing with this subject. In the present Budget, the proposed expenditure on Aboriginal affairs has been increased to $117m, almost double the expenditure provided for under the previous Budget. Of that amount, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs has been allocated by far the largest amount. Appropriation Bill (No. 1) provides for almost $4m for salaries, Sl.Sm for administrative expenses, §12m in round figures for other services and $70m for Aboriginal advancement, a precise total of $87,826,000. Of this amount, the major increases are in salaries - an increase of $2. 5m - and an increase for Aboriginal advancement of $37.5m, including an increase in payment to the States of $10m.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs plays a unique role in that it not only accepts certain direct responsibilities in Aboriginal affairs but also because it is the catalyst and the agent whereby co-ordination is given effect to with other government departments and arrangements are made to assist the States in their own programs. It therefore has within its estimates substantial amounts of money for payment to the States and, in the current year under the proposals now before us $31,750,000 will be paid to the States. To make up the difference in expenditure on Aboriginal affairs to the figure of $117m which I previously mentioned there are of course amounts which have been appropriated for the Department of the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, the Departments of Education, Labour and Health and for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies under the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I am not canvassing any of those other departments but merely refer to them in passing. Almost $32m of the amount provided for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs goes to the States to support them in programs which they have prepared in consultation with the Commonwealth and over which they exert managerial control.
I should like to repudiate the suggestions which have been canvassed in the last couple of days that there has been any great looseness in the expenditure of public money on Aboriginal affairs, while at the same time I should like to put to the Committee an appeal for some tolerance. We are in the business, as indeed the previous Government was in the business, of redressing the disabilities suffered by the Aboriginal people of this country by virtue of its occupation by our predecessors some 180 years ago. This cannot be done in any cheap way. If the problems of the Aboriginal and Island people are not solved in the present generation, they will be infinitely more expensive for the next generation to solve, given the now fast increasing Aboriginal population. So, it is not only for humanitarian reasons that we should be prepared to spend money of this order but for very practical reasons as well.
I put it to honourable members that in some of the programs which are being carried out through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, it is the policy of this Government, as it was the policy of the previous Government, to assist Aboriginal organisations without looking over their shoulders too much. In other words, if we are to give Aboriginal people real responsibility in meeting the needs of their own people, we have taken the view that organisations should be assisted and, provided that they make decisions honestly, we should allow them to make decisions in accordance with the priorities that they themselves determine. Given the long distances involved in this country and the sparse population and, in many cases, the sparse non-Aboriginal population in areas where the Aboriginal need might be greatest, it follows that from time to time anomalies will creep in. I put it to the House that there should be some tolerance towards the Government on this matter of assisting Aboriginal organisations in this way. It is not possible to apply precisely the same criteria as we might if for example we were spending through one of our own government departments.
The Government is very keen to establish a regional Commonwealth presence in as many places throughout the Commonwealth as might be possible. Money for this purpose is provided in the estimates. Of course, money is not the only solution to the problem; it is also very much a case of getting the right men and women to staff the positions which might be created. It is a slow process. I know that the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs found the slow process of building up a staff throughout the nation a frustrating one. Until such Commonwealth regional presence is established to co-ordinate and develop priorities and to co-ordinate not only with Aboriginal organisations but also with State and other Commonwealth departments working in the various areas, the task of administering a program of the kind we have is a difficult one.
The increased expenditure proposed recognises a need increasingly to assist the States. I should like to say that in the course of moving around this country and looking at Aboriginal affairs, one is impressed with some of the good work being done in this co-operative effort between the Commonwealth and the States. In recent times - I know that the honourable member for Cook (Mr Thorburn) is interested in this area - we have looked at the program being conducted through the New South Wales Housing Commission to provide homes for Aborigines. I am not one of those people who subscribe to the view that the Commonwealth inevitably does things better than does anyone else. I think that there is a lot to be said for building homes for Aborigines through an instrumentality that caters for the housing needs of the whole community. I think many of these programs have been done very well to the great advantage of the Aboriginal people and of course in the interests of all the people of Australia. I believe that not only to justify the expenditure of this money but also to justify the total program, we need to spell out and debate in this Parliament its role in Aboriginal affairs.
It seems to me that we should embark on a program of positive discrimination in favour of Aborigines in this generation in order that they may have equality in the next generation. I believe that such a program can be sold to the Australian people, that it is a reasonable and fair program for us to be putting forward, and that we members of this Parliament, irrespective of our political differences, should unite to convince the Australian people as a whole that it is necessary to spend money at this time, and even more in the future, to bring about positive discrimination in this generation in order that there may be equality of opportunity in the next.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, I should like first to say something about the shifting of the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I feel that there was a fair amount of party skullduggery in this case, but honourable members opposite probably know more about that than I do. Yesterday we heard an honourable member say that the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) - I deplore the fact that this portfolio has been shifted to the Senate - was inexperienced in Aboriginal affairs. I do not think that he is as inexperienced as all that. He has been to the Northern Territory on numerous occasions. In fact I think it was last year or the year before that he was continually speaking about a settlement 180 miles northwest of Alice Springs, Yuendumu. He made allegations then that some of the girls on that settlement had been ordered by the superintendent to be raped. He continued with this fallacious argument for some months. He was being fed wrong information. The Aborigines on that settlement at that time banned him from the settlement. That is not a very good start for a Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. No doubt with Government backing and propaganda and so on he can make good, but it is a pretty poor start for a Minister. I blame the Government for appointing a man with that sort of performance behind him.
I turn now to the past performance of the previous Minister. I am sorry to see him go because he would always lend a willing ear even if some of his departmental officials apparently would not let the very sound advice that I offered him on numerous occasions filter through and be brought to fruition. A tremendous amount of money has been allocated in this Budget to Aboriginal affairs. I hope that it will be used profitably. We heard the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr
Cross) say that there is a feeling that all is not well with this Department. I would say that all is certainly not well in that previously we have had a demand for an inquiry into the running of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. I do not think that inquiry has been carried out yet. I certainly think that the way in which Aboriginal affairs are being administered, especially in the Northern Territory, warrants an inquiry.
We have had the affair of Nola being abducted by people who are either employed or sponsored by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. We have the affair at this moment at Utopia Station where Aborigines are pressuring the owners to sell it to them and threatening that if they do not sell the Aborigines will acquire the property. Unfortunately I spent all of last week trying to contact the then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to warn him of this and to ask him to recall some of his smalltime dingoes or whoever is organising these attacks and the very ill-considered and stupid abduction of Nola. These sorts of things and the land sale at Booroloola, which I think I mentioned last week, are instances of what is happening. I do not know whether the Minister knows about them, but from the public relations aspect of Europeans and Aborigines living together in the country as Australian citizens, all these sorts of things are leading to a very serious state of affairs.
I think that the Aborigines are being told or led to believe that they may expect almost anything they wish. There is an expectancy cult, if I could call it that, and someone has to put to the Aborigines that a reasonable approach has to be adopted. For instance, if they feel that they want Everard Park, Willowra, Utopia or some other place, there should be a normal channel of negotiations. There was in the past. I have previously asked what will happen to these stations. The honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) in this place yesterday was espousing the wonderful benefits which would derive from the acquisition of Everard Park. He said that it now has 2,500 cattle on it and it will be built up and run for the benefit of Aborigines. But how many cattle did it have on it when the previous owner had it? There were 4,000 or more and it was being run as a viable cattle proposition.
I have said again and again in this House that the policies of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs are wrong. It is of no use buying these places and letting them run down. I could name half a dozen of them. If the Aborigines get Utopia it too will run down. The Aborigines should be trained and people should be provided to help the Aborigines run the properties. The Government should not just rush in and buy the stations and then do nothing about them. Not one cattle man in the country is attached to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The Government is spending millions of dollars on the purchase of cattle stations and at present the Aborigines are threatening the pioneers who own another one. By all means let them have the places if they can work them and run them. If they get them and let them run down, the whole countryside will fall apart. To run cattle stations one has to work them. I know. I have done it for 12 and 16 hours a day for year after year.
– Did you make a success of it?
– The Government could not get the Aborigines to do that. The all-knowing Minister at the table, the Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply (Mr Enderby), the ex-Minister for the Northern Territory who made such a brilliant job of handling his portfolio that he got the sack the other day, would be just as well advised to keep quiet because he would not know a bull from a bandicoot, as I have told him in this place before. I would hope that some good will come out of the tremendous amount of money that is to be allotted to the Aboriginal cause and that it will not be poured down the drain such as has happened in the instances which I have mentioned and in others. Take for instance the Nola abduction case, if I may refer to it in that way. I do not know whether the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service comes under the authority of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or the Attorney-General, but someone must control these people. If they stuck to giving legal aid to Aborigines they probably would be all right. But what do they do? They are in the abduction business, they are in the property acquisition business and they are waving big sticks all over the countryside; and they are heading for big trouble. That is something that we in the Territory do not want. We have lived there peaceably with the Aborigines for 20, 30 or 40 years, but the present Government’s policy is pulling us apart. It is causing apartheid or separatism. We have heard a lot of nonsense talked by Labor men about apartheid in other countries.
But they are practising it here in their own country. Apartheid is being bred very fast in the north of Australia.
As I was saying, the Legal Aid Service chartered an aeroplane to shift Nola when they stole her away, after promising the parents that she would be brought back after lunch. They spirited her into a chartered aeroplane that was paid for by the Legal Aid Service and took her to Maningrida which is 220 miles out. It was a 400 miles charter. A regular airline service operates there every day, but that was not good enough for the people in the Aboriginal Legal Aid Service. They have to big note themselves and spend the money fast. They had $60,000 to set up the Service. Either last week or this week in the Legislative Council it was said that the Legal Aid Service is broke. I hope that the new Minister will really get himself organised in regard to Aboriginal affairs.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am always interested to listen to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), but particularly in a debate on Aboriginal affairs because I think one can truly say that there are more Aborigines in his Territory than in any other part of Australia. What amazes me is that over the years I have listened to the honourable member for the Northern Territory I have never heard him once refer to the exploitation of the Aboriginal stockmen by the overseas cattle station owners such as Vesteys and other big property owners in the Northern Territory who employ Aboriginal stockmen.
The honourable member referred to working 16 or 18 hours a day on cattle stations; he said that he knew it was necessary to work those hours to make a go of cattle stations. Vesteys worked Aborigines for those hours and it paid them about 30 bob a month or a very small wage. They probably did not work them on Sundays. They probably conveyed them to church on Sundays and gave them a bit of Christian teaching. They probably heard a part of the Bible that says: ‘As thou sowest, so shall thou reap’. But we never hear this from the honourable member for the Northern Territory. He knows that, as a member of the Public Works Committee, I have visited the Northern Territory on numerous occasions. As I see things, sometimes we have gone a little too fast in trying to help the Aborigines. That is my private opinion. I believe that the first 3 things which should be provided for the Aboriginal community are food, clothing and shelter. I sometimes think we are virtually trying to give them a university education before they have been taught proper hygiene. The greatest emphasis should be put on food, clothing and shelter.
The education should be based to a great extent on films shown to Aborigines at a very early age. No one can use the excuse that in the far distant missions there is inadequate electricity, because I happen to know that from time to time electric generators are sold by the Department of Supply at very reasonable prices. They come in from various departments which have no further use for them. Last Thursday about 5 of them were auctioned by the Department of Supply in Darwin. I venture to say that some of the smarties from the capital cities of the eastern States were there buying them for the lowest possible price, naturally to make the biggest profit. These generators could be used on the outlying missions to teach Aborigines at an early age the benefits and the dangers of electricity and the use of electrical appliances so that when they come to the city they will not be so bewildered.
I know that all this was in the mind of the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, now the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), because he raised the matter with me and said that he would invoke the potential of the Department of Supply, particularly the valuable material that it sells at its auctions, with a view to lifting the standards of the Aborigines to an all time high at a minimum cost. We spoke about power generators, blankets and sheets. Thousands of yards of sheeting material is sold by the Department of Supply from time to time. About 3 weeks ago there was a gigantic Department of Supply sale at Fyshwick here in Canberra. I know that the former Minister was interested in acquiring these types of thing at a minimum cost, thus saving the taxpayer the heavy burden. It is not rubbishy material; it is very good material that Europeans buy and put through their disposal shops in the cities. The former Minister was interested in invoking the potential of the Department of Supply.
I think it is true to say that this Parliament, particularly the previous Government, was not greatly interested in Aboriginals until 1967 when the Australian people expressed their opinion when asked in a referendum whether
Aborigines should be given more assistance. More than 80 per cent of the Australian people said yes. Then the debates have become more vigorous. The Australian people had spoken. The previous Government stepped up its aid to the Aborigines throughout the country. 1 believe that the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who is presently in the chamber, would like to have done much more for Aborigines during his term as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs had other members of his Tory party allowed him to do so. But they shackled him, they put hobbles on him and they would not let him gallop. Otherwise he would have done much more for the Aborigines.
Our Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was unrestricted. Some of the Tories throughout the country - not in our Party - believe that he might have gone too far. However, I believe that the administration of the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs by the former Minister, the present Minister for the Capital Territory, will go down in history as one of the most pro.pressive steps taken towards helping these indigenous people. Australia has been rapped over the knuckles in the forums of the world for not doing more for her indigenous people. We know that in the olden days there were shooting expeditions on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, when Europeans went out and shot down the Aborigines like foxes or other vermin in our countryside. It pains this generation to read about what previous generations did to our Aborigines. We in the present Government Party are trying to lift them up and we will continue to do so, but I believe that we have to watch and see whether we are going too fast. There are conflicts in the opinions of the greatest experts who have made very deep studies of how to lift up the Aborigines in this country. I believe that it will take us 1 50 years.
There is one thing that I would like to see this Parliament do - particularly the present Government and the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) and the Minister for the Capital Territory. We talk about doing something for the Aborigines. We do not have an Aboriginal waiter or waitress in Parliament House. This is the first place where we should offer training to some of these indigenous people. We do not have one Aboriginal on the staff of attendants at Parliament House. We do not have an Aboriginal girl learning to be a skilled waitress in our dining room. This is the place to start. I want to know how long it will be before we take the most positive step and employ at least one male and one female Aborigine on the staff of this Parliament and let overseas visitors who come here see that some positive step has been taken to train them in the Parliament that purports to be so concerned about the welfare of these indigenous people of our country.
– I have mentioned previously when I have been speaking that the implementation of the Government’s policy to assist our Aboriginal and island people does not appear to be clearly defined. 1 repeat this again. There does not appear to be any clearly defined policy, or should I say clearly defined method of applying the Government’s policy of assistance to the Aborigines. The only way that people can gain information as to what the Government is doing in the field of welfare for the coloured people is by reading the newspapers, and one reads that so much money has been allocated for this purpose and so much for that purpose. It appears to be a piecemeal type of administration, and I think one could be forgiven for asking for a clear definition of the method by which the Government intends to implement its policy. We could say that the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was leaning towards having a clear definition of policy, but unfortunately time was against him in the 10 months he occupied that office. However we could see this happening. It must be done first. This is the first step in administration; otherwise, as I mentioned, it becomes piecemeal.
I understand that last night Senator Georges outlined certain matters quite clearly. If the information he gave to the Senate is correct he is to be commended for doing so. Where the responsibility in the situation he raised lies 1 do not know. All I hope is that this situation will cease. Again in trying to follow the policy of the Government over the last few months in this matter one could be forgiven for asking whether the previous Minister - we hope that the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) will - really sat down and analysed the Aboriginal people themselves and their background prior to any decision -being made to allocate finance in the different areas affecting the coloured people. For instance, does he realise - I hope the present Minister will; in fact he will have to - that they are very different from ourselves as far as present and future needs are concerned. I have worked with them and lived among them for many years and know this to be a fact. We place an emphasis on saving for security in the future and we are concerned with our future needs. The coloured people’s concept of saving is not the same. They are concerned with the present and the past, and future requirements very seldom enter into their thinking. Our emphasis is placed on the individual, individual competition and personal effort. The coloured people’s emphasis is on group goals and very seldom on the individual. Co-operation is their main theme for living, where competition is stressed in ours. Their efforts are directed towards communal activities, with special emphasis on the welfare of their children and their aged. Their idea of group co-operation instead of individual effort is one which should be considered most seriously when thinking in terms of education and trade training.
Will the new Minister consider the child at school who by instinct tends to progress along with the group, and yet may have the ability if he used personal individual effort to learn faster than the others? These are matters which I feel are most important when thinking in terms of assistance to our coloured people. The primary aim of any government is to assist these people, but in my opinion the methods employed to do so must be clearly denned in every area of welfare. We read a lot about malnutrition and how this is caused through lack of utilising the proper foods available and in the method of preparation, and in fact a lack of knowledge of the foods that are available to assist in rearing strong and healthy children. Our reports in this same area tell us that there is a definite lack of knowledge regarding proper hygiene and matters of health.
For all the money that has been spent over the years on these matters by having our white people move amongst these coloured people to instruct them in the proper use of foods and matters of health and hygiene, this problem still persists - and therefore, to my way of thinking, it is not being tackled correctly. If after these years there has been very little improvement, then there must be something wrong with the method employed. In this regard I would like to see this finance directed towards the training of coloured people chosen from all the areas in which they live, so that after their training is completed they could move among their own people and be readily understood, to teach them this desirable know ledge on matters of malnutrition, health and hygiene. I realise that this would not be done overnight, but I am sure there would be many coloured people willing to undertake such training in order that they could pass this knowledge on to their own particular tribe or group. They would listen and absorb this knowledge passed on to them by one of their own people, in preference to being instructed by our white people, because there still exists that area of suspicion and distrust towards the white people’s intentions.
The field of education needs particular study. We know that all degrees of education are available to coloured students, but we also know that not many of them - very few in fact - avail themselves of these opportunities. This could possibly be tied up with what I have mentioned previously regarding their inherent belief in group co-operation. It is generally recognised that the coloured people in Australia progress quite well until they reach the age of 12 or 13, and then the desire for knowledge, especially in the males, appears to wane, and they lose interest in their education. The scheme that was introduced of allocating finance to a coloured family for every child that attended a secondary school offset this to some extent, but I know that in some instances the child only attends secondary school in order that the family gets the benefit of the finance, and not because of any desire to further his education. This outlook could stem from the Aboriginal’s outlook towards work, which is different from ours. We regard work as a necessity, which must be done. The Aboriginal regards work as just an activity of living and not as a necessity. And again their idea of group living does not lend itself to the child making an individual effort, and he cannot be blamed for this, but this certainly is one matter which must be looked at when thinking in terms of education for our coloured children.
I have given a great deal of thought to methods of overcoming this problem of a desire to work in groups instead of working as individuals as far as education is concerned, and I have advocated previously the establishment of trade training centres for coloured children only. There is no doubt that they make excellent tradesmen when they put their minds to it, but we seldom find the young coloured person taking advantage of trade training in technical schools - possibly again because of their thoughts on individual effort. I am sure that trade training centres established to train coloured youngsters only in the various trades such as motor mechanics, plumbing, carpentry and the like, would be successful. It has been particularly noted that they prefer to play sport together, and, as a completely coloured team, co-operate with each other and do extremely well in competition with other teams, and therefore I think one could safely assume that if they do their trade training together this also would pay off. It would give the young person the confidence needed to compete on the labour market with other white tradesmen. I am positive, too, that there would be no problem in obtaining adequate staff to train these young people, both male and female, in the particular trades they want to follow. It would also give them some goal to work for instead of being confined, as they are now, to labouring jobs only. Australia will need as many tradesmen as it can get for quite a number of years yet, and this is one area of assistance which could prove valuable for them in the future. They would also feel they were part of their country’s development and share in it.
Another area which could be explored to assist the coloured people is the establishment of community centres, complete with trained welfare staff, again comprising coloured people, who would run these centres and be available for advice on matters dealing with health, hygiene, social welfare and job opportunities. These community centres could provide relaxation and recreation, meeting places, special classes for the production of native artifacts, and kindergartens. In fact they could be the hub of their communal life. My time has almost expired but I have a few more ideas on this matter. I hope that the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will give my suggestions the same attention as did the previous Minister, Mr Bryant.
– I should like to associate myself with 2 remarks made by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). Firstly, he said that an Aboriginal policy in this Parliament could be a bi-partisan policy. I think that this is true. We may differ - I am sure we will differ - in this chamber about the means to be taken to help the Aboriginal people but I do not think there is any difference on either side of the House or, indeed, in any party, on the proposition that we should do everything practicable to help the Aboriginal people. There is a reservoir of good will in this chamber and I should like to extend to the new Minister for Aboriginal
Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) my best wishes and hope that he will be able to succeed in his portfolio. The second remark of the honourable member for Brisbane with which I should like to associate myself was his phrase that we must discriminate now in this generation in favour of Aboriginals so that in the next or some subsequent generation there will be equality. I think this is the core of our problem.
In this debate members have spoken of the need to have an understanding of the Aboriginal problems. This is so, and I noted with particular interest in the estimates that are before us the increased grant to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. I know that this body, an academic body, has a world importance outside Aboriginal welfare. That is true. But it has also a tremendous amount to contribute to making a successful policy on Aboriginal welfare because, without understanding, whatever money we spend will be wastefully spent. Understanding can come only from a greater knowledge of the Aboriginal’s position, his aspirations, his psychological problems and what must be done in order to help him to achieve equality with other Australians.
I know that of the increased grant in these estimates for the Institute, a great deal will be spent on 2 projects, firstly, on linguistic study so that the very commendable initiative of the present Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in making available teachers in Aboriginal languages for primary and infant schools can be more readily implemented. The other matter of major expenditure in the Institute will, of course, be the cataloguing of Aboriginal sacred sites. This, again, I think is related very much to a successful approach to these problems of Aboriginal welfare.
I advert now to certain matters which were raised in the Senate last night. I think that it is right and proper that I should say something in regard to them. It will be recalled that Senator Georges, who is a member of the Australian Labor Party and not a member of the Liberal Party, launched in the Senate a very vehement - if I may say so - attack upon the administration of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. He tried - I do not intend to canvass whether it was with justification - to suggest that a tremendous amount of blame rested on the Department and that the ex-Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Bryant) had to bear the brunt of the Department’s faults. I have no evidence to say whether this is correct but
I simply draw the attention of the Committee to the very serious charges which were made against the Department by a senator of the Labor Party who apparently had been closely associated with the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and had been associated with some of the matters he was criticising.
Perhaps the main point of what he was saying was his criticism of what he called the turtle enterprise in the north of Queensland where turtle farming is being undertaken by Aboriginals. This project was initiated by me, I think in 1970 or early 1971, when I was the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. I did it on an experimental basis because I believed it was something which was well worth following. I did not, at that stage, envisage it on any large scale because I thought that experiment was necessary to ascertain whether large scale implementation was justified. I think, if my memory serves me correctly, that an amount of $30,000 - do not hold me to that figure but it was something like that - was allocated for the small initial experiments. I believe that these experiments were justified. I will not at this present moment commit myself to saying whether the project will turn out to be viable. I do not know, but I was quite certain that it was a project which had a reasonable prospect of success.
I will not go beyond that except to say that a call has been made in the Senate for an independent inquiry to be made into what has happened. I think it would be justifiable to defer that inquiry for perhaps a fortnight until 2 things have ‘happened; first, until a commissioned report by Dr Carr, a world expert on turtles, is available - and I am told that this will be available in about a fortnight - ‘and secondly, until the files have been produced in the Senate or in this House. I understand that the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs proposes to table them and honourable members can then have a look at them. We will then be able to determine the scope of the necessary inquiry. I feel that, on the basis of what Senator Georges said in the Senate last night, some kind of independent inquiry is necessary. The scope and nature of it might wait for perhaps a fortnight, but I do not think that it should be indefinitely delayed. I only suggest that the setting up of the inquiry should wait until these other reports and information are available.
I should have liked to refer to some major matters today but time will not permit me. I listened to the honourable member for
Hunter (Mr James) who made a colourable point when he said that it may be desirable not to go too fast in certain of these matters. I agree with this point. I do not think for one moment that we should be niggardly in any expenditure which can be profitably employed. If the money can be used effectively to help Aboriginal people it should be made available. That is our prime responsibility. However, I am worried about the extent of the money provided in these estimates, not because I think that it is unjustified but because I fear that it is encouraging too much the mentality of the handout amongst Aboriginals themselves and, because we are moving too fast, it may be that we are doing damage to these people. I am not trying to save money; I am trying to help the Aboriginal. It is important that we do not put out the fire by piling on too much fuel too soon. There are many things that I would like to have said. These matters of Aboriginal policy are ones which cannot be-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am sorry, Sir, that I have to stop at this point. There are many other matters that I would like to have raised.
– I would like to say a few words in this debate. I have some regret about speaking before the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). I was hoping that I would be able to follow him in the debate in order to have the benefit of his comments. I say that not in any hostile way. Firstly, I wish to take up some of the remarks of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who spoke about the subject of Aboriginal affairs in general and about how in many areas and in many ways one would hope - this is as I understood him - that Aboriginal welfare, Aboriginal advancement and Aboriginal affairs will be treated as non-party issues. I share that view.
Social conscience is not a monopoly of any political party. In the Liberal Party of Australia there are people who have it and there are others who do not. The same goes for the Australian Country Party and the Australian Labor Party. Racism is a nasty, dirty word. Racism is to be found in all political parties. People who are racists often are not aware that they are and in some cases stoutly deny that they are. Fortunately, there are some people who give serious thought to the solution of the problem. I think the short address of the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) was extremely impressive in this regard. He obviously has given a lot of thought to the subject. He is not a political ally of mine. He belongs to one of the Opposition parties - the Liberal Party. Obviously, he has thought in great depth about this problem. I am not saying that I agree with everything he says.
By contrast let me single out - I know that it will be put against me that I do - the comments of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). There was nothing constructive in his remarks. Everything he said added up to saying that nothing should be done about the Aborigines, that they should be left as they are, that they have been happy in the past and we should let the old way continue, that we should not think about giving them cattle stations to run, that we should not think of spending money on them and that we should treat them as simple, innocent people who occasionally get drunk. That is a patronising attitude which harks back to the past; a past which produced the terrible system which we have inherited and which was so strongly described - in extreme language, it is true, but proper language - by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). I do not think it does very much good to describe the features of the system. We all know them.
Much of the talk so far has been devoted to the more remote parts of Australia such as northern Australia and the Northern Territory where large concentrations of Aboriginal people live. There are people living on the outskirts of Alice Springs, Darwin and Katherine and at Gove, Yirrkala, south of Mount Isa, Boulia, Dajarra and places such as that, who are experiencing not only malnutrition but also poverty and a lack of all the things that we take for granted. They also would like to take those things for granted; let there be no mistake about that. They are not happy about having to live in the conditions in which they live. It is a wicked, nasty lie to suggest that they are. The principal thing they lack in most of the areas I have described is dignity. They are conscious and aware of that. One has only to see them in parts of the Northern Territory to know that they do not enjoy the sense of dignity that we regard as a basic right of human beings. They do not walk tall, as we would like to think all human beings should be able to walk.
I think it is a tribute to the Labor Government that at least it has recognised the magnitude of the problem. The amount set aside in the Budget for expenditure on tackling the problem is well over double the amount ever spent before. Throwing in the expenditure on education and health, in addition to the amounts that were being disbursed by my good friend the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) when he was Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the expenditure provided for in this Budget will be well over double whatever was spent before. The former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, with his very deepfelt sense of what is right and what is wrong in this world and with his deepfelt sense of the injustice that these people are suffering, was bringing to that job a zeal and energy that was a shining example to all of us.
I want to single out just one aspect of this deep problem that came to my notice - in a particular form, anyway - not too long ago, when I first became Minister for the Northern Territory. I was aware of the bad conditions at the Fannie Bay gaol in Darwin and the gaol in Alice Springs, although I was not as familiar with the conditions at the gaol in Alice Springs as I was with the conditions of the one at Fannie Bay. I arranged for Professor Gordon Hawkins to go and inspect the conditions. He took with him an American expert, Dr Misner. Professor Hawkins is a well known authority on criminology. His description of the criminal justice system of the Northern Territory should be made widely known. I quote from the opening paragraph of his report, which was in these terms:
In the entire criminal justice system in the Northern Territory the Aboriginal has only one role- he is the prisoner. He is not the judge. He is not the policeman. He is not the lawyer. He is not the gaoler. He is not the warder. But he is the prisoner.
That is how society - our society in his land - confronts him. He is picked up in the street by the police because he is obviously drunk. He drinks to try to drown his loss of dignity, and so makes the situation worse. If I lived under the conditions under which he lives, I would drink too. He is branded by our society as a prisoner. Something like 75 per cent of all the prisoners in Northern Territory gaols are in prison for public drunkenness. That is an incredible situation. Most of them are Aborigines. Last year when I was a member of the Opposition I put questions on the notice paper in an attempt to obtain some comparison of the crime rates in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The Australian Capital Territory has approximately double the population of the Northern Territory. One would think therefore that the Australian Capital Territory would have double the number of criminals because crime is only a feature of society. But that is not the case. With half the population of the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory has IS times the number of people in gaol for what are called crimes. But the crimes are drunkenness and vagrancy - vagrancy being not having any money; in other words, being an Aboriginal. Those figures and facts speak for themselves.
The honourable member for Herbert, in his thoughtful contribution to this debate, said that sometimes he has misgivings and he does not quite understand which way the present Government’s policy is going. Let me suggest that at least it has a policy and a determination to do something about a situation that Australians cannot tolerate or put up with any longer. The previous Government - at least those members of it who had a conscience, such as the honourable member for Mackellar - was at least beginning to move in the last months or perhaps years of its term of office, but it did very little. The present Government, on coming to office, recognised the urgency of the situation and more than doubled the amount of expenditure in this field. It, of course, recognises that one cannot solve everything by money but it recognises also that one cannot solve this problem without money because it goes much too deep. At least the present Government has made a start. Those are the contributions I would like to make to the debate. I will listen with interest to the remarks of the honourable member for Gwydir.
– -Firstly, I sincerely thank the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and present Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) for all the courtesy he showed to me and generous assistance he gave to me in relation to the representations I made to him on behalf of the Aboriginal community in my electorate. We have had a number of projects going in Mungindi, Moree and Dubbo, particularly with respect to the Dubbo Police-Citizens Boys Club, and we have been making great progress. I hope that I receive from the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Senator Cavanagh) the same sort of courtesy and the same sort of co-operation as I have received from the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I liked the former Minister’s style. Right from the outset he wrote to each of us members of Parliament personally and asked us to forward to him any ideas and thoughts we had about the Aboriginal populations in our electorates. I am sure that most members of both sides of the chamber took the opportunity to supply him with advice on the local scene. So I regarded it as rather ironical, indeed almost an act of cruel cynicism, that we commenced to debate yesterday the estimates, as enormous as they are and as unprogrammed as they are, for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs because it was yesterday that the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) was, to use a pretty crude term, axed. I do not gloat over this cruel fact of life. Indeed I feel a great deal of sympathy for the Minister. I have never at any time questioned his sincerity or his intense interest in Aboriginal welfare. His sincere concern became apparent to me from the time I entered this Parliament. His sincerity of approach I think was something of an example to most of us on both sides of the House.
It is true to say that no Minister of Government has approached his task with more zeal or more energy than the honourable member for Wills. He may have trodden on a few corns. He may have unnecessarily tangled with a few people, especially the Premier of Queensland regarding the Torres Strait Islands sovereignty dispute. He may have sent his wife to Maningrida to uncover the truth of the sad Nola Brown case, probably because he trusted his wife more than he trusted officers of his own Department who, according to Senator Georges in another place, had sold him down the drain. I believe that the Minister has had a raw deal, whether one agrees with his policy approach and his method of attack on the problem of advancing the Aboriginal people. I wonder whether there is any credence to the story that he was rolled because he fell foul of his Department and the Chairman of the Council of Aboriginal Affairs. This view is gaining more support every hour.
– -And Coombs.
Mir HUNT - True, Dr Coombs. Only last night in another place a Government Senator had this to say:
It has not been Mr Gordon Bryant who has failed, it has been the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the advisers to the Department who have failed.
He said that Mr Bryant was not the first victim; the previous Minister in the McMahon Government was the other, namely Mr Howson. Senator Georges went on to claim:
Unless drastic reorganisation is carried out the new Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will be the next victim.
The whole field of Aboriginal affairs has developed into a disaster area littered with failures and the expenditure of large sums of money, which have been spent with questionable results.
