28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. S. F. Cope) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– On Thursday night last the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) raised a matter of privilege relating to extracts from a letter allegedly written by Mr B. G. Dexter, Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, to Dr H. C. Coombs, Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs, which were published in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of Thursday, 11 October 1973. In accordance with the practice when matters of privilege suddenly arise, I undertook to consider whether a prima facie case of breach of privilege had been made out and to report to the House today. I have given the matter consideration and now inform the House that in my opinion such a case has been made out. The Leader of the Opposition may now proceed, if he wishes, to move a motion to refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the matter of the letter allegedly written by Mr B. G. Dexter, Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, referred to and quoted in an article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of Thursday, 11 October 1973, under the heading ‘Torres Strait scheme under attack’, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
– 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 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 Hayden, Mr Stewart, Mr McMahon,
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, Mr Cooke 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 Drury and Mr Killen.
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 existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by 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:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to make available to the Tasmanian Government a special grant for the purpose of securing Lake Pedder in its natural state.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. byDr Gun.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shows: l. Your petitioners believe in the principle that every Australian child, irrespective of the school he attends, is entitled to economic support for bis basic educational needs from the funds placed at the disposal of the Australian Government through taxation. Further, they believe that this economic support should be in the form of per capita grants directly related to the cost of educating an Australian child in a government school.
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 governmentmoney spent on education, and so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Staley.
To the Honourable, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The petition of the undersigned respectively showeth that your Petitioners oppose the proposed reduction of Commonwealth per capital grants to independent schools on the following grounds:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray 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 your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Wilson.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Did Dr Coombs, who I understand is the honourable gentleman’s closest economic adviser, call for increased taxation rates at the National Press Club last week? Have there been reports that a minibudget will be introduced in November? Did the policy speech of the honourable gentleman guarantee that rates of taxation would not be increased? Wilt the Prime Minister reaffirm this pledge not to raise rates of taxation?
– I have read in the newspapers that Dr Coombs did refer to this matter. The next question that the right honourable gentleman asked me was whether there has been speculation about a mini-budget in November. I do not recall any such reports. There would be no truth in them.
– Will you give the undertaking - the pledge?
– I have nothing to add.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report which appeared in the Newcastle Morning Herald’ of 13 October 1973 titled ‘Freeway report secret’, which related to a statement by the New South Wales Minister for Local Government and Highways, Sir Charles Cutler, accusing the Minister of withholding a report of the Bureau of Roads on the continued construction of freeways in capital cities? ls it a fact that the report was tabled in this House on 22 August 1973? Has the Minister noted that Sir Charles Cutler indicated that he is in agreement with the views expressed in the report of the Bureau of Roads? Does the Minister agree that this accusation by Sir Charles is another example of the deliberate misrepresentations that some State Ministers pursue in an attempt to prop up their outdated approach to vital environmental matters?
– My attention has been drawn to the ‘Newcastle Morning Herald’ report. The interim report of the Bureau of Roads was tabled on 22 August this year. The attitude of the Bureau of Roads did differ slightly from that adopted by the Minister for Transport and me, but I have been informed verbally by officers of the Bureau of Roads that the full report will clarify their attitude and will clearly disclose that on environmental and social grounds they see no reason why freeways in inner city areas should be proceeded with. This applies particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. I might say that 1 wish Sir Charles would review his attitude to a dogma that was pronounced some 25 years ago. The plans that were made for the freeway systems in New South Wales, particularly in Sydney, were set something like a quarter of a century ago. The New South Wales Opposition, when it was then the Government, subscribed to that dogma, but has since changed its view. I hope that the New South Wales Government will change its view, because we believe that the money being spent on freeways in inner city areas is a misallocation of resources and we hope that the New South Wales Government will not continue to pour money into building huge freeways which will solve no problems but will create greater social and environmental problems in the future.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Minerals and Energy. Having regard to the Minister’s statement in answer to a question on 10 October that Australia has only 8 years supply of crude’ - I take it the Minister was referring to crude oil - I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that since he took office in December he has refused to allow petroleum exploration in offshore West Australian waters in at least 4 instances? Firstly a farmout by Abrolhos Oil NL and BP Petroleum Australia Pty Ltd in off-shore Dongara, Dongara being the place from which onshore natural gas for the supply of Perth comes. Secondly a farm-out on the North West Shelf to Mount Isa Mines Ltd, and thirdly 2 farmouts by West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd in its off-shore areas. Has this action of the honourable gentleman resulted in the loss of use this year of at least 3 oil rigs off the West Australian coast in prospective areas at a time when there is an urgent need in the national interest to promote exploration in order to discover and establish Australia’s oil and gas reserves?
– It is correct that I have disallowed quite a number of farm-ins in respect of the North West Shelf, and for the very best of reasons - namely, that the North West Shelf happens ‘to be the property of the people of Australia. For too long the practice has prevailed that individual companies have acquired areas beyond their capacity to explore adequately; and then, having done as much as possible and having nearly reached the point pf surrender, it has been their practice to farm out to some other company and get the odds to nothing - in race course parlance - from another company which will undertake the whole expense of the drilling and will share the yield with the original company in respect of half at least and in some cases two-thirds. If the company holding the exploration permit is not able to cover by exploration the whole area in the terms of its permit, it should return that to the Commonwealth of Australia which in turn will let it out, if necessary, and in appropriate cases may even explore in its own right.
– Has the Prime Minister noted that some people are suggesting that the Australian Labor Government is not matching deeds with words in assisting business? Is it a fact that saving the business community from 90-day freezes, if this was ever a practical proposition, from Gorton-type slashing of Government expenditure or from McMahon-Snedden type budgets with their vast increases in taxation - saving the business community from these disastrous Opposition policies - is almost sufficient in itself without detailing the positive ways in which business has been helped?
– I thank the honourable gentleman for reminding us all of the disastrous policies which our predecessors followed from time to time in countering inflationary trends. I accept the opportunity to reassure business people that this Government will not adopt those means. We do not believe it is acceptable to put people out of work and to put businesses into bankruptcy in order to counter inflation.
– I address my question to the Minister for Health. In view of the rumoured outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali and West Irian, will the honourable gentleman give the House and the people of Australia an assurance that the present protective measures will be highly intensified and that, if necessary, additional steps will be taken to prevent any possibility whatsoever of this disease spreading to Australia?
– This continent stands to lose more than any other by the introduction of foot and mouth disease, not only because of the large numbers of stock that could be affected but also because our wildlife could be affected. We could be placed in the position of never being able to eradicate the disease. It would be far harder to eradicate it here than, for instance, in Britain where campaigns costing many millions of pounds have been mounted to eradicate that disease. My Department has been aware of this for a long time and has used far stricter measures than any other country to keep the disease out. When it was known that there was an outbreak in Bali these measures were intensified to the point where we received some rather mild complaints about people being harassed and inconvenienced. For example, it is necessary to look at every item of footwear to make sure that soil is removed in a way that cannot be done on a practical basis with people coming to this country from every part of the world. I will get a detailed statement regarding the position in West Irian. I am aware of recent reports on this matter and I will let the honourable gentleman have a definite answer. I assure him that there has been a tightening up of the regulations in respect to people coming from Bali.
– Does the Minister for Overseas Trade recall the gloom and doom predicted by the Leader of the Australian Country Party at the time of the tariff cuts when he said that hundreds of country businesses would close down, particularly those engaged in the textile trade, and also similar outbursts from the Liberal Party about the fashion industry? What is the present position regarding the textile and fashion industries? Is it not a fact that today in Australia it is almost impossible for persons engaged in the retail trade to get their orders supplied this side of Christmas and that, in some instances, orders will not be forwarded until March 1974?
– I recall the predictions of gloom, especially by the Leader of the Country Party in speaking of country factories and the way they would be affected by the 25 per cent tariff cut. I remember also how that was taken up by spokesmen on behalf of the Liberal Party and by some persons in industry as well. I said at the time that I thought we would have good prospects of getting perhaps as much as S400m worth of goods additionally into Australia without it cutting Australian production at all. Up to this point it seems as though that is true. So far, as I was reminded in the question, the truth is that the characteristic feature of the Australian clothing and apparel industry at the moment is that the demand is so high that orders cannot, in many cases, be satisfied before Christmas and, in some cases, until March of next year. There is still throughout industry, and in respect of country factories as much as those in the city, a great excess of demand. I think that the responsibility that the Opposition has is to support action taken by the Government to try to deal with that excess demand, because that is inflationary.
At present we have had only one firm which has applied to the McBride tribunal for assistance and for some revision of the tariff cut. Up to the time of the last statistics only 25 persons in Australia had registered for unemployment saying that they thought their loss of jobs was related to the 25 per cent tariff cut. The Government instituted, some months back in the early part of this year, a close watch on imports through the Customs Department. We have up to date information about what is occurring. The position is watched closely. In almost every respect where tariff cuts have occurred the situation is still that there is excess demand in industry, so there is no justification for the gloom and doom that show everywhere else except in the financial pages where profits of companies are reported. There we find that they are at record levels. Therefore the predictions made by the Leader of the Country Party - they are never really predictions, just a string of adjectives tied together without any regard to whether they are related to facts at all - have proven to be completely untrue and unjustified.
– The Prime Minister will be aware of the extensive damage to private property, roads and bridges in northern Victoria from excessive rainfall and river flooding. Has the Premier of Victoria requested Federal financial assistance to repair this damage? What contribution to flood damage works will the Victorian Government have to provide before it becomes eligible for Federal assistance and on what basis will such assistance be provided? Will claims to the State Government by shire councils for finance to restore roads and bridges be accepted for assistance by the Australian Government?
– I do not remember a recent request by the Victorian Premier for aid in this matter although there was a request some months ago on which I was asked questions and to which I gave replies.
– This was in respect of the recent floods.
– If I have received such a request I will tell the honourable gentleman later in question time.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister, ls it the intention of the Australian Government to seek United Nations intervention to halt the present military aggression against Israel? As the last Australian Labor Government played such a prominent role in the establishment of Israel as an independent democratic state, will the present Labor Government use its best efforts to obtain a ceasefire and an end to the current hostilities? Further, will the Government intensify its efforts to achieve the objective stated by the Prime Minister earlier this year in the following terms:
We have affirmed, and we continue to believe, that the best prospect for an enduring peace in the Middle East will flow from an agreement freely arrived at between the parties. My Government will work to secure support for negotiations towards such an agreement, both in the United Nations and in all our diplomatic endeavours.
– The Australian Government’s efforts are being directed to bringing about a ceasefire and an end of the hostilities in the Middle East. Australia has particular opportunity to work for this end because our distinguished Ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Laurence Mclntyre, is this month President of the Security Council. It is unfortunate that the Security Council’s efforts in this regard are limited to those which it can make under its own intrinsic authority. None of the belligerents in the Middle East has sought the assistance of the Security Council. None of the great powers, two of whom back the conflicting parties, has moved in the Security Council. I refrain from adopting all the terms that my friend the honourable member for
Phillip has used. The Australian Government maintains a neutral and even-handed attitude to the conflict in the Middle East, as did the Holt and Menzies governments when conflict broke out there on earlier occasions. Successive Australian governments have always been neutral and have tried to be even-handed in this longstanding dispute. I believe that there is no advantage in seeking to apportion blame. I adopt the words which Sir Laurence Mclntyre used at the last meeting of the Security Council, when he said:
We are simply wasting our time if we join in recrimination which only seeks to ascribe blame to one side or the other. We can all understand the frustrations that have increased during the past 6 years over the failure to build on the foundation provided by Resolution 242; frustrations which have inevitably helped to bring about the present renewal of hostilities. While we must regret lost opportunities we must look forward and not backward.
There have been 4 meetings of the Security Council at the instance of the Australian Chairman of that ‘body. We are doing all that we can do. We will continue to do all that we can to end hostilities in the Middle East. The honourable gentleman, and other honourable gentlemen who ask questions on this subject or may be disposed to do so, may not be entirely happy with the response that I shall give, but I wish to emphasise that I am particularly anxious to avoid any dissensions in the Australian community on this subject. There are on one side of this House, for instance, some members of the Jewish faith who inevitably feel very much involved in this issue. On the other side of the House there is one member, at any rate, of Arab ancestry who might feel much involved in this issue. I regret that on 2 occasions in recent weeks references have been made to the position of the gentleman to whom I refer. In the last Parliament references were made to honourable members which caused distress to them and could have caused dissension in the community. There have been such references in this Parliament. I deplore them and shall do my best to denounce them from whatever side they come, r wish to emphasise another feature to illustrate - I ask honourable gentlemen to understand this - that answers on this subject in our Parliament, which is. probably the only Parliament where questions without notice on such subjects can ever be asked, are reported throughout the world.
I was asked a question by the honourable member for Hunter last week which was given wide coverage. There have been some adverse reactions to it. It was about the use of passports by Australians passing to this area of belligerency.
– It was a proper answer, anyway.
– I thank the honourable gentleman. I believe it was. I do not believe any person in my position would have given a different answer. I do not believe my predecessors would have given a different answer to the question I was asked. Nevertheless, Reuters, in an incompetent and irresponsible fashion, embroidered the answer and thus spread dissension and misunderstanding in the world. It reported in particular my having said that the Australian Government would not try to stop Australian recruits going to the Middle East to take part in the ArabIsraeli war. The question to me did not use the word ‘recruits’. My answer did not use the word ‘recruits’. My answer was reported throughout the world in context of other statements made by some of the parties to the hostilities. In these circumstances people associate my answer with those pronouncements by other persons. I hope honourable members will appreciate that in answering questions on this issue I shall try to do 3 things - first, to avoid, as far as I can, dissension in this community; secondly, to do all I can to bring an end to the hostilities; and thirdly, to say nothing which will make more difficult the application of the principles of Resolution 242, which was unanimously passed by the Security Council over 6 years ago.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security a question concerning his action in calling for tenders for 13 million registration cards in anticipation of his National Health Bill being passed by this Parliament. He will have read in the Press, as I did, the statement of the Australian Country Party’s spokesman on social welfare that his Party will oppose the Bill. The Minister will not be surprised when I tell him that the Liberal Party is resolutely and unequivocally opposed to his Bill as foreshadowed by him. In view of the not unlikely situation of the Bill being defeated in the Parliament, will he delay the action of calling tenders until this Parliament decides the issue, and not treat this Parliament with contempt?
– The days of treating this Parliament with contempt ceased on 2
December last year. It was explained by me on the program ‘Federal File’ last Sunday night and it was reported in the Press this morning, that I had indicated that although tenders had been called, no steps had been taken nor would any be taken to enter into any contract until legislative effect had ‘been carried through this Parliament to allow the health insurance program to proceed. In spite of this, I notice that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and now the Opposition spokesman on health and welfare matters are trying to beat up an angle on this action of mine. The action is perfectly responsible and quite justifiable. When the legislation proceeds through the Parliament we can then take steps to enter into contracts This will allow us to expedite the whole of the processes for introducing the universal health insurance program.
We are running to a very tight schedule - in fact there is no leeway for any looseness now - and the tightness of the schedule has been brought about because of concessions which we made to the Australian Medical Association at its request. It requested earlier this year that we delay the introduction of legislation for some months to allow it more fully to assess the proposals of our health insurance program. We did this. Instead of introducing the legislation in August we have delayed introducing it until the end of this month or some time next month, solely to meet the request of the Australian Medical Association. We do have a tight program because of this and in those circumstances it is not unreasonable that we should have all preparations concluded so that we can take concrete steps towards the introduction of the scheme once the legislation is effected. There never has been and there will not be any intention to do anything but that - that is, to have parliamentary authority for what we are doing.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Social Security been drawn to reports that the Hospital Benefits Association in Victoria will provide its subscribers with identity cards and that the transactions of its contributors will be recorded by computer? Does he see this as a parallel to the charge by the medical profession that one of the objectionable features of the Government’s health scheme is that participants will be issued with identity cards and their transactions recorded by computer? Will he agree that this action is more desirable when taken by a body responsible to the people - that is, the Government - than when it is taken by a private organisation such as the Hospital Benefits Association?
– It has been well known for some time that the Hospital Benefits Association proposes to distribute these cards amongst its members and the procedures which would be associated with this have been equally well known, that is, the procedures of registering details of contributors to this scheme who draw on or apply for benefits from the scheme. In spite of this, there has been no protest from either the Australian Medical Association or members of the Opposition, some of whom seem to be well briefed spokesmen for at least parts of the medical profession. This is remarkable. But then again, there has been no protest from either of these groups in the past in spite of the fact that most of us who are members of health insurance funds have to carry some sort of membership card which is numbered and which we have to return to the fund when we make an application for medical or hospital benefits. In fact, at present, one of the complaints of certain members of the funds who are aged and in nursing homes and who have a need to draw on the funds for nursing home benefits is that they have to send in their cards and there is a lengthy delay in having the card returned and which, accordingly, causes various types of inconvenience. These records of members of the funds are kept by private funds.