He further claims that the permanent head of the Department, Mr Dexter, deliberately frustrated the decisions of his Minister and in fact worked for and succeeded in obtaining his removal. Senator Georges went on to say:
I regret to say that the Chairman of the Council of Aboriginal Affairs, Dr H. C. Coombs, cannot escape some of the responsibility.
These are serious allegations and charges made by a senator, who has been working in close association with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I give some support to the view that was expressed by another senator at the time, that there surely is a need for a very deep inquiry into what is taking place within the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and within the Council of Aboriginal Affairs itself. If these allegations are true, how will we help the people that the Australian community, I believe, is determined to assist? lt is true that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs is taking over the control of and the responsibility for the welfare of the Aboriginal people, lt will be through that channel that most of the administration will be undertaken. I believe that the matter calls for a royal commission. I believe that the whole issue needs to be aired in the open in the interests of the Aboriginal people that the Australian community is setting out to assist. I add my criticism to the way in which the Department of Aboriginal Affairs operates as a department. It is true that enormous sums of money are allocated to the Department. However, there is little evidence - indeed there was little evidence last year - of any programming in the spending of those funds. It is all right for a department to be allocated great sums of money but when public funds are being expended surely there must be a program for the expenditure not only in the interests of the people we are trying to help but also in the public interest as a whole.
These are the serious and fundamental criticisms which I level at the appropriations of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Although there is an appropriation of $89,326,000 for this financial year, which is a substantial increase on the previous year, there is little evidence of a program of expenditure. Therefore, the Department will approach its expenditure in an ad hoc fashion. This leads to irresponsibility in the handling of public funds, but worse still it can leave the door open to the misappropriation of those funds for which the authorities should be accountable to the public as a whole. Whether a government spends money on pensions, on industry, on welfare or on Aborigines, the department concerned should program its expenditure so that it accounts for its actions. Such a loose method as that which has been employed here is not good enough for the Aboriginal people and indeed for the nation as a whole.
I believe that the Minister became alarmed at the weakness of his Department when it was agreed on 4 September that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs would take over the responsibility for the housing of Aborigines in Victoria. Yet, 22 days later, Mr Dickie, the Victorian Minister concerned, received a letter from Mr Bryant requesting Victoria to resume responsibility. Was the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs concerned that his Department would not be able to cope? Or, worse still, is this further evidence of the Department and the Council of Aboriginal Affairs dodging administrative responsibilities, avoiding responsibility and blame for any failures that may occur as a result of the implementation of its policies, many of which may be quite unreal, impractical and indeed fantasy-like.
The former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was a very dedicated Minister. I would not say he was the most dedicated Minister because the man who was the most dedicated Minister the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is sitting behind me at the moment. The time has come in the light of the crisis which has occurred when the Government should set up a royal commission to inquire into the conduct and activities of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and indeed the Council of Aboriginal Affairs itself. I would hate to see another Minister stepping into the trouble that has obviously befallen the former Minister. If the allegations of Senator Georges are correct this is a very serious thing for the Government and the nation as a whole.
– In May of this year on the initiative of the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), this Parliament set up the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. The Committee consists of 5 Government members and 4 Opposition members under the chairmanship of the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). I think it is proof that all parties in this Parliament are co-operating for the welfare of the Aboriginal. I suppose I would be the only member of the Committee who does not, as far as I know, have one Aboriginal living in his electorate. As I pointed out yesterday in this House the people of the electorate of Deakin are very much aware of their duty to society. More than most they care about the under-privileged in the community and there is considerable concern in the area for the wellbeing of the Aborigine.
The President of the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship, Pastor David Kirk, lives in Box Hill in my electorate. In my electorate at Nunawading we have a branch of the Aboriginal Advancement League. The churches are also heavily committed to assisting Aboriginal welfare. This may seem rather strange when there are few, if any, Aboriginals within the electorate. I have arranged a seminar in my electorate for 2 November into Aboriginal affairs. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and Mr Reg Worthy, the Director of Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria, will be 2 of the 5 speakers at that seminar. There has been considerable interest within the electorate in this seminar.
At last we appear to be doing something in this Parliament to improve the lot of the Aboriginal. It is to our considerable shame as citizens and as a nation that 200 years after the advent of the white man Aboriginals are still living in this country as second class citizens. It is only in the last 6 years that the problems facing Aboriginals have been tackled with any sort of drive or meaning. But it is not easy to right the wrongs of nearly 2 centuries in so short a time. The guilt feeling which had been building up for some time found its expression in the referendum of 1967 when nearly 90 per cent of voters supported the proposition that Aboriginals should be counted as Australians and that the Federal Government should have power to make laws for their welfare.
The great breakthrough came, I think, when the honourable member for Mackellar was appointed as Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs in the Gorton Government. As a result of his usual zeal and drive, things began to happen. The other former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills, whom the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has. replaced in that portfolio, was just beginning, I believe, to get into stride with his portfolio when it was taken from him. I know that he ‘has come in for considerable criticism from the Press and from some of his colleagues. But I, from this side of the Committee, and as one who is concerned about the Aboriginal problem, must say that I am sad to see him replaced. He may have made mistakes. Vii.it active Minister has not? And he has been active. He has a heart. This country has been fortunate, and the Aboriginals h- particular have K,:n fortunate, to have had the the honourable member for Mackellar awd the honourable member for Wills as Ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs. These 2 men devoted many years to the Aboriginal cause long before either entered the Ministry.
I must say that I have been concerned at reports that the honourable member for WillS nas been replaced as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs because he would not bend to the will of his Department. I am as concerned as it the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). If this allegation is true, it is a grave reflection on the judgment of the Prime Minister. To say the least, it says little for Cabinet solidarity. In a democracy such as ours, if there is a conflict between a duly elected Minister and his departmental head it should not be the Minister who is replaced. I support the remarks of the honourable member for Gwydir that some inquiry should be held into this matter.
The Aboriginals worst situated are undoubtedly the fringe dwellers, those. whose contact with the white man has caused them to absorb in many cases the white man’s faults without his accompanying virtues. Before I became a member of Parliament I, coming from Melbourne, had had little contact with Aboriginals. I, in common with many others, had been told that the Aboriginal was a nohoper and a drunkard and that all he wanted was handouts. I must say that since I have been a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs my experience has been the exact opposite. The Committee naturally has met the
Aboriginal dropout. But the overwhelming majority of Aboriginals have been proud people who realise that they need assistance to assimilate into the white man’s society but who, nonetheless, wish to succeed.
There are 4 major areas of need, as I see the situation. These areas are housing, employment, education and health. All are being tackled. Our experience as a committee was that most Aboriginals did not want to be pushed, apartheid style, outside the limits of towns. Most wanted to be given homes mixed among the ordinary white population. Where we saw examples of this type of integration, in almost every instance we found the Aboriginal home as well kept, if not better kept, than that of the Aboriginal’s white neighbour. One of the biggest problems of the outer western towns of New South Wales which we visited is to provide employment for the Aboriginals where no employment opportunities exist. We found that most Aboriginals are not prepared to leave their home environment to gain employment, but most were adamant that they wanted employment rather than unemployment relief. The scheme of the previous Government, continued by this Government, of providing money to shire councils to create employment for Aboriginals has worked well. But it can at best be a temporary expedient only.
The payment of funds to Aboriginal parents who send their children on to high school has done much to encourage Aboriginal children to go on to higher education levels. It may be a form of bribery, but perhaps in this case the end justifies the means. But it is of no use turning out numbers of Aboriginal children at higher school certificate standard if no employment is available for them to use their educational achievements to advantage. Aboriginals are notoriously good at working with their hands. What we should be doing with these young people is to send them to technical schools where they can learn a trade and then become gainfully employed in building houses for Aboriginals and giving expression to their talents in other forms. Yet, in places like Bourke, Walgett and Moree, although modern high schools are provided, the nearest technical school is 250 miles away at Dubbo. I feel that somehow the Government of New South Wales has its priorities wrong in this respect.
The problems facing the fringe dwelling Aboriginal are in many aspects greatly different from those facing the tribal Aboriginal. The differing problems are just as vast as the continent is wide. Time is not available to me to cover the problems faced by Aboriginals in the tribal situation today. Given education, good housing, employment and a white man’s income, the Aboriginal will be well on the road to equality. This end will not be achieved in a day as the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, who is sitting at the table, knows only too well. But when this objective is achieved, it will be a job well done. The former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills, has created many initiatives. It is a tragedy that he will not be able to follow these through, but I am sure that the honourable member will never lose his intense interest in the welfare of the Aboriginal race. I wish him well in his new portfolio.
– I wish to pass a few comments on the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) have raised the question of the turtle farm project in the Torres Strait. In doing so, they have quoted statements made by Senator Georges who had referred to the fact that this matter had been before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation and that certain matters had arisen from the investigation by the Committee.
The history of this turtle farming is that, with the phasing out of the pearling industry in the Torrest Strait Islands, some thought had to be given to another industry which would result in some monetary injection into the cash economy of the Islanders. The general question of using the native fauna of those islands was raised in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. One of the projects which started as an experiment was concerned with whether the hawksbill turtle could be used for curio purposes and the green sea turtle for the supply of turtle meat. The former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), through the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) referred this matter to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Conservation raising the question whether this project contravened the international convention with regard to endangered species, and also the question of the general conservation aspects of the whole project.
The Standing Committee has heard evidence on this reference. The Committee has been unable to visit the island because of a request not to do so, because discussions were continuing between islander councils and representatives of Papua New Guinea regarding the definition of the border in that area. The Committee accepted that request as genuine. It did not visit the islands because it was suggested that this would cause some confusion in the minds of the islanders. Subsequently Dr Carr, an ecologist who has some concern with a commercial turtle project in the West Indies, was asked to carry out an ecological investigation of this project. These matters are a subject for report by the Standing Committee. That report will be presented shortly to the Parliament.
However, the aspect to which the honourable member for Mackellar referred - I think that he may be under some misapprehension about this matter - is not the experimental concept and discovering the facts of the project, and whether it is operative. Instead, it relates to some severe doubts that have been cast on the early commercialisation of this project. This matter came before the Committee incidentally. It arose out of its other investigations. Severe doubts were raised in the minds of members of the Committee with regard to the propriety of some of the actions in the commercialisation of the turtle farming project and with regard to some administrative matters. The Committee did not investigate them in depth but they did exist and all members of the Committee were concerned about them. Therefore these matters were referred to the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs with a recommendation that they be investigated. That Minister commenced an investigation into the suggested irregularities. I felt that the debate on the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs gave me the chance to put the record straight on this matter. I will in no way preview the Committee’s report on the question of the international convention or on the question of conservation. That report will be duly submitted.
Arising out of some of these investigations I would like to make some comment in passing in relation to national parks. In looking at the national park structure it seems strange in view of the make-up of many of our national parks that there is very litle involvement of indigenous Aborigines in the conduct of these great tourist attractions. These people know the mythology and the physical features of the parks and in fact no one would be better equipped to describe and display these areas to visiting Europeans than the indigenous Aboriginal who has a real love for the country which he feels belongs to him. I am hopeful that we will see in the life of this Parliament a much greater involvement of Aborigines in the running of these projects because these people have their own dignity, they have their own distinction and they have their own feeling for these areas.
When I listen to debates in Parliament and in public I am concerned at the extreme paternalism shown by people in regard to this matter. Perhaps it is not deliberate but it is paternalism. I think that this is something which those people who profess to have an interest in Aboriginal Affairs will have to make a very great effort to exclude from their thinking. In dealing with our native Australians we do not want paternalism. What we want is equality of rights for these people. We want respect for the preservation of those things that they desire in their old ways whether they be customs, habits or objects. We respect them and they should have equality of rights. We should give them this opportunity and we should stop being so paternalistic. This paternalistic thinking is not an error that is confined to members on the other side of this chamber; it is on both sides of the chamber and also it exists right throughout the community. I believe that the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was well aware of this attitude and he was very conscientious in the efforts that he made to remove this paternalistic attitude. I congratulate him on the work he did in the time he had in that portfolio.
– I intervene very briefly in this debate because I wish to take the opportunity to express appreciation for the effort which the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), put into his work while he held that portfolio. There can be no doubt that he put his heart and soul into improving the conditions and the opportunities afforded to Aborigines. He did not approach the debatable question of assimilation versus integration, for example, on the basis that he knew what was best and he would impose his view. Rather he approached it on the basis of seeking to find out what the people concerned wanted. If he believed that it was possible he sought to do that which was wanted by those people. I am bound to say that he adopted a number of attitudes and a number of approaches with which I personally disagreed and with which I would continue to disagree. I do not propose to go into them now but I do think that everybody in this House would know that in adopting those approaches he was doing what he thought was right and that is something which must stand to his credit.
There is only one other thing that I wish to say: If there is to be a situation in which a Minister is appointed to this very difficult portfolio, whoever that Minister may be or may have been - and I go back beyond the honourable member for Wills - and a non-elected person who disagrees with the decisions of the responsible Minister takes the opportunity to bypass him and, without that Minister’s knowledge, even goes to a Prime Minister and has overthrown the decisions of the Minister responsible, then so long as that situation continues the parliamentary approach will be derogated. The Minister in charge of the portfolio through no fault of his own will not be responsible, as he should be, to the Parliament. If that situation continues the idea of elected persons making decisions and Ministers speaking on behalf of a government will be denigrated. I can only hope that this situation will not continue now that there is a successor to the Minister who has just handed in his portfolio covering Aboriginal affairs. Those are the 2 matters which I wanted to raise and that is all I want to say. Firstly, I wanted to pay a tribute to the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, though I disagree with a great deal of what he wants to do. Secondly, I wanted to say that whoever is in his position must not be in a position where somebody outside can overrule him or have him overruled, particularly without his consent.
– The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) has paid a worthy tribute to my colleague, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I was pleased to see the right honourable gentleman put it in such a practical way. I recall talking to an Aboriginal in a hotel in the Northern Territory and asking him what he thought about assimilation versus integration and he said: ‘Are they starters in the Melbourne Cup, boss?’ I think that very often we can become highfaluting and get well away from the attitudes, concepts and aspirations of the Aboriginal people. Although that can be said about a lot of people no one can say it in regard to the Minister for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
The right honourable member for Higgins made some passing reference - an innuendo if you like - about something that might have happened. He referred to people bypassing Ministers and going from departments to Prime Ministers. I think that we ought to be very wary of a consideration of this kind. I feel quite certain that the right honourable gentleman who himself has been the victim of innuendo, insinuation-
– Back stabbing.
– Back stabbing, snide vilification and open vilification would be in the vanguard of those who would criticise people who tend to exploit that kind of unfounded contention. That is all we can say about it.
– Is it unfounded?
– The honourable member for Isaacs asks: ‘Is it unfounded?’ I say to him: ‘Is it founded?’ If it is not founded, then I say do not go on with this pursuance of an hypothetical innuendo of the type we all disparage. There is not a long tune in this debate to say whatever is to be said. I have made a number of speeches on Aboriginal Affairs over the years and I do not intend to do this today. What I do want to say is this: After the eulogistic comments that have been made about the honourable member for Wills in respect of the administration of the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs all we can say is that obviously he is a godsend to the Australian Capital Territory. There are great problems in the Australian Capital Territory - of course, not as many as there used to be, thanks to the Minister recently retired from that portfolio - but, having heard the unanimity with which the praise has been heaped on our colleague, the honourable member for Wills, we recognise the fact that he has another great challenge right at his fingertips. He is going from one challenge to another and he is obviously virtuous enough to make a very great advancement on the good work already achieved in the Australian Capital Territory by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby).
I have been associated with the honourable member for Wills in the matter of Aboriginal affairs for a long time - in fact, since 1965. I shared an office with him for 11 years and during those years we shared our office with many Aboriginal people. The honourable member for Wills was the first member of Parliament genuinely to relate to the Aboriginal community. Prior to coming here, he was the President of the Victorian Aboriginal Advancement League. He has been an officer of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Affairs and Torres Strait Islanders. While honourable members were away on their recreation over Easter periods, he was stacked up at conferences with Aboriginal people in many parts of Australia. There is no question about it: His interest has been in what all of us readily would concede is one of the most controversial fields of sociological endeavour Australia has ever known. In other words, no matter what one says or does in this field, one cannot win with very many people. The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who was previously a Minister in this area, certainly knows what I am talking about. In the face of all this, the honourable member for Wills has not worried much about public reaction. His attitude has been such that the interests of the Aboriginal people themselves have been paramount in all of his endeavours.
I know that when I had a message the other day that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was going to talk to me about changing portfolios, my whole body quivered at the thought which ran through my mind that he might be inviting me to become the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and I felt relieved when I heard what it was really all about. The problems of Aboriginal affairs are enormous and complex. There have been times when I have wondered what one would do if one had responsibility for Aboriginal affairs. I know the attitude of the honourable member for Wills. He has a burning obsession about the indifference with which Aboriginal people have been treated. He talks about their communities as being representative of the inadequacies produced by indifference. He will tell you about the communities that do not have all or any of the things that we take for granted. There are no roads, footpaths, kerbing and guttering, and no garbage, sanitary or water services.
– No telephone.
Mir LES JOHNSON - Even no telephone and, often, there are no nurses or doctors, a decent school or anything of that kind. The honourable member for Wills believes that it is time to sweep away that indifference.
The honourable member for Wills is an expensive and an impetuous Minister in the sense that he wants money to get on with the job and he wants to do it at first hand. That can be a virtue; it can be a shortcoming. Frankly, my approach to Aboriginal affairs would be that I would exploit and try to use every department. I would use the Education Department to create an assault against the inadequacies of opportunities existing in that area. I would use the Department of Health. When there is an incidence of child mortality that is 20 times higher than that for comparable European communities, there is a need to bring every possible health resource to bear on the problem - not just in the hospitals but in the treatment and provision of sewerage systems, water supplies and things of that kind.
I remember in an inquiry about the Alice Springs hospital people talking about the high mortality rate among Aboriginal infant children, and the Committee being given an account of a nurse going out into the area and finding an undernourished Aboriginal mother who would be given advice about taking her child off breast feeding and putting it on to the bottle. But what does a bottle mean in that situation - a situation where there is no refrigerator? They get the bottle and the dog has a go at it and the flies have a go at it and disease is the result of this bastardised situation. A position has been created where Aboriginal people have been cast into a twilight zone, between a nomadic system on the one hand and a European system on the other. This is the enormity of the problem; it is characteristic of it. We need all the resources of the Department of Health and the Education Department in this area.
Housing is another great problem. I went to the Torres Strait Islands the other week and they told me that they needed 200 houses. It costs $20,000 to provide a house in the Torres Strait Islands so it would cost $4m to provide that number of houses. I understand that the previous Minister contends that 25,000 houses are needed in areas where Aboriginal people live. At $20,000 for each house, 25,000 houses would cost no less than $500m. This is the state of the nation from an Aboriginal housing point of view and this man - the honourable member for Wills - is the man who knows all about the problem. No wonder he is impatient and impulsive and wanting to get on with the job. Despite the competency of the Public Service, he does not believe that it is effective enough. Of course, it is not effective enough, nor is the Government nor the country at large effective enough. All of us can understand the tremendous dilemma that he has been in.
I believe that the honourable member for Wills characterised his administration by leaving behind him among the Aboriginal people a sense of self-motivation. He has generated in them a feeling of pride that they can go on to do worthwhile things. My own attitude has been that there might have been a tendency over the last few years to develop national organisations before we have properly regionalised. I think the Aboriginal people themselves should not have our system imposed upon them except to the extent that their own attitudes and ours blend together in enabling a regional system to develop so that attitudes can permeate through and from them. That should have happened.
However, I believe that the Minister is deserving of a tribute for the work that he has done and I know that everyone in this Committee would like to extend good wishes for the future. I told him that it was my intention to say that he believes great tribute is due to the officers of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for their dedication and he told me that if I said that, I would be saying it with his warm-hearted approval and complete acquiescence. I hope that the honourable member for Wills will go on in his new portfolio to demonstate again the great compassion and a sense of humanity and administrative skill that he has.
<3.52)- Thank you, fellow workers. It has been almost worth the 18 years to have received the tributes that I have received here today. It is true that yesterday I relinquished a portfolio which had taken a great deal of time and energy and all the rest that goes with it and I know that on occasions such as this my colleagues opposite who have thanked me and paid tribute to what I had done and who regretted my removal did not do so with their tongues in their cheeks. I appreciate their remarks. I believe that, hard as it is in some ways for a political character such as myself, but easy as it is for one with the socialist spirit such as my own, to regard anything in a bipartisan manner, it was necessary in the field of Aboriginal affairs to realise that this was a question for human beings that had very little to do with politics. I knew that we would clash in some areas of deep social policy such as land rights and so on, but, generally speaking, when it comes to treating people the way people ought to be treated, there is not a great deal of difference in the Australian community between left, right and centre about the immediate needs of the person on the ground. So, I appreciate the compliments that have been paid to me and I am very grateful for them.
I propose to treat my exercise in handling what were the estimates for my Department and what were my responsibilities in this House by giving a brief summary of what I think we were setting out to do and then saying something about those matters which have been raised by each speaker in the debate insofar as they asked a question of some sort. Firstly, I should like to refer to the problem itself. My Aboriginal friends, of course, say: ‘It is all right for you. You have 120,000 problems but we have 13 million problems’. That is true enough. One of the problems is that all Australians have to learn to live in a bicultural, multi-racial society. The Aboriginal people in some respects reflect the furthest extension of the plurality of society, perhaps physically and perhaps also by the fact that they can be recognised immediately. In other respects I think that there is a true Australianism in so many of the Aboriginal people which perhaps makes it easy for them to assimilate with the Australian characteristics.
On a map on the wall of my office are marked 400-odd places where Aboriginal people live. Some have only 20 or 30 Aborigines and some of them have a thousand or more. In some of the big capitals they are submerged in the rest of the community. There are thousands of Aboriginal people. They are there, scattered right across the board, a community of its own, separate from but part of the Australian community. We have to resolve the way in which this problem can be sorted out so that the Aboriginal people oan live in the community in harmony with it, compatible with it, a part of it but for their own purposes in so many ways perhaps separate from it.
I have said continuously to the Aboriginal people that they can take comfort from the situation of other ethnic groups around the world. In particular I cite the situation in the Middle East of the Jewish people who have been able to keep for themselves a separateness while being a part of other communities for so long. I have been one of those who for many years has eschewed the use of any terminology about this. Our aims in social policy cannot be defined by terms such as assimilation’, ‘integration’ and so on, but I appreciate the remarks of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton).
There are deficient communities from one end of the continent to the other. What is the machinery to overcome this problem? I believe that unfortunately the Australian governmental machinery, both State and Federal in all probability but certainly the Commonwealth, has not been designed for immediate urgent action anywhere. We are very cautious in the way in which we approach matters. There are so many things to be considered when one is expending public moneys, making the estimates, preparing to inspect them, audit them, call tenders for projects, arrive at a conclusion and get action. This process unfortunately is not good enough where people’s needs are immediate. So we set out to find out some of the problems. They were not all that easy to locate. We are setting out, I hope, to establish new kinds of machinery, but that will take some time.
I raise one matter - I do this because my own personal way of doing things is under consideration in the matter - regarding the remarks of the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) last night about advisers, consultants, and so on to Ministers. He said that their appointment was an imposition on the Australian parliamentary system which had sinister overtones, connotations or results. I am as deeply dedicated to the parliamentary institution as is anybody else but I think that the honourable member is over-rating or misunderstanding the situation. It seems to me that to be able to call upon reserves from within the community generally and the support of actions or the investigation of actions, is a necessary part of the democratic governmental process. We have been told repeatedly that the continuous expansion of the Australian Public Service is bad. I do not believe that. I think that in a modern complex society the Public Service will decide the kind of life we lead.
But take some of the things with which I am faced. We have a department which we hope, in conjunction with the Minister, will do what my colleague the Minister for Works and Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) said it should do, namely, make all the other instrumentalities work. Therefore one does not set up housing services of his own, health services of his own and education services of his own. The separateness of these things in Aboriginal affairs from State to State and in the Commonwealth under the old Department of the Interior worked out badly. Therefore, it is more desirable to be able to call up the resources - intellectual, physical, technical and so on - in the community for the time being. This is what we have been doing and what I have done myself. I shall cite one example that honourable members in this House might know quite well, namely, the appointment of Captain Benson the former honourable member for Batman. Why pick Captain Benson? Not because he is a former member of the House or anything like that, but because he is the best in the business. He is also readily available, so that if one wants someone to look at luggers in Torres Strait Sam Benson can go there tomorrow and one needs to keep him for only 2 or 3 days.
Let us assume that his kind of expertise is aavilable in the Department and somebody is wanted to examine luggers in Torres Strait. That person would be sent off to Torres Strait. It would take him H days to get there, a day or so there to do some small job and li days to come back. For what was in fact a day’s work the best administrator would take 4 or 5 days to do it. I believe that we could establish a much better machinery for calling up this kind of expertise, consultants, advisers - call them what you like - momentary public servants, people serving the public. That is the way in which I have approached the matter. I find the use of such people cheap, but I also find them effective. I have also, as a policy, adopted the tactic of using whatever resources other departments can supply. There is a tremendous amount of skill, technique and professional knowledge inside Australian government departments. But they are not always readily available and Ministers are not always keen on having some of their experts whipped off to the other end of Australia. I have answered that point because this is a technique which we have all had to adopt, faced with new social and professional situations. I think it is a fair answer on behalf of all of us here to the honourable member for Isaacs whose remarks I know were meant to be directed in all earnestness.
One of the principal, I suppose, revolutions - perhaps that is not the correct word to use - that we have implemented in Aboriginal affairs is constant and continual consultation with the Aboriginal people. This has been referred to by colleagues on both sides of the chamber. It is to get the Aboriginal people into the act. I suppose it is only an extension of our Labor Party philosophy that the community must participate in the decisions that are being made about it. The Aboriginal community has always been on the receiving end. We have done things for them and to them but rarely with them. So we have set up apparatus throughout Australia to consult them. This is one of the reasons why I have been around this continent almost often enough to get giddy, to sit in the dust somewhere and let people talk, to let them come and talk, to sit there perhaps for an hour to have 10 minutes conversation with people who are not accustomed to talking. The second time one goes back to these people things are a bit different, or when they come to Canberra they come to look me up. This makes it difficult for one’s staff. I hope that the new Parliament House will have many more facilities in it for consultations with the citizens on the spot.
The National Advisory Council is in the process of being elected. It is absolutely essential in Aboriginal affairs that the Aboriginal people should speak for themselves and administer themselves wherever they can, become part of the apparatus and are actually injected into it. I suppose that another part of the revolution has been the raising through the departmental system of such people as Mr Perkins, and the creation of the consultant and liaison branch comprised of the Aboriginal people or anybody else. We all colleagues opposite will say: These people are not real Aborigines. They are not full bloods’. Some terms about Aborigines were used during the course of the debate. I will not mention them, but on behalf of the Aborigines I say to honourable members: Please do not use derogatory terms in debates about Aboriginal people or anybody else. We all have hearts. We all have feelings and those terms do not do anybody any good.
– What terms?
– I think one that was used was ‘part-coloured city slickers’ or something like that. I know that the people who use such terms do not really mean them in the derogatory way that they sound, but I know that my friends among the Aboriginal people were deeply hurt when they heard something like that. I merely ask that in these matters we should refer to the Aboriginal people as we would refer to anybody else.
Aboriginal participation is, I hope, the step we have taken which will produce the best result. None of us can say with any certainty when we venture into social paths that we will produce any result. I am optimistic, and have reason to be after a long time in politics. When an overseas journalist came to me and said: ‘Mr Bryant, nobody else has produced a solution to a non-technological people overwhelmed by a technological society and nobody else has produced a satisfactory race relationship. How do you expect to succeed?’ I said: ‘I hope to succeed, and I propose that we will succeed but nobody can give the guarantee.’ But it is my belief that the new spirit of aspiration and expectation that has been raised amongst the Aboriginal people of Australia by the exercise of the power of this Government and the resources placed at its disposal will go a long way towards achieving that.
We have the advantage that we live in a society which, although I do not know that it is a tolerant society, is one which will put up with people more easily than will societies in most other parts of the world. I represent a great industrial area where huge numbers of migrants have come to live. There have been few social tensions arising there. We might be difficult and we might ignore our neighbours; but we would not go crook about a man and his wife and family unless they became too unhygienic or kicked up too much of a shindy in the middle of the night. Therefore we live in a more benevolent society in that regard when it comes to getting people to live side by side.
Several honourable members have asked: What about all this money? Where are these huge sums of money going? It is set out in the estimates in pretty bold figures. I think it was my colleague the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) who mentioned the question of the Trust Account, as did some other honourable members. That amount has been raised from some $30m to some $70m. What does it mean? It is the way in which the system operates. About $32m of that amount will go to the State governments. One can only hope that they will perform. It is a sad fact that their performance is not always up to the standard that one wants. Of that amount, $4.2m will go to organisations of various sorts around the country which we will subsidise. The special works projects were mentioned. Lists will be prepared so that people can obtain them and understand where the money has gone or is going to in municipalities. There’ will be $40,000 going here, $30,000 there and $100,000 somewhere else. I think that last week I authorised money for 40 different municipalities in Queensland.
Then there is the Commonwealth’s own housing program, basically in the Northern Territory. When the amount of $10m was submitted to me I thought that it was an enormous sum, but when it is spread out over the communities $5,000 here, $17,000 there, $6,000 here and $12,000 there - it does not make an enormous impact upon the situation. Community amenities require the expansion of the program inside the communities. It may well be at Papunya, at Warburton or somewhere in Western Australia, for instance. We will spend $20,000 or $30,000 for the beginning of a program of turning them into the sort of Australian communities they ought to be. The principal project there is to get the people doing the work for themselves. I have said to some of them, and they appreciate it: ‘You must not think we will import contractors here while you sit down and draw unemployment benefits’. I think it was my friend the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) who remarked that the Aboriginals did not want to be on unemployment benefits; they wanted to be employed. The response I received to that simple technique was remarkable.
The Government will expend a couple of million dollars on hostels around the country. I will deal with the Hill End hostel directly for the honourable member for Griffith. There will be special assistance of $1.2m for health programs. Of course, that is not the lot. Adult, pre-school and other educational programs will receive $250,000. So it goes on down the list. We will provide $1.5m for legal aid. I hope that not too much of it is spent on charter aircraft. For transport and communications we will provide $lm because there is much to be done to establish effective communication programs throughout Australia. For community enterprises we will provide $3m and for properties off reserves we will provide $5m. I will deal with the points raised by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) directly. About $4.5m will be kept in reserve, unallocated as yet. It is fatal to say This is the program for this year. We will spend $0.2m on this and $3. 5m on that’ because in the next month or two something will turn up that had not been thought of before and it will need proper attention. So this has to be a flexible arrangement. We are applying as much skill as we can to seeing that public funds that are spent on such things as legal aid services are publicly accounted for. I have a strong conviction about this, as honourable members will recall from the state aid debates, as they might be called, over the years. My particular conflict with giving public funds to non-public bodies is the accountability and responsibility to the communities from which the funds flow.
Let me take up a few of the points raised by honourable members during the debate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) made a few thoughtful points. I was grateful for the remarks he made about my own administration of the portfolio. Several honourable members raised the matter of consultation with State governments. We have been doing this. It is a mystery to me how Australia ever federated. It was possible to achieve a mystical communion between President Nixon and Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai in Peking; but let one try some mystical communion with the Minister in Victoria.
– What about Queensland?
– Strangely enough, it is easier to understand and get along with Queensland than with Victoria. But nobody should take much consolation from that. The Government is consulting with the States. It is my belief that we will have to make agreements with each State about various things and until we do so the Department will be very light on the ground. Until we achieve this relationship it is unwise for us to create big or new departmental structures in most of the States. I suppose that with New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia we can come to an agreement and the people who are particularly involved in this area in those States will come to us. It would be a fairly factuous exercise in public administration to create an organisation some three or four months before such agreement was reached. The ‘Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the police and race discrimination. I have had one of those ‘sinister characters’ - an adviser or consultant - getting around amongst the police forces just to find out the basic reasons for their attitudes. It will be a few weeks before his report is received. We can only carry out experimental attitudes and put people in the field to try to find out what makes people pretty sticky in their personal relationships in this regard. Programs are beginning in all these areas.