There is no legislative requirement on those funds to maintain secrecy. Indeed, especially in the case of funds where there is manual recording of details of members of the funds, there is open access to this sort of information by a wide range of people. None of this will happen under the program which we are introducing. In fact, not only will there be legislative effect to guarantee the privacy of people where they draw on the funds but also, we have set up a working party comprising people suitably eminent in a number of fields of the community to advise us on the best ways of protecting their privacy. One of the members of the working party is a representative of the Australian Medical Association. It is a shame that the Opposition cannot work up the same fervour in defence of people’s rights where private funds are concerned, where there is much more opportunity for abuse and prying and meddling in the medical records of private people than there will ever be under the program which we are introducing and which will have iron-clad guarantees to preserve the individual privacy of members.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and takes up his statement of a moment ago about the significance of statements overseas by Ministers and members of this Parliament. My question is based on recent discussions in South-East Asia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference. What urgent steps will the Prime Minister take to reverse the image his Government is creating in our region and among our allies - an image of uncertainty, of untrustworthiness and of a jingoistic Australian ugliness which would do our worst tourist proud?
– While complimenting the honourable gentleman on the range of his travels and his reading of Australian correspondents under the influence of foreign governments, I want to assure him that there is no truth in any allegations that Australia has such an image. Accordingly, the rest of the question falls to the ground also.
– My question, Which I direct to the Minister for Overseas Trade, is in connection with the sale of Australian wheat to China. Can the Minister say whether in recent times China has placed a substantial long term order for Australian wheat with the Australian Government? Will this order bring economic stability to the wheat growing areas of this country?
– It has. been my purpose since I became Minister for Overseas Trade to obtain long term agreements with as many countries as possible for the sale particularly of Australian primary products. I have never been able to understand why this has not been an objective of any preceding government, and especially of those people who make a special claim that they represent producers. I would think that the signing of such a long term agreement for the sale of wheat or any other primary commodity in particular would give producers the chance to anticipate the future and to be better guided by a view of what future demand would be so that when they were planting their wheat and deciding on acreages they could decide on larger acres and larger figures. So, since I became the Minister, I have set out to secure the signing of these long term agreements with other countries.
I had some little difficulty in persuading the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade, Mr Pai Hsiang-kuo, to agree to this principle. He eventually did so but limited it very strictly to 3 years so that, in the event of a change of government in Australia, the position could be re-examined. That is precisely what the Minister for Foreign Trade for the People’s Republic of China told me. He also told me, in the presence of the Prime Minister, that the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition on returning from China were a distortion of what he had been told in China.
So, I am very pleased to be able to announce, as I did at the end of last week, that we have reached agreement to sign a 3- year agreement for the sale of Australian wheat to China. One million tonnes will be sold in the first year, from 1.5 million tonnes to 1.8 million tonnes in the second year, and also from 1.5 million tonnes to 1.8 million tonnes in the third year. This will mean that farmers in Australia, as distinct from those who represent multi-national corporations in the guise of being members of the Country Party, will welcome this knowledge for the future as a thorough basis for their ability to better decide upon more adequate acreages. In my opinion, there is room for great optimism in the future. I hope that producers will respond to the long term basis so that they can plant a greater amount of wheat, sell a greater amount of wheat and enjoy greater prosperity.
– I address my question to the Minister for Overseas Trade. Was the recent agreement for the sale of wheat to the People’s Republic of China negotiated by the
Australian Wheat Board or was it negotiated by the Minister independently of the Wheat Board? In relation to the term of 3 years with respect to the sale, while I understand that it is not correct and appropriate to ask the price at which the sale was made or the terms of that sale, I would like to know whether a firm price has been made for the 3-year period or whether it is to be on the market circumstances for the 3 years.
– I pointed out in answering my colleague’s question that the basis for the signing of the agreement for the sale of wheat was obtained by discussion between myself and the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade. The willingness of the Chinese Government to sign a long term agreement for the first time was secured in that discussion between myself and the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade - and nobody else. Having obtained this, it was then possible for the Wheat Board to go to China and conduct the detailed negotiations necessary to put that agreement into effect. That is precisely what has happened; the Wheat Board has done that.
– Where have you been for the last 5 years?
-Order! The honourable gentleman will know where he is in the next 5 minutes.
– I am a little unfamiliar with the sounds of the farmyard, having not been in one for some weeks, but I recognise the sound of the honourable member’s voice as one that is very typical of a certain part of the farmyard.
– That is just your level.
– The honourable member can choose his own part. Members of the Australian Country Party are just as familiar with the farmyard as I am. They can pick the part that suits them. The agreement, as the Leader of the Australian Country Party would know, is one that the Wheat Board makes in detail. Agreement has been reached for the signing of a 3-year contract. It will be at a reasonable price in the world wheat markets in the years concerned. This year’s price will be agreed to in precise figures. Next year’s price will be agreed to next year and the third year’s price will be agreed to in the third year at a reasonable level in respect to world wheat markets at the time. That is the provision that we write into each and every one of the long term agreements. The quantity is unfortunately limited, because of the lack of wheat in Australia, to 1.5 million tonnes to 1.8 million tonnes. I think that with luck it will eventually reach the level of 1.8 million tonnes. This year’s harvest seems likely to be quite a good one. If we had been able realistically to consider a figure in excess of 1.8 million tonnes we would have done so. The Chinese would have been much happier to get nearer to 3 million tonnes than 1.8 million tonnes, but we could not realistically talk about 3 million tonnes.
– It is the end of ‘the quota plan.
Br J. F. CAIRNS - I do not know whether it was the honourable member’s interjection, but certainly a contract of this kind can bring an end to the quotas that he and his friends mismanaged into existence over a long period.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Services and Property and follows a question asked of him last week by my colleague the honourable member for Robertson. In his reply the Minister expressed concern at the reported donation of up to Sim to Opposition party funds and said that the purpose of it appeared to be to discredit the Minister for Minerals and Energy and to defeat this Government. The Minister said that he would consider the holding of a royal commission into these allegations. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that the Australian Country Party recently purchased a Canberra property for a reported sum of $187,000? Is the Minister in a position to state whether the purpose for which this property was purchased has any connection with the reports of multi-national corporations contributing to Opposition party funds?
– I am advised that lot 2, section 5, No. 10 Mugga Way, Red Hill, was sold on 19 April 1973 to John McEwen House Pty Ltd at a price of $87,000, and not $187,000. It was purchased from Sir Alec Downer, the former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. I have no details as to the reason advanced for the purchase of this property, but it is certainly a very luxurious residence. It may have been purchased as a VIP reception and accommodation centre for the entertainment of lobbyists representing foreign corporations and representatives of multi-national businesses. It would be a most appropriate place for the entertainment of prospective donors to party funds, particularly those from overseas. I am not aware whether this is the purpose for which it is to be used, but there could be some substance in the suggestion in view of the price, the name of the purchaser and the huge outlay of mysteriousCountry Party funds.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Overseas Trade. Did the honourable gentleman just say, in response to a question on tariff cuts, that excessive demand was a factor in Australia’s inflation? How does the honourable gentleman rationalise this with his statement made recently on the television program ‘Federal File’ that ‘it’s not cost-push, or demand-pull inflation’ and ‘over 60 per cent of it’ - that is to say, inflation - comes from overseas7
– In response to the interjection by the right honourable member for Lowe, the answer certainly is nonsense. Will the Minister immediately make available to this Parliament the statistical basis for his statement that 60 per cent of Australia’s inflationary experience is imported and thereby confirm that this estimate is quite contrary to the latest Treasury advice, which I assume is available to him?
– I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be familiar with the terminology that has been used about cost or demand inflation when that terminology has been used to describe inflation caused by an increase in costs in the country concerned, generally claimed to have been caused by wage increases, as against demand-pull inflation when the demand referred to has been essentially an internally generated demand. I made the point on ‘Federal File’ that in that sense the current inflation was neither a costpush one nor a demand-pull one and that the significant demand that has contributed to the present inflation that we have is the demand that is generated outside Australia, such as the demand for meat, for wool and for other food commodities as well as in some cases a number of other processed and manufactured goods. It is significantly demand from outside Australia. The statistics with which I have been supplied by my Department and which
I have found elsewhere indicate that about 60 per cent of the increase in the retail price index number relates to commodities for which the demand has significantly increased from outside Australia - especially meat, followed by wool and other foodstuffs.
– Will you make the figures available?
– The statistics indicate that this is the significant element of the inflation in Australia at the present time. I will make those figures available to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, because I can judge from his question that he needs to have them. I will make sure that he receives them. I also have been advised that if those figures are analysed they show that if only the internally generated part of the inflation operated the inflation in Australia today would be very little above normal. They also show that the characteristic feature of the inflation that exists in Australia today is that it is predominantly externally generated and is part of a world inflationary force from which we have not been able effectively to insulate Australia.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Has his attention been drawn to the report of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd opening a branch in the Channel Islands? Is the Treasurer aware that this bank had previously opened a branch in the New Hebrides? Are both these places well known as tax havens? Does the Treasurer consider that the action of the ANZ Bank, in seeking to encourage tax avoidance, is unAustralian? Will the Treasurer give an assurance to the House that he will take appropriate action to curb this pernicious practice?
– I have said on several occasions that I regard the resort to tax havens by anybody as a despicable practice and I will take any action whatever that is possible in Australia against moves to have transferred from Australia for the evasion of tax funds that ought to be properly taxed. There is some difficulty in operating in areas that are not our Territories. The action we took with respect to Norfolk Island was action we could legislate upon internally. In regard to other areas, I will have to rely on banking powers and exchange regulations, and I will use them to the utmost rigour of the law.
-I wish to refer to the confusion which arises from time to time when a member seeks leave of the House to have matter incorporated in Hansard. The incorporation of unread matter in Hansard was considered by the Standing Orders Committee in 1964 following which the Committee suggested that a suitable arrangement would be that a Minister or member seeking leave to incorporate material should first show the matter to the member leading for the Opposition or to the Minister at the table, as the case may be. I remind honourable members wishing to incorporate material that they should observe the practice of showing the matter to the member leading for the Opposition or to the Minister at the table, as the case may be, prior to commencing their speeches. By so doing they will facilitate the business of the House.
- Mr Speaker, I would like to make a personal explanation.
– Order! ‘Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns). The honourable gentleman, in answering a question, said that the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade, Mr Pai, claimed that I had said when I came back to Australia things which were a distortion of the conversations that I had in China as they were reported to Mr Pai. I did not speak to Mr Pai in China. I have not spoken to Mr Pai in Australia. The honourable gentleman nevertheless is prepared to attribute to me statements which on his own admission today, were reported to him, at least third hand. I think it is a misuse of the Parliament to do that. When I came back to Australia I made comments on a number of things, and in relation to China I made comment about 2 specific matters. Those 2 specific matters were trade with Taiwan and the American presence in the Pacific and the Chinese attitude to it.
Whether Mr Pai complained about distortions in relation to either of those 2 matters can be known only to the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in whose presence complaints were apparently made. When I first saw the reports of statements which had been made repeatedly by the honourable gentleman, the Chinese Ambassador never having raised the matter with me, I asked the Chinese Ambassador whether he would come to see me, and indeed he did come to see me. I pointed out to the Chinese Ambassador that it was extraordinary that Mr Pai had complained about anything on 23 July when the Minister for Overseas Trade had felt able to make a statement, portion of which I will shortly read, on 3 August and it was not until 31 August that the Minister first decided to make these matters known. I think the 2 things I spoke about on return to Australia were reported quite accurately insofar as the reports were complete. They were not complete reports. The 2 points I made were these: Firstly, it was not possible for the Australian Government to put a total embargo on all trade with Taiwan nor should the Australian Government seek to do so. That was the first statement I made. Now I would like to know whether or not the Minister for Overseas Trade regards that as a distortion, for if he regards it as a distortion he has to live with his own words contained in a statement made on 3 August in which he said: .
The Australian Government recognises China on the best possible terms-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Where has the Leader of the Opposition been misrepresented? We want to give latitude to the Leader of the Opposition but I think it is not in order for him to debate the issue.
-Order! I think that the Leader of the Opposition is in order.
– The Minister for Overseas Trade said in a Press statement on 3 August:
The Australian Government recognises China on the best possible terms for Australia. It preserved other vital national interests that Australia has in China and Taiwan-
– Mr Speaker, I ask: Under what standing order is the Leader of the Opposition entitled to make such a personal explanation? What right has he to quote a statement made by the Minister for Overseas Trade on such and such a date?
-Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to keep to the point where has was misrepresented and not to go into a full debate on the issue.
– The Minister for Overseas Trade did not have the decency to say in what way there had been a distortion. I therefore have to make the 2 points that I did report when I came back and show, in relation to the 2 points that I made, not only that I did not distort what I was told in China but also, on the contrary, that what I was told in China is consistent with what the Minister himself has said. If I have distorted, the honourable gentleman has also distorted.
– Mr Speaker, I again ask you: Under what standing order does the Leader of the Opposition have the right to make a speech and debate the issue? If he desires to make a statement he should seek leave to do so and make a speech in that regard.
– Will you give me leave?
-Order! As all honourable members know, the idea of a personal explanation is to explain where an honourable member has been misrepresented by someone. The right honourable gentleman should confine his remarks to that point.
– I believe that is exactly what I am doing. There is one paragraph which I have attempted twice to read until the acting Leader of the House, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development - : -
– Mr Speaker, I am afraid that if the Leader of the Opposition proceeds in this way we will have to take a certain course of action. He is entitled to say how and where he has been misrepresented by a simple statement from me that the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade told me, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Australia, that he and his officials had seen reports of what the Leader of the Opposition had said on return from China about discussions with their officials in China. The Chinese Minister said that what the Leader of the Opposition said had been a distortion of what their officials had told him in China. He must claim that he has been misrepresented on that, not on what I said on some other occasion or on the policy in respect of Taiwan. He has to deal with that simple point.
-Order! I think everyone would be aware that it would be impossible for the Chair to ascertain what was said in regard to these matters. I ask the right honourable gentleman to keep to the vital point as to where he was misrepresented by the Minister for Overseas Trade.
– Yes, Mr Speaker. I was misrepresented by the Minister for Overseas Trade when he alleged that I had made a distortion. I have reported to the House that I spoke on 2 matters - one was trade with Taiwan and the other was the United States presence in the Pacific. I am dealing with the first. Because the Minister did not have the decency to state the distortion, I have to deal with it in its entirety. I will read only one short paragraph of the Press statement by the Minister for Overseas Trade. He said:
The Australian Government recognises China on the best possible terms for Australia, lt reserved other vital national interests that Australia has in China and Taiwan, including trade with both.
I must say that when I told the Chinese Ambassador of that statement by the Minister for Overseas Trade the Chinese Ambassador was staggered. He had no knowledge that that was the attitude of the Minister for Overseas Trade.
-Order! I think the right honourable gentleman is debating this matter. I think he has adequately explained where he was misrepresented.
– That was in relation to the first matter, Mr Speaker. The second is about the presence of the United States in the Pacific. When I came back from China I said that it was my belief that the Chinese would welcome a United States presence in the Pacific because I believe that there is a very real danger to Australia and South-East Asia if there develops a conflict for hegemony and influence in the Asian region between the Soviet Union and China and in that context there was a real danger to Australia if it developed.
– On a further point of order, Mr Speaker. In what way has the Leader of the Opposition been misrepresented?
-Order! I think I have been very lenient with the Leader of the Opposition but now he is making a debate of this matter. I suggest that if he intends to do so he should seek leave to make a statement.
– I should like leave to make a statement but I know it would not be granted. However I do not believe it is any part of the proceedings of this House to allow the honourable gentleman to traduce me and not give me the opportunity to make clear, by way of personal explanation, the truth of the matter. I was not present when Mr Pai spoke to him, and what reliance can we place upon the words used by the Minister when they are related to him third or fourth hand?
– I take a point of order. I do not think there are any special Standing Orders for the Leader of the Opposition. He has had ample opportunity to make his personal explanation and I believe he should be kept within the Standing Orders.
-Order! I think the Minister for Urban and Regional Development will recognise that the Chair is not in a position to know what happened in this particular matter. It is true that I have given the Leader of the Opposition great leniency. I now ask him to terminate his personal explanation as quickly as possible.