Let me deal now with the vexed question of the Hill End hostel. My colleague from Griffith seemed to regard it as a most mischievous undertaking. It is a very nice piece of real estate. It is a former Baptist theological college. The Government purchased it because it was just what seemed to be needed - a good piece of real estate, good accommodation, the set-up for some of the things we wanted. Thirty or forty people can be accommodated in it. It can be used for instructional purposes. We hope that it will be ready for occupancy in the near future. It is being renovated. At this stage it is expected that the hostel will be occupied by working girls. But none of these decisions are totally hard and fast at the moment. I do not think that these girls will do the citizens of Hill End all that much damage. I only hope that the citizens of Hill End - some of whom appeared to be rational enough when I was there - will appreciate their presence amongst them. I was a little taken aback by some of the things people said when this proposal was announced, and the honourable member for Griffith has to accept some of the responsibility.
This situation will occur throughout Australia. There is no reason why hostels for Aboriginal people should be any different in the community from hostels for Baptists. One lady said to me: ‘You are creating an Aboriginal ghetto’. All I can say to that is: ‘If it is not a ghetto for Baptists, it is not a ghetto for Aborigines’. We will be establishing community centres, cultural centres and so on throughout Australia. The honourable member for the Northern Territory-
– What about the hostel? It was going to be one thing one day, the next day there was a change, and the next day there was another change. It was the inefficiency of the Department that was upsetting me.
– Goodness gracious me! I do not regard it as being inefficient to upset the honourable member. He is so conservative that if the officers of the Department are not upsetting him they should be sacked.
– Well, you have been sacked.
– I hope that it was not because I upset the honourable member. The facts are that the Government purchased the building because it offered all these opportunities. As the months have gone by, each one has been considered. The actual relationships are still to be determined, but at the moment it seems that it probably will be for working girls not long out of school. I am sure that the gentle souls around that area will see that they are properly cared for.
My colleague from the Northern Territory raised a number of matters. Perhaps they should be handled at some other time. On a number of occasions he has raised the question of Willowra, a station in the northern part of South Australia. We will not allow these properties to run down, nor will we demand immediate economic viability. They are spiritual homes as much as anything else for the people who live on them. I understand the facts are that the cattle population on properties taken oyer by Aborigines is not all that much different from what it used to be.
A few other matters were raised by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) concerning the allocation of funds. As I pointed out in my explanation of the Aboriginal Trust Account the funds are going in various directions in the encouragement of community enterprises, in the development of housing, in the setting up of employment opportunities and in providing backstops to education, health and other services. We will have further information on the matter prepared so that honourable members can have some more detail and everybody will understand what is likely to happen in his own electorate.
A good number of other questions were raised by the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt). It is a bit exasperating that we have to be so time saving in this Parliament at this time, but it is the product of a very busy government. I can assure the honourable member for Gwydir that the programs we are developing for Moree and places such as that will continue and that my colleague, Senator Cavanagh, the present Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, subscribes to the same philosophy as the rest of us and attaches the same sense of importance to humanity, and there will not be any diminution of our effort in tha” regard. My colleague the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) answered the questions about the turtle project The concept is not under attack. It is a question of whether it should be developed as it is or in some other way.
I think I have just about covered most of the matters that have been raised. The honourable member for Deakin said that he did not have any Aboriginal people in his electorate. When you go looking for them you cannot find them but census statistics show there are 35 Aboriginal people at Box Hill and 61 in Nunawading.
– And all badly represented.
– Well, he is improving. It has taken him a while though. He is a slow learner in some matters political. In finishing I refer to the Victorian situation. I thought I had come to a complete agreement with the Minister for Housing in Victoria that in fact it would be better if the Australian Government perhaps accepted responsibility for Aboriginal housing in Victoria. Responsibility can be of all sorts. We accept the financial responsibility to start with. But as my colleague the Minister for Housing and Minister for Works pointed out, we have to make all the other instrumentalities work. In every State there are housing commissions, banks, housing societies, municipal authorities and all sorts of organisations which can perhaps carry out the responsibilities for you. The Victorian Department of Housing told me that the best way to get the first lot of people into houses was to let the Victorian Department do it. I was told that there were 45 families that needed housing immediately. Believing this to be the quickest way to do it, I said: ‘We will supply you with the funds. You do it’. This does not mean that we are shedding the responsibility, but I am finding extraordinary difficulty in arriving at the same meaning of words as Mr Dickie of Victoria did, but the last lot of communications might have sorted that out. We accept direct responsibility for the Aboriginal people of Australia. That means financial responsibility. It means that administrations everywhere will have to carry it out.
Officers of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs have placed themselves at the disposal of the cause. Quite selflessly they have gone around Australia, leaving hearth and home on innumerable occasions. I suppose it will be another five or six months before we have sufficient people on the ground throughout the country. No matter who is governing this country, the time has well passed when we should reconsider the structure whereby we decide the way in which governmental services shall operate. It seems to be that, while being protective of individual public servants, the way in which we arrive at governmental structures is so slow that a government’s course can almost have run before it has the forces on the ground to carry out its policies. I hope that when we get round to a reconsideration of the structure of the Public Service and so on, perhaps in the near future or at any stage, honourable members opposite will remember that it is being done for the nation, and therefore I hope that they will get through to their senatorial colleagues so that they will co-operate. I can assure the Parliament that under Senator Cavanagh the policies we have developed will proceed with the expedition with which I hope they have been over the past nine or ten months.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, 137,851,000.
– I take this opportunity to complain about the reluctance of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to answer questions. It is of course a cardinal principle of parliamentary responsibility that Ministers should answer questions put to them by members of the Parliament concerned with the administration of their department. I simply point out that there is a question on the notice paper which I put down on 8 March last dealing with the announced intention of the Attorney to engage foreign lawyers to advise him on the drafting of certain legislation dealing with Aboriginal land rights and restrictive trade practices. One would have thought that that was a simple question to which the Attorney could address his mind for 5 minutes and answer; yet it has been on the notice paper since 8 March. Not only that, but American lawyers of sorts have come and gone. Some of them have given reports to the Attorney; others have furnished reports which have been tabled in this House. And still the information required by the question as to what qualifications these gentlemen have, what fees they were being paid and other associated matters remains to be supplied.
I must point out that the announcement was not exactly an announcement by the AttorneyGeneral. It was an announcement by a source close to the Attorney-General, which is about all one can get on this subject, that while in
America on his way back from one of his very frequent excursions abroad he had discussions with American lawyers about various subjects and that he would invite them to come to Australia and advise him on various legal matters. I would have thought that the Attorney-General, being charged with giving legal advice to the Government, ought to be qualified himself to give advice on most subjects. If there is a subject on which his legal knowledge is insufficient he has a team of qualified lawyers in his Department. All of them have been trained over a long period of time in practice on the Crown side and they have more experience than perhaps people in private practice because they deal with a much more limited field and perhaps become more intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of that particular branch of the law.
But instead of consulting his Department the Minister seems to have embarked on a program of going outside the Department to obtain legal advice. We see a couple of disastrous examples of what has happened. First of all, there was his bull-at-a-gate attempt to reform the divorce law. I understand that his new matrimonial regulations were drafted for him by a junior counsel, and they were a complete disaster. Then there was the question of his dealings with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation which still has a very large note of interrogation hanging over it. In his dealings with ASIO he was advised by a gentleman, Mr Milte, in what capacity one does not know, because a question asked by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) on the subject has been on the notice paper since 4 April.
– He has not answered it?
– No, he has not answered that. The question asked whether Mr Milte was being engaged, or words to this effect, by the Commonwealth or by any Commonwealth department or agency, and if he was what fees was he being paid and what was he being engaged to advise on. If we read the newspapers we understand that apparently this gentleman has given evidence before a Senate committee. He was described in the ‘Australian’ newspaper as being a former policeman, a former Melbourne barrister and a former counsel to the Attorney-General. He has also figured in news releases about his going to the Northern Territory and doing an inquiry on the police force in the Territory.
But still the question remains unanswered. What advice’ is this gentleman being engaged by the Attorney to give? Is he being engaged to advise the Attorney on information which he procured while he was a member of the Commonwealth Police Force? Is he being engaged to give legal advice to the Attorney and, if so, advice on what subject? If the Attorney wants advice one would have thought that the world was his oyster. He could have engaged the leading silk in the country to give him advice on whatever specialty he might wish advice on. I believe Mr Milte is a very junior member of the Melbourne Bar - hardly a person whose experience or knowledge would warrant being engaged by the chief legal officer for the Commonwealth. So, once again there is a very serious note of interrogation hanging over it. In his dealings with remained unanswered for so long. If one refers to the estimates which are before the Committee at the moment and searches through them from front to back, there is no item which could be classified, on any fair reading, as being one which would cover fees paid to counsel in private practice.
I have heard of other counsel in other States who have been retained - not engaged for a particular brief - by the Attorney-General for a specified length of time. No mention is made in the estimates of fees which have been paid to them. I would have thought that if the Attorney is embarking on a policy of briefing out he ought to include in his estimates an item so that members of the Committee can know what additional amounts of money are being spent by the Attorney to obtain advice outside his Department. He ought also to include the names of counsel who are being engaged and the fees they are being paid. It is the practice in Queensland for the Minister for Justice to table each year a list of counsel who have been retained by the Crown and the amount of fees which have been paid to them. Such a practice would give members of this Parliament an opportunity to investigate the matter to see whether the Attorney is doing a good job with his Department and whether he is spending public money wisely. But the estimates prepared, as they are, in this very rough form, give no indication at all as to what briefing has taken place outside the Department itself.
I deal now with the Attorney-General’s failure to answer questions. I suppose, because the Attorney is in another place, one has to put up with a certain amount of delay because we cannot ask questions without notice very successfully in this House, and consequently questions have to be put on notice. No fewer than 18 questions directed to the Attorney are still on the notice paper unanswered. I should, I suppose, to do him justice, have gone through Hansard and checked on the number of questions that he has answered. But I venture to suggest that if that exercise were done we would find that very few questions asked in this House have been answered by the Attorney. The questions that are on the notice paper do not require detailed research in order to be answered. They are simple questions: Does the Attorney-General propose to do this? Who has been engaged? How many people have done something else? They are all questions which the Attorney or his Department could readily answer if they put their mind to it. One can only assume that the Attorney treats this House and questions asked by its members with the same disdain that he apparently treats other members of the community who want to talk to him. This particular Attorney-General appears to have rushed in like a bull at a gate on many particular matters.
One of the American lawyers that he engaged - incidentally the lawyer has come and gone - was commissioned to give him some advice on securities exchange. I believe that the advice which .the lawyer gave after a 6 weeks sojourn here at unspecified expense to the Commonwealth was that before he could tender any advice to the Attorney there would need to be an amendment to the Constitution to give the Commonwealth powers similar to those enjoyed by the Federal Government in America. That was advice which a first-year student in constitutional law could have given to the Attorney. What we want to know when discussing the estimates is: How much did this advice cost? How much is it costing us to get advice for the Attorney-General from outside the Public Service?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hamsun) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In speaking in this debate on the estimates of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department I refer to Division 120, items 3.03, 3.04 and 3.06 which relate to legal aid. There are certain basic rules of democracy and freedom which state that there should be equality under the law but it is often overlooked that to obtain equality under the law we also need equality of access to «h» law if we are to protect those freedoms. A recent study carried out by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research indicates that there is a law for the rich and a law for the poor. The figures concern 28,813 documented petty session court cases held in the first 6 months of last year. The Bureau divided them into cases where people were represented and where they were not. It took into account verdicts of not guilty, dismissal, recognisance and imprisonment with or without fine. The Bureau dealt with cases where there were no previous convictions and it found that a person who had legal representation had a 61 times better chance of securing an outright judgment in his favour. Represented people had a 3 to 1 advantage for dismissals. Unrepresented people, on the other hand, were 3 times more likely to be sent to prison. Threequarters of those found not guilty were represented but 9 out of 10 sent to prison were unrepresented. I conclude that these figures of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that a double standard does operate.
I turn now to some comments made 02 the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 16 July last year by Dr Paul Wilson, a lecturer, I think in sociology at the Queensland University, who stated that the scarcity of legal services offered to the poor and the noi so poor in this country are in fact realistic. He said:
My second major criticism of Australian lawyers relates to the scarcity of legal services offered to the poor and not so poor in this country. In fact the record of Australian criminal legal aid is distinguished only by its inadequacy. All over the country accused persons still go unrepresented in criminal cases simply because they do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford their own lawyers. Explicit or implicit means tests do not allow legal services to be given to the very groups in most need of them, and I’m talking about men on the basic wage, deserted wives and working men with large families. These people are more likely than others to be victims of slick salesmen, of fraudulent hire purchase agreements, of high divorce costs . . .
If the legal profession and governments are really concerned with the legal rights of the weaker, or indeed all, members of Australian society then the limitations of Australian legal aid schemes will have to be recognised.
Last year the previous Government to some extent recognised that situation. In Canberra in March last year it finally passed an ordinance so that the legal aid scheme which works in collaboration with the profession on a reduced fee basis could be extended to those in need of it. The present scheme works on a reduced fee basis and is subsidised by the Government to the extent of 100 per cent of the reduced fees. This will continue until such time as there are sufficient moneys in the fidelity fund of the legal profession when payments for legal aid will be made from that fund. Under the present scheme 237 applications for legal assistance had been received in the first 4 months of its operation.
It is pleasing to notice that the amount provided for the Attorney-General’s Department under this heading in the Appropriation Bill has been increased to $120,000 but the situation in the Australian Capital Territory which allows so many people to be assisted is not extended over the whole of Australia. It is not extended to the same extent to those about whom we heard in the last debate - the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory. It is not readily accessible to the ordinary suburban people in the lower socioeconomic groupings throughout Australia outside of the Australian Capital Territory. In Victoria, for instance, the Legal Aid Committee does commendable work in the field of civil litigation, such as divorce, maintenance and landlord and tenant matters and the like. But in practice people facing criminal charges in magistrates courts generally are unrepresented. The Public Solicitor is empowered to provide legal aid to people without means in criminal cases before Courts of General Sessions and the Supreme Court, but a Master of Arts thesis done at the University of Melbourne last year indicated that about 40 per cent of the people who applied for assistance then received none. I am pleased to report that that has since been reduced to about 25 per cent to 30 per cent. But it still is not good enough for a government - State or Federal - to say that there is equal access to the law.
Although the criteria used by the Public Solicitor for refusing assistance are not entirely clear, they seem to involve an assessment of whether an applicant has a reasonable prospect of being acquitted. People with criminal records generally are denied legal representation even though such representation would lead to more acquittals, would allow the accused’s case to be presented in a more favourable light and would tend to lead to more sentences which in part are concerned with the rehabilitation of the people concerned. It is obvious that we need to have equal access to the law if we are to have equal treatment under the law.
The position still remains that a man of low occupational status has more chance of being dealt with severely by our courts than has a man of high occupational status. The reason is, of course, that the poorer man cannot afford legal representation. Usually he does not know that a public legal aid system exists. Quite often he cannot afford even the most modest fines that are imposed and thus is forced to work out his punishment by actual imprisonment. In many cases such a person suffers a penalty before being brought to court because he is unable to obtain bail, whereas a more educated man would know how to obtain it. We need to make a determined effort to extend the availability of the advantages of the Australian Capital Territory system of legal aid, through either salaried centres or a bureau composed of the legal fraternity, to people throughout Australia.
I do not know what would be the best means of doing so. Surely that should be the work of an expert committee. It is extremely satisfying to know that the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in fact has established such a committee. In announcing the establishment of the committee, the Attorney-General said that it would examine all aspects of legal aid in Australia, including areas of need, methods of providing and financing legal aid, and the supervision of the actual expenditure. When the legal advice centres begin operating they are expected to be staffed by salaried lawyers working in close co-operation with community welfare organisations, established legal aid schemes, referral centres and the private legal profession. I look forward to the findings of the committee and the extension of the fine services provided in the Australian Capital Territory, although they are the subject of some criticism at present, to the rest of Australia.
A constituent who was on a pension and whose assets were tied up in his own house - essential shelter - came to me with a letter from the Legal Aid Committee in Victoria saying that he was expected to pay $100 and to accept in writing the condition that he, in effect, mortgage his own house in case the case went against him, and only then would a solicitor be appointed to act for him. In addition, he was requested to make an immediate payment of $100 towards the legal costs. He could not lay bis hands on that amount of money, so he could not accept the legal aid; and, of course, he could not afford the alternative of private legal representation. Unfortunately, he lost his case because he failed to defend it. It is with pleasure that I point to the increase in the amount of money being made available for legal aid in the Australian Capital Territory. I look forward to the extension of the system in the Australian Capital Territory to the States of Australia.
– I wish to speak only briefly to the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. I refer to the remarks made by the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) concerning Mr Milte, whom the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) seemed to be determined to foist upon the people of the Northern Territory as an expert who should conduct an inquiry into the Northern Territory Police Force. The people of the Northern Territory were fortunate in that they were able to resist this piece of planting, comradeship, or whatever it might have been, by the Attorney-General to have this man stationed in the Northern Territory. Remarks have been made about Mr Miltes experience, ability and so on. I will not reiterate them. But I certainly support the remarks which were made by the honourable member for Petrie.
I would like to know whether Mr Milte did in fact recommend that the Special Branch of the Northern Territory Police Force be abolished- an act that we in the Northern Territory just could not understand. We know that the Attorney-General appropriated or misappropriated the control of the Northern Territory Police Force, which was a grave mistake, to the administration of a department thousands of miles away. The Special Branch, which had been in existence for 20-odd years, had been operating in what could be called a frontier city. The 3 Services are represented - in not nearly large enough proportions - in Darwin. It is the gateway to Australia from South East Asia and other places to the north. The incidence of drug taking, selling and dealing is on the increase in the area. The coastline of the Northern Territory is very extensive. Generally, the social structure of the Northern Territory points to the necessity for a Special Branch. I am not saying that the ordinary members of the Police Force are inadequate in protecting the public; but they act after the event - after something has happened.
I would like to know what happened to the experience gained over 20 years of operations by the Special Branch. What has happened to that specialised knowledge? Why was the Special Branch done away with? I have been led to believe that it was abolished as a result of a ‘complaint’. What sort of a complaint was made to rid the Northern Territory of what was, to my way of thinking and to the way of thinking of other Territorians, such an essential service?
The Attorney-General is reported to have made the remark that the Special Branch was incompatible with democracy. I think democracy has to foe protected. If the Special Branch of the Northern Territory Police Force was not protecting democracy, I do not know what was. I would like an answer to that question. I think its abolition was a very backward step.
Adverting to the estimates of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department for the Northern Territory Police Force, I wish to comment upon division 145.2.05. I notice that an amount of $250,300 has been appropriated for the maintenance and running expenses of motor vehicles, boats and aircraft. This has been necessary for a very long time in the Northern Territory. The 520,000-odd square miles of the Northern Territory certainly call for the expenditure on air services. Great distances and large tracts of water are involved. Many of the settlements and missions can be communicated with only by air or by sea. So I am very pleased to see that that item was included. I notice that the expenditure for the Northern Territory Police Force has increased by some $3m. I note that most of that increase will be absorbed in wages and overtime.
The Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, who is in the chamber, has previously spoken of the reconstruction of the Northern Territory criminal code. He has made a great thing of the 2 men concerned who made the report. He has made a great thing of the fact that the previous Government had taken no action whatsoever with regard to gaols, penal systems, prisoners and so on. Recently the Minister was discussing Aborigines and their drinking problems. He will know of course that the Northern Territory Legislative Council called for a report. The body responsible for that report was headed by the eminent Q.C.,
Mr Justice Adams, and had such experienced and knowledgeable men on it as Mr Haynes Leader, the Reverend Paul Albrecht, who is head of the Lutheran Church in the Northern Territory and who was born and bred in the Northern Territory and has vast experience with Aborigines and the alcohol situation, and Mr Claude Narjic, a full-blooded Aborigine from Port Keats. That report was passed over. It was very comprehensive and dealt to a great extent with the alcohol side of things. It showed that there was consternation about the justice situation, the drinking problem and so on. I think that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, the previous Minister for the Northern Territory, did great injustice to the Legislative Council, to the previous Government and to the people who actually put the report together. I do not know whether the Minister read the report.
In passing I should like to mention the soaring expenses of the Attorney-General’s Department’ and ask some questions concerning the Commonwealth Police Force. I know that the size of the Commonwealth Police Force in the Australian Capital Territory is expanding rapidly. I should like to know why its members are resigning at such a great rate. Is it because they are dissatisfied with their conditions? What are their conditions? I wish also to refer to the telex system which is connected from the committee room of the Senate Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians direct to the AttorneyGeneral. The Attorney-General receives ball by ball descriptions of the Committee’s activities. I refer also to the fact that the AttorneyGeneral employs a private secretary, who is a shorthand typist, at a salary of $17,500 a year. I think that a lot of these expenses should be questioned. The Attorney-General seems to have been carried away with the power which he has been given. I think these questions should be asked during the Estimates debate. I hope that I will receive some answers to them.
– The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) seems as much concerned with why the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) uses the telephone and how much he pays his private secretary as he is with why Australian Capital Territory policemen are resigning or being recruited in great numbers. He then swings over to express some concern about the well known report which he mentioned. In saying all these things he seems to be under the delusion that I am not the Minister for the Northern Territory; I am.
– Are you the Minister for the Northern Territory?
– Yes, I am. The honourable member should keep up to date with the things that are happening.
– Have you got the job back again.
– I never lost it. Next time the honourable member should read the newspapers correctly or listen closely to the Prime Minister. I listened with great interest to the remarks made by the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke). I must admit that I regret that answers have not been given to the questions he mentioned. I shall certainly take up the matter with the Attorney-General and see what can be done. He mentioned Mr Milte’s name. I will leave my comments about that until the end of my remarks.
The only other criticisms that I have heard were offered by the honourable member for the Northern Territory and I have just dealt with them. In the short time that this Government has been in power it has a very proud record in matters of law reform which normally come within the province of the Attorney-General. That is against the backdrop of the fact that the Australian Government is not primarily responsible for making laws to the same extent as State governments make laws in this country. That is an essential feature of our Federal system. We have the residuary powers. These things are basically known. The Federal Government can make laws only on those subjects which are given to it by our Constitution. That has to be borne in mind when one looks at the legislative record of this Government in the short time that it has been in office. I refer to the number of Bills that have been introduced in previous years. Last year I think about 130 Bills were introduced. So far this year - and the year is far from finished - 187 Bills have been introduced. Instructions have already been received for approximately 70 further Bills. I appreciate all the Bills will not be passed because of the well known difficulties the Government has in the Senate. That is a magnificent achievement and I think credit for it can be laid at the door of the AttorneyGeneral and his Department and in particular the Parliamentary Counsel, Mr Charles Comans, his associates and colleagues. They have done a magnificent job in putting forward this record legislative effort. It is also a tribute to my colleague, the Leader of the House and Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly). I ask the House to reflect on the number of Acts passed in 1972; it was 139. There have been 187 Bills introduced to date this year and there are another 70 Bills still to be introduced. Of course that is against the backdrop of our constitutional situation. This Parliament does not have as much opportunity to make laws on things which I personally believe it should be allowed to make laws on as do the State parliaments.
I will give some examples of what has happened. Reference has already been made to some of the matters. We have taken very energetic measures in extending the system of legal aid. No laws are any good at all to the community unless people are able to make use of them and go into court. Traditionally, under our system, the low income earner cannot make use of the laws. If he loses a case he is mulcted in costs. In some cases a person can depend on a speculative benefit extended to him by the legal profession but that has its disadvantage. We have extended very much the system of legal aid and it is operated by the States. A recent example of this is the grant of $2m to the States to operate their legal aid systems and to allow people to exercise their legal rights whether those rights come from this Parliament or the State Parliament. The creation of the Legal Aid Office which will depend upon the services of salaried legal officers will also allow people to take full advantage of their legal rights. I refer also to the fiat that was given to enable citizens of Canberra to use legal rights that they might not otherwise have been able to use in the legal challenge in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory concerning the tower on Black Mountain. This case is another typical example of the attitude of the Government to the people being given legal rights and being allowed to exercise them.
Before the Senate now is the new Restrictive Trade Practices Bill. When passed into law, it will become one of the most momentous pieces of legislation that this country has ever seen. The original trade practices proposal was initiated many years ago by Sir Garfield
Barwick. The legislation was stymied, frustrated, amended, chopped around, deferred, put away under the carpet, hidden. All manner of things happened to it. But now, at long last, that measure in more modern effective form has come forward. Married to it and associated with it will be more effective and stringent provisions giving protection to consumers in Australia, the like of which has never been seen to come from this Parliament before.
Proposals exist for the appointment of an ombudsman who will take care of the needs of the citizens of Australia who are or feel that they are aggrieved by administrative decisions by a public servant. Although the proposal is not in its final form, I understand that there will be deputy ombudsmen in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. In that sense, the situation will be 3-tiered. Pursuant to our policies for open government and to open up the processes of government so that citizens may know what is going on and criticise the actions of government - it is not always easy and pleasant to be criticised; we all know that - there is a proposal for a freedom of information Bill which, I understand, the Attorney-General hopes to introduce in the course of this session. That legislation will make readily available to our citizens information, whether it is to be found in reports or in documents, of a governmental nature.
An overall review is to take place of administrative decisions procedures. This flows from the report of the Bland Committee. The establishment of a superior court is proposed. This court will take the strain off the High Court so that it can be left to its proper function of being essentially a court of appeal for Australian law and not be burdened with so many cases of first instance. A proper superior court will be set up. Already approval has been given for the creation of the office of a second residential judge in the Northern Territory. A senior magistrate in the Northern Territory will be appointed also.
In the field of human rights, or civil liberties if honourable members wish to call it that, the International Labour Organisation conventions on human rights, race and discrimination have been ratified. Legislation to give effect to those conventions is being implemented or is to be implemented. This will be a most significant step forward in the area of civil liberties in this country.
It is well known that the Attorney-General achieved legal history when he went to The Hague and appeared as the principal advocate before the International Court of Justice seeking, and obtaining, an interim injunction against France in respect of the nuclear tests that were then being conducted in the Pacific. Legislation relating to the protection of aircraft has been passed. The death penalty has been abolished in all Australian Territories. Bills relating to extradition have been introduced into the Parliament. One could go on to detail other legislative action. But I do not want to take up the time of the Committee because certainly no criticism of any substance has been made of the proposals contained or effected in the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. The legislative program of this Government to date is one of which it can be justly proud.
I am reminded that I have not dealt with the matter of Mr Milte. Misunderstanding exists with respect to Mr Milte. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) seemed to suggest that Mr Milte was being foisted on the Northern Territory. His name was one of a panel of names put up to the Administrator’s Council of the Northern Territory from which a selection could be made. For political reasons, about which the honourable member for the Northern Territory knows better than I and for which we all can be witness when he speaks, the honourable member for the Northern Territory was associated with a move to discredit Mr Milte because Mr Milte was at one time associated in doing work for the Attorney-General’s Department on a proper fee basis such as all member of the Bar receive. Mr Milte was discredited. But his name was one only of a panel of names put up for consideration. That is the long and the short of the matter.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of the Capital Territory
Proposed expenditure, $22,880,000.
Department of the Northern Territory
Proposed expenditure, 525,734,000.
Mir BURY (Wentworth) (5.0)- I regret that the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), although he is only new to the portfolio, is not in the Committee for the consideration of these estimates. His predecessor, the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) who handled this portfolio until yesterday is present. Had the Minister for the Capital Territory been present I would have joined in paying tribute to his performance as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
– May I interrupt to say that he is coming.
– I thank the Minister for that information. It seemed to me that the present Minister for the Capital Territory was the one Minister in the whole Cabinet who did ring true as being thoroughly adjusted to the job that he had to do. He was in harmony with his job. He seemed to exude the spirit of it. He appeared to be a roundpeg in a round hole, one of the very rare cases in this Government of heterogeneous bits and pieces. He was in good harmony with the spirit of his job. His harmony certainly far exceeded that of the Ministers in charge of the financial and economic affairs of this Government who collectively seem to be getting the country progressively into a mess. Not only are these Ministers out of harmony with their colleagues but also are they notoriously subject to centrifugal forces and seem to scatter in every direction and come together but occasionally. The former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs seemed to be thoroughly attuned to his portfolio, so he has been removed from it. I suppose that the principle of cause and effect to some extent follows.
The new Minister for the Capital Territory is one of those rare occupants of this office who lives in Canberra, the Territory which he is to administer. He does know in a practical way through experience some of the problems of Canberra. For the most part, Ministers for the Interior or the Capital Territory, or whatever Ministers in charge of the Australian Capital Territory are called, in successive governments have not been residents of Canberra, although the last few Ministers have. I have always considered that the primary requirement for someone who is responsible for a city like this is that he should live here and be thoroughly acquainted with its practical problems. I wish to mention one or two matters to which I feel the new Minister should give attention. The new Minister has now entered the chamber and the former Minister for the Capital Territory, now sitting at the table, is about to leave.
For a number of years, I have pointed to certain aspects in Canberra which have not attracted the action of the Minister responsible for that portfolio. I begin by referring to 3 pieces of blatant pollution in this city which should have been cleaned up long ago.
I think that the new Minister lives in a different part of Canberra from the area that I mention first. I invite his attention to a nasty habit that the authorities of the Capital Territory have of burning garbage in the open in the area of the Causeway. This creates nasty, dirty smoke on a large scale. It is opaque and very smelly. Large quantities of it can be viewed from many parts of the city in the direction of the airport. It is time, I suggest, that this nuisance was eliminated. The municipality in which I live certainly has not the population of the Australian Capital Territory or the resources available to the Minister for the Capital Territory. Garbage and rubbish of this kind is disposed of by burning in an incinerator. A perpetual nuisance is not created to the inhabitants of the area.
I refer to the other two pieces of blatant pollution. I regret that the new Minister for Works (Mr Les Johnson) has left the Committee in the last few minutes. I say it is regrettable because his predecessors acquired a sawmill which burns rubbish in the vicinity of the Causeway and this burning pollutes the whole atmosphere. Another matter of importtance is the vast output from the Government Printing Office. It so happens that all unwanted printing material, papers and so on from the many government departments in Canberra, are disposed of in an incinerator attached to the Government Printing Office. I suggest to the new Minister for the Australian Capital Territory that he should go and have a look at this and examine the virtually daily burning that takes place in the morning at the Printing Office. At one stage this disgraceful state of affairs came under the control of the then Minister for the Environment.
I hope that the new Minister for the Capital Territory is able to get some assistance, if necessary, from his colleague the present Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) in order to get rid of this very nasty nuisance which at times causes a large area of Canberra to be covered in smoke. I ask the new Minister to do this because I know he is enthusiastic. He lives in Canberra and he knows the district. I gather he likes it. I do suggest that if he does not have the money available he should get together with the other Ministers concerned and try to do something about it. There is one thing about this Minister and that is he does seem to attract a large vote irrespective of what position he holds. He has just retired from being the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. While he held that portfolio he had available a colossal amount of money. I suppose it has been a reason for his success that he has been able to go around and deal out funds on a very generous scale - a scale which would give any reasonably well organised Treasury a nightmare. But that is the way in which this portfolio has been administered by him and his predecessor. But I point out that this is necessary in the administration of the portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs. As has already been said in this place, it cannot be considered on the same basis as other expenditure proposals.
This morning I heard a broadcast which stated that the new Minister for the Capital Territory was going to carry on with various things including price control. It may not be fair to ask the new Minister a question like this on his first day in charge of this portfolio but it is curious to note that after the recent increase of 5c a gallon in excise on petrol the price of petrol in Canberra was frozen pending an inquiry into retailing in Canberra. This raises the question of who is responsible for prices and how prices are frozen. I noticed a couple of items in the Press, one of which was a Press statement which was made on 3 October by the previous Minister for the Capital Territory in regard to the price of petrol in Canberra being increased by 3c instead of 5c a gallon. I would like to know whether prices in Canberra are the responsibility of the Prices Controller or whether they are the direct responsibility of the Minister concerned. I would also like to know how this decision to increase the price of petrol in Canberra by 3c a gallon came about.
An inquiry was held into the price of petrol in Canberra. A report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 4 October suggested that the Prices Controller did go into this matter fairly fully and did take evidence. The impression made on those who were giving evidence - perhaps people often gain the impression that they have made a bigger impression on the minds of the listener than they in fact have-r-was that the view of the Prices Controller or the Assistant Prices Controller was that it had been proven that an increase of 5c a gallon was justified. Yet the Minister increased the price by only 3c a gallon. Prices control and its administration is an important subject for the future and I think it would be useful if the Minister were to table the report of the
Prices Controller in order to clarify the question of whether the Prices Controller, as such, is responsible for fixing prices or whether the ultimate power lies with the Minister.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to participate in this debate on the estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory and the Department of the Northern Territory. I thought I heard over the intercom system the Minister for the Northern Territory say that there had been widespread resignations from the Northern Territory Police Force.