– Mr Pai is no more the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs than the Minister for Overseas Trade is Minister for Foreign Affairs in this Government and therefore any remarks he makes about foreign affairs should be put in that context.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the ‘Australian’ of even date is an article headed ‘13 million health cards’ with the sub-heading ‘Details kept secret - promise by Hayden’ which refers to 13 million health insurance cards which will be required for the universal health insurance program to be introduced next year The article specifically states:
The plastic cards will record details of each patient’s medical history.
The cards are not designed for that purpose. They were never intended for that purpose and will not be used for that purpose. No one in the Government nor on the planning committee associated with this program has ever suggested that it would be the purpose of the cards.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the course of question time the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) in answer to a Dorothy Dix question deliberately, by inference, tried to misinterpret the intentions of the Country Party in purchasing a house in Mugga Way, Canberra. This was a despicable act on his part. The inference was that that house has been bought with overseas multi-national - call it what you like - capital. The facts of the situation are that 10 years ago a group of Country Party people endeavoured to organise finance to establish a secretariat in Canberra. For many years numerous people in branches of the Party throughout Australia worked to raise money for that project. The project was completed in 1968. In the wind-up of the fund for that project a certain amount of money was left over in a trust account, which was an investment account. Much of the money that came in later was as a result of a cattle scheme under which people gave calves–
– How much money came from people who benefited from tariffs?
– None. If honourable members opposite want to make an electoral issue out of this matter let them do so. There are supporters of the Government who are prepared to get into the area of gutter politics. The only reason I mention this matter is that I know there are some people who might be led to believe the irresponsible remarks of the Leader of the House. As I said, some funds were left over. They were in a trust account which could be used only for investment purposes by the Country Party. We saw this as a good investment. We had to borrow money to make the purchase. We are proud of everything we have done because it has been made possible by a lot of Australians who very much believe in what we stand for.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– I do. In the ‘Australian’ newspaper of last Saturday, 13 October, was a statement by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) that I had misled the House on 4 separate occasions. I should like to explain the facts. In the first case he said that my claim was that the cost of bringing natural gas to shore from the North West Shelf fields would be between $2 10m and $212m. He ridiculed this as being ridiculous. I have here, and I will table it if the shadow Minister of the Opposition will agree, an estimate of the costs of bringing natural gas ashore. This estimate was made jointly by officers of my Department’s Hydrocarbons Branch and representatives of the Woodside-Burmah company. It provides for the drilling of 3 proving wells and of 24 production wells, the construction of 2 production platforms and the laying of 76 miles of submarine pipeline. I table this document.
The honourable member for Farrer further said that I knew that all existing contracts approved for export were in Australian dollars. They were not. In fact there are 3,380 tons in contracts denominated in Australian dollars and 8,300 tons denominated in United States dollars. In respect of pricing the honourable member for Farrer said that the prices ranged from US$8.10 to US$10.82. In fact with a weighted average of the first year deliveries of uranium oxide under all approved contracts the price was US$7.02, which is equivalent to $A4.72.
– Pursuant to Section 122 of the Compensation (Commonwealth Employees) Acts 1971-1972, I present the second annual report of the Commissioner for Employee’s Compensation for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– For the information of honourable members I present an interim statement on the operations of the homes savings grant scheme for the year ended 30 June 1973. When the final report is available it will be presented in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 96l of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1971, 1 present the annual report of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– by leave - As honourable mem bers will be aware, I have recently returned from a series of trade discussions in Japan, in the Republic of Korea, in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in the People’s Republic of China. In view of the importance of the various matters that were raised in these discussions, I am reporting to the House on the outcome of these talks. My prime purpose in Tokyo was to lead the Australian delegation to the Ministerial meeting of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade countries, the main function of which was to launch the latest round of multi-lateral trade negotiations. This conference, in which over 100 countries participated, is perhaps the most important meeting on international trade matters since the Havana and Bretton Woods conferences at the end of the Second World War. Australia is a major trading nation and much of its development and its growth in real income has come about because of its increased participation in the world export and import trade. We, as a Government, have accepted, as our predecessors accepted at Havana and at Bretton Woods, a commitment to a more liberal system of world trade, not simply to benefit our own standards of living but to benefit those of peoples in all countries of the world.
Australia has expressed concern in the past at the continued persistence of a wide range of tariff and non-tariff barriers in international trade and at the slow rate of growth of trade, particularly with respect to agricultural commodities and to those commodities of importance to developing countries. As far as the developing countries are concerned, past trade and aid policies have done little to improve their relative position and we will need to look more realistically at the major issues that are presented by the imbalance of economic power associated with the large scale, highly organised, usually non-competing enterprise system which characterises the developed countries and which operates to the disadvantage of the economically weak economies and less well organised and more highly competitive enterprises of the developing world. Australia’s own actions in reducing tariffs unilaterally were commented upon very favourably by a number of delegates in their statements at the conference including that of Mr Schultz, the United States Secretary of the Treasury. It is clear that our actions on trade liberalisation and with respect to developing country preferences have demonstrated in a very real way to developed and developing countries alike, and more realistically than endless amounts of rhetoric, our acceptance of our responsibility as a member of the international trading community. Indeed, this Government has done more in this respect than any other Australian Government and perhaps as much as all our predecessors together.
As a country for whom agricultural exports remain of basic importance, the reduction of barriers, particularly non-tariff barriers, to agricultural exports is an important objective in the negotiations - and I made it clear that we would need to see real progress made in liberalising trade in these commodities if we were to accept further obligations. Of course, part of the present world inflationary pressures which stem from high food prices, and which are being substantially reflected in price increases in our own domestic economy, can be sheeted home to the past restrictive import policies for foodstuffs of the major industrialised countries. In the case of agriculture and for many industrial commodities of a traditional nature, I pointed to the difficulty for all countries of making further progress in liberalising trade unless a much more realistic approach, indeed a much more humane approach, was taken to the social and political, as well as the economic, problems arising from the adjustment processes brought into play by the freeing of trade. The total inequity of a laissez-faire approach to such adjustment has been recognised in Australia and we have rejected it. In my statement to the GATT conference, I emphasised that in association with the liberalising of trade there was a need - a critical need - for effective systems to attain and maintain proper income levels for workers and for the development of adequate institutions to assist the transfer of resources to more productive uses. Without such institutions and arrangements, resistance to change would not only be strong but it would be justified, since the benefits of change would be shared by all but the costs would be borne by only a few, usually by those least able to bear these costs. The Minister from Sweden joined me in the presentation of this argument at the GATT Conference. We both received expressions of appreciation from the representatives of many delegations for so doing. This is what has happened in the past in Australia and is still happening in most countries - we rely too much upon the market and too much upon the laissez-faire approach. If this situation persists, it will be increasingly difficult to liberalise world trade.
I was particularly pleased that this fundamental point was taken up by Ministers of countries representing all political and economic groupings. I was also encouraged both in the discussions in the meetings and in talks I had during the course of the meeting with Trade Ministers from other countries by the apparent sense of willingness to face up to the fundamental issues of a more liberal and a more equitable world trading economy. I came away from the GATT conference feeling optimistic about this and appreciating the realism of the approach of so many nations to the question. While in Tokyo, I had also an extensive series of discussions with Japanese government and business leaders. I was interested in the similarities and the complementaries of the Japanese and Australian economies. Of course, there are also major differences. Australia, like Japan, is committed to some restructuring of its economy, but they are different economies and have different structures. Japan’s economy is moving in the direction of further development of, and dependence upon, its human resources and upon high technology production. This is partly an inevitable consequence of the pattern of economic growth; but it is also a result of the determination of a very active Japanese community to see that government and industry leaders adopt a genuine social or community responsibility arid limit industrial intensification and pollution. The significant thing in Japan is that government and industry leaders have conceded this to the Japanese people and have accepted the need to modify purely economic criteria as the standard and measure of what is done and adopt a policy to improve the quality of life by a genuine internationalisation of the Japanese economy.
Australia’s economic growth will continue for some time to be based more substantially upon its natural resources and on the conversion of these resources to processed materials and finished goods. It seems clear to me that as Japan moves out of the processing and production stages in certain fields, there will be increased opportunities for Australia to move in and replace that production with our exports. This will help our development. It will help our standard of living. It might also help Japan to avoid further difficulties with her trade balance as well as ease her critical environmental problems. It was significant that as I left Tokyo a Trade Development Council Mission from Australia organised in cooperation with my Department, was arriving to further develop trade contacts. This development of the Japanese economy into an international context can be in the national interests of Australia. Japan has, and must continue to have, a big part in the economic development of Australia, but this must be accommodated to a number of Australian requirements. First, there is a need to prevent pollution, conserve our resources and protect the environment even in the most remote areas of Australia. We will not import pollution into Australia, nor will we dispose of our resources too fast or to the highest short term bidder, nor will we erode our environment and transform it into holes, cuts and gashes. Second, the Australian Government will exercise a more significant role. The Australian Government from time to time elected, is the most effective voice of the Australian people and sometimes the only one they have. Consequently, it must exercise powers in this vital area. Our resources are the foundation of our future. They cannot be left only in the hands of multi-national corporations or even Australian corporations and to reflect little more than the voice of a few shareholders. Third, although developed countries like Japan and large countries like China will be very important in the future, Australia must not be concerned with them alone.
We must be concerned to see that the small, the poorer - the developing countries - are treated fairly and are not denied access to the fuels and minerals that we export and which they will need for their development, but, which, to a significant extent, they are denied access. Again, if this is to be done, the Australian Government must play a part not only in influencing the flow of investment but in influencing the flow of exports too, because overseas investment does not only result in control of the industry in Australia, but it results in control of the flow of exports too. The multi-national corporations do not just buy a piece of Australia; they buy control of our exports as well. In general terms, ‘the relationship between overseas investment and exports can be beneficial to Australia in helping to secure market outlets and so helping to plan a more orderly production pattern. It can also have disadvantages for the reasons I have given and it is a proper role for Government to play that it should influence the balance of these benefits and disadvantages in its investment and export policies.
There was a very considerable interest on the part of both government and business leaders in Japan in the new policies of the Australian Government with respect to overseas investment. I might add that there was considerable understanding generally of the whole range of our export policies and a recognition that at this stage of the development of new policies over a range of fields it is not possible or reasonable to expect that the full details of all these policies would have been worked out. Investment policy is one such example on which there was a very clear and ready acceptance by the Japanese leaders to whom I spoke that we would need further time before we could spell out in full our policies. The broad principles are, of course, clear. There is no difference of opinion or confusion whatsoever about the broad principles except that which is created by unthinking critics or by our political opponents.
The Australian Government recognises the value of foreign investment and technology in assisting development, but it would wish to see a higher level of Australian ownership, both by Australian companies and the Australian public, and by the Australian Government through the Australian Industry Development Corporation, especially in uranium, oil, natural gas and coal. I, for my part, indicated that we recognised that much of the concern by the Japanese to seek substantial investment participation in Australia was as a means of ensuring their security in the supply of agricultural, industrial and mineral raw materials. I see this concern for assurances with respect to the supply of raw materials as a legitimate concern on the part of the Japanese and one which this Government is -prepared to cooperate fully in helping to meet since we are similarly interested in long term assurances of market opportunities for our exports for the reasons that I gave in answering questions today. We would apply the same principle to other countries. Our common interests in assured commodity trade can be met in a number of possible ways, such as through existing private long term contracts, government backed long term bilateral agreements or multilateral commodity arrangements; through some combination of these or by other mutually beneficial methods, including, of course, investment from overseas.
We have to recognise more formally the great interdependence of economies like the Japanese and the Australian and, indeed, the complementarity of these economies which, for our part, will reflect itself in economic development in Australia which is related to the opportunities in Japan, often involving a flow of Japanese technology to this country. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has said, and it was a view that I myself put whilst in Tokyo, that we can see benefit in the broad principles of the growing and mutually advantageous political, economic and cultural relationship between the 2 countries being expressed in a new and broader treaty arrangement such as a treaty of friendship and Cooperation. I also expressed my view, and this is quite separate and distinct from the treaty of friendship and co-operation, that we would need to review the existing trade agreement with Japan since, while it has served us well in the past, in the future it will need to reflect more closely the growth and development of the trading inter-relationships between our 2 countries.
Whilst in Japan, I discussed with both the Nissan and Toyota motor vehicle companies the decision which the Government recently made concerning its policy aims for the motor vehicle industry in Australia. I made it quite clear that any company, including the Japanese companies, which conformed with the Government’s policy criteria would be very welcome to engage in the manufacture of motor vehicles in Australia. Both companies assured me that they were anxious to co-operate in this way, even to matters of detail, with the Australian Government and to achieve their aim of establishing motor vehicle manufacturing facilities in Australia.
– In a decentralised way?
– Yes, whatever the requirements we have laid down, such as the reference to decentralisation, the Japanese companies were far more willing and ready to co-operate with those requirements than any others to which I have spoken.
Turning now to my visit to the Republic of Korea, I led the Australian delegation to the bilateral trade discussions provided for under the trade agreement between Australia and the Republic of Korea. I was able to explain to the President of the Republic, Prime Minister and Ministers of that country the benefits which we would expect that country to gain from the trade liberalisation measures that we had taken, including the 25 per cent tariff cut and the preference scheme for developing countries. As a result, it can be expected that trade between our 2 countries, and in both directions, would continue to grow, but in ways the Governments of both countries - the
Republic of Korea and our own - will watch, supervising that development and ensuring that it takes place in the interests of both countries.
There was a very clear expression of a desire on the part of their Ministers for a further expansion of contractual arrangements for the supply of raw materials, particularly such items as iron ore, coking coal - for which contracts already exist - and for non-ferrous metals such as manganese, as well as agricultural commodities such as sugar. Following on these talks, the Republic of Korea proposes to send to Australia in the near future a resources study mission for discussions with appropriate Government departments, marketing agencies and business enterprises.
Considerable interest was also expressed in the possibilities of Australian investment in the Republic of Korea and I expressed the Government’s view that we would welcome investment by Australian companies in that country as we do in every country, subject only to our wish that it should represent joint venture projects and should recognise the national objectives and economic planning priorities of the Republic of Korea. Some discussion was also held on the desirability of updating the existing trade agreement with a view to the inclusion of specific provisions for investment, as well as changing its emphasis in the light of the growth in our trade and the new policies of this Government, and this will be followed up in subsequent discussion at the official level.
The visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was a particularly important one, I think, as the first visit by an Australian Minister ever to that country and as the first ever official Australian mission. I visited North Korea at the invitation of Minister Kye Ung Tae, Minister for Foreign Trade, whose invitation I was pleased to accept as a means of developing contacts with that country and to explain the policies of the new Australian Government. Most directly, of course, I was there as Minister for Overseas Trade with the aim of furthering our contacts through the expansion in two-way trade. I was able to talk to the Prime Minister and the 2 deputy Prime Ministers responsible respectively for economic and foreign affairs, as well as to Minister Kye and each of these Ministers put to me his views on the problem of the reunification of Korea.
There is no doubt that the relations between the North and the South in Korea are an acute and difficult problem. I expressed the
Australian Government’s view, as I had in the Republic of Korea, that Australia stood for a policy of mutual respect and was opposed to outside interference in the affairs of other countries. I said that we supported the reunification of Korea by peaceful means without confrontation and saw the value of a continuing dialogue between the 2 governments with a many sided interchange between the North and the South in the political, military, diplomatic, economic and cultural fields. I pointed out the harm done in the whole world of international relations by confrontation in Korea and indicated the connection between it and the ‘cold war’ which had poisoned the world for so long. I found the leaders of the governments both in the south and north of Korea were concerned to keep the ‘dialogue’ between them going on and to keep their relations at a political level. This is in the interests of international trade as well as in the interests of peaceful and friendly international relations.
In the detailed discussions on trade matters with the Ministers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we considered the question of trade representation in our 2 countries. While in Australia earlier this year the DPRK Trade Delegation- had requested approval for the establishment of a trade office in Australia. I was able to indicate to the DPRK that we were agreeable to the establishment of such an office, but that in the absence of full diplomatic relations between the two countries it would not be possible to accord diplomatic immunity and associated privileges to their representatives. For this reason, the DPRK has indicated its unwillingness to establish a trade office until such status and privileges are available. This, of course, would be possible only if full diplomatic relations were established between us. I can understand the position of the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; in its position I probably would take a similar attitude.
At the same time, I would have liked to see a DPRK trade office established in Australia as a ready means of developing our trade. Nevertheless, Minister Kye - and I are both of the view that trade between our 2 countries, which is presently very small, can in any case be expanded significantly. The DPRK has expressed interest in long term contracts for what they call lumpy iron ore and some other minerals, as well as in purchases of wheat. For its own part it has a highly developed metallurgical and machine tool industry and would be able to supply to Australia a wide range of machinery, high grade steels, railway rolling stock, engines both diesel and electric, building materials and manufactured goods. A sale of some machine tools recently was made by the DPRK to Australia.