– It is the other way around.
– I referred to resignations from the Commonwealth Police Force in the Australian Capital Territory. I was asking a question about it.
– I see. I have made several visits to the Northern Territory. Earlier today some reference was made in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs to the habit of excessive drunkenness among the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory. I believe that it is the Europeans who mainly contribute to this habit. Recently, I was in Alice Springs, which is the home town of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), and in a hotel there I saw a fracas taking place between Aborigines. The publican or the hotel staff were taking little or no notice of it whatsoever. I said to one of the residents at Alice Springs: Is it the custom of certain hoteliers just to allow a fight to go on and not care whether a person is severely injured or suffers a fractured skull and then has to undergo hospitalisation?’ I was assured by that person that it was just the norm and the people would fight until they were exhausted or one was defeated and ran away. I think that the European licencees in the Northern Territory - if I may use the vernacular - want pulling into line over this sort of thing. Whether it is laxity on the part of members of the police force or whether it is influence in high places that prevents the police force from taking action against licencees of liquor houses in the Northern Territory I do not know. I do not know who is at fault but if I had to make a guess I would say that it is the influential people outside the police force who prevent the police from taking stronger action.
Last year or the year before in this Parliament in a similar debate to this the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) pointed out in regard to this question of drunkenness among Aborigines in the Northern Territory that there were almost no prosecutions against licencees of liquor houses for selling liquor or serving liquor to a drunken person. It is my belief that this is an offence under the liquor laws of the Northern Territory because it is an offence under the liquor laws of most of the States of the Commonwealth. It might also truly be said that it is not very often that prosecutions take place against licencees of liquor houses in the major States. But one could also say that the serving of liquor to a drunken person in the major States of the Commonwealth is not as prevalent as it is in the Northern Territory. I hope that my remarks on this point will be noted and I should like to hear the honourable member for the Northern Territory who I understand is going to speak in this debate in a moment express an opinion on this matter, as I believe he will. I do not believe that he is a man who is afraid of losing a few votes from the liquor interests in the Northern Territory should he advocate stronger action against them for serving drunken persons.
– I cannot hear you; will you repeat what you said?
– I have no doubt that you can hear what I am saying. I believe that the honourable member for the Northern Territory is courageous enough to give an answer to this question. I should like him to tell the House when he speaks how many prosecutions have taken place against the liquor interests in the Northern Territory in the last six or twelve months or the last three or four years for serving drunken persons and, in particular, Aborigines.
Two friends of mine in whose integrity I have complete faith were working on an Aboriginal mission about 40 miles from Katherine when the previous Government rightly increased social service payments to Aborigines in the Northern Territory. They informed me that on the day the Aborigines received their social service cheques, there was a fleet of taxis from Katherine lined up outside this mission to take them into Katherine. The Katherine Hotel exhausted its supplies of liquor, particularly wine. I have advocated previously in this Parliament and I put the greatest emphasis with the utmost sincerity on this matter again that the missions in the Northern Territory should be persuaded to have wet canteens on their missions.
– What is the name of the place to which you referred?
– I did not mention the name but I believe it is Bamyili. The honourable member for the Northern Territory would know the place I am referring to from even that explanation.
– There is not a mission in the area.
– It is not a mission?
– I am just telling you-
– I believe it is a mission. If it is not a mission it is a place where a large body of Aborigines reside.
– Which has a wet canteen.
– I am saying that the missions in the Northern Territory should be persuaded to have wet canteens where civilised drinking would take place. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) supports me in this point of view and I believe that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is also sympathetic to my point of view on this question. If the Aborigines were to drink under the supervision of their superiors, there would be less chance of them indulging in gross offensive behaviour. They could not be exploited by ruthless or brutal European taxi drivers, publicans or liquor licensees.
The narrow minds of the mission people on this subject - I apologise for referring to them as being narrow-minded - must be widened because common sense must prevail. Fancy a hotel selling out of cheap wine and grog at the expense of the unfortunate, uneducated Aborigine. He does not have the make-up to handle money in the proper way as does an intelligent European - or a member of the Liberal Party who would get it and invest it in some enterprise which would pay 10 per cent to 15 per cent.
– The Country Party does not do too badly.
Mir JAMES - I understand that members of the Australian Country Party would be likely to do that, too. The Aborigine is shockingly exploited in the Northern Territory, particularly by the liquor interests. If ever I had to vote to nationalise an industry of this country, I would hope it would be the liquor interests of the Northern Territory.
– The rum runners.
– The honourable member for Chifley rightly refers to them as the rum runners. I hope that the 2 dedicated Ministers at the table, the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby), will heed what I am saying in connection with this question because I intend to propound in the Parliament, in my Party room and wherever I get an audience that will listen to me the shocking exploitation of the Aborigines in the Northern Territory by the liquor interests. I hope that this situation is corrected at an early date.
– I take seriously what the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) has said and I believe that there is a good deal of substance in his alarm at the incursions of liquor among Aborigines in the Northern Territory. I do not think that he has entirely correctly assessed the position, as I will show in a moment, but I do not want to underestimate the seriousness of the problem. In my view, on the whole the position in the Northern Territory in regard to Aborigines is not getting better; I think that on the whole it is getting worse and, unhappily, the reason for this is the great increase in the amount of liquor and drunkenness among Aborigines. The Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) in a debate on the estimates earlier this afternoon mentioned a number of Aborigines who were in gaol for drunkenness and he said - 1 felt some sympathy with what he said - that perhaps the recourse to drink was a natural reaction by people who felt that their dignity had been taken from them. I am not at all unsympathetic to the view that he expressed. I can understand how the breakdown in the normal social values among the Aborigines in the Northern Territory has led to the kind of despair which prompts them to take refuge in drink. But whatever the cause, the brute fact remains that this is one of the things - perhaps it is the main thing - which is dragging down the standard of Aboriginal life in the Northern Territory.
This is not something which is peculiar to the Northern Territory. I think that if honourable members were to look at the history of New South Wales, Victoria or South Australia at the relevant time, 100 years ago, they would find that the same kind of circumstances were operating then. The real point is: What is the correct thing to do about it? I agree with the diagnosis of the honourable member for Hunter that this is a most serious situation. Unhappily, the problem no longer is confined to men. Quite recently, drinking has increased among Aboriginal women - probably, it is the first time that this has occurred in the Northern Territory on any large scale - and this has been correlated with the breakdown in tribal life and discipline.
The main - not the only, but the main - trouble arises through wine, as the honourable member for Hunter said. It arises not from anything that the publican can do, because wine is generally bought in bottles by people who are sober and it is taken away for consumption outside the premises. So, in point of fact, if one looked in a practical manner at the things that are occurring there one would see, of course, that there is trouble as there is trouble in licensed premises elsewhere. But the main trouble occurs outside the premises. It does not occur in any form which is amenable to stopping by the publican, who sells wine in bottles to people who are sober - and he therefore commits no offence. Indeed, if he refused to sell he would be committing if not a legal offence, at least one which would arouse approbrium in the community because it would be said that he was discriminating against Aboriginal people. The taxis that he speaks about were, in most cases, bringing back drink or back bringing people who had bought bottles of drink. Indeed, as he knows there would be visits to the places where Aborigines are congregated by what are called ‘flagon wagons’ carrying bottles of cheap wine which, in terms of intoxicating effect, give much more per dollar spent than do beer or spirits. So they go mainly for the cheap wine in bottles. The problem cannot really be controlled effectively and indeed there will not be a great deal of impact on it by anthing that the publican can do. This is a most distressing situation.
The honourable member for Hunter spoke of the establishment of wet canteens. As he probably knows, when I was the Minister in charge of Aboriginal affairs as an experiment I helped in the financing of a wet canteen. I will not name the place; I think it would be unfair to do so. It was an Aboriginal mission and we put in a wet canteen which was run by the Aboriginal people. In the first stage only a limited number, of cans of beer were issued - it dealt only in beer at the first stage - and the cans were opened so that they could not be taken away and accumulated. What happened afterwards is not known to me by personal experience because I was no longer the Minister and I have not been to the mission since, but I have heard some secondhand accounts - I will not vouch for them absolutely because they are secondhand and, as I have said, I have not had them from official files or from personal experience - that the experiment went very well for a year or so, and then unhappily it started to break down because the Aborigines left the lighter and the restricted drinks and went back to the spirits which they could obtain legally by the bottle.
I think one of the saddest things about the campaign for Aboriginal rights has been the emphasis which so many professional Aborigines have put on drinking rights. If one looks at the columns of the newspapers one will see reports claiming discrimination against Aborigines because they are not being allowed to drink as freely as does everybody else. Yet when one examines the cases one finds usually - not always, but usually - that this claim of discrimination has been raised against the publican because he has refused to serve Aborigines who have had perhaps a little too much to drink. As the honourable member will know, it is not always easy to ascertain who has had a little too much and who has not. So I do not think that he is being terribly practical in the remedies he suggests although I think that he is spot on when he talks of the seriousness of the disease. That is all I want to contribute at this time. I go halfway with him. I believe that what he has said is important. I cannot go the full way.
– I should like to devote myself for a few minutes to the estimates for the Department of the Capital Territory. In so doing I extend wishes for a happy reign to the new mayor of Canberra, the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) who is at the table. I am sure that the former Minister for the Capital Territory would concur with me when I say that it is not an easy task to administer this portfolio. Canberra is the fastest growing city in Australia, excluding Darwin which I think is now increasing at a greater percentage rate. There are very great problems in the ACT, particularly in the areas of land allocation and distribution, and of housing and the allocation of housing. I know that the former Minister has had a great deal of difficulty in trying to arrive at a formula that would give the greatest number of people access to the small parcels of land available without doing a great deal of injustice to those who were in need. I sympathise with the former Minister. I recognise his problem and I recognise too that the present Minister has a big problem to solve.
He inherits a new land and housing policy. The former Minister, Mr Enderby, announced a policy to try to overcome the problems. I am sure that the present Minister will have to adjust that policy from time to time to meet the changing needs. One of the worst aspects of the present land and housing policy in the ACT as I see it is that a home seeker will now not be able to enter into a contract with a builder to build a home according to his own requirements and standards. This is how I read the policy and I hope it is not the case. If it is the case, I hope that the Minister will be able to amend the policy to give people an opportunity to deal with a builder privately once they get a block of land and that they will be able to build a house according to their own specifications.
There are many areas throughout the statement produced by the former Minister which cause me concern. These comments are restricted to the proposals-dealing with the single unit residential lease allocations. Before dealing in detail with the statement it should be understood that I certainly, and I am sure my Party, wholeheartedly support the aims of providing leases at minimum cost to needy and young people. The reduction in lease premiums and the elimination of land shortage has been the greatest single problem in the ACT. The shortage of land has caused the great escalation in land prices. It is fair to say that the former Minister inherited a problem from the former administration and that sufficient funds were not made available to turn off sufficient land to meet the needs of the growing population. Obviously some administration at some time will have to muster the courage to determine the size to which Canberra should be allowed to grow. Once that decision is taken, measures must be taken to ensure that the growth rate does not outstrip the program. A shortage of supply compared to demand has certainly contributed to the escalation of prices and to the crisis that has been on our hands.
One of the ways of overcoming the immediate problem would be to engage private developers, under the strict control of the National Capital Development Commission, to complement that body in turning off a greater number of building blocks. This was tried in the Northern Territory at Darwin by calling tenders for a developer to turn off a number of blocks to try to complement the supply of land in Darwin. I commend that suggestion to the Government because there is an alarming shortage of land. The Minister will have to contend with a serious problem until that is overcome.
One of the worst features of the new policy is that it eliminates the freedom of choice by the lessee of a builder, as he must negotiate with the builder who has been allocated the site in which he is interested. It eliminates competitive tendering. It discriminates against the employment of architects by those who wish to employ them and to gain the benefits associated with their employment. It produces a situation conducive to corruption, where a builder allocated prime land can negotiate additional payments undisclosed to the review board. It increases the amount of capital and paper work between the producer and the consumer, thereby increasing costs. It eliminates the right of the individual to build his own house if he is qualified to do so. In the event of the builder being allocated poor land, for which there is little demand, construction standards will suffer in order to produce a cheap job that will sell readily. There is no control to ensure that at this critical time the lease is held by persons living and working in the Australian Capital Territory.
I believe that there are a number of ways in which some of the problems here could be overcome. I put these forward on my own behalf. I do not commit anyone in my own Party to them. A program to house the needy and underprivileged should be defined and initiated because, although we talk in terms of need, as far as I know the needs qualification has not yet been defined adequately. I am sure that it will have to be defined properly in order for it to achieve the purpose for which it was designed. Leases or government houses should be allocated to first timers who satisfy a means test otherwise similar to that at present proposed. The 5-year usage conditions should apply. For those who wish to live and work in the Australian Capital Territory but do not qualify in the above category, leases should be allocated by auction and not limited to first timers. The 5-year usage conditions should apply. Having satisfied the demand by making available sufficient developed land for individuals wishing to take up leases in the above categories, a further group of leases for freelance builders obtained by auction, either singly, in groups, or in large development neighbourhoods, should be made available. The development leases should be sold only to persons who satisfy the 5-year usage condition. After a proper balance has been achieved and the present critical situation eased, the requirement for the 5-year usage could be relaxed in the former category.
I just put forward those thoughts in the hope that the incoming Minister and the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory might give some consideration to them. I do so constructively and not in any destructive sense, because I recognise that there is a very great and real problem here in the Australian Capital Territory with respect to the provision of land and housing to meet the current level of demand. I hope that the Government will see fit to look at the prospect of making land available to developers by tender in order to assist the National Capital Development Commission in turning off a larger number of serviced blocks of land to help overcome the problem and so to relieve the incoming Minister of one heap of -worry.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury)- 1 call the Minister for the Northern Territory.
– Is the Minister closing the debate?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - No. The honourable member will have an opportunity to speak, but the Minister may speak at any time during the Committee stage.
– I was hoping to follow the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) because he touched on something which concerns me intimately as the outgoing Minister for the Capital Territory. I thank him for the element and note of responsibility in his speech. Unfortunately, it is not often that we hear that sort of approach in this Parliament. I thank him particularly for his admission - I do not seek to use it in any critical sense - that it was a situation we inherited from his administration. Some facts perhaps bear repeating. I took out the figures a little while ago. In about 1969 the average price of a block of land in Canberra was about $2,500. Using the system we inherited from the previous Government, that same average block was fetching more than $10,000 this year and the average price was going up all the time.
The honourable member for Gwydir says that this was because of the shortage of supply, and indeed he is correct. But that is only part of the answer, in my view, because unfortunately we live in an inflationary time. Once people become aware of inflation they also become aware of a hedge against it. One of the hedges against inflation is land.
So they buy land. I had the unfortunate experience, when opening clubs, of young girls coming up to me - I do not exaggerate - and being critical of me because I instituted a system of rent control. They had just bought their third house. They were paying off one after another from the rents. I just reduced the rents by a small amount and they were unhappy about it. It was a sort of land fever that had caught on here. The auction system was producing it. Every month people would see the headlines again: ‘Land Prices Escalating in the Australian Capital Territory’. In my view that had to be stopped.
I do not say that the new system is a permanent solution. I do not believe in permanent solutions. But I strongly hold the opinion that the new system is far more rational than the auction system - given this inflationary period in which we are living - and is one on which we can build. I also accept what the honourable member for Gwydir said, namely, that there are areas in it which will have to be relaxed. He mentioned one area - the so-called second home buyer. The provisions of this new system as they relate to the second home buyer will have to be relaxed, but they were made in their present form because of the situation in which we found ourselves.
The principal features of the new system are not really the ones that the honourable member for Gwydir described - the paper work and the lack of freedom of choice. They were features of the old system, too. There was little choice for a young couple who wanted to buy a block of land who had $4,000 to draw on and who then found that the block was sold for $10,000. Under this new system people have a freedom of choice and they recognise it. The newspapers reported the people who queued up on the opening day as having said: “This is too good to miss’. Nobody likes queues, least of all me; but they queued up because the new system was too good to miss, because there is freedom of choice in it.
What is more important is that the land is now being put out at a reasonable price, not at the figure that was being produced by the auction system as it was when I suspended it and going higher all the time. The average was $10,000 when I suspended the auction system and was going up month by month. There was no reason to suppose that it would stop, given the demand inflated by the state of mind I have described. The average now is a little more than $5,000. We are putting land out at about half the price. Under the new system we have put a price on it in much the same way as one puts a price on a book or a motor car. It is 30 per cent less than the unimproved capital value at the end of January 1973 - an arbitrary figure, but one designed to take into account the inflated values as they were then and as they subsequently became, and one designed as a compromise between what the unimproved capital value was then and what the cost is. At the moment blocks of land sell for between $2,500 and $10,000 for the better class ones. At least we are putting the leases of the land out at prices that people can afford to pay.
But one of the great problems in devising a new system is this: What do we as a responsible Government do if people who have the money are prepared to pay much more for the land, either for speculative reasons or as a hedge against inflation, for their twelfth house? I know one solicitor in town who had 12 houses for that very reason. He sold them shortly after I introduced the rent control, and they became available to people who otherwise could not obtain them. If we make land available at prices lower than people with money are prepared to pay for it we will be giving everyone a bonanza, both the rich and the poor, particularly the rich - not that I have anything against the rich. On the figures I have quoted, we will be giving them a gift of about $5,000 on each block of land, because as soon as they sell a block again or are allowed to sell it again they have an added $5,000 as an unearned increment. It is a gift. No responsible government can do that either. That is why we have to extend the system that the honourable member for Gwydir used and which we have kept - a restriction on resale within 5 years. As soon as the restriction is removed everyone knows that there is then an asset that is worth a lot more than it was when he got it in the beginning. That is just a feature of the system. I do not know what can be done about it.
There is not much time for me to speak but I just want to make a few comments about some of the things that happened during the short time I was Minister for the Capital Territory because I think they make up a list of things of which no one need be ashamed. We significantly reduced lawyers’ conveyancing fees in the national capital. The lawyers did it voluntarily. There was no need for price control. We have taken a first step and committed ourselves to a form of territorial government for the Australian Capital Territory. This is something that has been talked about in this ctiy for 20 or 30 years. We have firmly committed ourselves to it and we are well on the way to it with the reference to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. We have a system of consumer protection in operation now that the Australian Capital Territory never had before. We are committed to establishing a Belconnen shopping mall so that the third major shopping mall in this city will not fall into the hands of the one big developer, Lend Lease, as the other two have, so that we have a degree of monopoly that is unhealthy. We will have a public trust operating the third major shopping mall here. The rent control I have described. There are proposals for a government lottery that are well under way. We have nearly doubled the expenditure on public transport. Ninety-nine new buses are to be bought this year. Perhaps I am saying this now so that my good friend and colleague, the Minister for the Capital Territory, can hear it as he takes over. Firm commitments have been made for free school bus services as from 1974 for all children who live more than a mile from a school, and that stipulation will be progressively eased. In a small way, although in a symbolic way, I must admit, one of our first moves was to make use of the facilities of the family planning people. As a government measure, a proud government measure, we advertised and advertised regularly, twice a week, in Canberra a contraceptive advisory service for all, married and unmarried. It is unique in this city that it should be so.
– It might help decrease the growth rate.
– It might do that. We have taken major steps forward in child care because I think Canberra has more working mothers and more people with 2 jobs and 3 jobs than has any other city in the country. We have a neighbourhood shopping centre system now working. One of my last acts, perhaps almost on my last day, was to set aside 5 houses for child care centres in Canberra, and I hope the Minister will leave them that way. We even bought a merry-go-round for the people of Canberra.
I do not want to take up too much time, but the honourable member for Gwydir put his finger on one important aspect - the shortage of supply of houses. I do not want to embarrass him or the previous Government of which he was a member, but we know that in 1957 the government of the day was then building 70 per cent of all houses in Canberra. It is true that it was a smaller city of only 70,000 people then, but that was the proportion of the expenditure that the LiberalCountry Party government of the day devoted to public housing. As late as 1957 70 per cent of all houses built here were built by the Government. By the time that the LiberalCountry Party Government had fallen from power that percentage had fallen to 30 per cent. That was the crisis. When the former Government turned off the fountain in Lake Burley Griffin in an attempt to save money back whenever it was- I think in 1970 - it stopped giving money to the National Capital Development Commission to service land. We inherited that situation, as the honourable member has been good enough to admit. No land was coming out of the pipeline when we took over. The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has something like a 50 per cent increase in funds this year for the NCDC, and $93m is to go to the Commission - a very significant increase - to make up for what the previous Government did or did not do during all its years in power. These increased funds will increase significantly the supply of serviced land that basically we need.
– You are a splendid group of people.
– That is right. The main thing is that we are winning. As that happened, my colleague the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) set up his interim schools commission, and the long awaited and long delayed independent education authority for the Australian Capital Territory is now virtually with us.
– With all this, they removed you from office?
Mr 5??;-‘- -Yes, that is right. The fire brigade in the Australian Capital Territory is now independent of New South Wales. All this has been achieved in 7 or 8 months. We have 2, almost 3, community health centres. The one at Melba is using salaried doctors and is a magnificent success. I recommend anyone to go and see it. It is absolutely magnificent. The one at Scullin is using doctors on a fee for service basis and the new one in Civic uses doctors on a salary. All this has been achieved in 7 months.
– As the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) challenged me about the drinking habits of various sections of the community in the Northern Territory I feel that I must speak. As an ex-policeman, he would probably spend more time delving into these sorts of things and court figures and statistics than I do. I have a somewhat broader approach to life, coming from a larger area. I cannot give him the specific figures for which he asks, but I would agree with him that the major problem of Aborigines in the Northern Territory is drink. That is nothing new; everyone knows it. So he is not telling me anything new. He is not telling the former Minister for Aboriginal Affairs or anybody else anything new. It is a problem. I was in the Northern Territory when various people, who were members of the Committee for the Rights of Aborigines and Torres Strait islanders - the former Minister was one - and various other interested bodies were ramming very hard for Aborigines to have equal rights with Europeans to drink alcohol, to go into bars and so on. At one time there was some control over Aborigines drinking. It was a paternalistic control, and whether it was right or wrong, I do not know. But since that control has been removed the drunkenness problem has multiplied about tenfold. Various other people, including myself, were in the Northern Territory at the time and advised that Committee against granting this right completely. The Aborigines themselves, the old-timers, will tell you that flagon wine is the big problem.
The honourable member for Hunter alluded to a mission or whatever it was 40 miles from Katherine. I cannot think of what it is unless it is Bamyili. That is a Government settlement and is vastly different from a mission. It so happens that this is the first place on which the previous Director of Welfare in the Northern Territory Administration, Mr Harry Giese, established a wet canteen for the Aboriginal community. Mr Giese is amongst the people such as the former Minister who have been stood aside. He had 25 years experience with Aborigines which does not seem to be wanted by the present setup. He initiated the first wet canteen for an Aboriginal community at that place. I was there when we discussed it with the Aborigines, so I do not know where the honourable member is getting his information. He is quite right about flagons going out there. Very often the Aborigines, who can now buy cars and so on - it is quite right that they should be able to do so- drive to the hotel, get the grog themselves and run the flagon wagons themselves. It is not unknown for members of the tribal council to take from the mission or settlement the truck that they normally use for their own business, whether it is policing the place or doing patrols of the settlement or the mission, drive it to the hotel, stash it up with grog, bring it back themselves and sell it to their colleagues. So everyone is in it. lt is not just the Europeans; it is the Aborigines themselves. So just get that right.
I find that the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) is still responsible for the Northern Territory by, I imagine, a quibble. When I was talking earlier and he replied he seemed to make some play on the fact that I had overlooked that he was the Minister. When the Minister for the Northern Territory next comes to Darwin I will check to see who he is - whether he is the honourable member for Dawson or the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory. It is not a matter of trying to make me out an idiot; I will be interested to know whether the member for the Australian Capital Territory will be the Minister or not. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory was taking a typically narrow-minded legal approach. This is probably one of the reasons that he has not been a success as Minister for the Northern Territory. He does not have a broad enough outlook. I instance his endeavours to stampede the land acquisition ordinance through this Parliament and to force it on to the people of the Northern Territory who do not really want it. If he had a broader approach to life he would not, in his fury, have re-gazetted the ordinance within a day of its disallowance in the Senate. He would have recognised that many of the people of the Northern Territory did not want it and he would have conferred with them. Perhaps such conferences will take place when that ordinance is again thrown out by the Senate. I would advise the incoming Minister for the Northern Territory, or would ask the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) to tell him, to go to the people, and not just shoot from the hip and hope for the best.
Another matter I mention before dealing with the actual estimates for the Department is the question of responsibility for the Northern Territory Legislative Council. I do not know whether the Government’s stamp duty legislation has been passed, adjourned or thrown out, but members of the Legislative Council are concerned at the whittling away of their authority and the disregard which is being shown for the legislature of the Northern Territory. Such disregard was being shown increasingly by the present or ex-Minister, however the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory cares to think of himself. However, I believe that the honourable member for Dawson who has a far broader experience of northern matters, will go to the people and listen to what they have to say. Land acquisition and the rights of and responsibilities of the Legislative Council are two of the most important and most urgent matters which should be discussed by the Government and considered by the Minister for the Northern Territory, whether he is the Minister now sitting at the table, the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, or the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) who is in Japan or on his way home from there.
I do not have much time in which to deal specifically with these estimates but I notice that the beef roads program is running down and that only $800,000 is now available. This is a pity because this has been a tremendous scheme, well executed by the Department of Works. It has done much to open up the country and to strengthen the economy of the Northern Territory. I hope that when the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement is renewed this program will receive consideration, if it comes under that Agreement. I hope that the Minister for Northern Development as well as the Minister for the Northern Territory, if he be a different person, will consider this aspect because beef roads are of tremendous importance not only for the development of the Territory but also for the defence of Australia. To some extent this seems to have been forgotten and pushed into the background by the Government.
I note with pleasure an estimated expenditure of $5.Sm on roads other than beef roads in the Northern Territory. I have advocated such expenditure for many years. I think all honourable members realise that a lot of people and much business pass over earth roads in the Territory. In wet weather such roads create problems. The north-south road from south of Erldunda almost to Port Augusta is a dirt road. I would urge the Government to consider upgrading this road. The remarkably good season that has been experienced in that area this year has resulted in that road being wet more often than dry. A considerable amount of damage has been done to motor vehicles and much confusion and delay have been caused to tourists and vehicles of all descriptions. That road should be included in the developmental roads program or the beef roads program and proceeded with at an even greater rate than was the beef roads program. I leave the outgoing Minister with the thought that communications are essential in the north. I urge him to remember this.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed expenditure $115,643,000.
Department of Transport
Proposed expenditure $131,172,000.
– I was to speak later on these estimates, but it is apparent that Opposition speakers are not available to lead the debate. In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I want to direct my remarks mainly to Division 172 which refers to the development of civil aviation. I am particularly interested in this development as it affects the modernisation and updating of the Brisbane airport. I am aware that during the reign of the previous Government many promises were made about work which was to be carried out at the Brisbane airport. I have taken the trouble to check the annual reports of the Department of Civil Aviation from 1967 onwards and I have found that in each of these reports much has been stated about work to be carried out, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. From my examination of these reports it appears that Brisbane has been the forgotten capital city. This has been the attitude of the LiberalCountry Party government over many years. It was so even at a time when a Queenslander was Minister for Civil Aviation.
In the 1967-68 report a page or more is set aside to explain what was to occur at Sydney and Melbourne. When I reached what I deemed to be an important area to the people of Queensland I turned over the pages hoping to find something relating to Queensland. Under the heading ‘Other Developmental Projects’, the only reference to Brisbane in that report was that a recommendation had been made to develop the new terminal complex for Brisbane in the Pinkenba area and that planning for the complex was proceeding. Of course, that particular complex was never begun. That was one of many promises that was made by the previous Government about the Brisbane airport.
An examination of the 1969-70 report indicates that whilst there was reference to what was occurring in other States, under the heading of ‘Other Development - Queensland’, there was reference to what was to happen at Rockhampton, Mackay and Mount Isa but nothing was said about Brisbane. It appears from those 2 reports to which I have referred that Brisbane certainly had been forgotten. Similarly, in the next report - the 1970-71 report - there was a great write-up about the Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne and what was to occur in Sydney. We were told that a joint Commonwealth-State-local government advisory committee had been established in that year to review the future development of the Brisbane Airport.
I am very interested in the reference in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 to expenditure on civil aviation development. I think I speak for the people of Brisbane when I say that over the years they have been very disappointed because Brisbane has been cast aside by previous governments. I am happy to say, although an earlier promise to do something about a complex at Pinkenba was cast aside, that the report of the advisory committee was handed down in January of last year. The committee comprised representatives of not only the Commonwealth Government but also the Queensland Government and the Brisbane City Council. The report that was handed down was very comprehensive. It was one to which a lot of thought had been given. A lot of work had been carried out. Much planning had to be done to ensure that no mistakes would be made in the provision of a modern airport in Brisbane. An ecology study was carried out. A great deal of planning was done in regard to the building of a floodway to serve this area.
I am pleased to say that the present Government, unlike previous Australian governments, is proceeding with this very important work. I am particularly aware that residents of a couple of areas of Brisbane have been concerned about the modernising or updating of the Brisbane Airport having an effect on them. I refer in particular to the residential areas of Cribb Island and Nudgee Beach. I am very pleased with the attitude that has been adopted by the Government to the welfare of these people. It is different from the attitude which was adopted in the past. In excess of 1,000 people live at Cribb Island. I am very pleased to be able to say that, as a result of representations which have been made, their interests -will be protected and they can look forward to remaining in their homes for a period of 20 years or perhaps longer while this developmental work goes on.
I have been concerned about the development of the floodway, which will be a very important part of the whole airport complex, because I thought that it might affect the people who live at Nudgee Beach. I sincerely hope that when the plan is carried to finality the floodway in the Nudgee Beach area will not be as wide as was originally planned and that the people living in that area will not be forced away from their homes. I think that over a period of years too many people have been upset and too much sadness and misery have been inflicted upon the people of the area in the name of progress. I certainly hope that the election of a Labor government to office will mean that the people of these areas will not be affected in the way that some people have been affected in the past.
I know that there has been some suggestion by members of the Opposition that the Brisbane Airport development will not be proceeded with. From my knowledge of the movement of aircraft into and out of the existing Eagle Farm Airport - I am not a technical man, of course, but I have a pair of eyes and I can see what is going on there and the great need for something to be done in Brisbane - I say that if this work does not proceed, although I have no doubt that it will, Brisbane no longer will have an international airport. I think it is important to Brisbane - the third largest capital city in Australia - that the Government go ahead with the development of the airport. I repeat my earlier statement that over a period of years the people of Brisbane have been sickened by the empty promises made by the previous Government about what would be done. Although a select committee of the House of Representatives investigated the noise nuisance in the Brisbane area, very little was done by the previous Government to bring about an alleviation of it.
A very fine plan has been brought down. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane and his officers played a major role with respect to the industrialisation aspect of the plan in relation to this complex. It is hoped that by the implementation of the plan it will be possible to take away the noise nuisance from the residents who have complained about it over a period of years. I look forward to that development. I am very pleased that the appropriation under division 172 has been increased this year. I sincerely trust that Brisbane will be able to look forward to having a modern airport in the future.
– It is indeed a tremendous pleasure to see the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) facing up to his responsibilities at long last and coming into this Parliament. For 6 long nights, in debates on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I tried to impress upon the Minister that the people of Brisbane wanted to know certain things. Each night the artful dodger stayed outside and sent in 2 unworthy henchmen in his place. After listening to the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) one would think that all was well in the city of Brisbane. I hold up a newspaper clipping from the 23 August issue of the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ - a fair minded newspaper - which states that the airport proposal disappoints Jones. The keynote is that the Minister for Civil Aviation is not the Jones who is referred to; it is the Labor Lord Mayor of Brisbane. All members of the Government Party would do well if they were to acquaint themselves with what the Lord Mayor of Brisbane thinks about the way in which they are shelving the development of Brisbane Airport. The honourable member for Lilley, who has just spoken in the debate, was excited about the increased appropriation under division 172. The increase is a lousy $400,000. The report of the Coombs Task Force, which was set up by the Labor Government, shows that the previous Liberal-Country Party Government had set aside $lm for this year, $13m for next year, $18m for the year after that and $130m thereafter for the redevelopment of the Brisbane Airport.
Last year the artful honourable member for Lilley had his political helpers distribute certain pamphlets in all of the suburbs of his electorate. 1 do not have one in front of me because this debate was brought on at rather short notice. They said that the women of the electorate of Lilley should vote Labor for a number of reasons. One of the reasons listed was the Labor Party’s claim that it would proceed immediately with the development of Brisbane Airport. What a disappointment they have received. I am sorry to have to inform the honourable member for Lilley, who arrived here only recently, that he will pay the price for the Minister’s refusal to get on with the job in Brisbane. It is all right for the honourable member for Lilley to stand up and say that over the last 2 decades of the LiberalCountry Party Government’s administration very little was done, but the truth of the matter is that only in very recent years has jet noise increased to the extent that it is polluting the quality of life of people living under the flight paths of these huge aeroplanes. I agree with the honourable member for Lilley that the previous Government was a little slow. Tullamarine and the other areas received a better deal than Brisbane. On the other hand, it is no use looking at that situation today. Apparently there is no allocation in the Budget for the development of Brisbane Airport. The report of the Coombs Task Force clearly sets out the fact that the Liberal-Country Party Government intended to do something in the near future.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I will continue the remarks that I was making prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner. My only regret is that on this occasion the Minister for Civil Aviation has seen fit once again to dodge the issue by prolonging his dinner break.
– Not again.
– The honourable member for Mcpherson says: ‘Not again’. Yes, the answer is sadly ‘again’. I see the Minister coming back into the chamber and I welcome him. To those in the Parliament who might wonder at my own efforts in preceding years and my interest in the Brisbane airport I quickly outline the fact that I appeared before the House of Representatives
Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in about 1969. Last year I went to the then Prime Minister and informed him that 2 things must be done for the city of Brisbane. The first matter was that we should get on with building the new Brisbane airport and the other issue referred to improving the standard of living of those people reliant upon the pension and social service benefits.
I notice that the Minister for Civil Aviation is now listening intently. There are 13 unlucky suburbs in the city of Brisbane. The 4 suburbs in my electorate which are affected are Bulimba, Balmoral, Hawthorne and Norman Park. The people in those suburbs were living on the brink of a promise that the Liberal Government would shift the airport and rearrange it so flight paths would be altered over the city of Brisbane. Unfortunately the country was struck with disaster on 2 December last year and the Government changed. I wish to place questions before the Minister now. I ask the questions bearing in mind that the privacy of those people to whom I referred is being plundered every time the breezes of Brisbane exceed 5 knots and aeroplanes have to fly over the city area to land at Eagle Farm. My first question is: Why has there not been an allocation of finance for the Brisbane airport in the Budget? Secondly, why has the Minister been avoiding me and refusing to answer my questions? Thirdly, will the Minister promise me that he is making a start which will thus ensure that relief will be brought to the poor wretches who live under the flight path? Fourthly, is it true that the Coombs Committee which had to prepare the recent report was specifically directed to give the kiss of death to the Brisbane airport? Those are questions we want answered.
If democracy worked a little better and members of the Opposition had a better go at question time I would ask these questions then. But all honourable members know that Opposition members get only one question every 3 weeks, something unfortunately which the Opposition, when in government, condoned. I hope that the Government, while it is in a position to do so, will recognise the injustice and will do something about question time. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) has not returned to the chamber after the suspension for dinner. He is lilywhite with fear because he knows that, with his 35 vote majority, the stalling of the development of the Brisbane airport could well cost him his seat. As I mentioned earlier, a special pamphlet was issued during the campaign for the last election which stated: ‘Why will women vote Labor in Lilley?’ One of the reasons for stating that that would be the case was because Labor women cared about the Brisbane airport. They might care about it but the Minister does not care. As far as I am concerned he is .the man that counts. I have spoken on this question on some 7 occasions now and I am almost tiring of my own speech. At long last the Minister is in the chamber while this matter is being debated. I tear off for him from my notes the questions that I have directed to him. I ask that they be handed to the Minister so that when he replies to the debate on these estimates he will take those questions into account.
I wish to conclude on a happier note. Today we learned through the presentation of the annual report of Qantas Airways Ltd that this great company made a profit for the last financial year of $466,000.
– That is through Jack Egerton.
– The Minister for Services and Property says that that is because of Jack Egerton. I would like to believe that it was a result of the efforts of Jack Egerton but he was the person who said that the winner takes all and that it is the fat cats who get all the fat jobs. I draw the attention of the Committee to this fact: For some years I sat on the other side when my Party was in Government and pleaded - I know that I had the backing in those days of the then Minister for Civil Aviation - for Qantas to open its mind a little and to venture into such activities as charter flights. But under the wonderful chairmanship of Sir Roland Wilson, nothing happened. Fortunately, changes have been made. I refer to the composition of the Qantas Board. That company changed its attitude and embarked on providing cheaper air fares. Now its planes are full all the time and its profits are increasing. This opportunity was present at all times but was not taken advantage of because of the failure of a group of men to recognise that new business was there if only they would go after it.
We in Australia are thousands of miles from many countries in the world. It is probably more expensive for Australians than for the people of any other country to see the world. When I speak of the world, I refer to such popular places for visitors as Britain,
Italy, Greece and Spain - but not France, these days. At long last Qantas has woken up. It is for this reason that its profits have increased. If Qantas can reduce its fares further, more people will travel on its services and its profits will continue to rise.
My final remark will excite the Minister. I was absolutely flabbergasted when the new civil aviation charges were introduced in the Budget. These charges have had the effect of causing flight costs throughout Australia to rise once again. The battle by internal airlines against the competition presented by the cheap fares which are available for journeys outside this country is a tough one.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– That is unfortunate.
– I wish to pass a few comments on a number of matters which come within the administration of the Department of Transport. In the last few days, 1 have not agreed with many of the remarks made by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). But at least I do agree with him tonight as to the condition of the Stuart Highway which runs from the border to Port Augusta. Certain information given by the honourable member was incorrect. He said that the road from Alice Springs to Port Augusta was a dirt one. The South Australian Government has been working on this road and has completed bitumenising 65 miles of it. The South Australian Government expects to have further bitumen work to Woomera completed by the end of next year which will mean that 115 miles of this road will have a bitumen surface.
This is a most important roadway in the electorate of Grey. It runs for some 600 miles through my electorate and serves the opal mining centre of the world, Coober Pedy. As we all know, exceptionally heavy rains have fallen this year. Depending on whether one is going on holidays or is relying on the land for one’s living, this year can be described as being a good year or a bad year. The fact is that on numerous occasions in the last 6 months or 8 months, this roadway has been closed completely for days on end. Tourist buses, semi-trailers and people in caravans have been stranded on many occasions at various points along the highway. I hope that in the national planning of our highways the Stuart
Highway from Port Augusta to Alice Springs will receive due consideration. It does serve a specific area. The township of Coober Pedy which, I repeat, is the opal centre of the world relies on it. Coober Pedy has a population of approximately 4,000 people. Two of the most important townships on this highway in South Australia are the Woomera village and Coober Pedy. They are the only big centres served by it. But I feel that, in the long range planning of our highways, efforts should be made to bitumenise this highway completely. That is what people in this area are entitled to expect.
There is another matter I want to deal with in this debate although it may touch on the estimates for the Department of Supply. During those times when this highway could not be used permission has been granted in emergency cases to use the bypass through the Woomera rocket range area thereby cutting off approximately 50 to 60 miles. This road is not all bitumised but it is for a considerable part of the way. As I said, there have been occasions when permission has been granted to use this bypass in cases of emergency. There have also been occasions when permission to use it has been granted to public servants situated in the north who wished to travel south. I intend to make an approach to the Department of Supply to ascertain whether permission can be granted for this road to be used on occasions other than when the normal route cannot be used. The use of the Woomera road will save a considerable amount of time and travel will be over a much better roadway. As I said, the South Austraiian Government is doing its part in regard to this highway and it hopes to have the highway completed as far as Woomera by the end of next year. We would hope that the Government in its national planning will, by the injection of Commonwealth finance, help to expedite the sealing of this highway.
Another matter of concern in the same area is the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway line. For most of this year as a result of heavy rainfalls the existing narrow gauge line north of Marree has been continually affected by flooding. At times when the roadway and railway line would not be used because of flooding supplies had to be flown into Alice Springs. It was agreed some time ago that this line should be improved. The present Government has not altered the plans. We would certainly hope that in the very near future a start would be made on this section.
Last year when this matter was raised the question was put as to what type of sleeper would be used on this track and also on other Commonwealth Railway lines. The Government at that time did commission a study by the Bureau of Transport Economics to ascertain what types of sleeper should be used - timber or concrete. The Bureau brought down a report which favoured the use of concrete sleepers. The reasons were clearly set out in the report brought down by the Bureau but I would say that the then Government for political reasons decided not to accept that report. The then Minister stated that timber sleepers would be used. As I said, I think that decision was purely a matter of political expediency and was made with the idea of trying to save a seat in Western Australia.
I know that this matter has been resubmitted for consideration. The Minister for Transport has informed the chamber that both the timber industry and the concrete industry have been asked to make submissions which will be examined by the Bureau of Transport Economics. ‘The Minister will make the final decision. I would certainly hope that in making that decision the Minister will favour concrete sleepers because I think that, apart from the report brought down last year by the Bureau which favoured concrete sleepers, it is the considered opinion of all competent railway engineers that this is the most advanced method of building railway lines. The Commonwealth Railways for some time have been utilising all-welded rails in most sections of railway. Last year the section of line from Port Augusta to Whyalla, which has an allwelded track and has concrete sleepers, was completed. To my knowledge that line has not given a great deal of trouble - not the sort of trouble that one would expect from a newly laid track. I think that experience has indicated that concrete sleepers are the sort of sleepers to be used in a bed for new railway lines. It is a fact that because of the extreme temperatures in the area in which this railway line is situated there has always been a very great possibility of buckling. But with the utilisation of concrete sleepers, the extra weight to hold the line down, the method of attaching the track to the sleeper and the fact that it is an all-welded rail will go a long way towards obviating the possibility of buckling rails in hot weather. It will certainly make a much better and much more solid track. As I said, the previous decision on the type of sleepers to be used favoured timber sleepers for reasons of pure political expediency. I hope that when the report does come down it again comes out in favour of concrete sleepers and that the Minister accepts the report and decides to go ahead with this particular track using that type of construction.
There are a few more points that I should like to make. Quite recently, there was a dispute on the Commonwealth Railways involving the wages staff. The wages staff has been discontented for some time over the amount of expenses they receive when they are required to work away from their home station. It finished up as an industrial dispute lasting a couple of days. As a result of the conference that followed that dispute the men went back to work and a case was put to the officials of the Commonwealth Railways who agreed that there would be an increase in their expenses. This dispute is indicative of the discontent that often arises in the staff of the Commonwealth Railways. I consider that the difference between conditions applied to wages staff and those applied to the salaried staff have always been a source of discontent. I ask the Minister for Transport whether he will examine the conditions that apply in the Commonwealth Railways and, in cases where there is a big difference between the conditions that apply to wages staff and those that apply to salaried staff, whether he will examine those differences and see if something can be done to put the wages staff in a more equitable position.
– The standard of a government’s administration is gauged best by the quality of the men who are responsible for the various departments. Tragically, decent enough fellow though the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) is, there has been a lamentable failure in the exercise of his responsibilities during the course of the transport strike which has brought the whole of the air services around the eastern seaboard, particularly those operating to and from Sydney and Canberra, to a halt. I think it is deplorable that a dispute that has gone on since 10 September, which has lasted 30 days, which has involved no more than 60 key personnel - members of the Professional Radio Employees Institute - and with only 2 airports concerned, has been permitted to continue without the Minister expressing any concern until about 10 days ago.
There is a very real problem in a country such as Australia with tremendous distances to traverse and with an increasing dependence upon communications and the availability of communications to ensure that airways and all other forms of transport are kept available to the community. In my opinion, the Minister for Transport has been grossly unfair to the community at large in his failure to call the people concerned together, in considering - with a measure of sympathy, I would suggest - the claim made by the unions concerned and in endeavouring to provide some resolution to this dispute. I believe that it is not satisfactory for a Minister to allow significant key personnel to disrupt the entire sinews of commerce and industry in this country and to bring them to a halt.
But of course, it is not just the. sinews of commerce that have come to a halt. East-West Airlines Ltd has its headquarters in my electorate and already 60 pilots and 100 mechanics have been laid off by that company. Tomorrow, some 400 personnel are expected to be laid off. I am told that there may be some resolution of the dispute tonight although, at the same time, there seems to be some parallel dispute which has broken out in the Australian Broadcasting Commission and I am not too sure of the permanence of the agreement that has been reached between management and the union concerned. It is of tremendous concern when we have not only the disruption of the essential services of the airlines but also significant sections of employment prejudiced, entirely because of the failure of the Minister for Transport to act in this situation.
I see it as most unfortunate that there has not been a preparedness by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who was holidaying at Norah Head or somewhere, by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), who is enjoying a jaunt to Japan and by the Minister for Transport who showed a complete inability to concern himself with the affairs of his portfolio, to try to consider in detail ways by which business could be brought into gear again. I believe that it is indicative of the way in which this Government is pursuing its administration of this country that its Ministers do not seem to be able in any way to try to resolve industrial disputes in such a way as to take account of the very genuine needs of the public and of the effect of such disputes on the community.
I understand that East-West Airlines already has lost in loss of revenue more than its net profit last year. There have been very serious discomforts and inconveniences for personnel employed by the airline and the only reason for this is the action - or inaction - of this man and the Labor Government. Of course there are other areas within these estimates which indicate how little concern this Government has for country services. I refer to the cessation of subsidies for country air services and the failure to provide funds for airport construction.
For example, again referring to my own electorate, at Tamworth in northern New South Wales, the headquarters of East-West Airlines Ltd, there is a very real need for an early commencement on the major reconstruction of the Tamworth Airport. This again has been deferred. This delay cannot go on indefinitely. It is essential that funds be provided by this Government to enable a reasonable forward construction program of airports, not at sites such as the one selected at Galston to the ill fare of the Government’s candidate at the Parramatta by-election, but at sites where there is an acceptable community service, a need for airport construction and a need for these funds to be provided.
These estimates are gravely deficient in this respect. Of course this Minister is also responsible for a number of other areas of transport. I see the amalgamation of the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation as a good thing. However, I find it rather paradoxical that a Prime Minister and Minister who have been so critical of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and Chrysler Australia Ltd for their selection overseas of personnel to run their Australian operations, should now choose as the new permanent head of the Department a person from Canada who, I understand, is of British origin. I regard, and have always regarded, the selection of persons of competence as being essential if we are to maintain the high standard of service for which the Commonwealth Public Service has enjoyed a high reputation. I see this as being necessary. At the same time I do not believe that it reflects creditably on the Prime Minister or the members of this Government that they have so criticised others yet they themselves are prepared to go abroad in order to seek persons to head one of the senior policy and administrative departments of the Government.
A very important report on roads is shortly to be tendered to the Government. This is the report from the Commonwealth Aid Roads Authority. I am concerned at the manner in which this Government will consider the recommendations of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, which has a narrow, specialised and highly competent technical expertise. I believe that in considering the recommendations that come before the Parliament it is necessary that one should consider the social implications of roads and the necessity to provide the economic sinews that are so essential in the transport of goods and services around the community. Already the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) has played some part in intruding on freeway construction in the cities. Tragically there is a grave shortfall in the standard of roads throughout Australia. This, of course, is echoed in the standard of railway construction. There are very real problems in ensuring that the availability of funds and manpower is related in the best way to the needs of our society.
The Commonwealth Aid Roads Authority report of course will .provide the basis on which funds will be allocated by this Parliament for the next 5 years. I believe that any reduction in funds for the construction of roads in country areas would be a tragedy. There is a real necessity for arterial roads, national highways, urban expressways and country roads throughout Australia to be provided with adequate finance to enable the progressive extension of bitumen surfacing and to provide roads which minimise the risk of accidents to the users of motor vehicles so that we may be able to sustain the rate of our past development. The total road program represented by the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement which is currently in operation was the first occasion on which such a total perspective had been introduced into the provision of money by the Commonwealth Government in this area. I trust that in the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement there will be a similar recognition of the problems of each of the areas of the community. It is necessary now that there should be no further reduction in the percentage of money allocated to the country sector.
I want to speak very briefly on shipping. In this area there are tremendous problems involved in pursuing the policies which the Minister has set himself. These are policies which he has not originated. I refer to his claim for a 40 per cent share of the available tonnage in each of our overseas trades to be operated by Australian flag vessels. That was a policy long since enunciated by my predecessor in the portfolio, the Honourable Gordon Freeth, who at the time of his negotiations with the Japanese and at the beginnings of the Eastern Searoad Service followed just that policy. I pursued an identical policy in our original negotiations with respect to the British trades. I see it as necessary to extend the use of Australian flag vessels, but it is no use our pursuing any policies for Australian ownership unless we are cognisant of the cost to those who are using the vessels.
It is necessary that we provide efficient forms of transport and that costs to users and the service to the community remain paramount in pursuing what are legitimate and laudable national objectives. I see in the extension of our shipping policies a real need for us to participate in further extensions of our overseas trade, but we should not ignore the cost to domestic consumers and domestic transporters in Australia, be they in the overseas trades or the coastal trades. The shipping services - indeed all our transport services - need to be integrated for the benefit of the Australian community. A tremendous challenge faces us in the transport sector. Tragically, I believe that the failure of the Minister to intervene in the airline dispute demonstrates how little real concern he has for the average Australian. I trust that this will not be echoed elsewhere.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Transport forms such a large proportion of total Australian costs that I think it is something with which we all should be concerned. Of course, from an economic point of view, it should be one of our principal concerns. There are many phases of transport, but tonight I just want to touch on one of them, and that is related to urban transport. I believe that in the future we should put much more emphasis upon public transport than we have done in the past. It seems to me that some kind of vicious circle is involved here. Losses occur on public transport. Then, in order to make good those losses, fares are put up. Patronage of public transport declines. Fares are put up again. And so the whole grievous process goes on. Public transport has or should have a much greater role to play.
I believe that if we had the courage to break this vicious circle and to put public transport, perhaps in one area to start with and then in other areas, on a proper basis we would improve the efficiency of our whole cities structure.
I do not believe that this principle should be carried to extremes. We have the spectacle of one of the Ministers of the present Government denouncing all freeways. I believe that the freeway concept has been carried too far and that not enough emphasis has been placed on public transport, but I do not go to the extreme of saying that all freeways are bad. I am afraid that this kind of thinking has infected a certain section of Government policy. This is particularly so when a freeway serves not to bring people into the city but to take people through the city. This is much more important than might appear at first sight. Most cities have grown because they are placed in a strategic position and they are the natural point through which traffic passes. This natural tendency has of course been exacerbated by the fact that in the past roads have been built towards the city centre, but the pure facts of geography, quite apart from the roads that have been built, sometimes reinforce this. Think, for example, of the positions of our 2 chief cities in Australia, Sydney and Melbourne. Both of them lie on positions where there is a necessity for a through route. Traffic from the northern suburbs of Sydney cannot cross the harbour east of the harbour bridge, and in Melbourne the same kind of position appears with traffic from Port Phillip. Even when the new bridge, the one that collapsed, is finally completed and opened we will still have the position in Melbourne where throughways will be necessary not just to bring traffic into the city but to bring traffic through the city. I take the position of Sydney and Melbourne as typical. The same kind of condition might apply to other Australian cities, including perhaps Brisbane and Perth. I suggest that although more attention should be paid to, and more emphasis should be placed on, public transport in the city this does not absolve us entirely from the necessity to build freeways, particularly when those freeways will be used for traffic which has to go through the city to get to some other destination on the other side of the city.
Before coming to the particular position of Sydney, let me take up the industrial aspect which the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) raised a few moments ago. One of the points about private transport is that in an emergency it is not so vulnerable to strikes as public transport is. Tonight in Sydney the trains are not running because I believe there is some kind of demarcation dispute. Public transport stops and tangles. Private transport, which is not so vulnerable to this vicious strike action, comes into its own. I know that this is a transitory thing, but when we have a government in Canberra of the type of this Government, strikes occur because the strikers know that they have a great and powerful friend in Canberra. Nothing can be done because the relevant Ministers just have not got the guts to do anything about it and do not dare confront the strikers in the unions. In this situation the strikers become emboldened and more and more strikes occur. It is of course necessary to get rid of this Government if we are to have industrial peace in Australia. I say this in passing because it will only be relevant in this debate to mention it in relation to the fact that although we look to public transport more and more there is this saving grace of private transport that it is less subject to strike action.
– Is it not a Liberal Government in New South Wales and Sydney where the strike is taking place?
– The Minister asks whether it is not a Liberal Government in New South Wales. It is perfectly true that it is, but when there was a Liberal Government in Canberra also there were fewer strikes in New South Wales because the strikers did not know, as they know now, that in Canberra they have a great and powerful friend who is on the side of industrial disruption. It is this kind of confidence they have which emboldens them, as I have said, to strike and it is because of this that this Government must be thrown out. There will be no industrial peace in Australia until it is thrown out. I have been provoked by the interjection of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) to make this point, because he himself is one of the guilty men who has failed to do his duty in this matter.
Let me come back to the transport position in Sydney. It seems to me that in Sydney more attention should be paid to the underground railway. I say this particularly because of the peculiar situation which exists in Sydney. The sandstone on which Sydney is built is emin ently suitable for the use of the new tunnelling methods. I have gone into this in some detail and I am confident of my figures. In Sydney sandstone a 24-foot diameter tunnel sufficient for a single line rail can be built and finished for only $lm a mile. This makes it cheaper than a surface line where heavy resumptions are involved. But, more importantly, it also preserves the amenities and ecology of the area. An underground line does not require immense resumptions nor does it have the noise of passing trains which can disturb the neighbourhood. In Sydney, particularly because of the geological position in which it is situated, there is every reason to get the lines underground and to have more reliance on underground railways as a means of urban transport.
– The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to speak to that section of the estimates of the Department of Transport concerned with shipbuilding. This is an area in which I have had some experience, being a third generation shipwright. I have been most appreciative of the actions of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) since he has taken over this portfolio. I think his actions in this regard can speak louder than my words. To illustrate this point I quote figures of ships that were on order at the time of the election on 2 December 1972, and of ships on order at present. Vessels on order and under construction on 2 December 1972 were 39 but at present - some 10 months later - 75 ships are on order. Vessels for which tenders had closed but for which no orders had been placed numbered 7 at election date but there are now 33. Vessels for which tenders had been called, totalled 2 last December. I well know this fact because I introduced deputations from the Queensland shipbuilding yards of Evans Deakin Industries Ltd and Walkers Ltd to the then Minister for Shipping and Transport and the then Minister for the Navy. Those deputations wanted to know what work might be pushed into the yards to enable them to maintain some sort of continuity. At 2 December 1972 there were 2 orders for which tenders had been called but at present there are 24. Vessels for which tenders might be called - prospective vessels - numbered 17 at that stage but now there are 6.
The position has changed from one of disillusionment and wonderment at what was to happen to the shipbuilding industry after the Tariff Board report was released in June 1972. The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), who was Minister for Shipping and Transport at one time, will recall that the Tariff Board, whose report was released early in June 1972, commenced its hearings some 3 years previously. He would know that the conditions that applied at the time of the hearings were entirely different from those applying at the time the Tariff Board report was released. The Government of that time put forward a policy which meant the complete failure of continuity of work for existing shipyards throughout Australia but which encouraged a number of firms to enter the shipbuilding industry. They were attracted by a very high subsidy. They were attracted to the industry to carry out construction jobs which did not require the technical equipment usually associated with shipbuilding. They were able to take advantage of the policy of the Government, which was in no way concerned with the retention of existing shipbuilding yards and a rationalisation of shipbuilding orders among those yards.
I know that the subject of rationalisation of orders is very close to the heart of the present Minister. I pay a tribute to him in this respect. I have mentioned that 75 vessels are now on order or under construction. I known that most of those orders arose from the Minister’s decision. Under the Navigation Act he has power to allow vessels to operate on the Australian coast under permit for single voyages or, in some cases, any number of voyages. In many cases those vessels are manned by overseas crews. But he has that power to allow them to operate. He also has power to ask of the people who are operating these ships that they place an order for a vessel to carry out this work with an Australian shipyard within a certain time and place a bond with the Australian Shipbuilding Board. The Minister has interpreted the Act as it was meant to be interpreted.
In case anyone has any ideas that the previous Government or previous Ministers for Transport were interpreting the Act properly, I instance what happened with respect to a vessel by the name of ‘Clara Clausen’. The Clausen Line was operating this vessel between Cairns and the Gulf country. It was carrying cattle to the meat works at Queerah. Before I entered this Parliament - in about 1960 - it was required to place an order for a replacement vessel. It made inquiries of Australian shipyards about a replacement vessel, but it did not go any further with the placement of an order. It continued to operate with the permission of the then Minister for Shipping and Transport. Eventually it brought in another vessel. But it was not a replacement vessel that was built in Australia; it was a vessel that was built in Yugoslavia. It operated that vessel on the Australian coast.
One of the first actions of the present Minister for Transport was to advise this Line and others like it that before he would grant a permit they would need to place a genuine order with an Australian shipyard. Many of them have done so. An examination of the number of prawn trawlers that have been placed on order or are under construction in Australian yards will give a fair indication of the number of vessels which were operating on the Australian coast under permit. But it did not stop just with small vessels; it extended to vessels of considerable size that were operating with the permission of the Minister for Transport. I hope that this practice will cease.
Shipbuilding is not an industry that a company can move into and out of at will. There may be some types of ship construction which permit this to happen, such as particular types of oil rigs, particular types of lighters and that type of construction, but for practical shipbuilding purposes a skilled work force has to be built up over a period of years. Apprentices are trained in the various aspects of the work. Australian shipyards generally over the last decade or so have moved with the advanced techniques in ship construction. They probaly have not moved as fast as they would have liked or as the people for whom they were building would have liked. A lot of this is tied up with the lack of continuity of orders and a need to know where the industry is going. I am sure that those people associated with the shipbuilding industry have appreciated the decisive action taken by the Minister, particularly in regard to the Evans Deakin shipyard in the placing of orders. He almost bent over backwards to ensure a continuity of work.
I have’ been personally associated with the Minister for quite a number of years. Sometimes I have been amazed at this outspokenness in telling the unions where they are wrong. He has never been frightened to tell them where they have been wrong. As a private member or as a Minister if he believes someone is wrong he has never been frightened to state his attitude. The references which the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) made about the Minister in this regard, whether it be shipbuilding or any other aspect of his portfolio, definitely do not line up with the nature of the man as I and many other members who have worked with him know him.
I believe that the Minister has placed the shipbuilding industry in a position where it knows where it is going. He has given some comfort of continuity of employment to those people who have given a lifetime to the industry, particularly in decentralised areas such as Maryborough, which is in my electorate, where shipbuilding has been in continuous practice since the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. I am sure the industry will continue with the assistance of the policies which will be implemented by the Minister for Transport.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am pleased to see that the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) is in the chamber while the estimates for those departments are being discussed. My colleague, the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), asked him some questions about the Brisbane airport. I am sure that all honourable members from Queensland will be interested in hearing the Minister’s reply to those questions. Perhaps when he is dealing with that subject he will also answer one or two other questions I wish to put to him now. Earlier in the year the Minister made an announcement that $14m, I think, was to be made available for the acquisition of land for Brisbane’s second international airport. The location of this airport was said to be somewhere in the Caboolture area. This, of course, is of some concern to the people in my electorate as Redcliffe would be possibly in the flight path of such an airport. I wish to ask the Minister: Where in the estimates is there provision for the $14m which he mentioned earlier ‘in the year would be made available for the acquisition of this land at Caboolture? If no money is allocated in this Budget for the acquisition of the land, will he tell the Committee when it is anticipated that the money will be made available. and when a site will be chosen? Also, will the Minister say whether a full, open investigation will be conducted before the site is finally determined so that the people in the area have an opportunity to put their point of view before substantial amounts of Commonwealth money are committed to the purchase of land?
I leave that topic for a moment and mention the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics which was tabled in the House the week before last. During the election campaign the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made one of his promises that he would electrify the northern rail corridor of Brisbane. At that time it was understood by people in Brisbane that that meant the electrification of the existing suburban railway line from Brisbane Central to Petrie.
– He has electrified all of Australia.
– Yes, he has certainly electrified Australia with some of his comments. When that report was tabled it became apparent that the northern corridor of Brisbane meant the railway line from Brisbane Central to Shorncliffe and the railway line from Brisbane Central to Zillmere, which of course is not even the end of the existing diesel electric suburban railway line. I simply point out to the Minister - and I have written to him on the subject as well - that the studies on which the Bureau’s report was based involved the Wilbur Smith report concerning Brisbane which was commissioned by the Queensland Government I think in the 1950s. That report was commissioned before the tremendous residential explosion in the Strathpine, Lawnton, Petrie and Kallangur areas took place. The figures, statistics and cost analysis in the Wilbur Smith report are very sadly out of date. I urge the Minister that, when the program is being considered for future years, the Wilbur Smith statistics be updated, particularly with the intention of extending the electrified railway line further out from Zillmere to Petrie at least.
The other matter to which I wish to draw the attention of the Minister is the fact that the population of the city of Redcliffe is rapidly building up at present. It can be provided with a rail link if a connecting line is run from Petrie to Redcliffe. It is imperative that at least surveys be made at this stage. The land between the Petrie railway connection and Redcliffe city is presently in large ownership. In other words, if resumptions had to take place relatively few owners would be involved and there would be no disruption of residential dwellings because the land is very largely open country. However, unless action is taken promptly that land will be subdivided and sold for housing development and the opportunity of providing a rail link from Petrie to Redcliffe at a reasonable cost will be lost. I urge the Minister to take these 2 matters up with his Department so that planning can begin immediately on those aspects before the estimates are prepared for the Budget next year.
– While speaking to the estimates for the Department of Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation I should like to discuss the remarks made by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis). I notice he has left the House, having said what he said.
– You were not here when he said it.
– I was here when he said it. I thought he might be here to listen to what I have to say. He took me to task for dismissing from consideration some 65 miles of road which happened to have been sealed by the South Australian Government after a lot of discussion and argument. The distance of the road from Alice Springs to Port Augusta is 750 miles. So after all, the 65 miles is peanuts. The same distance is being sealed in the Northern Territory by a Commonwealth organisation. I hope it is carried on by this Government. I do not think it can get out of that one. There is a lot of this road to seal. I hope that the honourable member for Grey, having apparently made such a good fellow of himself with the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) - they are both in the same Party- can organise the rail link from Tarcoola to Alice Springs. After all, the previous Government agreed to it in principle. It was organised by the Transport Committee of the previous Government. But, so long as it is built, I do not mind who does it.
I refer now to concrete sleepers. If tenders are called and concrete sleepers are found to be cheaper and more efficient to use, not only would the previous Minister have used them but also I would expect this Minister to use them. There are numerous occasions when I am sure that wooden sleepers would be a better proposition, such as when a line is not being built from scratch. When a line is being repaired I am certain that the use of wooden sleepers will be just as economical at least. There is 120 to 125 miles of the road from Alice Springs to Port Augusta at present under construction in the Northern Territory. The honourable member for Grey said that the road from Port Augusta to Woomera will be sealed. I hope that we will all benefit from this action. Most of that stretch of the highway is in his electorate. But my concern is about the Labor Government which has been quibbling for years about finance for this road and for the Eyre Highway. I hope that it will now get to work and build this highway, and that the honourable member’s State and his Government will benefit from it. Where does the trade go? It goes from the Northern Territory down that highway to South Australia.
– The South Australian Government is working on it.
– At long last. I wish to speak next on air navigation charges. I direct my remarks to the Minister for Civil Aviation and I hope that he will give me some attention. After all, we in the Northern Territory suffer the same increase of 10 per cent in airport charges as do people in the States. We also suffer the increase of approximately 5c a gallon in charges for diesel fuel, motor spirit, aviation gasoline fuel or aviation turbine fuel. We must cover greater distances in the Northern Territory. The distance from Adelaide to Alice Springs is approximately 1,000 miles. Alice Springs by road is 950 miles from Darwin; by air the distance is approximately 800 miles. I invite honourable members to apply such distances to the areas where they live. For instance, I ask the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who is Minister for Services and Property, where he would end up if he travelled 800 miles from his home? He would probably find himself on Thursday Island. That would be a good place for him to go.