The key to the realisation of this mutual trade potential is the development of trade contacts with the DPRK, as it is with every other country. In the absence of a DPRK trade office in Australia, this contact must remain somewhat remote. The emphasis in this contact will have to be, for the time being, largely at the business level and I am at present having examined the best means of encouraging such contact. It was necessary, in order to travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to pass through China where I was able to renew contacts, particularly with the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade, Minister Poi Hsiang-kuo, and with the Foreign Minister, Chi Peng Fei. It is particularly pleasing to me .to see the way that trade with China has developed this year. Representatives of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd were in Peking during my stay. An Australian Wheat Board mission was expected shortly after and the Chinese Minister for Foreign Trade expressed his satisfaction at the way the twoway contacts were developing over a range of commodities. All Australian officials and others in China have witnessed in recent weeks and months the increasing willingness of the Chinese to assist Australians in everything they are trying to do and the extremely friendly relations that they exhibit towards Australians at every level.
As I announced last week, real progress has been made towards finalising a 3-year long term wheat agreement with the Chinese and indeed agreement has already been reached with the Chinese on the signing of this agreement. This will be the first time that Australia has negotiated such an agreement with China and it is an historic step in the development of trade relations between our 2 countries. It represents the largest amount of wheat ever sold by Australia at the one time to any country.
Whilst overseas, I saw Prince Norodom Sihanouk. With him and with others both in South and North Korea and with the Chinese Foreign Minister, I had discussions about the relations of their countries with other countries. This was done with the approval of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I have reported to the Prime Minister on these discussions, but it would not be appropriate for me at the present time to state any details.
In all the countries that I have visited and in my contacts with Ministers from other countries, I found an appreciation of and a lively interest in the policies of the Australian Government. Ministers at all levels in the countries I have visited, including and especially South Korea, expressed their approval of the stand taken by the present Australian Government and exhibited their view of the very great potential Australia has to broaden and deepen its relations with countries on both sides of the old Iron Curtain or cold war divisions that this in fact represents. They saw a significant role for Australia to play, especially in that field. There is no doubt that Australia’s standing in the trading world of today is higher than it has been before and provides a solid basis for continued growth and development of our trade and of the standards of living of all people, especially those in the Pacific and Asian area and in the developing countries. I present the following paper:
Minister for Overseas Trade - Trade DiscussionsMinisterial Statement, 15 October, 1973.
Motion (by Mr Daly) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
-I should like to seek the assurance of the Leader of the House that there will be adequate opportunity to debate this statement. It is an extremely important statement involving many aspects of Australian trade and Australia’s foreign relations. Before seeking the adjournment of the debate-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I remind the honourable member that at the moment the only motion before the House is that the House take note of the paper.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not know what ‘adequate’ is but there will be a debate on the statement at a later stage.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:
That in relation to the membership of the Committee of Privileges:
Mr Crean do now resume his attendance on the Committee.
During the further consideration of the matter referred to the committee on 20 September 1973 and the consideration of the matter referred this day, Mr Collard be discharged from attendance on the Committee and Mr Sherry be appointed to serve in his place.
During the consideration of the matter referred to the Committee this day, Mr Garland be discharged from attendance on the Committee and Mr Viner be appointed to serve in his place.
– by leave - I move:
That the Committee of Privileges when considering the matter referred to it today have power to send for persons, papers and records.
The committee when undertaking its new inquiry may wish to have the power granted by this motion and, in accordance with practice, the motion is proposed for the concurrence of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide a legislative basis for the senior secondary scholarships scheme, post-graduate awards scheme and the tertiary education assistance scheme. The tertiary education assistance scheme, to be introduced for the first time at the beginning of 1974, is a major step taken by the Government in its program to produce a revolution of access to education. It complements this Government’s decision to abolish fees in tertiary and post-secondary technical institutions and the effect of both these actions will be to ensure that hardship or poverty do not prevent a student from taking advantage of the opportunity for further study. Full-time students at postsecondary technical colleges, colleges of advanced education, and universities will be eligible for means tested living allowances. The Bill also provides for the payment of fees for students whose fees are not provided for in the general arrangements, such as those studying certain special courses for which fees are charged, for example, the medical records librarianship course and courses conducted by such authorities as barristers’ and solicitors’ admission boards. The medical records librarianship course is a full time course and students could qualify for a living allowance subject to means test. The same applies to the Australian Ballet School and other tertiary courses which may be approved.
The tertiary education assistance scheme replaces the Commonwealth university scholarships scheme, the Commonwealth advanced education scholarships scheme and the Commonwealth technical scholarships scheme. Arrangements have been made to ensure that those who now hold the scholarships will not lose financially. The legislation provides for the first time a legal basis for the senior secondary scholarships scheme. Regulations are being drafted and are expected to be ready in time for the new year. About 48,000 senior secondary scholarship holders will be involved.
The Bill repeals the Education Act 1945-66, thereby abolishing the Commonwealth Office of Education and the Commonwealth Scholarships Board. Similar provisions were made under the Scholarships Act 1969, but this Act has never been proclaimed and changes and innovations introduced in the field of student assistance by the Government require new legislation. The Commonwealth Scholarships Board has continued to function since it was originally established under the Education Act 1945-1966. The community and the Government are indebted to it for the valuable contribution that the Board has made over the years to the student assistance program.
Parts II, III, and IV of the Bill refer to the schemes of assistance at 3 levels of education - secondary, tertiary and post-graduate. They allow for the drafting of regulations for the granting of assistance, for the determination of benefits, and they provide for transitional arrangements in favour of students already holding awards. It will still be necessary to assess the eligibility of students applying for assistance under each of the 3 schemes. This will involve consideration of such matters as the student’s academic progress and his previous studies, as well as the assessment of the level of assistance for living and other allowances. Provision is made for the Minister to appoint authorised officers to consider this eligibility subject to review. Part V of the Bill covers the establishment and operation of student assistance review tribunals.’ There is a clear need for flexibility in administration of student assistance schemes and I know that honourable members will be aware of the many and varied problems which students ‘must face, and the difficulties and indeed injustices which may occur because of too rigid an application of rules and conditions. We have therefore included in this Bill provisions for machinery whereby administrative decisions may be reviewed and reconsidered by a tribunal, so that an appropriate balance is struck between the requirements of formal legislation and the need for flexibility within the framework of that legislation.
The schemes covered by this legislation will provide assistance for probably more than 125,000 students in 1974. The Bill does not cover all the Government’s schemes of student assistance. We intendto introduce further legislation for isolated children, Aboriginal students and students receiving benefits under the Government’s new secondary allowances scheme. Students should be going through a period of life when they have the leisure to think as well as the need to study. An age of speed does not easily tend itself to the creation of great new productive ideas. The function of education in a world in crisis is to develop people who can fashion a new and inspiring civilisation - people who have the moral and intellectual qualities, and the sensitivity to produce a renaissance. It is hoped that this Bill is a step towards these goals. I believe that the House should support this legislation.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
– 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 stage 6 extension of Stokes Hill power station - Darwin, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves: Provision of two 23.5 megawatt turbo-alternator sets, with associated oil-fired boiler plant, auxiliaries, switchgear, unit transformers and 66 kV switchyard, construction of a 24,000 ton capacity fuel oil tank, and supply and installation of two 66 kV underground cables linking the power station and city zone sub-station together with modifications to overhead transmission lines in the Fannie Bay area. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $10. 8m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Consideration resumed from 11 October (vide page 2039).
– Mr Chairman, the Committee will recollect that there was some confusion at the time I moved an amendment to clause 13 because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) had come into the chamber just prior to that and raised a question of privilege. I understand that the Opposition wants certain amendments it has moved to clause 13 recommitted to enable a vote to be taken on them. I also understand that the amendment I have moved has to be disposed of first before any recommittal action can take place. I presume that this will not mean that we will be going through the whole debate again. The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has indicated that the Opposition supports the amendment 1 have moved to clause 13.
Amendment agreed to.
– As the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has said, the House was in a somewhat unclear situation at the time we were discussing this matter last week. The Opposition is most anxious to have a division on the amendments moved to clause 13 by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). Therefore the Opposition seeks the permission Of the Committee for the recommittal of the amendments.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
That the amendments (Mr MalcolmFraser’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 14 and 15 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
– I move:
Omit the clause, substitute the following clause: 16. In pursuit of its functions the Commission shall consult with the State Education Authorities, Independent School Authorities, Parents and Teachers Organisations for both Government and independent schools.’
The Opposition has moved this amendment for a number of reasons. Firstly, we believe that under our amendment to the composition of the Schools Commission the function of the Advisory Board or Boards is largely taken over by the membership of the Schools Commission. We feel that because of the representative nature of the Schools Commission, as envisaged in our amendment, it is unnecessary for the functions of the Commission to be duplicated by a State board.
Secondly, we believe that the clause, as it is outlined in the Bill, does not guarantee any really representative nature. Honourable members will note that the amendment we have moved states that the Commission shall consult with the State Education Authorities, Independent School Authorities, Parents and Teachers Organisations for both Government and independent schools’. We believe that it is most important that parents and teachers organisations for both Government and independent schools should be consulted, and we believe that this is not guaranteed in the clause that has been put forward by the Government. We believe that the clause would give the necessary guarantee if our amendment to it were accepted. Additionally, we believe that the establishment of these Advisory Boards represents an unnecessary expense because already there are operating in the
States various advisory boards which can perform quite adequately the functions and objectives which are set out in this Bill. We believe that the establishment of these Boards would be an unnecessary duplication of functions. We could also save a great deal of money by not duplicating these functions.
Sub-clause (4) of clause 16 reads:
A Board shall have such functions as are from time to time determined by the Minister.
My reading of that sub-clause would lead me to believe that a Minister at some time in the future could alter the functions of the Advisory Boards or could add substantially to the functions of the Boards in the States in a manner which would be unacceptable to a number of organisations in the States. We believe that this alteration could be made without reference to the Parliament, and for that reason we think that the provision in subclause (4) of clause 16 is unhelpful. It is for those reasons that we have moved this amendment to clause 16.
– The amendment is an extraordinarily limited one because if these were all the organisations with which the Commission were to consult there wouldbe a pathetically inadequate amount of consultation taking place. I do not know whether the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) happens to have seen the list of people who will be either on the Schools Commission or the continuing committee, according to the fate of our Bill in the Senate, but will be aware that the list includes persons associated with the Australian Council of State School Organisations, the Catholic Parents and Friends Association - Mr McNamara in the latter case and Mrs Kirner in the former - and also the headmaster of one of the Greater Public Schools, Mr Peter Moyes of Christ Church Grammar in Western Australia, and so on. I am sorry that the honourable gentleman regards me as such an object of suspicion that he wishes to have spelt out everybody with whom the Commission will consult. If he looks at the list of people who had access to the Interim Committee he will find that it includes people from all these organisations and many more.
The function of the Schools Commission is to be the recipient of representations from all sorts of organisations. The function of the Advisory Boards in their localities is to be a local organ of intelligence and to transmit information to the Schools Commission to make sure that it knows what is being demanded by all sorts of people who are giving thought to education in the States and in areas geographically remote from Canberra.
– ‘Does that mean that any submissions to the Schools Commission must come through the Advisory Boards?
– No, but it may be easier for some people to have a full discussion with the local boards and for them to transmit the information to the Schools Commission. Some people may wish to write directly to the Schools Commission. Some people may be coming to Canberra on deputations and may go straight to the Schools Commission. I hope that some of the representations from the Council for the Defence of Government Schools will be absorbed by the buffer - the boards in the States - in addition to the Schools Commission being deluged with representations.
We do envisage a flexible organisation, which is what the Karmel Committee recommended. But in no legislation is every possible element that will make representations spelt out. It was not done in the Universities Commission legislation. It was not done in the legislation which established the Commission on Advanced Education. It is not done anywhere. I feel that it is unnecessary. I do not object to all these elements making their representations. If the Bill specified only the elements named in the amendment, it would be very limited. I agree with the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who said that the amendments being moved in this chamber would require a lot of polishing before they could really become a part of an Act. I hope that the polishing which honourable gentlemen opposite have threatened will eventuate in the Senate will be a very adequate polishing and that we will not have the sorts of amendments that have been moved in this place. I do not think this amendment has been fully thought out and I would prefer to leave the clause as it is.
– I seek clarification on a point. Sub-clause 2 of clause 16 reads:
A Board shall consist of such persons, whether members of the Commission or not, as the Minister appoints.
Can the Minister provide honourable members with some insight into his thinking in relation to exactly how many members of the Advisory Board he considers shall be appointed and also details of how many of these members shall constitute a quorum?
– I think it is very probable that the sizes of the Boards or the numbers of people on them will differ from State to State. I think it is obvious that there Would need to be a larger Board in a State such as New South Wales than in a State such as Tasmania.
– But what about-
– If there is a part that is not adequate, I will treat this as a dialogue. We envisage a Commission consisting of 3 or 4 full-time members - a chairman and 2 or 3 others. It ought to be the function of these full-time members to go and sit with these Boards at crucial times when they are meeting. The Committee suggested that the regional boards might comprise the following: A full time commissioner as Chairman - that would be one of the 3 or 4; a State Director-General of Education or his nominee; the Director of the State Catholic Education Office or his nominee; a nominee of the Association of Independent Schools; a nominee of the government school teachers’ organisation; a nominee of the government schools parents organisations; 4 members appointed by the Commonwealth Minister for Education after consultation with the State Minister for Education. That is the suggestion of Karmel, and it would be my general thinking, since the honourable member has asked for it.
– Do you accept that recommendation?
– Yes, I would accept it. I do not think you could apply it rigidly everywhere. I do not think you want to specify rigidly what the Karmel Committee has recommended, but I accept this as my genera] thinking on the matter. I would think that some of these elements were quite essential. 1 think it would be quite essential to have representation of the 2 large sections of education; to have on the boards a nominee of the State Director-General of Education so as to be able to consult him about someone; to have a director of the Catholic Education Office and a nominee of the Association of Independent Schools. Without this I do not think the Schools Commission would function effectively and 1 do not think the boards would be a proper intelligence organisation for the Schools Commission. I generally subscribe to those points. I do not know that everywhere you need to have 4 other members apart from those people, nor do I regard the Karmel Committee as having thought out all the elements that might necessarily be recommended, but I accept the recommendations of paragraph 13.9 of the report of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission. The whole of that paragraph indicates the general nature of the boards. But we are also feeling for local initiatives. In my own heart I feel that there is another category of schools to which no reference has been made. In the Australian Capital Territory I approved a guaranteed loan for the Association of Modern Education. In respecting the consciences of parents I respect the consciences of those parents who say: ‘A plague on both your houses of State schools and religious schools. We do not think they really get into the field of education in the way we want and we have newer and more innovative ideas.’ Some of the schools they have in mind are very good ones. They do not exist in every State, but if they did I would want representation from those. Then there are some States where outstanding work is being done in some schools in connection with handicapped education. In that State where you have a first class mind dealing with handicapped education, whether in government or nongovernment schools - I am thinking now of a non-government school in Western Australia, Christ Church Grammar, which has an extremely good centre for brain damaged children - you may want such a teacher as a board member. This is why I want flexibility and not specifics. I assure the honourable gentleman that we are making this Bill a Bill for government and non-government schools and we want the representation of both. I want non-government schools to include the experimental schools and I want schools for handicapped on government, non-government or experimental sides represented. We want flexibility.
That the clause proposed to be omitted (Mr MacKellar’s amendment) stand part of the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Third Reading -Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) - by leave - read a third time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the National Library Act 1960-67. The main amendments are to increase the size of the National Library Council by 2 appointed members; make the chief executive of the Library an Executive Member of the Council with the designation Director-General; and extend the definition of library material to take account of modern methods of communication. These amendments are intended to strengthen the National Library’s capacity to meet rapidly changing circumstances in the area of its responsibilities and take particular account of recommendations for accelerated development of library and information services in science and technology contained in the report of the Scientific and Technological Information Services Inquiry which was tabled in the Senate by the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) on 31 May. In addition we wish to make amendments of a machinery kind to the financial and audit provisions of the Act.
In recent years - even in the decade since the original National Library Act was passed - there has been an ‘information explosion’ of unprecedented dimensions. The amount of recorded information in the world has been increasing at a rate beyond all past experience in both absolute volume and variety of forms - books, journals, microforms, films, audio tapes, video tapes and so on. Simultaneously the use of computer technology in the management of information collection and dissemination is advancing at an equally bewildering rate. It is crucially important in the national interest that we face up to the problems and opportunities created by these developments and shape our information services on a national scale so that they can meet effectively the developing needs of the Australian community as a whole. Achievement in various facets of Australian life - industry, health, education, leisure and so on - will depend increasingly on Australians being able to find their way to and through relevant areas of recorded knowledge. Prompt and efficient access can yield dramatic gains.