– I would be found murdered outside Alice Springs.
– That may be so. You have scant appreciation-
– I rise to take a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.
– This honourable member realises that I have only 10 minutes in which to speak.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order!
– For his information, I inform the honourable member that I am the only member here from South Australia who lives outside the metropolitan area of that State.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! That is not a point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. I was certain you would realise that that was a rubbishy comment. I believe that the increased’ air charges are absolutely inhuman. The Minister is charging people in the Northern Territory for something that they are not even getting. Really first class services are provided at such airports as Tullamarine or Launceston, formerly Western Junction. But the increase of 10 per cent in airport charges is being imposed on people in the Northern Territory - they must suffer also the increases in fuel tax - who receive absolutely no services in return. Darwin Airport has no air-conditioning system. It is overcrowded. There is standing room only on many occasions. Why are we being charged this additional 10 per cent? I instance Katherine Airport. It is not serviced by jets.
– You had 23 years of Liberal Government.
– Services have been improved.
– What about the 24 years of Liberal Government?
– We did not impose these taxes. Honourable members should remember that the Government is disinterested in any areas outside our cities and their suburbs. Katherine has an airstrip capable of taking jets. I asked the Minister to put the proposition to the airline companies that they should land jets at Katherine. People at Tennant Creek must meet the additional 10 per cent airport charge and also the increased fuel charges. But Tennant Creek has Friendship services only. I refer next to the Minister’s much vaunted argument about granting TransAustralia Airlines access to the Darwin-Perth run because Ansett Airlines of Australia was charging first class fares on that route, including travel to intermediate stops, What happens with respect to travel “to intermediate stops on airlines in the Northern Territory? Whether the Friendship service is to Tennant Creek, Gove, Katherine or elsewhere, passengers must still pay first class charges. I ask the Minister to look at this matter.
– You would think that we were responsible for this.
– I would hope that you would be responsible and that you would show some responsibility. I turn next to local airline services. The Minister for Civil Aviation tabled today a report on an airline which operates from my home town, I refer to Connellan Airways which, apart from the Commonwealth Government, is the biggest employer of labour in Alice Springs. When in Opposition, the present Minister for Civil Aviation stated that if his Party was elected to office he would see this airline out of business. That is as may be. But I think the Minister may have found that it would cost twice as much money to hand over the services provided by this local airline to TAA. I would not know. I think he may have found this out. All I ask is this: If he wishes to cut the subsidy granted to Connellan Airways, will he allow that airline to enter free enterprise business and to run its services as efficiently as it can because it could run those services far better in that area than TAA could provide them?
I ask the Minister to allow that local airline to increase its limits above 1,200 lb all up weight which would lift its operating ability above the Heron class of aircraft and allow it to use prop jet aircraft on the 100 to 120 airstrips that it services. The Minister would find that he could eliminate this subsidy instead of saying vindictively that he will put this company out of business and run its services through charter aircraft. The charges for such services would be twice as much as people in the areas serviced by this airline pay for flights now.
I ask the Minister, who must be aware of the small ships situation out of Darwin, to consider what his colleagues are doing to the population in Arnhem Land. Thousands of people who live in that area rely on the small ships which operate out of Darwin. He, his colleagues and his fellow travellers in Darwin, including Manning and members of the Waterside Workers Federation, are persecuting the operators of small ships. They are putting them out of business and the people in Arnhem Land are the ones who will suffer-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise for a brief period, merely to refer to some statements that have been made this evening in this debate. We have seen in the first instance the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) again in this Parliament endeavouring to indicate not only to us but also to the people of Queensland that he has a vast and intense interest in the modernisation of Brisbane Airport and the effects of operations at Brisbane Airport on people in the surrounding areas. I have said before that in the 7 years that the honourable member has been in this chamber he has made 2 speeches in which he made a brief and passing reference to the Brisbane Airport. In those 7 years he has not asked one question on behalf of the people whom he is supposed to be representing about the Brisbane Airport. He comes along in the Parliament -
– I rise to take a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. My point of order, with great respect, is that the clock which indicates the speaking time available to an honourable member in a debate is set as if the honourable member is a new speaker in this debate. He has already spoken in it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. No point of order arises. If the honourable member takes frivolous points of order of that nature, the Chair will take action.
– I am making reference to the phony attitude of the honourable member and giving examples of his phony approach to this matter.
– I take a further point of order. With due respect to your great wisdom and sense of judgment, Mr Deputy Chairman, the honourable member is debating. He is not raising a point of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I did not rise on a point of order. I rose to speak to the Appropriation Bill. I mentioned the phony attitude of the honourable member for Griffith not only this evening but on previous occasions as well. I came in tonight to listen again to the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke), a great historian, speaking about the electrification of Brisbane’s railway system. One would think, to listen to the honourable member for Petrie, that the electrification of the Brisbane railway system was something that has suddenly sprung up and suddenly interested the people of Brisbane. He is probably old enough, I believe, to remember that before 1937 the previous State Labor Government in Queensland had made plans and was actually carrying out work on the electrification of the Brisbane railways system. But due to very unfortunate circumstances that Labor Government left office and the backward Liberal-Country Party Government was elected.
– I rise to order. As a voter in Queensland I take that as a persona] reflection on me. As one of the electors of Queensland who have enjoyed good government for 1 7 years I say that the statement that it was an unfortunate happening when that government left office is a reflection on me personally and a reflection on the people of Queensland.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)There is no substance in the point of order. There was no personal reflection on the honourable member.
– The honourable member was too young. He would not remember 1957. But it was the backward government which still sits in Queensland that set aside the progressive .plans of the Labor Government prior to 1957 which sought to bring about the electrification of the Brisbane railway system. The honourable member for Petrie referred to the report of Wilbur Smith and Associates. I remind him that there were 2 such reports. The first of those reports resulted from a survey by the firm of Wilbur Smith into the future of private transport in the city of Brisbane. The Queensland Government was informed that the more motor vehicles were brought on to the roads by the provision of freeways and better roads, the more people would be brought into the city. This meant that the city would be choked. The increased traffic would kill off the city, pollute the air and do nothing to enhance the environment and the living standards of people generally. Then the Government had a second survey conducted. A report on public transport was brought down by the firm of Wilbur Smith. The Queensland Government took those actions the wrong way around. The first investigation should have been into methods of bringing people into the city by the use of public transport. But of course with the type of government that we have in Queensland there is no concern about the capital of Brisbane and there is no concern about the people living in the city. We have been accused in respect of alleged attitudes towards the people in the country but these allegations are completely incorrect. The present Government in the State of Queensland holds an attitude which is anti the people of Brisbane and of Brisbane itself.
One of the other matters that was raised by the honourable member for Petrie related to the rail link between Redcliffe and Brisbane. This has been Labor policy for years.
– The honourable member does not know what is going on in his own electorate and he does not know what is going on in his own State. The honourable member probably heard during an election campaign a Labor man putting forward a proposal that Redcliffe should be linked to Brisbane and the penny suddenly has dropped as far as the honourable member for Petrie is concerned. He has had the brilliant idea of putting before this Parliament the suggestion that there should be a direct rail link between Redcliffe and Brisbane. This has been Labor policy for years and it will be introduced only when a Labor government is elected to office in the State of Queensland. The sooner that occurs, of course, the better. The only hope for the people of Brisbane to have a decent railway system is for the Australian Government to provide the finance. There is no way in the world that the State Government will move of its own volition to take this step. That Government has strangled moves by the people and cast aside the needs of the people in Brisbane over the years. It has no intention of providing decent transport for the people of Brisbane. As I have said, it will only be as a result of the actions of the Australian Labor Government that this proposal will be brought into operation.
– I will leave it to the Queenslanders to continue the battle between themselves which I have no doubt will continue. I intend to confine my remarks to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement which will expire on 30 June next year. One of the most important tasks the Minister for Transport (Mr Jones) will have will be the renegotiation of that Agreement with the States. Decisions to be made will include the initial allocation the percentage increase to be allowed each year and the percentage allocation for the various categories of roads. The present scheme saw a significant departure from previous ones in that a more comprehensive road allocation grant was made to the States. I am told that the Minister did not completely accept the Bureau of Roads recommendation. I am sure the present Minister will not necessarily accept a recommendation either if he feels that other factors should be taken into account.
I understand that the recommendation to which I have referred was based solely on vehicle usage without regard to the types of vehicles in the sense of whether they were used for entertainment, ordinary traffic, heavy duty traffic, business purposes, the carriage of goods, fibre, food and so on. Because the then Minister did not adhere to the recommendation of the Bureau the allocation for country roads was much fairer than would otherwise have been the case. I ask the Minister to remember this in the event that a similar recommendation is made this time and I hope he will make a recommendation that will provide a fairer share for country roads in Australia.
Much has been said by the present Government - and rumours are floating around - in regard to expenditure on public transport as against expenditure on road maintenance or upgrading roads for use by private transport. This may be the correct policy for the major cities. I will not comment on this but I would remind the Minister and the Government that in country areas there is no substitute for adequate roads whether they be national highways, arterial roads or rural roads. If this Government is sincere in its wishes to hold down the price of food and the price of fibre it will have to continue with a rural road upgrading program, improvements to arterial roads and improvements to inter city highways because one of the unfortunate things that exist in Australia is that a higher percentage of the cost to the consumer is attributable to freight costs than just about any other country. One of the unfortunate burdens which the wheat grower of Australia has to bear is that on many occasions the rail freight on transporting wheat from the farm or the rail head to the port is higher - he may only be 200 or 300 miles away - than the cost of shipping that wheat several thousand miles to the export market. Freight charges on rural products is the only profit making business that the Australian railways have.
Returning to roads, I say that there is no substitute for an upgrading program involving adequate expenditure on country roads in Australia. The present scheme allowed for an inflation factor of 5 per cent, compounding each year, on the initial or base allocation. It has become obvious that this figure is insufficient for 2 reasons. The first is the rate of inflation. The cost of road building has increased at a very high rate and with the present rate of inflation the inflation factor will be nowhere near adequate. The other reason is the overall cost in upgrading roads to a reasonable standard according to modern transport requirements. I would hope that the Minister will allow in the new agreement for a higher percentage increase per annum than exists under the present scheme. We have heard of examples of other countries and the money that is being spent on public transport systems because of problems concerning private transport in the cities of those countries. I am not here to argue that point. But I just remind the Minister and the Government that on our standards those countries also have very adequate road systems particularly arterial roads, national highways and rural roads. It would be a tragedy for the economic development of this country and for social justice for the people who live outside the capital cities if, when this new Agreement comes into force late next year, the percentage of the allocation for country roads is not at least as high as it is now and also if the inflation factor is not considerably higher than it is now.
– Firstly, I want to apologise to you, Mr Deputy Chairman, for having reacted so angrily to the fact that the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) was on his feet for a second time. I had forgotten that in the Estimates debates there is an opportunity for honourable members to speak twice. It is a long time since members have spoken on 2 occasions in a debate, and the honourable member for Lilley was quite within his rights. Now that I realise that we have a little more time, I wish to say briefly that another point that the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) should take into account is the hardship that his Party’s attitude is bringing tq the people in the areas which are designated for future freeways. As we all know, Brisbane has approximately 3 miles of freeways, but all the talk that has been indulged in by members of the Australian Labor Party has thrown a huge cloud of doubt over the future of freeways. There have been veiled threats - or rather, overt threats - by this new Government that if the State governments do not toe the line ami spend the money in the manner in which the Commonwealth says they should spend it no money will be made available for expenditure on roads.
Hence we have a serious situation in various parts of Brisbane, including the suburb of Norman Park which I mentioned earlier as one which was subject to terrible aircraft noise where the people just do not know what is going to happen in the future. I believe that the Minister has a duty during this debate to stand and say clearly one way or the other what the intentions of his Party are. How would the Minister like to live in an area that had a big, thick blue line drawn on it one year to indicate the path of a freeway, with the people wondering whether they were going to stay or go, and suddenly see a party come to power which says that it is going to stop freeway construction? I share the views of the Brisbane Labor Lord Mayor on this matter. I believe in freeways. Further, I believe that there must be more recognition within our society of the hardship which is caused when people who have lived in a certain house for years are suddenly told that they have to move.
I recall very clearly the area through one part of my electorate where the south-east freeway of Brisbane was constructed. It was an old part of Brisbane. People who had been born there 80 or 90 years ago were suddenly required to move and it was very sad at that time to watch some of the heartbreaks and the reactions to the instructions that the big shift was on. But of even greater consequence today is the uncertainty of the future and I believe that the Minister for Transport should take the opportunity in this debate to explain to us exactly what his Party has in mind.
In concluding my remarks, I remind the honourable member for Lilley who seems recently to have taken a great interest in the Brisbane airport that until I started my real campaign here a few weeks ago he had never moved his lips on the question of the Brisbane airport. His action now is a reaction to mine. No doubt the 50,000 persons who are affected by the siting of the Brisbane airport will look to me and my friend, the honourable member -for Petrie (Mr Cooke) and say: Thank you to you both’.
– You will not let them down.
– I will not let them down; that is for sure. They will say: Thank you to you both for having raised this matter*. I hope that the Minister will at long last, after avoiding the matter >n 6 previous occasions, take advantage of the Estimates debate to answer the questions that I have been asking week in and week out and the questions asked by the people of Brisbane in those 13 unlucky suburbs. Those 50,000 unlucky persons are waiting to hear the answers.
So, I will resume my seat early to ensure that the Minister has plenty of time to talk about the future of the Brisbane airport and to mention why there is no allocation for this airport in the Budget. Do not tell us that the Government is going to give us a new international terminal because that is not good enough. According to the Coombs report - a Labor produced document - we should spend $lm this year, $13m next year and $18m the next year on this airport. So, I ask the Minister to open his heart and tell us what his Party’s plans are so that we can walk away knowing what is going to happen.
Mir CHARLES JONES (Newcastle- Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation) (9.20) - I thought we might have had a few more speakers wanting to tear me apart. It is quite true, I believe, that the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) has risen in his place to speak on the adjournment debate on about 4 or 5 occasions. I told him then that when his Party takes him seriously, I will treat him in the same manner. His Party thinks he is a big joke and so does everyone else. That is the situation as far as the honourable member for Griffith is concerned. , But let us look at the whole issue of the Brisbane airport which has suddenly come to life after the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) was elected to this Parliament and started to take an interest in the airport by way of questions, letters and meetings in the electorate. Suddenly, the Liberal Party has come to life and discovered that its past had caught up with it. What we must realise is that for 23 years we had a Liberal-Country Party government, and for about 7 or 8 of those years a former Minister for Civil Aviation travelled through Brisbane airport every week on his way to his electorate. In all that time, Brisbane has had to suffer the inconvenience of having the worst capital city airport in
Australia. Recently, from investigations I instigated and inquiries that I made, I discovered that the international terminal buildings in Brisbane are unsafe in a 50 mile an hour wind and would have to be evacuated. Yet honourable members opposite ask what this Government is going to do with Brisbane airport as if I had been the Minister for 23 years instead of only 10 months.
When we look at some of the expenditure that has taken place on airports, we find that, since 1961, $85.5m has been spent on Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, $85.1m on Sydney’s airport, $10.7m on the airport at Perth and $7.9m on the airport at Brisbane. The expenditure at Brisbane was for increased apron spaces, re-surfacing of runways, the provision of radar and aerial approach control centres. None of this work was new work; it was all maintenance work and the development of something that was already in existence. So, I wish honourable members opposite would go a little quietly in their criticisms, saying what we are failing to do. In reality, what has been done up to this point is that I have a Cabinet submission which has authorised the purchase of land at Eagle Farm to the value of $6.5m and the purchase of land for the northern site at Caboolture at a cost of $3m. In the initial stages people are slow to move but already in this year’s Estimates - not in the estimates for my Department of Civil Aviation, but in the place where they belong, the Department of Services and Property - ‘Sim has been provided for the immediate purchase of property. The man who was responsible for this action is the honourable member for Lilley who was recently elected to this House. He is the one who has shown all the interest.
– You will have to justify that.
– You were an Assistant Minister for Civil Aviation; what did you do for the Brisbane airport? The answer is naught. The honourable member for Boothby did absolutely nothing in the area of civil aviation when he was Assistant Minister. That is why he was kicked out. I think this Government has a record of achievement. At least we have the scheme moving and are providing money and setting out to provide an alternative temporary international terminal which, we hope, will not blow down. So, it was not honourable members opposite who did anything for the Brisbane airport, although the honourable member for Griffith has been in this place for about 6 years. In that 6 years he achieved nothing in relation to Brisbane. The honourable member for Lilley has been elected for 10 months and this Government has been in office for 10 months, and in that time have got the proposal moving. We have referred it to the Bureau of Transport Economics for a cost benefit analysis to tell us the rate at which we should be proceeding with it. Furthermore, just as a little point on the side, not dealing with Brisbane but dealing with Townsville, we decided that we would examine the practicability of establishing an international terminal at Townsville. We went ahead and selected a site. We got on with the preliminary work. We asked the Premier of Queensland, the backwoodsmen’s State, whether the Queensland Government would freeze land prices and the answer we received was No. So we did not bother any further with the proposal.
I state this in reply to the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) who asked what was happening at Caboolture. We were knocked back on the Townsville proposal. The Queensland Government was not prepared to freeze land prices there. Most of it is swamp land. We did not expect any better result in regard to Caboolture or the Eagle Farm site. I have stated the position in relation to Brisbane Airport, Caboolture Airport and just for good measure, Townsville Airport which nobody elected to mention but I raised it anyway. It, together with the Eagle Farm site, has been referred to the Bureau of Transport Economics for cost benefit analysis and report to the Government.
Criticism has been made of the Government’s decision to increase air navigation charges. The fact that we propose to increase fuel tax by 5c a gallon this year when the necessary legislation goes through both Houses of Parliament has been criticised. I have an application from the airlines for an average increase in fares of Hi per cent. Of that Hi per cent, 8 per cent - more than twothirds - is necessary because of increases in wages and improvements in conditions which the airlines have had to grant in the last 9 to 10 months. The increase in air navigation charges accounts for about one-third or 3i per cent of the Hi per cent increase applied for. The present legislation provides for full recovery with no greater increase than 10 per cent in any one year, but the facts of the matter are that we were going backwards. Some 5 years ago the receipts from air navigation charges were about $3m less than the cost of operating civil aviation, not including the administrative costs of the Department of Civil Aviation. Last year the deficit was S69m and the indications are that the deficit will continue to escalate at about that rate. If members of the Opposition want to continue along the line whereby the general taxpayer will be subsidising - let us state the matter in plain terms - air travel to the tune of $69m a year, they can do so. That might be their policy, but it is not our policy. We do not propose to continue along that line.
At this stage I am pleased to say that agreement has been reached with the airlines on the amount of increase in air navigation charges. They are not happy about it, and I do not blame them for not being happy about it, but at least they recognise the facts of life. What the Government is doing is fairly reasonable. Over the next 5 years the Government will seek an 80 per cent recovery.
– You did not support that when in Opposition.
– For the information of the honourable member, for about 12 years I rose in my place on the Opposition side of the chamber and always supported the previous Government’s increases in air navigation charges. Both the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and myself were always the first 2 speakers on the Opposition side supporting an increase in air navigation charges. We consistently and continually drew attention to the anomalous position whereby the LiberalCountry Party Government was prepared to subsidise the luxury form of transport, namely air travel, and was not prepared to do anything about the more down-to-earth form of travel, namely, rail transport which was fully dependent on and maintained by the States. We are consistent and we have been consistent all the way through. When the honourable member talks about being consistent he had better be more aware of his facts and figures.
– Tell us what you did in the Senate.
– We rejected, as did some Liberal Party members, the previous Government’s proposal for a head tax. We did not agree with the imposition of a head tax, and we rejected it. We have not yet introduced a head tax. When we do the honourable member can make a similar speech to that made by some of our people in the other place, but until then he should keep his tongue firmly between his teeth.
The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) took me to task over the now concluded dispute involving the Professional Radio Employees Institute, which was settled this afternoon. He accused me of not being interested in it, of doing nothing and of not coming out and making public statements on it. He might be a pretty good legal man. I do not claim to be a good industrial man, but I learned something many years ago in my experience in trade union affairs. One of the best ways to keep a strike going and the best way to create situations in which things have to be patched up after people have said things that they would love to cut their tongues out for at some later stage, is to come out and make public statements on these things. This is where one gets oneself into trouble. Any experienced trade unionist knows that the less one says about a dispute, the easier it is to fix it up. It may be of interest to honourable members to know that there has hardly been a day gone by in the time since that strike started that officers of the Department of Civil Aviation have not telephoned me or I have not telephoned them - invariably they rang me - to give a progress report on discussions which have taken place between themselves, the people involved in the dispute, the people associated with it, the Chairman of the Public Service Board, the representatives from the Australian Council of Trade Unions and representatives of the PREI.
Honourable members can rest assured that we never stopped moving on the dispute but we did it in the right and the sensible way whereby a settlement of a difficult situation can be brought about. Coming out and beating one’s breast in the Press and on television and radio does not settle industrial disputes. I made a statement last Wednesday which was the second I had made in relation to that dispute. I had made one earlier which was very mild. Both my statements last week were very mild. At least the dispute was settled. I suggest that the honourable member for New England might go to Sydney and give his friend Askin some help to see what can be done to settle the power dispute which has been going on for God knows how many months.
– They do not want it settled.
– Of course they do not want it settled. They are trying to stir it up again. When the honourable member for New England talks about industrial disputes he should consider the ‘Echuca’ dispute.
– Talk about the estimates.
– This is all dealing with the estimates. These are all questions that were raised, in the main, by the honourable member’s colleagues. The ‘Echuca’ dispute which involved the PREI, cost the Australian National Line $2m. What did the then Minister for Shipping and Transport, the honourable member for New England, do about that dispute? Where was this great prowess that he claims to have for settling industrial disputes? Why did he not apply it to that dispute and to a few other industrial disputes that were in existence at that time? I suggest that there is only one way of trying to settle industrial disputes. You do not settle them by making statements in the Press. The more that is said the more that has to be retracted.
The honourable member for New England also raised some questions about the money to be spent on developing country airports. In this year’s estimates money has been allocated for this type of development and for local ownership. A sum of $385,000 has been allocated for development and $600,000 for maintenance. In the main this is the average of what has been allocated in previous years, so the honourable member for New England can rest assured that we will continue to maintain airports as and when required. Once again he has performed the usual LiberalCountry Party act of making a belated demand for something to be done in his own electorate. He has probably been the honourable member for New England for 7 or 8 years, since Mr Drummond retired some years ago. I noticed that the honourable member has just returned to the chamber. He had any amount of opportunities in the time that he was Minister for Shipping and Transport to do something about his home town electorate and airport. When its turn comes round we certainly will deal with it. These are the things which annoy me. We had a Liberal-Country Party Government for 23 years-
– Like Galston?
– Yes. At least we made a decision; that is more than you guys did. You fellows were here. You sat on reports. You were not prepared to make decisions. You just shelved them one after the other. It took from 1969 to 1970 to decide whether you would do something. Then you received a report at the end of 1970, sat on it until 1971 and did nothing about it. I do not want to hear from members of that do nothing
Government. The matter was adjourned and put on the shelf. Do not let us look at your record, boy. That is why you are in Opposition today.
The next point the honourable member for New England raised was the appointment of the new Secretary of the Department of Transport and Civil Aviation. He was my selection. He was my recommendation. The Prime Minister concurred with it. If I think he is the best man, I will appoint him to the job. I recognise that we have some good public servants in Australia. I have the greatest appreciation for the assistance given to me in my 10 months as Minister by members of the Department of Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation. I have received the maximum co-operation and assistance from my 2 departments. At the same time I am sorry to say that both Sir Donald Anderson and Mr Mal Summers were not available for this position. It became vacant and I took the action I did. I am prepared to stand up and debate with anyone the relative merits of my action. I have not been critical at any time of the appointment of Americans or others to Australian companies. So I am probably pure on this question. I am free to do as I think fit and to do what I think is right. I did what I thought was right.
I turn now to Australian flag vessels. We are moving to have greater Australian involvement in our overseas shipping. It will please honourable members to know that the Australian Enterprise’ and the ‘Australian Endeavour’ are now operating profitably. We hope to expand our participation in overseas affairs. Recently I had a most fruitful discussion with my counterpart from New Zealand, Sir Basil Arthur, and we agreed that Australia has a part to play in the transTasman trade. As a result of this I am hopeful that at a very early date Australia will have ships in the trans-Tasman trade. The trade unions - those villainous organisations about which the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) talks - have had discussions. Just in that field alone I think that the Government has had a very fruitful 10 months.
Honourable members opposite have questioned where we are going in the shipbuilding industry. I thank the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) for his comments on shipbuilding. The fact is that, even though the Opposition has not any confidence in the Government, the shipping industry has. If one examines the position in the shipbuilding industry in Australia today one finds that when the Labor Party took over on 2 December there were 39 vessels under construction, and today there are 75. In December 1972 the number of vessels on which tenders had closed but no orders had been placed was seven and on 8 October it was 33. On 2 December 1972 the number of vessels on which tenders had been called was 2 and today it is 24. The number of vessels on which tenders may be called was 17, and today it is 6. In those 4 categories there were 65 ships under construction or intended construction on 2 December, and today there are 138.
Admittedly, many of those are prawn vessels and ships of about that tonnage, but the Government has indicated to the ship owners by its action that no more permits will be issued next year and they are now placing orders in Australia for ships and are maintaining a number of very small yards which are quite expert in the field of small ship construction. As far as larger ships are concerned, I do not want to go through the whole list but if at any time any honourable member wants a copy of it he can obtain it from my office. He will see that even the larger ship owners today are able to plan their shipbuilding orders 4, 5 or 6 years in advance.
The honourable member for Mackellar expressed his great support for public transport. He is another bloke who was a member of the Government which was here for 23 years. For 23 years it gave nothing to public transport. Suddenly, now that we are doing something about it - we have provided $32m in this year’s estimates - honourable members opposite want to jump on the bandwagon and to tell us what a great thing it is that the Federal Government should be interested in public transport. Why did they not do something about it? This Government acted. It is doing something about it and it will continue to do something about it. The $32m in the estimates this year is the first allocation and there will be more next year.
The same thing can be said about the honourable member for Petrie, who raised the question of the electrification of the suburban railway system in Brisbane. I am informed that the Labor Government which was defeated there in 1957 was getting on with the job. John Duggan, who was the Labor Minister of Transport at that time was getting on with the job and it would have been well and truly completed today if that tragic Country Party-Liberal Party Government had not been elected and if the unfortunate split in the Labor Party had not taken place at that time. So Queensland was most unfortunate that the Labor Party went out of office there. The honourable member can rest assured that the Australian Labor Party Government will take up where the Queensland Labor Party Government left off in 1957.
Money already has been allocated in this year’s estimates to get on with the job. We already have taken part in a survey to determine the types of trains and what is required in electrification and in providing suburban services there. We already are getting on with the job and we will keep on with it. As the Queensland Government brings forward programs to us, they will be evaluated and money will be provided on the basis of $2 for $1. The honourable member need not worry about it. The Labor Party will be getting on with the job of providing urban transport for Queensland, and Brisbane in particular, and we will not abandon it as the honourable member’s Party did when it was elected in 1957.
– They sold Brisbane out.
– They sold a lot of it out. That is the situation. If the honourable member for Petrie wants to know what is available, I will give him the paper or incorporate it in Hansard, whichever he wants me to do. The honourable member for Mackellar once again came out with the usual anti-com, hate the unions bogy. After all, the moon is just about full now, so we expect this type of thing from him.
As far as freeways are concerned, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) and I have stated that we do not agree with all the freeway proposals that have been put forward by the States. I do not propose to back out of that. I do not think that all freeways are good and I do not think that they are all bad, either. But there are too many of them. This has been brought about by the backward thinking of the last 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government. All it wanted to do was allocate money for the construction of roads. It was not prepared to do anything about providing money for public transport. The result was that the States became road orientated in their thinking. They wanted to build roads, freeways and all the rest of it. We have to try to profit by the mistakes that have been made in the United States of America, Canada and Europe where there are some beautifully constructed freeways, tollways and expressways. In Los Angeles, which has probably the greatest system of freeways in the world, the result there is that the people are nearly choking themselves to death with the smog from the motor car.
The Government does not propose to see Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and our other cities developed into that situation. It will not proceed to adopt and accept the road programs that have been put forward by the States. It proposes to have a national highways system. It proposes to provide money for the roads which it believes should be constructed in the interests of the people of this country. That applies also to what the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) had to say about the Sturt Highway. If we had had a LiberalCountry Party Government here forever we would never have had the road completed. We believe that there should be a national highway system under which roads such as that and the Eyre Highway will be completed. We propose to think nationally and not in the parochial fashion in which States think.
The honourable member for Grey referred to conditions, allowances, etc., for employees of the Commonwealth Railways. It was unfortunate that just recently there was a stoppage by these employees. The first I knew about it was when it actually started. I was not approached in advance of it. When I was approached on it we took the necessary action to get someone to go to the area where the dispute was and try to settle it. As the honourable member for Grey stated, thanks to his intervention and bringing the facts to my attention we have been able at least to get somewhere, and these people are now better able to live with the conditions that exist.
I turn next to concrete sleepers. The former Country Party Minister for Shipping and Transport made a political decision on the eve of the last elections to abandon the idea of using concrete sleepers in favour of timber sleepers, notwithstanding the fact that the Bureau of Transport Economics had clearly established that concrete sleepers at that time were a much better proposition than timber sleepers were. We have had the whole question investigated and closely examined. I have had representations from the Minister for Forests in Western Australia, and the same thing in reverse from the Minister for Transport in South Australia. As a result of this, submissions were made to us by the 2 groups - the timber group and the concrete group. We have had them examined, and the result is that there is no doubt - it is unquestionable - that at the prices which were being quoted at that time concrete was a much better proposition. Since then we have called fresh tenders so as to permit the concrete and timber groups to submit fresh tenders, and I hope in the next couple of days to be in a position to announce the result of those inquiries, which will not displease the honourable member for Grey.
I conclude by referring’ to one other matter. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) quoted me as saying that I was determined to put Connair Pty Ltd out of business. What I said, if I recall correctly, was that we would set out to break up the racket that had been perpetuated by the previous Government which had made an agreement under most favourable conditions with Connair. I say this to the honourable member for the Northern Territory: I challenge Connair to tear up its Liberal-Country Party handout, feather bedding, cost plus contract and to renegotiate with the Government a realistic contract with a reasonable measure of risk being accepted by Connair. This is the situation. If it is prepared to tear the contract up we will enter into a more realistic and practical one - not a new one like the previous Government negotiated with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd and which was ratified by this Parliament in one of the last Liberal-Country Party Government Bills to go through this place. Ansett was shrewd enough to know that the previous Government had had it and therefore he got himself a new agreement which takes him through to 1982. These are the facts of life. Let us deal with this question of Connair. The honourable member for the Northern Territory said that I was trying to put it out of business.
– You just said you did.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The Deputy Leader of the Country Party will cease interjecting.
– The Deputy Leader of the Country Party says that we are trying to put Connair out of business. What I did was to challenge it to tear up the agreement which his former Leader negotiated with it and which put it in a most favourable position. Tear it up and let us get into what the Opposition talks about - a truly com petitive, free enterprise situation. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party would not be m that under any circumstances because he knows who negotiated the existing agreement and why it was negotiated. That is the situation.
– You are not prepared to let it run as a normal business.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member for die Northern Territory has already spoken in this debate.
– He does not know what he is talking about.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting or I will deal with him.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, please do not throw him out. I want to rubbish him completely in dealing with him. He says that I am trying to put Connair out of business.
– You said it yourself.
– I did not say it.
– That is what you said.
– I did not say it.
– You said: ‘We will make other arrangements’.
– I challenged Connair and I challenge the honourable member as a former director. You were a former director, were you not?
– You said that you would make other arrangements.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Minister will ignore the disorderly interjections.
– ‘Face up to it. That is what you said.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I will not warn the honourable member for the Northern Territory again.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, it would be interesting if you could tell me whether the honourable member for the Northern Territory was a director of Connair.
– Of course I was a director of Connair.
– He might have an axe to grind. Let me conclude on this point: The honourable member is a bit unlucky, because before I came into the Parliament after dinner I signed papers which actually authorised the purchase of a DC3 aircraft by Connair. Is that the action of a Minister who is going to put it out of business? I also took other action, which was not as a result of any request from Connair, to give it some assistance and to give its workshops an opportunity to do work. I have asked that in future, instead of Trans-Australia Airlines placing its maintenance work on any Northern Territory aerial medical service aeroplanes, it be thrown open to tender. Connair can tender for it and if it puts in the right price it can have it. These are the facts. I have no personal grudge against Connair, but I have a complete abhorrence of the feather bedding that was indulged in by the former Government, in this case by the former Leader of the Country Party in particular. We do not propose to live forever with the feather bedding that has taken place. We propose to take whatever action we can so that at least Connair is put on a competitive basis and if other people want to move into the field they can do so. Honourable members opposite talk about free enterprise but they never practise it. That is the situation. Mention was made of the air conditioning of the Darwin Airport. Once again we had 23 years during which the Liberal Government did nothing about it. At least we will give it a go.
Mr DONALD CAMERON (Griffith)- Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. The Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) mentioned at the beginning of his speech that the allocation for the Brisbane Airport had not been included in the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation and he pointed out that it was included in the estimates for the Department of Services and Property. He was suggesting that I am a little incapable of understanding the Appropriation Bill (No. 1). I have read carefully through the allocation for other departments and there is no mention of the Sim for Brisbane and the S3m for Petrie. I would like some explanation as to where this money is so carefully hidden, because I am of the firm belief-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member will not debate the question. He has made his personal explanation.
-It is only because of my persistence that the Minister has moved on the Brisbane Airport.
Mr SINCLAIR (New England)- Mr Deputy Chairman, 1 wish to make a persona) explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do, on 2 counts. First of all an allegation was made when 1 was not in the chamber as to my role or nonparticipation - I do not know the exact nature of the statement - in a dispute involving the vessel ‘Echuca’. The suggestion was that my non-intervention was paralleled by the nonintervention by the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) in the dispute involving professional radio operators at Australian airports. I inform the Parliament that immediately on learning of the dispute involving the ‘Echuca’ I endeavoured to bring the parties together. The dispute itself in no way inconvenienced the Australian public in the way that the airlines dispute did. The only other occasion when there was an industrial dispute of a significant nature during my administration was when there were some troubles involving the Australian National Line and the Australian waterfront and I flew back from Hong Kong rather than continue on to some fairly important discussions in Sweden.
The second misrepresentation by the Minister related to the allegation that I did nothing to further the advancement of construction of the airport at Tamworth. In fact the program for the reconstruction of Tamworth airport was intended for inclusion in the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation this year. It was excluded, as I understand it, only as a result of the reconsideration of the program of forward construction by the Minister and by the Labor Government. For that reason I claim that the 2 allegations against me were not justified and, in fact, reflect the Minister’s own inability to understand the extremely complex problems in which he should have been personally involved in terms of the resolution of the Sydney airport.
– It was not my intention to take part in this debate tonight until I heard the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) refer to the current dispute in New South Wales. I think he used the expression that Askin was trying to keep the dispute going. He was referring to the 35-hour week dispute. Now that you, Mr Deputy Chairman, have not corrected me, I take it that you concur that the Minister did say this. I should like to place on record where the true cause of this dispute lies. I should like to quote to the Committee a report from the Tribune’ which is a quite well read paper of the Communist Party of Australia. This copy of the Tribune’ is dated 26 June 1973 and the article deals with rank and file control. (Government supporters interjecting.)
– I should like the interjectors to speak up so that I can hear what they are saying.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Boothby address the Chair and ignore the interjections.
– I can see the interjectors mouth moving but I cannot hear what he is saying. The honourable member tends to slur his words a bit.- Under the heading ‘Rank and File Control’ the article in this newspaper states:
The struggle for the 35-hour week is being led and completely controlled by the rank and file elected job committees.
I do not think that one could ever say that Sir Robert Askin is a member of one of those committees. The report continues:
Two rank and file co-ordinators have been elected, one from the wage division and one from the salary division, by the rank and file 35-hour State-wide committee.
This is the committee about which we are talking. The article continues:
A sub-committee of the New South Wales Labor Council to mobilise and co-ordinate the struggle . . .
This is the struggle to gain a 35-hour week in this particular industry. I note, Mr Deputy Chairman, that you are speaking to the Clerk but I draw your attention to the fact that the Minister mentioned this particular dispute and referred to the Premier of New South Wales. I feel, therefore, that it is proper for me to take part in the debate on that basis.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member for Boothby is entitled to make passing reference to these matters but I point out that the expenditure before the
Committee is that of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Transport.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. . I think that is a proper point for you to make. I would suggest that this sort of action will itself be manifest within the Department of Civil Aviation and every other Commonwealth department within the life of this Parliament as long as we have a Labor Party Government which will surrender itself to the trade union movement, particularly to the left wing unions. That is my passing reference. Carrying on with passing references, I should like to refer also to a report-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! I hope that the honourable member will not carry on with his passing references for too long.
– No, I have finished the passing reference but I think it is important that the Minister for Civil Aviation be informed o! some of these things because he has a trade union background in New South Wales. However, I think that probably he is a little out of touch with what is happening in New South Wales at the moment. I should like to read to him and to the Committee a report from the. Tribune’ of 23 May.
– I rise on a point of order. I suggest that your ruling, Mr Deputy Chairman, that this digression had some relevance but a limited and passing one is now being flouted.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! On the point of order, unfortunately I am not aware of the contents of the document from which the honourable member for Boothby is about to read. If it has no relevance, I will, of course, rule him out of order.
– I think it is entirely relevant 1 thank the Minister who introduced this subject because this particular reference deals with the breakdown of the composition of dele, gates - 446 to be precise - who attended the National Workers Control Conference in Newcastle last Easter. These figures have only recently been released by the conference planning committee. It has been very hard to find this information. Of those delegates present, 300 came from New South Wales and the report, which I will not push-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Will the honourable member for Boothby please relate this matter to the estimates of the Dep- artment of Civil Aviation and the Department of Transport? Otherwise I must ask him to resume his seat.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. I am endeavouring to relate the figures from this report to the statement of the Minister a few moments ago that Sir Robert Askin and his Government were responsible for the power shortages in New South Wales. I do not know why he introduced this matter because it had nothing to do with the Department of Civil Aviation estimates, but he did introduce it.
– I did not raise it; it was the honourable member for Mackellar.
– The Minister said it, he talked about this and all I seek to do is to place on record some of the background of this committee which is seeking a 35-hour week in industry throughout Australia. This will involve the Department of Civil Aviation and other parts of the portfolio administered in a rough sort of way by the Minister for Transport and whatever other portfolios he holds. It is important to understand the background of this 35-hour week committee. I make the point that the largest delegation from any union was composed of Australian Metal Workers Union members headed by Laurie Carmichael. Then came the Builders Labourers Federation-
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I rise on a point of order. None of the matters raised by the honourable member for Boothby has been related to the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation yet. I suggest he is out of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! I uphold the point of order. I have listened with a great deal of care to what the honourable member for Boothby is saying. I believe he is not referring to the estimates before the Committee. I ask him either to return to those estimates or to resume his seat.
Mir McLEAY - Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. Civil aviation is an extremely significant part of our transport industry. It is, in my view, being maladministered by the Minister for Civil Aviation and Minister for Transport. In fact he has said things which are totally untrue about the previous Government not doing anything about the Brisbane Airport. I know, from the short experience I had in the Department, that had it not been for this Government and if the Opposition were still in government the plans for Brisbane Airport would have proceeded and the Brisbane Airport would have been the best airport in the whole of the Commonwealth. To say that this has nothing to do with the Department of Civil Aviation estimates would be quite incorrect. I am dealing also with that section of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 which relates to salaries and payments in the nature of salary, travelling and subsistence and other allied matters. I refer in particular to the matter drawn to the attention of this Committee by the Minister when he referred to Sir Robert Askin and the 35-Hour Week Committee. I wish to place on record the composition of this committee because it includes delegates from the Australian Metal Workers Union, the Builders Labourers Federation-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member is defying my ruling by returning to a matter which I have already ruled was irrelevant.
– I defer to your ruling, of course, Mr Deputy Chairman, but the Minister himself introduced this matter. If it had not been for what the Minister introduced I would have been in my office doing other work, which I consider to be even more important than discussing these estimates, but because of his provocative, unfair attack upon Sir Robert Askin I felt disposed to take some part in the debate. I draw attention to the fact that it is not Sir Robert Askin who has exacerbated this dispute but the 35-Hour Week Committee. Surely to heavens that is within the realms of this debate. I am dealing with the members who comprise the 35-Hour Week Committee and I am making the point that the 35-Hour Week Committee is run by leftists, communists, Trotskyites and whatever they like to call themselves. I am identifying them. I do not think that in doing so I am transgressing your ruling, Sir. I have referred to the AMWU.
– In what part of the estimates is it referred to?
– In the part with which the Minister dealt.
– What part was that?
– In relation to what part did the Minister have something to say about Sir Robert Askin?
– What part was that?
– It is the same part. I have already identified the Builders Labourers Federation. Jack Mundey is hardly a moderate in the trade union movement. The Waterside Workers Federation sent delegates to the 35- Hour Week Committee-
– I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman.
– Here comes one of the bleating lefties-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to speak to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. The Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) seems to think that it is detrimental to have been on the board of a developmental airline. It so happens that I was a member of the board of Connellan Airways. I am not trying to hide that fact. I resigned from the board of Connellan Airways because I knew very well that his colleagues would consider my position on it to be some sort of political angle on which they could attack me when I first stood at a House of Representatives election - and they did. But they did not know that I knew that that would be their form and I had resigned previously. Why should I not have been on the board of Connellan Airways? I built the airstrips for it, I flew for it and I would have had more experience of the conditions that prevailed in the part of the Northern Territory in which it operates than the Minister or anyone else. I am not ashamed of having been on the board of Connellan Airways, which is now known as Connair Pty Ltd.
The Minister referred to a racket involving Connair. I draw his attention to his previous statement that he would make other arrangements. I pay him a compliment for what he did in signing the contract for Connair to fly 2 DC3s. Uneconomic though they may be, at least Connair is to be allowed to escalate its services. I do not know whether Connair will be able to do so economically, but by all means let it face up to the competition that is about. I hope that the Minister, being a fair man, will allow Connair to hire or run prop-jet aircraft and earn an income with them if it can. Connair has an engineering set-up and staff which are just as efficient as those of Trans-Australia Airlines. The members of its staff live in central Australia and know the central Australian conditions. They can provide air services for - I will not quote the exact figure - half the price that TAA can, and the Minister knows it. So much for Connair; but I do appreciate the fact that the Minister is prepared to give Connair a go.
While I am on my feet I would like to refer to an entirely different subject, that is, charter aircraft operations off certain strips in the Northern Territory. The Minister will know that the recognised operators have to fly according to RPT - regular public transport - standards and meet very severe standards with regard to maintenance schedules and overhaul periods. The Minister will know the situation pertaining to the operations of the airstrip at Darwin. He also will know about the bandit operators - or whatever they are called - who haul passengers and freight out of mainly the Darwin airstrip in the face of the people who have to pay for the facilities provided and to maintain the Department of Civil Aviation’s strict standards, that is, the 2 recognised charter airline services. I will name them. They are Arnhem Air Charter and SAATAS. Connair, which is not so much in the charter business as in the business of providing a regular airline service, also could be included. One cannot run a proper charter business for peanuts. One has to insure one’s passengers, ensure that one’s maintenance schedules are kept up and so on. As well as the regular operators who operate off the airstrip at Darwin, there are many charter operators whose licences, operations, loads and maintenance schedules should be investigated by officers of the Department of Civil Aviation. They are ruining the light aircraft business in northern Australia. The light aircraft industry is of great importance to the people of the Northern Territory. The Minister should make a thorough check of the maintenance records of those who operate in this manner throughout the Territory. I am not attacking the Minister on this issue. I am quite serious about what I am saying.
– The honourable member sound awful vicious at the moment.
– As a former airline operator, why should I not be vicious? I plead with the Minister to look at this matter. These companies are in trouble or will be in trouble. People are running charter aircraft all around the place. The maintenance standards being adopted should be checked. I do not know whether the Department has an examiner of airmen in the area. It should have. I do not know what the Department’s maintenance checks are like. I understand that the Commonwealth Police are supposed to make arrests in these matters. That is just not good enough. The people who travel in aeroplanes have to be looked after insofar as insurance and all other relevant matters are concerned. I leave it to the Minister to sort out what is happening in Darwin with respect to the operations of illegal air charter operators.
– I want to make 2 very quick points. I know that the debate on the Estimates is to be interrupted at 10.15 p.m. The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) asked where the $lm for the acquisition of land at Brisbane has been provided for in the Estimates. It has been provided for in Division 940. 1.06 of the estimates for the Department of Services and Property. Division 940. J. 06 is a total allocation for the Department of Civil Aviation. The sum of Sim is included in it. It certainly is not spelt out as being Sim for Brisbane; but that is where the Sim has been provided for.
I appreciate the points that were just made by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). If there is any specific complaint that he wants to make about airline operations in the Northern Territory, I will be happy to receive a letter from him about them. The honourable member has questioned the safety of certain aircraft operations. He can rest assured that I will not permit any reduction in air safety standards. The Department of Civil Aviation will not agree to that either. If the honourable member has any specific complaints he wishes to make or if he wishes to refer to a particular incident, I will be happy to receive correspondence from him. Any correspondence I receive will receive the attention which any complaint from any member of Parliament or any other person is entitled to receive.
The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) again has referred to the strike involving the ‘Echuca’. He said that the strike did not cause any public inconvenience, as has the strike by technicians at airports. The fact of the matter is that that strike did cost the Australian National Line $2m and it did inconvenience many people at the time. The only solution members of the then Government had for a settlement of the strike by members of the Professional Radio Employees Institute was the bringing in of the Army,
Navy or Air Force. The former Minister for Shipping and Transport asked in this chamber on Tuesday why the Government did not bring in the Services in this instance. That would have been the previous Government’s solution to the problem. It would have had the whole of Australia involved in one hell of a confrontation.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins)Order! It being 15 minutes past 10 o’clock p.m. in accordance with the order of the House of 1 March, I shall report progress.
Floods in Victoria- Postal Services Television - Education
-Order! The question is:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Before mentioning tonight an issue that is vital to hundreds of towns throughout Australia, I wish first of all to thank the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) for his immediate attention to my request for Army support in the flood stricken areas of the electorate of Mallee recently. The arrival in Kerang of some 100 Army personnel the morning after I made a plea in this House for support was a great morale booster to the hundreds of volunteers, civil defence organisations and local, shire and State government authorities which had been battling for weeks to contain the worst floods in this district’s history. The prompt action of the Minister and his Department was most definitely the turning point in a critical situation and I express the gratitude of all concerned.
The announcement recently of a survey into some 300 post offices throughout Australia, because of financial difficulties they are presently experiencing has grave implications. The implications, of course, are that the Postmaster-General’s Department plans to downgrade or declassify to non-official status many of these offices, leaving reduced facilities and reduced services. This survey is being undertaken in a massive economy drive and most towns with a population of under 1,000 people appear to have been served with notice of this curtailment of service. I know that to a city orientated political party, and to this centralist Government, a town of up to 1,000 people can easily be dismissed as an expendable extremity. It gives a clear indication, I believe, of official thinking.
The services of the Australian Post Office should be available to all Australian citizens wherever they live. I make a request to the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) to recognise that every effort should be made in this age when man is bouncing satellite communications around the world to ensure that small but important communities have a continuing right to full post office facilities. Of course there is more at stake in these declassification proposals than simply the level of service available. Naturally in any business, whether it be public or private, economies are of major importance. But I have to be convinced that the minute savings that would be made by post office declassification in many rural centres will have any impact when compared with the unnecessary millions of dollars that are spent and often wasted in central areas of the Public Service. I am also to be convinced that it is at this level that the greatest economic savings can be made in this large government enterprise.
The Victorian President of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, Mr Pat Kirley said that his union would oppose the moves for declassification, and rightly so, but the unions also must be prepared perhaps to relax many of the rules and regulations of employment as they apply to official post offices in small centres. A marginal reduction in employment may he possible in many areas and this must be preferable to the complete removal of employment opportunities and most importantly the reduction in the number of promotion opportunities available to the staff of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The Director-General, in a letter to the post offices under survey, has stated that affected staff will be transferred to positions of equal classification. Where are those positions? Any duplication of staffing in any other larger centres surely will only accelerate the movement of those post offices also into the uneconomic area. The Director-General also states that temporary staff will be offered jobs at the non-official offices or attempts will be made to place them somewhere else in the town.
The level of unemployment is still high and is increasing in many rural communities. This is a vague and doubtful proposal. I have 7 post offices in my electorate under survey for declassification. They are Woomelang, Beulah,
Rainbow, Quambatook, Pyramid HAI, Jeparit and Nyah West. These post offices between them employ 50 people. Many of them are local people and many are career employees. Generally the post office can be regarded as a valuable aid to decentralisation. Many young people who would have been unable to find employment elsewhere have entered a valuable career offering opportunities of promotion. This fact cannot be under-rated in these days when governments are spending millions of dollars in an effort to curb metropolitan expansion and pollution. It is absurdity in the extreme that these areas offering anti-polluted living should be threatened with reduced services and become a target for official smallmindedness. The unions, too, in consultation would be in the best position to suggest ways of improving the business of the post office, such as it. the money order area, and other charges could be reduced to encourage business. Business has been falling off in recent years no doubt largely due to high charges and the fact that a severe rural crisis has curtailed spending in all fields. I am sure that the Post Office has felt the effects of this as well.
The Postmaster-General has let reason prevail in relation to the issue of newspaper postal charges and categorisation. I ask him now to consider very closely the adverse effects of any declassification program before taking action that will se : back the development of this country. In particular I emphasise to him that in many areas the householder delivery service is extremely important. I ask him whether he can give some definite guidelines on which post offices are likely to be changed in status. It is interesting to recall the positive approach of a developing Australia of past years when our post offices were established in most rural townships. Our leaders had faith in the future and we must encourage the same faith today. A post office in a township of 800 or so people - ‘that is a relative large community - employs between 5 and 10 people. Their wages help the economic life of these communities and of course provide tax revenue for the Government. I have no doubt that in the final analysis a large profit to the total community is the ultimate result.
As the Postmaster-General is aware, I have already made representations to him following a large protest meeting at Quambatook some weeks ago. I expressed then the concern of the subscribers of that town at the possible declassification of their post office. Rural people are naturally and understandably concerned at this Government’s attitude to the country areas. In the past 9 months country people’s rights have been quickly cut away and many are saying that this is just another step in the campaign. They regard this plan to investigate Post Office costs as another nail in the coffin of country centres. I ask the Postmaster-General not to regard these surveys findings only on an economic basis. There is much more at stake than just a physical closure of a building. The life of whole communities is being jeopardised and this life-style cannot be calculated by economic findings or by any Treasurer’s balance sheet. As Mr Kirley of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union said: ‘It doesn’t matter how small a community is, it has a right to full Post Office facilities.’ I believe it is ridiculous in an age when all countries are expanding their communication facilities that the Australian Post Office should decide to curtail ours.
– The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher), who has just spoken, was good enough to advise my office that he would be speaking on this matter during the debate on the adjournment motion tonight. I thank him for that courtesy because it gives me the chance to indicate to him that there are problems, particularly in the area of Mallee as there are in a number of other areas. Let us look at the matter from the point of view of whether or not it is a recent occurrence. I make the submission that it is not. The present set of circumstances has been the subject of a review since 1970. Admittedly political problems associated with the review prevented my predecessor from really carrying on the program. If one looks back in time it is quite clear that over a long period there will be this change in classification. Populations move. Growth centres are created. The result is that the population in other centres declines, unfortunate as that is. The honourable member would recognise that many councountry centres were established as being an equivalent distance from each other of a day’s travel by horse and sulky. Now it is the motor car which passes through these towns at a much faster speed. As a result, country people themselves are creating bigger centres which means a decline in other centres.
This is the problem that the Post Office faces. It is one Department that has to survive on its own revenue. It does not receive any subsidy from Consolidated Revenue. The loss this financial year in Post Office operations, despite the increases that have now been approved, will still run into $14m or $15m. In the mathematics of that situation, that loss must be paid for by telephone subscribers. This has always been the case. Perhaps it should not always be the case in the future. That is why a royal commission has been appointed to look at general aspects of administration of the Post Office, not the least of which is the method of financing it. While it can be said that the fact that a letter can be sent across Australia for 7c is commendable, we do not readily make a profit in respect of distance.
When we look at some of the areas which are now under review and which have been under review, there are some specific problems. The honourable member for Mallee was good enough to give me some warning of the subject that he intended to raise and I have had the opportunity to extract details of the post offices which are subject to review for de-classification. He mentioned Quambatook. The figures that I have for Quambatook - perhaps they are not correct; I would be happy to see any other figures - show that it is selling $13 worth of stamps a day. In a year, it takes $4,107 in stamp sales and it is costing $16,330 to keep open. If that post office is declassified to non-official status, there would be a saving of $10,000. Admittedly, people in Post Office employment can say that will mean that they will have to leave Quambatook. By the same token, from their point of view the assurance has been given that they will not be affected because they will be moved to an area where there is a greater chance of promotion. The services will be retained in the town and will be given to some other business to operate. This will make the service perhaps more viable and other people could be employed. No services would be removed from Quambatook. That does not necessarily sell the proposition because Quambatook is entitled to say that it does not want that to happen.
I turn to other post offices in the same area. Beulah is another one. It takes $15 a day. The annual wage bill is $18,610. I turn to Rainbow. The position there is a little better. It takes $28 a day, $8,808 in stamp sales each year. But the cost of running that post office is $17,<190. This is the problem that we face at the moment. This loss of approximately $3m must be looked at in the sense of saying we will not remove services from these areas but, by the same token, the losses will continue to increase. Can we continue in that fashion?
As the honourable member has said, people do not patronise the Post Office as much as they used to. They do not buy money orders as frequently as they used to. They use their own cheques now. Looking at the statistics with respect to money orders we find that their use has declined from 12 million to 5 million in the last 4 years. We have designed a new money order. We have a flat rate now, not the escalating rate which my predecessors always felt should apply. Former governments always said that the higher the value of the money order, the greater the fee that should be paid. The result was that everybody went to the bank. We have a flat rate charge for money orders now. Our money order is designed as a cheque, and unnecessary duplication is done away with. But it remains to be seen whether people will patronise the new money order service to the extent that we will get back that business. Why do not State governments give us a hand in the sense that post offices could act as agencies for the licensing of motor vehicles or could provide other State services. These matters ought to be looked at. But State governments are more interested in establishing their own offices.
The Post Office must look at all of these matters in the context of what is reasonable. I give the honourable member this assurance: I will look at any reasonable proposition. I am happy for the district postal managers in all of these towns to discuss these matters with the townspeople to determine how they think Post Office business can be improved. But it cannot continue on this basis.
Although the honourable member did not raise this matter, and although I do not wish to worry him too much, there are a number of non-official post offices in his electorate which cause concern. One is Detpa which takes $83 in a year but which costs $800 to operate. Another is Pira which takes $74 a year but which costs $1,200 to operate. So the story goes on. Is it any wonder that some responsible person in the Post Office administration says ‘Let us have a look at the situation’. The Treasury and everybody else is asking: How do you expect to keep these offices on the basis that what you have can be maintained and continue in the way it exists? The provision of these services will run into ever increasing losses. What about looking at a viable alternative?’
I only mention that to the honourable member because he is one of a number of honourable members who is involved in this area. I say this in the context of being reasonable. There will be no immediate closing down or downgrading of post offices. Such action will be gradual in the context of what is reasonable. Such action will not be taken if a good case is put up to show that a post office operation is reasonably viable. It does not need to be profit making. The problem is there, stark, staring, and has been for some time. In some cases, the problem is accelerating.
One is not doing a service to people in the employment of the Post Office by leaving them in areas which are declining and decadent. Perhaps the unions ought to look at whether these can be operated by one instead of three persons. This is a matter for the unions. I would love to see them look into it and agree to that course. They must get their thinking correct in this respect. I fully applaud the sentiments of Pat Kirley. The union concerned is not his. It is the Union of Postal Clerks and Telegraphists. It has an attitude of trying to resist the facts. I can understand that. It believes that there must be some other way. I have talked to union officers about the matter and they say: ‘Why can we not get some other business?’ We would like to do that. I know that in the past when pensions were paid in cash that was deemed to be a good thing. But I do not think that any pensioner thought that it was a good thing to have to traipse up to a post office, stand in a queue and be identified by the multitude as being a pensioner. They would much rather receive payment by cheque. That is a reasonable situation.
If we look at the whole workload of the Post Office we see that it has declined because people will not patronise it. But in other areas, it has improved out of sight. New post offices are being established in growth centres where we have a good clientele. We bring our employees into those areas and provide them with greater promotional opportunities. I do not approach this matter on the basis that the Post Office is heading for the morgue all the time. The question is: Where are the viable populations? How can we transfer staff to them, unpleasant as this may be in some country centres? In fact, in some areas, all of the shops are gore. / u .’.hai is left is the non-official post office, and it is only a question of time before that goes too.
The honourable member ought not to look at the matter on the basis of a political issue. It is a hot one if he wants to get into it in the sense that nobody wants to close anything. There are no votes in that action; one only loses votes. I do not suggest that we keep these post offices open on the basis of propping up somebody in that respect. The honourable
-I thank the House.
– What about the totals as to telephones?
– There would be no real reduction in any of those other services. There will be no reduction. The honourable member by interjection has raised a point which obviously is exercising his mind as to whether there will be any downgrading of telephone facilities.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I wish to raise 2 matters. I will refer to the first quite briefly. On 26 September last in reply to a question put to him by my Leader, the right honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony), the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) stated:
The present scheme has been grossly abused by the Premier of Queensland, to name one who has grossly abused the scheme.
He was referring to the non-metropolitan unemployment relief. He went on to say:
He has used Commonwealth money to channel financial assistance to the Brisbane City Council - the amount is some $280,000 - when the real need in Queensland is in country areas and not in the Brisbane City Council area at all.
In doing so whether knowingly or not he was actually criticising an action taken by the mei.;l:.: .;.:».- io ico’- at the details of the statistics for the electorate of Mallee. I would be pleased to hear any representations from him or from anybody else on what can be done in relation to those individual cases. I ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard the details of the information that I have given.
-Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Alderman Clem Jones who I might mention is a personal friend of mine and someone for whom I have almost a real affection. However, if I may I will present the facts to the House.
On 14 February last year the previous Federal Government at the Premier’s Conference allotted Queensland an extra $10m including a special grant of $2.<25m for rual unemployment relief. The next day, 15 February, the Australian Labor Party Lord Mayor of Brisbane Alderman Clem Jones stated in the ‘Courier-Mail’ that the Queensland Premier, Mr Bjelke Petersen, had sold Brisbane right down the line in not demanding money for unemployment relief in Brisbane. Alderman Clem Jones said:
No one denied the need to spend money to relieve unemployment in country areas -
That is typical of him because he is a fairminded man - but Brisbane had almost 50 per cent of Queensland’s population and 50 per cent of the unemployed, yet . was not to receive a single cent.
This was last year of course. On 18 February, 3 days later, the Treasurer and Liberal Leader in Queensland, Sir Gordon Chalk, demanded a special grant of $lm for Brisbane unemployed. The next day the then Minister for National Development Mr Swartz said that
Queensland could use any or all of its allocation in Brisbane or directed through the Brisbane City Council. That same day Alderman Jones claimed that Mr Bjelke Petersen had stopped the allocation of funds at the Premiers’ Conference.
On 23 February last year the Queensland Cabinet approved the granting of funds out of its allocation to the Brisbane City Council to create 500 jobs. The Lord Mayor, Alderman Jones and the then A.L.P. Federal President, Mr Tom Burns, were both quoted as saying that the Premier was interested only in the country and had given the bulk of its funds to country areas. This is in contrast to what was claimed by the Minister for Labour. I just want to clarify the position and put it on record.
The main matter on which I want to speak tonight is the provision of television stations for areas which I and the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) represent and also areas represented by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and one or two other honourable members. We have been struggling in our attempts to build up in the minds of the Australian public the fact that the people in these areas are deprived of most amenities. The people in that part of the world have been waiting for 10 to 15 years for any sort of television service. If I am speaking vehemently I am speaking no more vehemently than when I spoke during the course of the term of the previous Government. It is not just a matter of coming forward now and taking pieces off this Government. Like the honourable member for Maranoa, over a period of many years, I have had a consistent point of view on this matter.
Finally, we are told that the areas we rep.resent are to receive the services of a certain number of stations. Admittedly, the stations are not going to be renowned for the areas over which they will provide a television signal and this is most regrettable. However, I suppose we were pleased that we were going to get some sort of television service. I asked question after question on this matter and wrote letters continuously, particularly this year. I think I wrote about 6 letters and telegrams before I was able to get any sort of precise information.
The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) in good faith I am sure, on the advice of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, gave us details as to when these tele vision stations would be operating in our areas. They were to be installed in the electorate of Kennedy. A program in writing was given to me setting out information quite specifically for which I was most grateful and which I publicised widely because I had previously (been given nebulous information over the whole of this year. At last I was able to tell cur people that they were going to have a television station, after years and years, by December 1973. This was one of the specific details which were provided.
However, quite by chance I have found out something. Let me impress this on the Control Board. I was at a conference last week in Julia Creek and in the text of a telegram dealing with something else - admittedly it dealt with television but not with programming - it was pointed out that some of the stations which had been mentioned would not now be in operation by February 1974. 1 want to voice the most vehement protest about this bungling that has been going on and the way in which the people in these areas have been treated. The honourable member for Maranoa and these people and I have been treated as second rate citizens. First of all we were beggarised around. We received nebulous information - sidestepping information - from the Broadcasting Control Board. Both the responsible Ministers - Sir Alan Hulme and Senator Douglas McClelland - had to base their information on the information they received from the Control Board. I think that the Board had better pull up its socks and it had better treat the people of inland Queensland with a damn sight more respect.
I will now place on record the facts. I do not know whether the honourable member for Maranoa has received subsequent information but we had not received any information regarding this revised programming. I have not received it to this date. I am going to ask why. I am sure that the Minister will demand from the Control Board the reason for this shabby treatment not only of the representatives of thousands of people but also of those people themselves. This is not good enough and I voice my protest. I will certainly take the matter to the Minister and demand a precise statement - there will be no more kidstakes - as to when these stations will go into these areas. I will demand to know the reason why there has been this further delay and also why were were not advised as to why the delay has occurred.
– I would just like to add a few comments to what the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) has just said. It is true that there has been a delay in these stations going into operation in these areas. I received a letter from the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) advising me that the program was more or less on schedule. Only a week or so after that, Senator Milliner asked a question in the Senate and the Minister’s reply to him was that there would be a delay of some 2 months. I have not received any official notification of the change but I understand it was occasioned by a delay in the supply of some equipment. Nevertheless it is annoying to have these constant delays. I hope there will be a speeding up of the provision of these television stations.
I also want to speak tonight on the education of children and students who come from outlying areas. Many of the people in these areas have to send their children away to school and consequently they are dependent on schools which provide boarding facilities. There is a very real problem facing them in finding schools where boarding facilities can be provided. One of the reasons why the independent schools which provide this sort of accommodation are in trouble is that they are not getting the amount of assistance which I feel they are entitled to be receiving. I believe that the fairest way of distributing Government assistance to independent schools is by way of per capita payments to all independent schools. This Labor Government has made great play on the fact that per capita payments to all independent schools means that some well-endowed schools get assistance which otherwise could be provided for schools in greater need. That is the claim that this Government makes. The facts are that per capita payments to all independent schools are justified by the fact that all independent schools which undertake the education of students save the taxpayers of this country the difference between the amount of the per capita payments and the actual cost to the Government of educating students in government schools. Every parent in this nation is entitled to send his or her children to government schools irrespective of the financial position of the parents. If the Government is prepared to provide education in government schools for the children of wealthy parents without any discrimination as far as wealth is concerned then why should there be discrimination in relation to independent schools to which the Government pays only part of the costs? It is the principle of this that really counts, and it is this principle that is accepted by the independent schools association. Even though some schools may be in difficult financial circumstances, the association insists on its idea that all independent schools should get that per capita payment. I believe, and I am of the opinion that the majority of the independent schools believe that topping off some of the better endowed independent schools, as they are called, is simply the beginning of a continuing operation.