In a special way the responsibility for Australian national information services lies with the Council of the National Library. While seeking to ensure effective organisation and use of its present resources and services, the Council has also given attention to identifying future needs for national information services and other functions under the National Library Act. Briefly, this Act provides for 2 groups of functions embracing all areas of knowledge - firstly, establishing a national collection and making it available to users, and secondly, performing needed national services and cooperating with others in Australia or abroad in library matters, including the development of library science. Because provisions to be made at the national level will touch so many institutions and people, it is important to make clear in broad terms the Government’s policy. Our objective is to develop, in co-operation with appropriate organisations at both State and local levels, programs for library and information services which recognise the importance of free and ready access to knowledge as a basic factor in material progress and in advancing the quality of life. We propose that the National library will act as a chief source and channel of advice to the Government on library and information services.
The Library will co-operate in the establishment of machinery to ensure adequate consultations with Australian and State government departments and authorities and to shape and strengthen links with institutions and users throughout Australia by the establishment of advisory groups. It has in the past received, and has expressed a desire to continue to have available, the advice of the Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographic Services which represents the library community. It plans to take other measures to ensure that it has the best advice on the application of technology to information problems and to obtain through inquiry and research more authoritative information on the requirements of users than is at present available.
We contemplate a reorganisation of the National Library to provide policy and planning capacity, together with resources and services in the major areas of external activity, viz., science and technology; social sciences and humanities; and the application of computing, telecommunications and microform technology to information problems. In this connection I might perhaps draw attention to two aspects of the STISEC report. The first is that the National Scientific and Technological Information System should not be created in isolation but as an integrated part of a total information system. The second is that one method of satisfying the needs for scientific and technological information might be to set up an authority under the National Library Act. In view of the overall responsibilities of the National Library Council it did not appear to the Government necessary or appropriate to have such a separate authority.
The services which the STISEC report found were needed will be implemented through the new resources and services to which I have just referred and through associated advisory machinery.
The physical and organisational coordination achieved through the 3 areas of activity developing into the active centre of a nation-wide network will enable us to make the maximum use of library collections and also the best use of the relatively limited numbers of personnel who are skilled in advanced methods of handling information. Where relevant services within the national system can be provided by existing specialised organisations, consideration will be given to assisting them financially to increase their effectiveness but if assessments show that a new service is needed within the national system, it may be provided either as part of the National Library or elsewhere in conjunction with other bodies. We look forward to continuing and extending our co-operation with State authorities and with institutions concerned with the problems of information transfer. We expect to be able to offer improved central services and technical assistance and a greatly improved access through the network centre to the resources of the whole system.
I wish to stress that it is not proposed to create a monolithic centralised organisation. Rather, we propose an arrangement by which the National Library of Australia, in the context of a broad and evolving information policy, will become the centre of a nation-wide library and information system through which existing institutions may link up. It will also ensure rapid access through international channels to recent overseas information. The Government will, as necessary, introduce further amendments to the National Library Act enabling the Library to develop its role as library technology and information services develop at all levels in Australia. We recognise that programs of action will require the provision of both human and material resources and we will view sympathetically the needs of the Library for capacity to perform its function. Under the aegis of the National Library Act we look to the rapid and co-operative evolution of library and information services in Australia to cope with the information explosion and the technological revolution in the handling of information. This Bill is a step towards that objective^- ‘
Mr Deputy Speaker, I might say to you and to the House that the speech I have just delivered is almost word for word the speech that was delivered by the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) in the Senate. I had sought the approval of the Opposition to allow me to make a short statement to incorporate this speech in Hansard. That approval was not granted. Accordingly I have spent the last few minutes repeating in this House a speech that was delivered in the Senate and which was not opposed in the Senate. I suggest that the course of action that I had to follow today should be looked at very closely by the Speaker. I ask you to pass my comments on to him because I feel that with the new Government in power there is a need for us to look at how we can get legislation through this House far more rapidly than has been the case in the past. I return now to the prepared speech to add that I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 223), on motion by Mr Charles Jones:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– -The Opposition supports this Bill. As the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) has said, its primary purpose is to obtain Parliamentary approval for the insertion of a new protocol as the Eighth Schedule to the principal act. The protocol of amendment to the Chicago Convention increases the membership of the Air Navigation Commission from 12 to 15 members. This proposition was endorsed by the Federal Government 2 years ago when Senator Cotton, as Minister for Civil Aviation, led the Australian delegation to the International Civil Air Organisation’s assembly session held in Vienna in mid-1971.
This Bill merely provides the machinery to include this amendment, which was unanimously supported by the member States of ICAO, in our statutes. The Air Navigation Commission has played an important role in the establishment of international standards for the operation of safe and efficient air services by international airlines. Any move that will strengthen and facilitate the work of the Commission which, as the Minister said, is becoming more complex with the technological advances being made in air navigation, must be suported wholeheartedly.
– I want to make a few comments in support of this Bill. As has been indicated by the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), the Opposition supports the Government’s decision in voting for the change of the protocol and welcomes the participation by an increased number of states in the work of the Air Navigation Commission which is becoming more complex with the technological advances in air navigation in recent years. 1 hope that the Government will seek to have Australian participation in those decisions that are being made in the near future, in particular in relation to the supersonic transport, or SST, aircraft because there will need to be a review of the advancing technology so that the interests of the various countries which are involved in the general structure of world commercial aviation will be best served. I have no doubt that because of Australia’s position and because of the interest of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) in this particular aspect of Australia’s position in relation to the rest of the world, he and his Department will be watching these matters with a great deal of close care and scrutiny.
I hope that Australia’s influence and contra.bution to the International Civil Air Organisation will grow and that the financial assistance we are able to render also will be increased. I feel sure that the International Civil Air Organisation, which has grown by about four or five countries in almost each year, will benefit. In 1972 the membership increased to 124 contracting states. It is interesting to note that those states were as far apart but as vitally interested as any could be. They were, in that year, Bahrain, Equatorial Guinea, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In this last year, as has been indicated, the total membership has increased to 128, which is more than double the number of States which came together in 1944. There was, at that time, the awareness that there would be a tremendous growth in the International Civil Air Organisation and a great need for the development of a highly qualified professional body, such as this Air Navigation Commission, within the general structure of the International Civil Air Organisation. I add these words of support and assure the Minister that we are profoundly interested, as he is, in supporting legislation of this nature.
– Like the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) and the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), I do not have very much to say on this matter. I commend the Bill and certainly give it my support. I do so as one who lived in Cloncurry, th ; town where the civil aviation of this nation was born. I have to be very careful on this subject because I represent an electorate which is very much involved in the concept of Qantas Airways Limited. Qantas was conceived in Cloncurry, born at Winton, and spent its adolescence at Longreach. Because Qantas was born in the area which I represent I should like to make one or two observations. First of all I wish to pay a very sincere and profound tribute to the Department of Civil Aviation. I think it is acknowledged - that is perhaps more important than being recognised - throughout the world as setting a standard which I do not think any other country has exceeded and probably has not equalled. I should like to place on record my appreciation of the Department of Civil Aviation. Our overseas and international airline, Qantas, emanated from this country and at one time it was an Australian domestic airline.
I wish to refer to one or two matters which perhaps may not be considered to be terribly important. We were told recently, through the Press and by a splendid report, that one of the factors contributing to Qantas being much more viable now than it was last year - the year before its operations were rather shaky, too - is the reduction of fares. One may perhaps say: ‘What has this to do with the International Civil Aviation Organisation?’ It has quite a lot to do with it. The standard set by this specialised brach of the United Nations always involves additional expenditure within a nation and draws perhaps a little more on the moneys which are available. The point I wish to make is that if a reasonable fare is set greater profits will be made. I say that as one who is closely associated with the economics of our own domestic airlines. You, Mr Deputy Speaker, come from a State similar to my own and will appreciate that people who are required to travel by air over much greater distances are underprivileged and are very much hit when it comes to paying air fares. Wc cannot impress on the 2 domestic airlines that they should introduce economy class fares on all their air routes. They will not do it. Why do the 2 domestic airlines not follow the example given by Qantas? Qantas has shown considerable profits because it has seen the advisability of making available fares which come within the scope of ordinary people.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation is a specialised agency of the United Nations. I think one of the great advantages of these various specialised agencies of the United Nations which apply particularly where the lives of tens of hundreds of thousands of people are involved each day is the obvious advantage of having a uniform body which co-ordinates, examines and discusses the standards which set air navigation throughout the world. I think that agency sets a very great examaple. I wish to refer again to Qantas, which after all, is what this Bill is mainly about. We have only one overseas airline, Qantas. I wish to draw to the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) the use of stewards by Qantas. I am sure he would agree with me on this matter. When 1 was serving on our coalition parties’ committee on civil aviation we had discussions with Captain Ritchie. I did not see eye to eye with him on this matter of stewards, just as I did not see eye to eye with him on a few other matters. Captain Ritchie claimed that there was an advantage in having stewards in the case of emergencies. May I respectfully submit that there are not many emergencies where stewards can do very much when it comes to the final crunch. I use the word ‘crunch’ advisedly. I see a tremendous advantage in having air hostesses. Honourable members should not get me wrong. Probably one of the most popular airlines -
– Do you think they might lead the hi-jackers astray?
– Well, perhaps their interest could be distracted. The point I wish to draw to the Minister’s attention is that probably Thai Airway International is one of the most popular airlines. It is one which carries communities of men. When I was doing the traps going over to the United Nations, everywhere I went, until I reached Rome, people were talking about Thai Airways International. That airline does not conform with other airlines but has its own rules and regulations, which were pretty wonderful. The airline had air hostesses who had a particular aura, glamour and appeal.
Australia has a certain image - I do not want to dwell too much on that - but I do think that image has been reduced somewhat over the years. The stewards do a wonderful job - I do not wish to put anyone on the wrong track about that- but the appeal that fellows look for on an airline is not there. It may appear to be a very small thing, but I think it is high time that Qantas began replacing its stewards with hostesses. There is plenty of other work available for the stewards in the framework of this huge organisation. The Bill seeks to increase the membership of the Air Navigation Commission from 12 to 15. I Commend the Bill and give it my support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1240), on motion by Mr Les Johnson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There will be no opposition to this Bill going through the House because there is a definite need for finance for the States to proceed with their plans for welfare housing. We feel, however, that there are details which should have been finalised some time ago, and no doubt they would have and could have been finalised if the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) had been able to get the States to agree to the States Housing Agreement Act. That Bill still has not been ratified by the States, and it should bc obvious to the Minister that a little rethinking was needed regarding the details concerned in it. We well remember the battle that went on between the Minister and the State Ministers for Housing regarding his ideas on the percentage of homes for rental compared with the percentage of houses for sale, and that even Premiers of States of the Minister’s own political persuasion were against his ideas on this matter. I have no doubt that they still are.
I have no quarrel whatsoever with the Minister or the Government on their ideas about the desirability of increasing the number of dwellings available for low rental, but I do quarrel with the Minister over his being so adamant about the percentage of homes for low rental that he wishes to force onto the States. The requirement for each State is different. I have said before and say again that the States know the requirement of their own people best and are in a far better position to make the decisions on what numbers of dwellings would be available for rental and for sale. Also, how docs the Minister know that the situation would not change, in which case no doubt we would then have to go through the procedures of altering the percentage? Surely, if he does not trust those ministers of Liberal Party or Country Party persuasion to do the right thing by the people in their respective States, he should at least be able to trust those Ministers of his own particular political persuasion with regard to State housing.
If the Minister had sought the co-operation of the States, for a review of their priorities for low. rental accommodation in an effort to obtain some standardisation of priorities throughout the Commonwealth I would probably have agreed with him. But it appears as though the Minister wants to have all the say regarding what percentage of homes should be available for low rental and for sale. Looking at the statements that have been made over the last few months and the ideas about which the Minister has spoken, I doubt whether he really has any idea of the individual requirements of the States. I say that I doubt whether the Minister would know for this reason. Recently the Minister made a public statement regarding homes built by the Queensland Housing Commission and private contractors for use as married quarters for Army personnel in Townsville. I doubt whether the Minister has ever seen or inspected them. If he has I stand corrected. His statement has angered a number of Army personnel and certainly angered the civilian population of Townsville.
Last week the Minister for Defence and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) visited the Army installation in Townsville and made a statement to the effect that the married quarters for serving personnel, which we know were built by the Queensland Housing Commission and some private contractors, were su’b-standard. That was bad enough as it was not true, but the Minister for Housing supported this statement during a talk-back program on a Townsville radio station. He was contacted by telephone from the station and in reply to a question from the interviewer he intimated that the married quarters for Army personnel were sub-standard insofar as there were no fans, no fly screens and no blinds supplied with the homes.
I have news for the Minister and for the Deputy Prime Minister. I heard the program. The Minister for Housing certainly put himself completely offside with a number of Army wives who rang the station later to refute his statement that the quarters were sub-standard. I also refute his statement for I know that the Army quarters are equipped with fans, fly screens and Venetian blinds. I can vouch for this because it was my representations to the then Minister for the Army and the then Treasurer that made the fly screening of these quarters possible. While there was some delay in the supply of blinds at the outset every home is now equipped with them. The fans are of the oscillating type and can be wall mounted or portable. To support my statement 1 have here the latest Army Journal which states that accommodation for all Army personnel at Townsville has fans, screens and blinds. If the Minister for Housing had said J.i&t some of the quarters allocated for Royal Australian Air Force personnel needed attention I would have agreed with him. Some of those homes are still not equipped with blinds and are still without sewerage facilities. If he had said that he and the Minister for Defence would see that these RAAF quarters were brought up to the standard of Army homes and other RAAF quarters as soon as possible, I would have supported him all the way. But his statement that Army quarters were sub-standard was a reflection on homes occupied by civilians in the Townsville area, which they do not accept.
Th<? Army quarters are built on land the same size as those residential blocks that are available to civilians. While there could possibly have been some variations in the designs, the homes are well constructed and well serviced. There are thousands of Townsville people living in similar accommodation. The Townsville City Council has standard building regulations which do not permit buildings of substandard design to be erected. An apology to the Army personnel and the civilians of Townsville would be in order and might undo some of the damage to public relations that the Minister for Housing and the Minister for Defence have caused. They have caused a lot of heartache among serving personnel. I stated that because, as I said earlier, I doubt whether the Minister for Housing knows of the States’ requirements or what was going on in the States. When he makes such statements regarding the Service quarters I doubt his ability to lay down hard and fast rules to the States for low rental public accommodation or purchase when he does not understand the Service housing situation or the States’ requirements.
Another factor which leads me to this belief is that according to the latest statistics Australia’s housing problems do not relate to any overall shortage of housing units. If I remember correctly the statistics show that some 300,000 dwellings are unoccupied for some reason or another. Yet we have thousands of people on low incomes who cannot obtain suitable accommodation. This leads one to ask: Is this because the rentals or purchase prices of these unoccupied dwellings are beyond the means of low income earners or is it in fact a distribution problem, meaning that the unoccupied dwellings are in areas where work is not available to the low income earner, or is it a problem of transport facilities or charges? It is possible that a low income earner may obtain a dwelling in an area where transport facilities are either not available or the charge for them is beyond his budget means. If this is so, would there not be a case for a subsidy for transport charges? The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement should be the main means by which government funds are provided to assist low income earners to obtain housing facilities of a respectable standard. But areas in which to build these homes are becoming further and further away from the industrial areas where these people are em- / ployed. In some instances the transport charges, as I have mentioned, are a big factor in the weekly budget.
Another means of assistance to these low income earners which could be considered is a rent subsidy scheme for those who for some good reason or another do not wish to purchase a home. Assistance by way of rent allowance is available to pensioners at the moment to the extent of $4 per week. Perhaps this could be extended to some members of the low income group as many of them, because of the long waiting lists for public housing, are able to afford only very low quality accommodation in the private housing sector. Some form of rental allowance could be considered in these circumstances whereby on the family income a low income family could rent good quality accommodation. The Services have a subsidy scheme which enables members to obtain sufficient respectable private accommodation when married quarters are not available. So it is not as though the investigation of such a scheme as I am suggesting could be classed as a precedent.
The Government, through the Minister for Housing, has expressed a desire to assist families on low incomes with their housing problems. I also have expressed that desire previously. I have also mentioned that according to the information available there are quite a number of unoccupied dwellings that could be utilised for these purposes. But a quick and thorough investigation should be undertaken to see whether this proposal could be implemented. If it could it certainly would ease the housing problems of low income earners. Investigation could be organised in co-operation with the States of these points: Areas where these unoccupied dwellings exist; transport facilities and charges to the closest industrial area to such dwellings; the possible subsidy of transport charges for low income earners; and a possible extension of the rental allowance to some members of the low income group. These investigations could be carried out quickly and simply in co-operation with the States and would certainly help a lot to overcome the problems of the low income earners.
This is another reason why I say that the Minister should not have laid down a hard and fast rule for State housing commission homes to be made available for rental instead of providing an opportunity for purchase. Any form of housing objective cannot be achieved until all the facts of each State’s requirements and an understanding of the situation are known. I ask the Minister whether, in order to achieve some definite method of assistance for the low income earner to obtain accommodation of a respectable standard in the shortest possible time, he will consider my suggestion of an investigation along the line? I have mentioned. As I said earlier, the Opposition does not want to inconvenience the States any further with their welfare housing problem, and we support the Bill before the House.
– The purpose of this Bill, as stated by the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson), is to authorise the Treasurer (Mr Crean) to make advances not exceeding $327,975,000 to the States for welfare housing during 1973-74 and the first 6 months of 1974-75 in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. With its share of the, allocation the New South Wales Housing Commission proposes to spend approximately $30m on the commencement of 4,000 dwellings in the 1973-74 period. It also proposes to spend $21m of its allocation on the completion of dwellings now under construction, $3m on improving standards of existing homes and $5m on land purchase and development. When one realises that within the State of New South Wales alone the shortage of homes runs to 40,000 and that the situation in other States, particularly Victoria and South Australia, is nearly as bad, one appreciates the tremendous task that the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) and this Government have in trying to reduce the deficit of houses in the Commonwealth at present.
The total allocation of $218. 65m to the States represents an increase of $45. 45m on the 1972-73 allocation of $173.2m, or an increase of 26 per cent. The difference between this figure of $218. 65m and the amount authorised by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) of $327.975m, namely, $109.32m represents advances allowed for during the initial months of 1974-75, equivalent to half of the advances agreed to for 1973-74. The interest payable by each State on these advances will be at the very attractive rate of 4 per cent per annum on moneys allocated to State housing authorities and 4.5 per cent on money allocated to home builders account. These rates are most attractive, the 4 per cent payable by the States being 2.5 per cent below the current bond rate of 6.5 per cent. The rate of interest payable by purchasers of State authority dwellings will be not less than 5 per cent per annum nor more than 5i per cent per annum. The funds allocated to the home builders account of each State will be used to provide finance for prospective home owners by way of loans through co-operative terminating building societies or approved lending societies of the State. Interest on loans to prospective home owners from a co-operative terminating building society or approved authority receiving money from the home builders account will not exceed 5$ per cent per annum.
As the Minister has stated, we have now entered a new era in housing for the underprivileged. There is tremendous leeway to make up, but at last we have started. It is a triumphant end to the struggle to get a better deal for those who have been left behind in the postwar materialistic race. The significance of the present Housing Agreement is the assumption by the Australian Government of prime responsibility for the housing of the poor. The House will remember that the Housing Agreement with the States stipulates that not more than 30 per cent of the public housing authority money may be used to build commission homes for sale. This means that the Housing Commission must build predominantly homes for rental, which is the area of greatest social and economic need.
I sincerely hope that the housing authorities, when building homes to sell, will endeavour to build such homes amongst homes that are built for renting! In other words, the homes that are built for renting purposes should be mixed with those that are built to be sold. My reason for this request is that generally a man who owns his own home keeps his place tidy, cuts his lawn and so on. This has a tendency to make the occupiers of the rented homes in close proximity follow suit. From my experience in local government over many years, generally, I have found that rented homes built together as a section of rented homes were disaster areas when it came to the occupiers keeping the places looking nice, making gardens, cutting the lawns and so on. If the commissions were to mix houses which were owned with houses which were rented this problem to a great extent would be eliminated.
Another very important aspect of the Housing Agreement with the States is that not less than 85 per cent of the homes to be built must be allocated to families where the average gross weekly income of the main breadwinner, exclusive of overtime and child endowment payments, does not exceed 85 per cent of average weekly earnings. This enables the not-so-well-paid family to have the ability to obtain a home. Where the family includes more than 2 children this limit can be increased by $2 a week for each child after the second child. Because of this condition those eligible for homes mainly will be the lower income families who now are paying too high a proportion of their income in private rents. We hope that with the introduction of this provision, which will come into effect immediately .mis Bill is passed, this problem will be eliminated. It will also eliminate the problems of a large proportion of people living in unsatisfactory accommodation at present, such as those who are living with a mother-in-law, those living in rooms, or those living in conditions that should not be tolerated today.
Honourable members will remember that the Housing Agreement expressed the Government’s concern at the frequent absence of essential community amenities in many new areas developed by the State housing authority and the problems it led to in the large housing settlements. This is the first time that a clause such as the one I will refer to has been written into a housing agreement and been agreed to by the States. We have tremendous problems in areas such as Green Valley and Mount Druitt, where no provision has been made for amenities. In these areas, we find a tremendous housing project which has been completed, spoiled by the fact that, apart from houses, there were no amenities in any shape or form and great problems were created, particularly with regard to the children going to a park, a place of recreation, a community centre and so forth. To a certain extent this situation will be rectified by the introduction of this clause. The terms of the grant will allow the temporary use of part of the grants for housing to be used to provide essential community facilities. As I said, we can now use part of this money for that purpose.
I should say that the Minister for Housing would be well aware of the necessity for the housing authorities to consider seriously the question of amenities of this type. As a member of local councils for many years in the Mount Druitt, Rooty Hill and Green Valley areas ‘I found tremendous problems with child delinquency, parents who cleared out and broken homes because although the areas had been completed and one could not better the type of home found there, there was not a shopping centre, a park and recreation area or a community centre of any description; there were houses and nothing else and this created tremendous problems.
I commend the Minister on his strong suggestion to the States that wherever possible and practicable the authorities should intermingle privately built homes with housing authority homes. This breaks up the standard design of housing commission homes, brings into the community people of different wage structures and strengthens community life. Homes produced by a State Housing commission or by the Defence Service Homes Division may be of 16 different designs. But in each area design follows design, with the result that in Mount Druitt, for example, where 30,000 or 40,000 people have been housed by the Housing Commission, those 16 designs are repeated in every third, fourth or fifth street. If private builders are allowed to construct houses in different sections of a development, the monotony is broken up and a different class of people is introduced into that area.
It must be remembered that when the Labor Party took over the reins of government in December last, approximately 93,000 people were waiting for housing authority homes. It is estimated that at present the provision of these homes trails by 41 years the requirement of houses by individual Australian families. It is accepted that we cannot accomplish the impossible. We realise that a contented family is one that has a home, whether rented or owned. We realise also that a nation as prosperous as Australia should not be faced with the present position and that in the years to come every endeavour should be made to close the gap between the demand and the supply of homes for individual families by the Government supplying homes at the moderate cost I have set out in my speech.
– As the Minister for Housing and Minister for Works (Mr Les Johnson) said in his second reading speech, the purpose of this Bill is to authorise the Treasurer (Mr Crean) to make advances to the States for welfare housing during 1973-74 and the first 6 months of 1974-75 in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Housing Agreement. The short title of the Bill interests me. The Bill is entitled ‘States Grants (Housing Assistance Bill (No. 2)’. I direct attention to the words ‘States Grants’. The money is to be provided by way of loan. This is the usual procedure and Bills for this purpose use the words States Grants’. But I must admit that the words seem to be a bit of a misnomer. Perhaps it would be more appropriate if the Bill were entitled ‘Loan (Housing Assistance) Bill (No. 2)’. There may be some technical explanation for the use of the words ‘States Grants’. The point that occurs to me is that the Bill proposes not a grant of money but a loan at a low rate of interest to the State housing authorities.
The Housing Agreement Bill 1973 was introduced on 16 May 1973 by the Minister for Housing, together with 2 other Bills - the States Grants (Housing) Bill 1973 and the States Grants (Housing Assistance) Bill 1973. As the Minister stated in his introductory remarks, these Bills are all inter-related. The purpose of the Housing Agreement Bill was to obtain parliamentary approval for the Commonwealth to execute an agreement with each State, substantially in accordance with the form contained in the Schedule to the Bill. The Agreement provided that in. each of the 5 years commencing 1973-74 the Commonwealth would make advances at low interest rates to the States for welfare housing purposes. It differed from previous CommonwealthState housing agreements in that it placed a limit on the number of houses that the various States could sell to those who wished to achieve what most Australians aim for, that is, to own their own homes. The limit placed on the States in the Bill was that they could sell no more than 30 per cent of the homes built by the various State housing commissions.
This limitation, which represented an unprecedented dictation to the States as to the disposal of housing, was hotly resented by all States. This feeling of resentment was demonstrated by all States at a meeting in Adelaide passing a unanimous resolution asking that the 30 per cent limitation be increased to 50 per cent. However, the Minister held to his hard line that the States had to accept his terms that only 30 per cent of the houses could be sold and that the remaining 70 per cent were for rental only. At least the States, which were to receive a total of $3*27,975,000 under this Agreement, were able to force the Minister to depart from his original proposal that the houses constructed with this money should all be available for rental only. As many people said at the time, this was a classic example of the socialist philosophy being carried out as the proposal was that rental homes only should be provided by the expenditure of this Commonwealth money by State housing authorities.
The Premiers and the State Ministers for Housing - Labor, Liberal and Country Party - really dug their toes in when the Minister proposed this course of action, which went against all the traditions, birthrights and ambitions of the average Australian family to own their own home. This desire for people to own their own homes is deeply seated in the majority of Australian people, no matter what their incomes or backgrounds are. Yet, we had the frightening spectacle of a Labor Minister for Housing proposing to the States that the huge sum of $327,975,000 over a period of 18 months could be spent on providing houses for rental only. He was proposing that none of the houses to be built from those funds was to be sold to people who, in order to qualify for such houses, could not earn more than average weekly earnings. Thousands of people could see their chance of ever owning a home disappearing completely.
Members of this Parliament and members of the public were shocked and amazed that the Australian Labor Party, through the Minister for Housing, was proposing that these houses would be available for rental only. This action came from the Party which professes that it will do everything possible to encourage people to own their own homes. The huge sum of $327,975,000 was provided for housing with the provision that none of the homes built from those funds was to be for sale. However, the States were able to make the Minister back off from his socialist approach. The 1973 Housing Agreement now allows for the sale of 30 per cent of the homes constructed from this allocation.
The money referred to in this Bill is an increase of 26 per cent on the amount spent by the States in providing housing commission homes last financial year. However, I suggest that the increase does not represent as much as it appears to represent. As a result of the galloping inflation which has been experienced since the Labor Party came to government, the actual number of homes that will be constructed with this amount, despite the 26 per cent increase probably will be not many more than were built last financial year. The roaring inflation that Australia is experiencing has hit the building industry and the home buyers probably harder than any other area. Much of this inflation has been caused by shortages of basic materials, which in turn have been caused to a degree by strikes and the demand for homes. The rate of house building completions has slowed down under this Government because of these factors. Home construction has become more expensive. Yet, a 35-hour week is still being sought. The States will need, I suggest, every cent of this extra money just to keep pace with the previous rate of construction and the demand and, perhaps, these funds will not make much impression at all on the waiting list for housing commission homes.
The Minister said in his second reading speech that the 1973 Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement is still awaiting formal ratification by the States. I understand that it will be only a matter of time before this is formally achieved and that some States have already passed the necessary legislation. The Minister also said that about 30 per cent of the amount advanced will be made available to terminating building societies and similar institutions. I have been informed that the figure may be nearer 20 per cent. Perhaps the Minister will state whether it will be a definite figure of, say, 28 per cent or 30 per cent. The Minister may be able to clarify that situation during his reply.
I understand that many terminating building societies are having the obligations to them discharged more quickly than was anticipated when the debts were first undertaken by their clients and that this is causing some problems because of the under use of staff. Perhaps consideration could be given to making a greater share of the money available to terminating building societies and similar institutions in the future. It is maintained by some people that because the clients of building societies use private enterprise builders the money, balanced with the quality of the house, is used more efficiently by these societies than by government authorities. I am not technically qualified to support or reject that statement. However, it does seem that it could have some weight to it. Perhaps this aspect will be considered at a future time.
Under the terms of this Bill, New South Wales will receive $86m this financial year and $43m in the first 6 months of the next financial year. The corresponding figures for the other States are: Victoria, $53.5m and $26.7 5m: Queensland, Sl7.4m and $8.7m; South Australia, $32.75m and $16. 375m; Western Australia, $13m and $6.5m; and Tasmania, $16m and 8m. The respective totals are $2 18.65m for this financial year and $109.325m for the first 6 months of next year. Twenty per cent te 30 per cent of that is to go to the terminating building societies and similar institutions. The remaining 70 per cent to 80 per cent is to go to the State housing commission authorities. Thirty per cent of the houses that are built with that 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the money will be available for sale and 70 per cent for rental. That will hit some people hard, particularly in Victoria, where the sale of housing commission homes has been running at the rate of about 60 per cent since 1955. That number will be halved. Whilst it must be conceded that a certain number of houses must be available for rental to persons for a variety of reasons, it is most regrettable that many people who are, judging on past figures, battlers - average working men - will be denied the chance to purchase a home at a cost within their means and ambitions because of the restriction on the sale of housing commission homes. I submit, as did the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), that the State governments should have been allowed to continue to use their own judgment, taking into account the differing circumstances in the different States.
I wish to refer briefly to the urgent need for housing outside the capital cities. I hope that a substantial part of the total of $328m to be made available will be spent on houses in areas outside the capital cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, if any conditions are to be placed on, in particular, the expenditure of this money and the use of the homes they should be that a certain percentage has to be spent on housing in country areas. Practically all of the towns and cities in my electorate of Indi, particularly Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla, are experiencing a housing shortage. I think this position obtains almost everywhere outside the capital cities. I register the fact that this housing problem does exist in non-metropolitan areas and hope that urgent and high priority will be given by the States to the overcoming of this situation, thereby assisting the population and economic development of areas outside our capital cities.
The honourable member for Herbert mentioned the problems of an Army establishment in his electorate. I echo his words and support them. There is a large Army establishment in the electorate which I represent. A similar position exists there as far as Army housing is concerned. It is to be hoped that this matter will be taken into consideration in the future by the appropriate authorities. I conclude by saying that I am sure that this unprecedented restriction upon the selling of housing commission homes will upset and alienate a lot of the Australians who believed that the Australian Labor Party would encourage people to own their own homes, with the resultant care and maintenance which would be given to these homes by the people who have invested their money in Hum. In spite of the imposition of certain restrictions on the expenditure cf this large amount of money - S327.95m - it is recognised by the Australian Country Party and the other Opposition party that the passage of this Bill is essential to the housing commissions in the States. Therefore the Bill has the support of the Country Party and the other Opposition party, but with the reservations I have expressed.
– This Bill provides for the expenditure of the unprecedented sum of S2 18.7m on public housing over a period of 12 months. At last some assistance is to be given to the low income earner who wants to provide shelter for his family. This Bill represents the first real breakthrough in welfare housing. The persons who want this type of housing from the housing commissions or housing trusts in the States have had to wait 23 years for a Federal Labor Government to be elected and to provide this type of provision to meet their needs. This Bill, perhaps more than any other Bill brought down by the Whitlam Government, is the embodiment of the fundamental differences in approach and philosophy between the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party. This Bill will make funds available to the State governments pursuant to the new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. That agreement replaces the agreement made between the previous Federal Liberal Government and the States.
There are many important differences between the present Agreement and the one it replaces. The two most important differences are the amount of money to be made available and the interest rate payable. An amount of $21 8.7m will be made available to the States for public housing. It is not possible to make an exact comparison between that figure and the figure made available under the previous Federal Government because previously the States determined the amount to be made available. However, last year the States made available a total of SI 67m for housing. Compared with that figure, the provision of $2 18m this year represents an increase of more than 30 per cent. This is an enormous increase in the allocation for welfare housing, and it signifies tha great priority which the Federal Labor Government puis on providing housing for families with a limited income.
The other great difference from the previous Agreement is the reduction in the rate of interest payable. This, of course, means much lower rents or repayments. The interest rate difference also would be difficult to calculate compared with the previous scheme, but I believe that a reduction of at least one per cent under this Agreement would be a conservative estimate. It is no secret that the housing industry is over stretched at the moment and that the supply of houses cannot match the high level of demand. That is why the Government has had to take some action to reduce the demand for housing in the private sector. It is not action that the Government enjoys taking; nevertheless some action was necessary. When one is in Opposition of course, one can afford the luxury of criticising anything and everything that the Government does. In Opposition one can criticise the Government because there is inflation, but because all anti-inflationary measures are unpopular one also can criticise the Government for taking them.