In regard to the schools that have been classified as worthy of some assistance, it is obvious that another group of these schools could be regarded as much better off financially than some other schools. So, they could take top off these schools further on the grounds that, perhaps, they could give some more money to the schools that are not quite so well off. I should like to cite an example of the anomalies that creep into this situation where per capita grants are not given to some schools. This Government has introduced the factor of the teacher-student ratio as one of the criteria in deciding whether a school should be placed in a certain category and receive a certain rate of assistance. If a school has strained its resources to the limit to provide the best possible teacher-student ratio, as some have done, it could be denied a level of assistance that would be given to a school which was better off financially but which bad not made the same effort to attain a better standard of teacher-student ratio. That is just one of the anomalies that could occur.
If the policy of the Government is to be followed through, it would be reasonable to assume that other schools could be deprived of the assistance that they have been getting because these schools are getting less assistance than they need to carry on because they are in a higher category, even though they are still in very difficult financial circumstances. I concede the point that there are schools in greater need than others, but they can be provided for by giving additional assistance to them over and above the per capita payments, if the Government wants to provide extra assistance to schools which it feels need extra assistance. Unless per capita grants are made to all schools, anomalies will continue to arise and I suggest that the Government should have a very careful look at the policy that it is adopting.
I believe - I think that many people hold this view - that the effort the Government is making is not so much with the idea of providing extra assistance for those schools that the Government claims are in greater need but rather with the idea of trying to bring all schools under government supervision and control. I believe that it is a better system to have government schools competing with nongovernment schools. I have the highest regard for the government schools; it is not that I am saying anything against them. I was proud to have been chairman of a state school committee, what would now be called a parents and citizens association. However, just to prove that this is not completely a party political matter, the Tasmanian Labor Government has rejected the policy adopted by this Government and it has retained the per capita grants and even the extra finance made available to non-state schools this year is to be distributed on the same basis as the per capita grants are distributed.
So I believe that it is reasonable for the Government to have a look at this method of providing assistance for the non-state schools. The policy that the Labor Government is adopting at present will exclude from assistance some 58,000 pupils and 105 schools. Let me repeat that all of those schools providing education for those 58,000 pupils are saving the Government the difference between the per capita grant that they would have received and the cost to the Government of providing education for those children. Even the newspaper the ‘Australian’ which I think most people would agree is at least fair to the Australian Labor Party, if it is not more than fair to it, said: The best way to deal with the problem would be to retain the per capita grants for all schools and give extra assistance to the poorer establishments which genuinely need it’. That is the line of action that I favour. I believe it is quite a reasonable policy to adopt and I simply mention the fact that the ‘Australian’ newspaper accepts it. I should like to emphasise one or two other items. In doing so, I should like to quote the decisions reached at the Australian Parents’ Council at its annual conference, 1973. The Council states:
These are the aims and objectives of the Australian Parents’ Council. They continue:
So, in promoting this proposal, I hope it will be noted. I regret that I did not give any warning to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) that I would be speaking tonight on this matter. I did not have my name down on the list of speakers on the adjournment debate and I will not be here tomorrow night. I regret that I did not give the Minister any warning. It is my normal practice; I have followed it in the past and I will continue to follow it in the future. I think it is a very good practice and should be continued. It is a very fair way of approaching a matter. I am glad that the Minister has at least come into the chamber at this late hour.
I believe that the matter to which I have referred is a very important aspect of the educational system. I know that the Minister for Education has done a very good job in many fields. Since he is in the chamber, I should like to say that I appreciate the assistance that has been given to the Isolated Children’s Association which I discussed with him before the change of government. I thank him for what he has done in that direction. I hope that in all fairness he will give serious consideration to trying to provide aid to those schools which are willing and able to provide the boarding facilities which many of these children are forced to use.
– I thank the honourable gentleman for raising this subject because I think it will give me a chance to dissipate certain misconceptions. Let us be perfectly clear about this question of boarding. Many schools have put in mistaken returns exactly on this element, and the consideration of these in appeal will no doubt change their classification. To illustrate this, I take the instance of, say, a house master who spends seveneighths of his time with the boarders and one-eighth with his teacher. He may have been put in the return and his full salary put in as a teacher. Let us say he was receiving $10,000 a year. If seven-eighths of his time was spent in the boarding school, looking after the children in resident and only one-eighth of his time as a teacher, he would not be worth $10,000 as a resource of that school but only $1,250. If he was put in the return as a full member of the staff, that would affect the category of the school. As this analysis does change the category of the schools, there are some schools which I think will drop through quite a number of categories. Boarding facilities, the cost of boarding and all those things are liabilities to a school and are not included in the level of assets, the recurring resources that would be taken into consideration for the day school aspect, and the Karmel report deals alone with the day school aspect.
Let me put to the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) that there are one or two other considerations that are never raised in this matter. In the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, like Louis XIV, *I am the State as well as the Commonwealth’, and we have been granting a State component grant to non-government schools and a Commonwealth grant. For instance, a school in the ACT that is classified A received $104 a year from the Commonwealth as our State grant and another $104 a year as our Commonwealth grant, making $208 altogether. If such a school is classified A, under the new proposals the Commonwealth grant will phase out but the State grant will continue. The Karmel report asks the States to continue grants. The real problem is in New South Wales where, with great respect, I draw the attention of honourable members opposite to the fact that the Liberal-Country Party Government gives nothing at the secondary level. It is the only government in Australia which gives nothing. The honourable gentleman has referred to the isolated children’s scheme. When I brought in the isolated children’s scheme the Western Australian Government went out of the isolated children’s scheme and used the $810,000 it saved to make grants to nongovernment schools and to raise them to the $104 level. The New South Wales Government makes a grant to families of $88 per child if the child is going to a private secondary school if the parental income is below $7,000 a year - this is the grant that will commence under the new New South Wales Budgetbut it is of no advantage to the school. If the child getting the $88 goes to a Catholic school whose fees are $150, that child pays $62 plus the $88. The school gets nothing but its $150 fees.
– What about the parents?
– The parents get the assistance. But the Opposition’s criticism is on grants to A class schools. The Opposition is not asking us -
– The school is made up of pupils.
– But the honourable gentleman will be aware that his own Government, in making the grant of $104 per secondary pupil and $62 per primary pupil, made those grants to the schools and it is the withdrawal of grants to the schools that we are discussing. If the honourable member wants to talk about assistance to parents, the isolated children’s grant is the phasing in form of assistance to parents. Our hardship grant to be introduced next year will be the phasing in of a form of assistance to parents. We hope to extend that right through the secondary level as time goes on.
– Will you in time apply a means test to parents of pupils in government schools in the way you have in the case of the private schools?
– There is no means test applied to the private schools. It is useless to talk about a means test applied to a school. A means test can be applied only to a parent. The Karmel exercise presupposed that the States make a basic grant to non-government schools, and on top of this the Commonwealth Government comes in. There are State schools created by the State governments, and there are private schools registered by the State governments. That is entirely an action of the State. The Commonwealth looked at the situation on both the State school side and the nongovernment school side and made an analysis of their resources. An average was taken -
– What about-
– ‘Please stop interrupting me if you want the matter explained. Thu is a difficult thing to explain. Just give me a chance if this is a serious debate. The Karmel analysis was that the resources deployed behind the education of an average child in State secondary schools was $511 per student. The Committee analysed the resources of the nongovernment schools on the information provided by the non-government schools themselves. The Committee found that the resources of those schools ranged from $204 a student to $1,380 a student - from 40 per cent of the State school average to 270 per cent of the State school average. The Karmel exercise, which no political party had ever anticipated, stated that a dignified standard of education for every child is 40 per cent above the existing State school level, which would be $715 per pupil at 1973 values of the dollar. It stated that all schools below that level should be raised to that level. To do that will cost $2,000m at the 1973 value of the dollar over 6 years. The school at the $1,380 level does not need to be raised to the $715 level.
– What about the State schools?
– The grants are weighted for State schools in precisely the same way. The States were asked to nominate disadvantaged schools. That is why there is a special grant for disadvantaged schools. There are special grants for the education of handicapped children, where there are very big gaps. The weighting is on both sides. This is why New South Wales and Victoria will be granted the greatest amount of money for disadvantaged schools. I am not in a position to answer the honourable member’s questions on A class schools. Some 180 schools-
-Order! It being 11 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.
House adjourned at 11 P.m,
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:
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) See report of Conference of Ministers tabled in House of Representatives on 29 August 1973.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Will he make available to the Opposition Parties copies of the working paper to which he referred in part (5) of his answer to question No. 86 (Hansard, 27 March 1973, page 758).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Because of a firm agreement entered into with the director of the population study, Professor W. D.
Borrie, concerning distribution of working papers pending the completion of the final report, I am unable to agree to this request.
asked the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The A.C’.T. Advisory Council is currently considering a suggestion that Reid House should be used as emergency accommodation for families in distressed circumstances. The future of the building is therefore still under consideration.
The development of specific accommodation for students is a matter for educational institutions in liaison with the Australian Commission on Advanced Education and the Australian Universities Commission. The Department of the Capital Territory has no funds or authority for construction.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Is it the intention of the Government to concentrate all aspects of animal quarantine and health, including live animal and semen imports and exports, in one Commonwealth Department; if so, which Department.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The whole matter of Veterinary responsibilities within the Australian Government is under consideration at the present time and it is expected that a decision will be made in the near future. At the present time responsibilities are divided between various departments and the Government has under consideration the establishment of a Bureau of Animal Health to bring most of its veterinary activities under one Department.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable members question:
The answer to this question is covered by the reply to the honourable member’s Question No. 848.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The recommendations of the Health Insurance Planning Committee relating to the honourable member’s questions are set out in paragraphs 3.60 to 3.67 of the Health Insurance Planning Committee’s Report.
The recommendations in the report are currently being discussed with the medical profession, other interested professional organisations and State governments. The Government intends to issue a paper shortly, after the views submitted to it by interested bodies have been fully considered, setting out its decisions regarding the recommendations in the report.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
and (2) (a) The Australian Council for the Arts will prepare a report on its operations for the calendar y ear 1973, and this report is expected to be published d aily in 1974.
Transport: Off-peak Travel (Question No. 861)
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
What action has the Government taken to provide grants to urban public transport authorities on the condition that they provide free off-peak travel.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Treasurer in his Budget Speech announced the provision of $32m this financial year for upgrading urban public transport services. This marks the commencement of a program of assistance to the States to provide efficient and economic public transport systems in Australian cities.
The development of this program with the States has been regarded as our top priority in the field of urban public transport.
The question of providing grants for free off peak travel has not been considered within the context of the assistance program. It will be examined at a later date in consultation with the State transport authorities.
Domiciliary Nursing CareBenefits (Question No. 882)
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Departmental procedures provide that in normal situations, an application is not to be rejected on medical grounds unless prior consultation has taken place between the patient’s doctor and a departmental medical officer.
A further common reason for rejection is that the patient’s age is less than 65 years. Section 58e (3) (b) provides that to be eligible, a patient must have attained the age of 65 years.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
MrHayden - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(3)Regular statistics are not maintained but, apart from tertiary training, most courses are completed within one year.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Wales, should commence operations by November 1973. No centres are planned for other States until the results achieved in these two experimental centres have been assessed.
Generally both centres will caterfor persons inthe 15-18 year age group.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
These statistics are based on numbers obtained when the training centres concerned were first accepted as being eligible for assistance under the Act. Updated figures are not available.
Subsidised Training Centres
New South Wales
A.C.T. Society for Crippled Children, Canberra.
Autistic Children’s Association of New South
Blue Mountains Handicapped Centre Ltd:
Eloura’ School, Leura.
Brothers of the Christian Schools: St Gabriel’s School for Deaf Boys, Castle Hill.
Catholic Church- Order of Dominican Sisters: St Lucy’s School for Blind and Visually Handicapped, Wahroonga.
Corpus Christie School for Deaf Girls, Waratab.
Santa Maria Del Monte Preparatory School, Strathfield.
Santa Sabena Girls’ High School, Strathfield.
Catholic Church- Order of Sisters of St Joseph: St Margaret’s Children’s Hospital, Darlington.
Council for Integrated Deaf Education: Shepherd Centre, Darlington.
Handicapped Children’s Association A.C.T. (Inc.) Koomarri House, Canberra.
Handicapped Children’s Centre, New South Wales, Kirrawee.
Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God: St John of God Training Centre, Morisset.
Illawarra Society for Crippled Children, Wollongong.
Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Home, Gore Hill
Miroma School, Vaucluse.
Newcastle and District Crippled Children’s Association, Cessnock Branch:
Cessnock and District Crippled Children’s School, Cessnock.
New South Wales Society for Crippled Children: Beverley Park Hospital and School for Crippled
Broderick School and Hospital School for
Crippled Children, Lakemba.
Cleaveland Hospital and School for Crippled Children, Sydney.
Manly/Warringah Hospital and School for Crippled Children, North Manly.
Northcott Hospital and School for Crippled Children, Parramatta.
St George Hospital and School for Crippled Children, Rockdale.
Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme, Manly.
Royal N.S.W. Institution for Deaf and Blind Children:
North Rocks School for the Blind, North Rocks.
North Rocks School for the Deaf, North Rocks.
North Rocks School for Deaf/Blind, North Rocks.
Special School for Trainable Deaf/Blind, North Rocks.
Schoalhaven Intellectually Handicapped Children’s Welfare Association: Havenlee’ School, Bomaderry.
Sisters of the Good Samaritan: Mater Dei Special School, Camden.
Spastic Centre of N.S.W.:
Mosman Centre, Mosman.
Newcastle Centre, Newcastle.
Society of St Vincent de Paul:
St Edmund’s School for Blind Boys, Wahroonga.
Southern Illawarra Intellectually Handicapped Children’s Welfare Association, Albion. Park.
Sub-normal Children’s Welfare Association: Armidale Branch, ‘Rusden House’ School, Armidale.
Bathurst Branch, ‘Gayray’ Special School, Bathurst.
Broken Hill Branch, ‘Silverlea’, Broken Hill.
Bowral - and District Branch, Tangara Special
Canowindra Branch, ‘Orana’ Special School, Canowindra.
Central Coast Branch, ‘Fairhaven’ School, Point Clare.
Clarence River Branch, ‘Caringa’ School, Grafton.
Coffs Harbour Branch, ‘Yalbillinga’ Special School, Coffs Harbour.
Cooinda Sub-normal Children’s Centre, Canley Vale.
Cooma Branch Children’s School, Cooma.
CowraBranch, Lachvale School, Cowra.
Crowle Home Branch, Crowle Home, Ryde.
Deniliquin Branch, ‘Yallambee’ School, Deniliquin.
Epping Branch, ‘Karonga’, Epping.
Fairfield-Liverpool Branch, ‘Anowah’ School, Cecil Park.
Gilgandra and District Branch, Biralee School for Retailed Children, Gilgandra.
Glendale Branch, Glendon Crescent Special School, Glendale.
Goulburn Branch, Crescent School, Goulburn.
Greater North Shore, ‘Eric Woodward Memorial’ School, St Ives.
Griffith Branch, ‘Kalinda’, Griffith.
Gunnedah and District Intellectually Handicapped Children Association, G. S. Kidd Memorial School, Gunnedah.
Hurstville Branch, ‘Sunnyhurst’, Penshurst.
Inverell Branch, Sinclair Place, Inverell.
Lakeside Branch, Lakeside Sub-normal Children’s School, Belmont Park.
Leeton Branch, Leeton.
Lithgow Branch, ‘Sunnybank’ School, Lithgow.
Macleay Branch, ‘Jack and Jill’ School, West Kempsey.
Maitland Branch, ‘Mai-Wel’ School, Maitland.
Manning River Branch, ‘Dundaloo’ School, Taree.
Moree Branch, ‘Gwydir’ School, Moree.
Muswellbrook Branch, Willow Brook School,
Nambucca District Branch, ‘Gayray’ Special School, Macksville.
Namoi Branch, Namoi Handicapped Children’s School, Wee Waa.
Nepean Branch, Thorndale’ School, Werrington.
Newcastle Branch, Delanda Crescent School, Waratah.
Orange and District Branch, Merryfields Special School, Orange.
Parramatta and Districts Branch, ‘Dunrossil’ School, Merrylands.
Richmond Valley Branch -
Kayleena’ School, Lismore.
Willunga Special School, Casino.
Biala Special School, Ballina.
Southern Highlands, ‘Southern Highlands’ School, Tumut.
South Sydney Branch, ‘Windgap’, Coogee.
St George Branch, ‘South Haven’ School, Kogarah.
Sydenham-Bankstown Branch, Lakemba.
Tamworth and District Branch, Tamworth.
Tweed District Branch, ‘Birralee’ School, Murwillumbah.
Louisa Johnson Special School, Bonalbo.
Wagga Wagga Branch, ‘Kurrajong’ School, Wagga.
Wauchope District Branch, ‘Q’ Robin School, Wauchope.
Western Suburbs Branch, Eurella House School, Burwood.
Westlakes Branch, Westlakes Special School, Toronto.
Westview Parkes Branch, Westview Special School, Parkes.
Wollongong Branch, Greenacres Special School, Wollongong.
Young Branch, ‘Bellhaven’ Special School, Young.
The Sunnyfield Association:
Sunnyfield Bay Centre School, Allambie Heights.
Warrah School, Dural.
Wheelchair and Disable Association of Australia, Westhaven Association:
Westhaven School, Dubbo.
Advisory Council for Children with Impaired Hearing:
Yarra Valley Church of England Boys’ Grammar School, Ringwood.
Blackburn Training Centre, Blackburn
Alberton Shire Retarded Children’s Association:
Maridong Day Training Centre, Yarram.
Box Hill and District Retarded and Spastic Children’s Association, Box Hill.
Central Highlands Asociation: Kindarring’, Kyneton.
Cooinda Retarded Children’s Centre, Yerang.
Corilong Centre for the Mentally Handicapped, Corio.
Croydon and District Retarded and Spastic Children’s Welfare Association, Croydon.
Dandenong and District Mentally Retarded Children’s Welfare Association:
Wallara Day Training Centre, Dandenong.
Benalla and District Association for the ‘Education of Handicapped Children, Benalla.
Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul: Marillac House, East Brighton.
St Mary’s School for the Deaf, Portsea.
Echuca and District Centre for Intellectually Handicapped Children:
Tehan House, Echuca.
Ferntree Gully and Districts Welfare Association for Intellectually Handicapped:
Knoxbrooke Training Centre, Ferntree Gully.
Geelong and District Association for the Welfare of Deaf Children, Geelong.
Geelong Mentally Handicapped Children’s Welfare Association, ‘Karingal’, East Geelong.
Goulburn Valley Centre for Intellectually Handicapped Children, Shepparton.
Helping Hand Association for Mentally Retarded Children:
Balwyn Branch, Balwyn.
Brighton and Districts Branch, ‘Bayley House’, Coburg and Districts, Coburg.
Coburg and District Branch, ‘Broadmeadows’, Coburg.
Ivanhoe Branch, Heidelberg.
Footscray and District Branch, Yarraville.
Latrobe Valley Branch, Cooinda Hill Training Centre, Traralgon.
Northcote-Preston Branch, Thornbury.
Sunshine and District Branch, Braybrook.
Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God ‘Churinga’,
Kyeema Centre for the Intellectually Handicapped, Portland.
Leon’s Club Day Training Centre for the Mentally Handicapped, Colac.
Kindilan School Society, Balnarring.
Mansfield Autistic Playschool, Mansfield.
Mentally Retarded Children’s Welfare Association: Oakleigh Retarded Children’s Centre, Chadstone.
Menzies Home for Children:
Mount Eliza College, Mt Eliza.
Mitcham Special School Parents and Friends Asso ciation, Mitcham.
Monash University, Dinah and Henry Krongold Centre, Clayton.
Mulleraterong Centre, Hamilton.
Nunawading and District Retarded and Spastic Children’s Welfare Association, Blackburn South.
North Gippsland Retarded Children’s Association: Kyndalyn’, Maffra.
North Eastern Centre for the Intellectually Handicapped: Killara’, Wangaratta.
Peninsula Retarded Children’s Welfare Association: Woorinyan, Frankston.
Richmond-Hawthorn Day Training Centre for Mentally Retarded Children, Richmond.
Rossbourne House, Hawthorn.
Royal Children’s Hospital School Auxiliary: Mt Eliza Day Special School, Mt Eliza.
Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind: Burwood Centre, Burwood.
St Arnaud and District Intellectually Handicapped Persons Welfare, St Arnaud.
Spastic Children’s Society of Victoria:
Bendigo Spastic Centre, Bendigo.
Chelsea and Peninsula Spastic Centre, Aspendale.
Chis-Lon Spastic Centre, Footscray.
Dame Mary Herring Spastic Centre, Armadale.
Marathon Spastic Centre, Toorak.
Northern Districts Spastic Centre, Pascoe Vale.
Shannon Park Spastic Centre, Geelong.
Swan Hill and District Centre for Intellectually Handicapped, Drill Hall, Swan Hill.
Victorian Autistic Children’s Association: Eastern Centre, Canterbury. Southern Centre, Black Rock.
Victorian School for Deaf Children:
St Kilda Road Centre, Prahran.
Princess Elizabeth Kindergarten for the Deaf, Burwood.
Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults: Training Centre, South Essendon. Training Centre, South Melbourne.
Sir Edgar and Lady Coles Kindergarten, East Burwood.
Villa Maria Society for the Blind Inc.:
St Paul’s School for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, Kew.
West Gippsland Retarded Children Centre, Warragul
Wangaratta and District Special Education Organisation, Wangaratta.
W. J. Christie Centre for Mentally Retarded Children, Mildura.
Wonthaggi and District Mentally Handicapped Children’s Welfare Association, Wonthaggi.
Woodbine Centre, Warracknabeal.
Yooralla Hospital School for Crippled Children: Balwyn Centre, Balwyn.
Carlton Centre, Carlton.
Glenroy Centre, Glenroy.
Yalunda Day Training Centre, Warrnambool.
Association for Pre-School Education of Deaf Children, Yeronga.
Association for the Welfare and Education of Deaf Children in North Queensland:
St Columban’s Convent School, Townsvllle.
Holy Spirit Convent School, Townsvllle.
Autistic Children’s Association of Queensland, West End.
Institute of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary: Xavier Hospital for Children, Coorparoo.
Multiple Handicapped Association of Queensland, New Farm.
Narbethong School for Visually Handicapped, Moreton Bay.
North Queensland Society for Crippled Children: Cootharinga, Townsville.
Presbyterian Church of Queensland:
W. R. Black Handicapped Children’s Home, Chelmer.
The Queensland Society for Crippled Children, Corinda.
Queensland Spastic Welfare League:
Sevenoaks, Fig Tree Pocket.
New Farm Training Centre, New Farm.
Rockhampton Training Centre, Rockhampton.
Toowoomba Training Centre, Toowoomba.
Maryborough Training Centre, Maryborough.
Queensland School for Deaf Children, Moreton Bay.
Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme, Redcliffe.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association:
Alkira School, Dalby.
Barlow House School, Mount Isa.
Bowen House Centre, Bowen Hills.
Bright Horizons School, Bundaberg.
Burke Park School, Ayr.
Caringa School, Maryborough.
Claremont Centre, Ipswich.
Cooinda Training School, Labrador.
Day School, Roma.
Hamewith Day School and Boarding School Toowoomba.
Innisfail Day School, Innisfail.
Kewarra School, Mackay.
Orana School, Cairns.
Radford House, Buranda.
Sylvania School, Nambour.
Toowong Centre, Toowong.
Townsville Branch, North Ward.
Gatton Centre, Gatton.
Rockhampton Centre, Rockhampton.
Kingaroy Centre, Kingaroy.
Stanthorpe Centre, Stanthorpe.
Gladstone Centre, Gladstone.
Gympie Centre, Gympie.
Association for Mentally Handicapped of Eyre Peninsula Inc.:
Whyalla Occupation Centre, Whyalla.
Port Augusta Centre, Port Augusta.
Catholic Church - Endowment Society Inc.:
St Patrick’s School for Handicapped Children Dulwich.
Central Districts Mentally Handicapped Children’s Association Inc.:
Barkuma Centre, Smithfield Plains.
Crippled Children’s Association of S.A. Inc.:
Somerton Crippled Children’s Home, Somerton Park.
Ashford House School, Ashford.
Mentally Retarded Children’s Society of S.A. Inc.: Occupation Centre, Berri.
S.A. Spastic Paralysis Welfare Association Inc., Woodville.
S.A. Oral School, Gilberton.
Autistic Children’s Association of S.A. Inc.: Dover Kindergarten, South Brighton.
Minda Home Incorporated: Minda Home, Brighton.
Salvation Army ‘Eden Park’ Boys Home, Mt Barker.
Service to Youth Council Inc., Parkside.
Suneden Retarded Children’s Welfare Association Inc.:
Suneden School, Mitchell Park.
Slow Learning Children’s Group of W.A. Inc.: North of Perth Lions Club Activity Centre, Inglewood.
Rhoda Smith Day Activity Centre, White Gum Valley.
Minbalup Day Activity Centre, East Victoria Park.
Kellerberrin Training Centre, Kellerberrin.
The Spastic Welfare Association of W.A., Mt Lawley.
Speech and Hearing Centre for Children: Kings Park Centre, West Perth. Thomas Street Centre, West Perth.
W.A. School for Deaf Children Inc., Cottesloe.
W.A. Society for Crippled Children and Muscular
Mentally Incurable Children’s Association, Redcliffe.
Handicapped Infants Group, Launceston.
Retarded Children’s Welfare Association of Tasmania:
Special School, Ranelagh.
Orana Hostel, Newnham.
Royal Tasmanian Society for the Blind and Deaf: Lady Rowallen School for the Deaf, Hobart.
Scotch College, Launceston.
Society for Care of Crippled Children, Launceston.
St Michaels Association Inc., Newstead.
Retarded Children’s Welfare Association of Tasmania:
Georgetown Centre, Georgetown.
Smithton Centre, Smithton.
Devonport Centre, Devonport.
Burnie Day Training Centre, Burnie.
Dora Turner Special School, Glenorchy.
Launceston Centre, Launceston.
Subsidised Accommodation Centres
New South Wales
Society for the Welfare of Retarded Children: Kurrajong School and Home, Wagga.
Illawarra Society for Crippled Children, Wollongong.
Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association of New South Wales, Bathurst Branch: Glenray House, Bathurst.
Sisters of the Good Samaritan:
Mater Dei’ Special School, Camden.
Spastic Centre of New South Wales:
McLeod House, Allambie Heights.
Handicapped Children’s Centre of New South Wales:
Rainbow Lodge, Woodford.
Inala, West Pennant Hills.
The Dominican Sisters:
St Lucy’s School for Blind and Visually Handicapped Children, Wahroonga.
Warrah School Society, Dural.
The Royal New South Wales Institution for Deaf and Blind Children: North Rocks School for Blind, North Rocks.
Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association of New South Wales:
Crowle Home Branch, Ryde.
Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind: Burwood Centre, Burwood.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association: Orana School, Cairns.
Bright Horizon’s School and Home, Bundaberg.
Queensland Spastic Welfare League: Longland House, New Farm.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Nambour.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Dalby.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Cairns.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Ayr.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Kingaroy.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Stanthorpe.
Queensland Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association, Roma.
Association for the Pre-School Education of Deaf Children, Yeronga.
Association for Mentally Handicapped of Eyre Peninsula Inc., Whyalla.
Mentally Retarded Children’s Society of South Australia Inc., Unley.
Minda Home Inc., Brighton.
The Salvation Army:
Eden Park Boys’ Home, Mt Barker.
Slow Learning Children’s Group of W.A. Inc., Kellerberrin.
Mentally Incurable Children’s Association Inc:
Nulsen Haven’, Redcliffe.
Retarded Children’s Welfare Association of Tasmania:
Orana Hostel, Newnham, Launceston.
Society for the Care of Crippled Children:
St Giles Home, Launceston.
St Michael’s Association Inc., Newstead.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
How many man days were lost due to industrial disputes at the Williamstown Naval Dockyard in each of the years 1971 and 1972 and in the period from 2 December 1972 to date?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The man days lost due to industrial disputes at the Williamstown Naval Dockyard during the three periods referred to in the question were:
During 1971, 15,706 man days.
During 1972, 13,321 man days.
From 2 December 1972 to 31 August 1973, 6,472 man days.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
Br J. F. Cairns - The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Australian Capital Territory: Rural Lessees (Question No. 934)
asked the Minister for the Capital
Territory, upon notice:
Will the Government pay rural lessees in the Australian Capital Territory interest on the amounts owing to the lessees between the dates of withdrawal of their leases and the dates of settlement, having regard to the long delays that are occurring between these dates.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The terms of rural leases were negotiated with the legal representative of the A.CT. Rural Lessees Association prior to the grant of current leases. The leases do not provide for interest to be paid on amounts payable to lessees following withdrawal of land from lease. In these circumstances the leases provide for payment of the value at the date of withdrawal of the lessee-owned fixtures, erections and improvements, such value to be ascertained by agreement or in default of agreement by arbitration. Where land is withdrawn, the lesseee usually retains the use of the land for a period, very often until after settlement is made. He pays no rent or other charges for the use of the land until after settlement is effected and then only on an agistment basis.
Compensation monies are promptly paid after agreement is reached and if there is any long delay in reaching agreement, the lessees are always able to go to arbitration, a course which has only been adopted on rare occasions.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
MrHayden - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked theMinister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has furnished the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
For human consumption - $67.63 per tonne ($1.84 per bushel).
For stock feed- $56.98 per tonne ($1.55 per bushel).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for (Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Hay Sheds and Silos
– On 23 August 1973, the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) addressed the following question without notice to the Minister for Northern Development representing the Minister for Primary Industry:
To assist farmers in building drought reserves to help avoid disastrous stock losses the previous Government introduced special depreciation provisions for hay sheds and silos which enabled their cost to be written off in the year of construction. What allowance will be made for such structures under the Government’s recent Budget decisions.
The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The relevant Budget proposal will affect the timing of income tax deductions for the capital cost of hay sheds and silos erected or acquired by primary producers under contracts made after 21 August 1973. These structures are subject to depreciation and their capital cost will, accordingly, be allowable for income tax purposes by way of annual depreciation deductions. The rate at which deductions for depreciation will be allowed in relation to a particular structure will depend on its estimated effective life and on whether the taxpayer chooses to claim the deductions as a percentage of the prime cost or diminishing value. The general rates of depreciation for hay sheds and silos are:
Non-bank Financial Institutions (Question No. 860)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
and (2) Following the Government’s election, consideration was given to implementation of the provision in the ALP Platform to establish an Office of Economic and Social Affairs and a Bureau of Industrial Statistics. Subsequently the ALP Federal Conference revised the section of its Platform dealing with these matters. It now reads:
occupational accident and disease in various industries in each State and Territory;
I and my Department are giving active consideration to the foregoing.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Urban and Regional Development; upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian GovernmentDigest (Question No. 850)
on asked the Acting Minister of State, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
What is the annual cost to the Commonwealth of rented office accommodation (a) in each State and Territory and (b) in each of the principal towns and cities in each State and Territory.
MrDaly - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
What provisions have been made or are intended to be made to enable disabled employees and officers of the Public Service to obtain parking facilities near the offices in which they are employed.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No special provision exists to enable disabled employees and officers of the Public Service to obtain parking facilities near the office in which they are employed. Any request received from an officer through his employing Department is considered sympathetically having regard to the particular circumstances of each case and where such request is reasonable, it will be satisfied if at all practicable.
This matter is currently under review by my Department. In the meantime my Department will continue to deal with these cases most sympathetically on an ad hoc basis.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Do any Departments employ the simple method used by many industries, such as Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, in the use of a suggestion box so that any employee may make a written suggestion to improve a Department, or is the old method of submitting a report to superiors maintained which usually has a retardative effect on the employee desirous of improving efficiency.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Public Service Board has advised me that departmental suggestions schemes operate under general principles laid down in the Board’s General Orders. These include provision for officers or employees to put forward suggestions anonymously if they wish to do so.
The Board has encouraged departments to make arrangements for suggestions to be lodged directly with Staff Suggestions Committees, rather than with officers’ immediate supervisors. Additionally, some departments provide suggestion boxes. An exhaustive survey of current departmental practices in this area has not been made, but it is known to be almost universal practice for suggestions to be evaluated by Staff Suggestions Committees.
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Visits by Overseas Trade Union Specialists: Discussions on Collective Bargaining (Question No. 957)
asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
China, Ethiopa, Fiji, Indonesia, India, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Mau’, Sierra Leone, U.S.S.R., Sweden, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Yugoslavia.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731010_reps_28_hor86/>.