As far as the Government is concerned, the situation is quite straightforward. Had we not taken action to reduce the demand for housing, we would simply have raised even further the cost of building a home. If we have so much land, labour and materials we can build only so many homes. Merely to put more money into the housing field will not build any more houses; it will only raise the unit cost. The Labor Government, because of its prime commitment to the less privileged, has increased its expenditure on welfare housing. Until we can increase the supply of manpower and materials, we have to slow down the activity in the private sector. This, of course, is the complete opposite to what Liberal governments would do and have done. It is the public housing sector that they would restrain. Even now the Opposition is admonishing the Government to cut government expenditure. Presumably the Opposition means that we should reduce the expenditure on public housing. In other words, the Opposition would let the private housing sector have its head, and to hell with the hapless families -who are queueing up for public housing from State housing commissions. This would be to take the line of least resistance, but it is something which the Labor Government is not prepared to do.
It is important to see the difference between controlling the level of private housing and controlling the level of government housing. In the government housing field one simply establishes a queue. This is easy to do because the State housing commissions are in a monopoly position. The applicant for a housing commission or housing trust home has nowhere else to turn. In contrast, to control lending for private housing is much more complicated. The Government has no legislative authority to control the amount of lending, except from the banks. Outside the banks the fringe banking organisations, such as the hire purchase companies, the building societies, the trust funds and so on, cannot be controlled. Therefore it is not surprising that Liberal governments took the easy way out. They let the financial institutions, which lend for private housing, do what they liked and controlled the aggregate demand for housing by choking off the necessary funds for public housing. That is quite a simple policy to implement, provided one is prepared to disregard the neediest families in the community - and that is just what the Liberal government’s record shows they did. In 1955, of all houses being built in Australia one out of five was being built by a government housing authority. But by 1972 this figure had fallen to one in ten. Equally revealing are the housing expenditure figures set out in Federal Budgets. In the 1954-55 Budget housing funds made up 2.68 per cent of Government expenditure, but in 1971-72 the figure had fallen to 1.8 per cent. What a policy! The previous Government let the private financial institutions do what they liked and it regulated the economy by turning the screw on the low income earner who was trying to provide shelter for his family.
In contrast to that policy, the Labor Government will be bringing in legislation to control the fringe banking institutions. This will enable the Government to regulate the volume of money going into the private housing sector. It is true that the Government does have indirect controls in the form of interest rates on government bonds, but these are crude controls. These controls have been used. It is true that they have caused interest payments on private housing to rise. There are measures which the Government has been reluctant to take, but I would like to say this: The increased interest payments may have made housing more expensive, but housing would have become more expensive still if nothing at all had been done. If the liquidity problem had not been acted on, housing costs would have gone through the roof; they would have had a bigger rise than any increase which has occurred from any increase in interest payments. These controls have been made necessary because at present the Government lacks the power directly to control the fringe banking institutions, but we expect that the Parliament will soon - that is, this year - pass legislation to give the Government the power it needs. When the Government has that power, private housing will be able to be allocated in the same way as public housing - that is, according to the order in which applications are made and not according to who can meet the highest repayments. I should mention also that the Government will be introducing another important measure to assist low income families in particular to own their own homes. That is a system of tax deductibility on interest payments on homes.
The Bill before the House and the Government’s housing policies are aimed at diverting the provision of homes to families with limited incomes. However, the ultimate aim of the Government’s policies is to bring about an increase in the aggregate number of houses built. This is not a question of making money available; rather is it a question of supply - the supply of land, manpower and materials. A great deal of ink has been spilt on how to contain land prices and to control land speculation. It would be wrong to understate the difficulties which exist. However, there are things which can be done, and I am pleased to say that some of them are being done. To the measures already announced by the Government I would like to suggest one or two additional measures.
The decision by the government to establish an Australian land commission is a most important one. The commission will act to acquire in Commonwealth Territories new land for development and subdivision by the Crown. Perhaps I should hesitate to use the word ‘Crown’ in this day and age and instead say ‘the Government on behalf of the people of Australia’. Money will be provided by the commission to State governments to enable them to do the same in areas under their jurisdiction. This will be of benefit where the State governments are prepared to enact complementary legislation such as that which has been foreshadowed by the progressive Government in South Australia. In addition to setting in train legislation to establish a land commission for the purchase of land by the Crown, that Government has foreshadowed legislation to restrain increases in land prices to 7 per cent per annum. As a supplement to this measure I would like to suggest the imposition of a capital gains tax on land, except that under my proposition it would be a capital gains tax with a difference. The capital gain would be taxed away whether or not the capital gain had been realised. For example, if an unearned increment takes place in the value of land after subtracting the value of the improvements which have been provided, I believe that the increment should be taxed away from the person who owns that land even though the sale may not have been carried out. In a way, it is really more of a tax on assets than a tax on capital gains. I believe that this would be what is often said about taxes on assets; it would require that asset to be sold in order to pay the tax and, of course, this would have the very desirable result of making more land available, at the expense of the land speculator.
The land commission could perform another very important function in a situation where there was some dispute with a landholder in regard to the value of his land. For example, if it were decided that a certain capital gain had taken place in the value of the land and the landholder said ‘I believe that the valuation is unfairly high’, the land commission could offer to acquire the land from the owner at the lower price - in other words, at the valuation given by the person who owned the land. If it is bought at the price suggested by the Crown the increased capital gain could be taxed away from the vendor. As I say, I believe this would have the very beneficial effect of increasing land sales and it would also increase revenue from people who may be well able to afford to pay it. This may have an additional spin-off of drying up excess liquidity and it may enable more rapid action to be taken to reduce interest rates in the private housing sector.
Another measure which I believe should be taken, which has been taken to some extent, and an area where I think perhaps we could do a little more is in the field of foreign investment which is purchasing residential and commercial land in Australia, particularly around metropolitan areas. The Government has already taken important measure to restrain the inflow of foreign capital which is purchasing residential and commercial land in our cities. However I believe we will have to be even more heavy handed in this matter. After the recent visit by an Australian parliamentary delegation to
China, when I was in Hong Kong I was discussing this with some individuals there, who were asking me what the prospects were like for investing money in land in Australia. I suspect that this is often the case; that this is really refuge money that is coming into Australia. Foreign investors think that Australia has a pretty good political climate and it is a good place to put their money. That is all very well except that it is making it pretty costly for Australians who want to buy their houses. I believe that we have to be quite ruthless in this field and quite heavy handed with our foreign exchange regulations to ensure that foreign capital coming into Australia is not used to make residential land more expensive for Australian families. I feel very strongly on this matter.
Another matter that has been mentioned on a number of occasions by the Minister for Housing and I welcome this, is a further look at the question of industrialised housing. Of course the provision of such housing has been the practice in South Australia for some years and I believe it is something that could be developed much further. Unfortunately there are problems with the provision of industrialised housing, and very often those problems reside in the attitude of local government authorities, which sometimes adopt a rather negative approach to the construction of factory made houses. For instance, in my own electorate there are Housing Trust homes which were in fact built in the United Kingdom, but under present local government authority conditions those houses could not be built. I think that perhaps we have to have a further look at ways and means of overcoming this problem. I think that further research into the industrial housing field will come up with methods of design that will be acceptable to local government organisations. I think, though, that it is also a question of consultation between local government authorities and the Commonwealth, and in this era in which the Australian Government is according greater recognition to the needs and problems of local government it is a very propitious time for us to discuss this problem with local government authorities. I think it is a most important field, particularly when there are bottlenecks, particularly with certain manpower problems, for instance, with bricklayers. There is a shortage of that type of building operative, and I think the industrial housing question could be a way of overcoming this problem.
I would like just briefly to ask the Minister for Housing to give some consideration to the question of restructuring payment of interest. At the present time when a family buys a house, in the early years of home repayments the repayment forms an inordinately high percentage of that family’s income. That is because a rate of interest is struck at the beginning of the loan and that average rate of interest is sustained throughout the entire period of the loan. Might I suggest that there are other ways interest payments could be made. For example, in the early part of the loan a notional low interest rate below the average could be paid and as the person’s income rises through his working life we could raise the rate of interest to ebove the average in the latter part of his working life. This would take some of the burden off the young family which has many other commitments in trying to pay off a house. This would transfer the burden and make the cost a more constant proportion of income throughout a person’s working life. This is a subject that has been canvassed by Professor Downing, amongst others. I think it is something we could look at because I believe it could mean a great deal of financial relief to young families.
Finally, I mention one other matter. We are not actually discussing the terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, but this is after all the Budget appropriation for that Agreement for this year. There was one item in the Agreement which I believe the Commonwealth Minister and the States ought to h ‘e another look at, and that is the provision relating to resale of houses. I completely agree, of course, with the low rate of interest that is being provided for people to purchase their homes. That is very solidly in accord with Labor Party principles and I would not depart from that at all. But of course, it is possible that a person’s financial position might improve and he then might be able to make a considerable capital gain out of the sale of the house which was originally purchased at a subsidised rate of interest. This cannot be done for the first 5 years because the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement provides that the housing commission shall be given first option to repurchase i the first 5 years. But after that 5 years it only says that the State Minister may require that the housing commission be given first option to repurchase. I believe that the housing commission should be given first option indefinitely, in other words beyond the 5-year term.
In conclusion I congratulate the Government for a magnificent breakthrough that has been achieved on behalf of the low income earners for whom we are trying to provide shelter. I think this is a measure which should be commended throughout the length and breadth of this land. I wholeheartedly support the legislation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– in reply - I. thank honourable members from both sides of the House for the tenor of the debate, since it is apparent that there is a considerable degree of acquiescence about the provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I am pleased that it has been generally acknowledged, particularly by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), who led for the Opposition, that this legislation represents a very significant ad .nee in respect of the efforts of the Government to provide housing for low income earners. None of us here would be placated in the face of the situation that there is such a large number of people waiting such a long time for housing. It is not the exclusive prerogative of the members of the Government to be concerned about these things, and I appreciate the expressions of interest that have been made by 2 honourable gentlemen opposite. Without my overstating the situation, it is a fact that we have entered a new era in housing for the underprivileged in Australia. I regard this legislation as representing a triumphant finale to the months of struggle to get a better deal for those who have been left behind by the post-war materialistic race. The fact of the matter is that there are many people in Australia who, without the assistance of legislation of this kind - without the benefit of the State housing authorities - could never go on to get a home to rent, let alone a house to buy. I do not want to exaggerate what has been achieved. I hope that there will be an even stronger concentration on housing in the future than we are proposing in this Bill. Not only will the Government provide more money for low income earners’ housing on better conditions but it will also make a contribution through this legislation for improved environmental conditions in housing estates.
I do not disparage what the State housing authorities are doing. Some very earnest efforts are being made around the countryside, but that is not to say of course that everything that is being done reaches all the ends that are desired. As the Minister I receive complaints, which could more correctly be directed to the State Ministers, about the inadequacy of the standard of State housing authority homes. I have heard of instances where roads and footpaths are badly constructed. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) who is sitting in the House at the moment has drawn my attention to an instance where there has even been a lack of sewerage in a recently provided housing estate and insufficient attention has been given to the need to relate it properly to employment opportunities, pre-school and educational facilities, shopping-
– Community facilities, too.
– And community facilities generally, the honourable gentleman interjects to remind me. These matters are properly the concern of this Government. No longer are we in the business of just making funds available without ensuring that they are expended in a desirable way. We have not set about laying out as much detail as the honourable gentleman would have liked in the negotiation of this Agreement. I want to remind the honourable member for Herbert, who has been quite friendly in the debate but who nevertheless in typical Opposition style has put the needle in here and there, that these advances are being made available at 4 per cent interest at a time when the long term bond rate stands at about 7i per cent. The best that the previous administration could ever do was to provide funds for State housing authority purposes at a concessional rate 1 per cent below the bond rate. That is to say, if we had not moved in quickly to negotiate the new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, today the people who are renting and purchasing homes would be required to-
– That is not the whole story.
– This is the story. The honourable gentleman may interrupt but I am saying quite unequivocally that if a new Agreement had not been negotiated very early in the piece by the new Labor Government the interest rate operating at this moment in respect of homes built under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement would not be 4 per cent, as it is, but 7i per cent. That rep resents a very large increase in repayment rates for anyone buying a home.
– And higher rental costs.
– As far as rental is concerned, i per cent increase in the interest rate represents an average rental increase of about $5 a month. So a lot of money is being saved. I feel quite certain that all honourable gentlemen here, no matter on which side of the House they sit, must be very gratified that the Government was successful in bringing this Agreement to its conclusion. The honourable member for Herbert made mention of the fact - it is a fact - that not every State has ratified the Agreement. I will not throw a lot of light on that matter at the moment except to say that 5 States have signed the Agreement and the remaining State will be signing it this week.
The other important thing to say is that in respect of the considerable amount of money made available, which is a very great increase over previous years, the States are getting what they asked for. The States determined the amount themselves in the previous year and they decided to spend $ 166.65m. It has been lifted on this occasion to $2 18. 65m - an increase of 26 per cent. A number of matters have been raised during the course of this debate and I would like to mention several of them. But let me first give a summary of the difference in the allocations made in 1972- 73 and 1973-74. First of all, in 1972-73 $1 17.04m was allocated for the purposes of the State housing authorities, and in 1973-74 the amount was increased to $147. 8m. Then there is the home builders’ account. This is the account through which funds are made available to the terminating building societies. In 1972-73 $56.1 lm was allocated and in 1973-74 $70.85m was allocated. So we have in total for 1972-73 $173.2m and for 1973-74 $218.65m.
But I draw attention again to that increased allocation in the home builders’ account from $56.1 lm to $70.85m We have heard some fairly insignificant quibbling on the other side of the House about the antipathy which the Labor Government is supposed to have in respect of people purchasing their own homes. However, in negotiating this Agreement the Government facilitated 30 per cent of the funds for sale purposes. Then in addition to that we allocated 30 per cent of the funds to the home builders’ account also used to assist home purchase. Naturally enough, a means test applies to this Agreement because it is concessional money. It is money being contributed to by the taxpayers of the country and is being made available to those people who cannot get finance for housing anywhere else. There is an element of assistance. We want to make certain that it goes to the people who need it.
So in general terms we make it available to people who receive 85 per cent of average earnings, excluding overtime. Then there are special allowances for children and so on. The recipients of the advances that go through the home builders’ account are those who receive 95 per cent or less than the average earnings, again with allowances and exclusive of overtime. This is an identifiable group. Of course, these people have to pay just a little more interest. They can buy their homes at St per cent, which by today’s standards is very good. But the point I am making is that there is no diminution at all in respect of the percentage or proportion of funds which are allocated for home purchase. Nevertheless, I do not have to apologise to the House or to the nation for the fact that I was setting out to caretake the stock of housing commission homes in Australia, because the fact is that many people pass through the housing commission assistance. Primarily they have a need for shelter and we have to make certain that we have adequate shelter available for rental.
The stock of housing commission homes had run down very considerably. It is staggering to see the figure which one needs to put beside the replacement cost when a housing commission home is sold off. It may have been built years ago on land which was purchased years ago. If one tries to replace it one pays perhaps three or four times more than the actual cost - a phenomenal amount of money. Whilst having regard for the aspiration of Australians to own their own homes it te necessary to have some respect for the fact that a stock of rental homes is necessary for those who pass through the housing authority systems. Not everybody who applies to go into a State housing authority home aspires to stay there forever. However they ore being given the opportunity to save a deposit which may enable them to take up a loan through a building society or some other lending authority. The relatively modest home should then be available for somebody else passing through the system.
I summarise what is happening with these advances. With its share of the allocation the
New South Wales Housing Commission proposes to spend approximately $30m on the commencement of 4,000 dwellings in 1973-74. It proposes also to spend $21m out of its allocation on the completion of dwellings now under construction, $3m on improving standards of existing homes and $5m on land purchase and development. In Victoria the advances to the Housing Commission will be used to commence upwards of 3,000 dwellings in its construction program for 1973-74. Advances also will be used for land purchase and development. The authority in Victoria intends to make greater use of its concrete house project at Holmesglen which produces prefabricated components. In Queensland the Housing Commission will be spending its allocation of $ 12.2m on the construction of about 870 dwellings, on land purchase and land development. This compares with the $10.55m spent in 1972-73. The South Australian Housing Trust will spend its allocation of SI 5.5m on the erection of dwellings, land purchase and land development. The $10.4m allocated to the State Housing Commission of Western Australia will enable welfare housing activity to proceed at about the same level as in 1972-73. The Housing Department of Tasmania is planning to increase commencements from about 600 to close to 1,000 with its allocation in 1973-74.
I want to mention a matter raised by the honourable member for Herbert without making a big thing of it. The fact is that there are some difficulties in respect of houses provided under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement (Servicemen) in Queensland.
– They are the best Service homes in Australia.
– The. points I want to make will interest the honourable member. If they are the best in Australia I just do not understand-
– As a group of houses they arc the best in Australia from an Army point of view.
– I do not want to be at loggerheads with the honourable member. 1 know he is identifying a group of houses and saying generally that those houses are of a high standard. He regards them as being the best in Australia. Nevertheless, without going into details on this matter, which is the subject of a considerable exchange of correspondence between me and the Queensland Minister for Housing, the fact is that there has been some problem in respect of bringing some of the houses in the Townsville area up to the scales and standards which were prescribed in 1972. There have been complaints concerning some relatively minor matters. Nevertheless the view is taken by the people who determine the scales and standards for servicemen’s housing that there should be a range of amenities in every house. I forgot the whole list but it includes such things as screen windows, exhaust fans, ceiling fans and blinds. In respect of some of these houses-
– Have you seen a house not flyscreened?
– It is no use the honourable gentleman quibbling because I have the correspondence from the Queensland Minister and the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) and can make it available to the honourable member. There are deficiencies in some of these houses. There are other problems as well. At Townsville 142 houses have been programmed for Army use and 66 for Air Force use, that is a total of 208 houses for the year 1972-73, but none of these has been started and there is a contention by the Department of Defence that they should have been started. The honourable member is interested in the welfare of the Services. He has been Minister for the Army. I understand his interest and I assure him that what I am saying about this matter is in keeping with the concern that he is expressing. I want to make sure that these houses for servicemen in Queensland, either built in the past or to be built in the future, are brought up to the standard which prevails in every other State. I will be making every possible effort towards that end. I hope there will be fewer complaints about some of these houses in Townsville in the future and I hope I am aided and abetted in my efforts by the honourable member and that I get cooperation from the Queensland Housing Minister because our intentions, as expressed by the Minister for Defence, are genuine. I do not think I need go into this matter any further.
I pay tribute to the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Ashley-Brown) who has raised a number of matters but not in a critical way. He certainly has demonstrated his great interest and wide knowledge of housing matters generally. I appreciate the continued support and advice that he has given me, particularly during the period when I was negotiating the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. I was interested in the remarks of the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) who proposed that a percentage of houses should be allocated for country areas. I do not want to knock that as a proposal, but it may come as some surprise to him to know that it was never raised by any of the State Premiers, even of that one State which has a Country Party Premier. I might not have been disinclined to co-operate if such a proposal had been put to me. I am not saying that I would co-operate, but the honourable member for Indi raised this novel suggestion. He obviously does not trust the States. He does not want them to determine where the houses will be built. He wants me, as the Commonwealth Minister, to include a provision ensuring that a certain percentage of houses goes to country areas. I will not sit aside forever and be oblivious to this suggestion.
– You are-
– Are you in favour of what your colleague has put to me?
– The substance of it yes, but you are distorting what he put to you.
– That is what he put to me. I am saying there may be merit in it. I am surprised that the Queensland Government -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Les Johnson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1476), on motion by Mr Daly:
That the House take note of the paper:
– The report by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety is in effect an interim report. A report was previously produced when the Liberal-Country Party Government was in power. It was thought that a progress report should be submitted. Before dealing with some of the contents of the report I should like to pay tribute to the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), whose profound interest in road safety was well known before he actually took over as Chairman of the Committee. I am sure that the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) would agree with me that the Chairman is a man of great enthusiasm. I could not let this occasion pass without referring to Mr Ray Beggs, Mr Ian Booth and the people who worked behind the scenes. My goodness, what a dedicated person and enthusiast Ray Beggs has been. He has kept all members of the Committee moving. The Committee has had a multitude of sittings - many more than any other committee of which I have been a member. It travelled all over Australia and conferred with people from all walks of life, including .people of very great authority. Some of the witnesses who appeared before the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety are regarded as international authorities. They are people who have attended overseas conferences and sapped the brains of the world. They have been able to inform the Committee of some of the most advanced ideas concerning road safety.
We heard evidence from many witnesses - I would not like to say how many - and I think all members of the Committee were impressed by the staggering figures which indicated that over a 10 year period from 1963-1972 no less than 32,830 people were killed on the roads in Australia alone. If that is not carnage of the worst possible nature, I do not know what is. Over the same period 821,149 injuries were sustained. One of the things which affected most members of the Committee was the consistent pattern which emerged throughout the whole accumulation of evidence. There were cerain factors which were consistent all over the world and which were affecting road safety. The one that was most spoken of - I suppose I can safely say it was the one in respect of which there was the least suggestion as to a solution - was what we have learnt to call drink-driving. As the Committee sat we began to get used to the term ‘drink-driving’ rather than drunken driving’. It is interesting to note that most of the witnesses agreed quite readily that they themselves drank to a very great extent. They were not wowsers. They were not people with an attitude against drink generally. They contributed a pattern of evidence which showed that the accident rate was due primarily to drink-driving.
As I mentioned earlier, some interesting suggestions came forward. However, no substantial stand was taken which said that suchandsuch should be done to meet the evergrowing difficulty of drink-driving. There was conflict of opinion as to whether spot tests should be taken with the breathalyser and whether this would encroach on civil liberties. What is more important, civil liberties or 32,830 people over a period of 10 years being killed on the roads? We know full well that this rate will not only keep up but also will accelerate.! The suggestion came forward, profoundly and with great courage, that something had to be done about the drinkdriving problem but that civil liberties should not be encroached upon by having spot tests with the breathalyser.
It was admitted quite freely, and acknowledged, that the day of the little suburban pub was just about over. At one time as the sun was setting a person could wander off with a few of his mates to the pub - or meet them at the pub - and walk home again. That cannot ‘be done now. Today there are great hotel complexes with swimming pools and all the rest of it. What interested the members of the Committee was that considerable space was allocated for the parking of cars. If one drives a car to the hotel to enjoy some conviviality - I would be the last in the world to object to that - honourable members will no doubt agree that one has to drive the car home again and that the driver may not be in quite the same condition. So, a suggestion was put forward - my goodness, who would put this into effect - that parking areas be done away with. This is a matter that could be given consideration.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I believe that this report is a landmark in Australia’s legislative history. I hope that the legislation which will flow from it will be something of which we will be very proud. I believe it is a privilege to speak in this debate. My interest in this subject goes back over a number of years. One of our problems as a community is the way in which we have come to accept road accident casualties as inevitable. Even the word ‘accident’ is a misnomer. I do not believe that we should think of them as accidents any longer because they are preventable provided we take the action necessary.
At this stage I join the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) is paying a tribute to the work of the Chairman and to the Committee staff, who have assisted us in our deliberations. It is interesting to note that this report, which comes from a Committee made up of members of all parties in this House, is unanimous. I hope that action which will flow from it will also have a great deal of unanimity. The recommendations of the Committee in this instance cover a number of matters. This is the first of a number of reports which will be brought down by the Committee and placed before the House for consideration. Firstly, the Committee recommends that the Australian Government should examine the constitutional framework in which any road safety legislation would work. Secondly, it recommends that the Australian Government should legislate for the creation of a national authority on road safety and standards as a statutory authority with a full-time commissioner of First Division status. The report then goes on to list the functions of such an authority. It covers all those matters which bear upon legislation for road safety.
One of the problems which the Committee came across in its deliberations and in hearing witnesses who came before it was that the various State authorities have so many different ways of approaching this problem. There is not one form for the reporting of road accidents in any one of the States or Territories which is the same as those of others. This makes it very difficult and in fact impossible for the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics to draw up uniform data. One of the problems with road safety in Australia is that we do not really know the full extent of the problem and where we ought to act first. Nevertheless, there is sufficient guide to enable us to do a great many things. For instance, as far as road accidents affect vehicles, we know that there are 2 major aspects. One is the prevention of accidents by designing vehicles so that they are better controlled, by designing environmental factors such as more divided highways into our roads, by better signposting and by having much better road marking. I might digress here to say that some of the evidence placed before the Committee showed that effective road marking could cut road accidents by as much as 70 per cent to 80 per cent. That is something .that I think we should not overlook.
The other major factor, of course, is the driver. Unfortunately human beings remain the sort of people they are for most of their lives. We can train them. We can persuade them to drive better, as some companies do with their drivers. But most drivers, although they have a quite highly developed degree of physical skill, do not always have their minds on the job. They do not drive as they are physically capable of driving because mental factors rom into it. So this is the problem relating ‘ the prevention of accidents.
Facing up to the problem that road accidents will occur, we must look to see what we can do about the prevention of death and injury should an accident occur. There are several ways in which we can approach this. We can strengthen cars - programs are being developed in many countries now in the development of experimental safety vehicles as is being done both in the United States of America and Germany. Some of these vehicles are very large and heavy and quite grotesque in design. However, other vehicles have been designed which, while affording the driver and his passengers maximum protection, are well designed and pleasing to look at. I would suggest that this is a field into which Australian motor car manufacturers might well enter.
In regard to individuals, the major problem of course is with pedestrians. Large numbers of pedestrians are killed every year; the figures vary from State to State. Most of these persons are either very young or elderly and it seems to me that the only way in which we are going to solve the major part of this problem is to separate pedestrians and vehicles. A great deal of publicity was given recently in my own State of Victoria to a school crossing accident. These are the sorts of things that should not happen in a well organised society. The separation of pedestrian and vehicles is very expensive but it is the only real answer because while pedestrians come into close proximity with vehicles accidents will occur.
I was interested to note in the Press following the presentation of this report to the House that the Chairman of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons road trauma committee, Mr E. S. R. Hughes, urged the States to cede their powers over road safety legislation to the Federal Government so that a national road safety agency could be created. He urged the
States to agree quickly to the necessary constitutional changes. I am not sure that all these constitutional changes are necessary in the first stage, but I think it would be a good idea. Mr Hughes said:
Increasing carnage on Australia’s highways has created a state of emergency.
He went on to say: . . the road trauma committee fully supported recommendations made to Federal Parliament last week by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety. A national emphasis on road safety would mean we could come to grips with this national epidemic. There would be no more pussyfooting or conf usion over the many issues.
Unfortunately this did not meet with the approval of the Victorian Chief Secretary, Mr Rossiter. Mr Rossiter replied that any move to give the Federal Government the powers on road safety would be ‘over my dead body’. The Melbourne ‘Age’ very correctly pointed out that Mr Rossiter did not quite understand the situation. The article said that what was proposed by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety was that there should be a national authority headed by a first-rate full time commissioner to advise the Federal Government on all proposals for financial assistance to the States on road safety. We do need a national approach to this problem and I hope that those Ministers in charge of road safety in the various States will come together with the Australian Government to see what we can do about the problem.
I point out to the House that if deaths on the roads continue at the present rate, approximately 100,000 people will die over the next 27 years in road accidents. It is necessary to state this fact. Honourable members are aware of the huge numbers of people who go to see a major football final. Imagine that number of people being wiped out and the tremendous suffering that the loss of those people would cause. The toll on our roads is running at a rate equal to the number of deaths in a major war. We must look at this problem in the same way as we would look at defence needs in a major war. If we were faced with a problem in time of war, would anyone of us say: Where is the money? We cannot, do it. The problems are too great’ Of course we would not say that. We would take whatever steps were necessary. That is what I believe we must do now.
We must consider safety features in vehicles and safety features on our roads. These do save lives. The introduction of seat belts is an outstanding example. Following the intro duction of the compulsory wearing of seat belts in Victoria, the road death rate fell by 13 per cent in a year. This was despite the fact that not every person wore a seat belt. I also bring to the attention of the House the need to protect children. We still see small children unrestrained in vehicles moving in heavy traffic where the driver may need to stop suddenly. We still see small children moving about in fast moving vehicles on our major highways. We should be able to design seats for these children and educate people to see that that sort of thing does not happen.
The cost of road accidents in monetary terms has been mentioned in the report. It is very difficult to estimate what it is, but I believe that it could be as high as $ 1,000m per year. The cost in human terms is tremendous. How can we ever measure the cost in human suffering? Yet, we do measure some intangibles in our society. How does one measure the value of a famous work of art? We put a value on works of art occasionally. How do we measure the value of music or the pleasure that people receive from sport, television, theatre, poetry and all sorts of human intangibles. I believe that we need to put a much greater value on human life than we are doing at the moment with respect to the effect of road accidents.
This major national problem needs a national solution. We must not be content to accept the situation which has developed. This report, I believe, will be only the first step on the way to action which will change the legislative framework of our approach to road safety in Australia. In so doing, with goodwill and in the belief that any money expended will be more than returned, even in monetary terms, we must all work together in this Parliament in the same way as the members of the Select Committee on Road Safety are working together. When the time comes for a decision, we must make that decision unanimously in the interests of all those people whose lives will be saved and in the interests of the suffering which will be prevented if we take such action.
– Mr Speaker, I ask for leave to use a few minutes of the time that remained to me before the sitting was suspended. Unfortunately, I arrived in the chamber 2 minutes late and missed my call. I have spoken to the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) who has been kind enough to say that I might use those additional few minutes.
-Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. 1 call the honourable member for Kennedy.
– I thank you, Mr Speaker, I thank the House and I thank the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) who is to rise next in this debate. I wish to add one or two points to my earlier remarks. The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) has already stressed one of those points. I refer to driver training. I think the accumulation of evidence given to the Select Committee on Road Safety indicated one thing, that is, that a human element is involved. The taking out of one’s emotions in a car on the road is something that one cannot do very much about, but one can do something to alleviate the problem. The Committee felt that that could be done from 2 points of view. Firstly, it could be done from the point of view of early training. It was felt that people should be trained almost from their kindergarten days to be made aware of the great dangers of the road and the dangers of a motor vehicle. As someone has said, a motor car which is travelling at more than 70 miles an hour is a killer. It does not matter how good a car is; there is an element of danger when it is being driven at more than 70 miles an hour. I think that those sorts of things could be brought home to children even when they are at their most immature stage of life. So driver training is another element that could contribute to a reduction in the dreadful carnage on our roads.
There has been talk about an experimental safety vehicle. The honourable member for Diamond Valley referred to it. Work is being done by various companies in various parts of the world on the production of what could be regarded as something approaching a fairly safe car. There are two or three of them around at the moment. When the Committee presents its final report and I have the opportunity of speaking again on this matter it may be the appropriate time to start naming vehicles. I was rather disturbed by what happened recently when I was driving in one of the makes of motor vehicles regarded as being fairly safe. Two things happened which disturbed me. Firstly, as I was driving along with a friend of mine some weeks ago the windscreen wiper came off at a very critical stage of our trip when it was pouring rain. We were barely able to see more than a few yards in front of us. That was a threat to our safety.
The following day the traffic indicator fell to pieces just as we were about to make a turn. Those are only minor matters, but they happened to a car whose manufacturer claims it to be a safe car; it is a car which is expensive to buy. Those things should be taken care of.
That brings me to the main point on which I want to say a few extra words. I suppose there is no one in the chamber who has not bought a car with which he has had trouble and who, on taking it back to have the faults rectified has become aware that the wonderful things the dealers promised him when he bought the car - after sales service and the rest of it - would not be easily achieved. One has the devil’s own job getting faults rectified. The dealers start their spiel about one having bought a beaut vehicle and about there being the occasional vehicle which has defects. That is for the birds. The Committee was given a hint - the honourable member for Diamond Valley and the honourable member for Melbourne will no doubt remember it - from a representative of the major car distributors in Australia about what to do. I think it will be well worth while if I get this one message across. He said: ‘If you are not getting satisfaction from the distributor who sold you your motor vehicle write direct to the Managing Director in Australia of the firm manufacturing the car. You will invariably find that you will begin to get satisfaction! I think that was a very good hint.
The only other subject I would like to speak about is the possibility of the establishment of a special emergency fund. When the Committee eventually makes its final recommendations it may suggest that the central Government or the State governments - this is a matter which is yet to be decided - should set up some sort of emergency fund. Occasionally one finds a road is deteriorating. I cite as an example a road in Queensland known as the Capricorn Highway. It leads from Rockhampton into a newly developing area in the central highlands. This newly developing area is where most of the major coal mining developments have occurred. I am pleased to say that it is in the Kennedy electorate. It includes such places as Blackwater and Goonyella. What has happened - other areas have had the same experience - is that quite suddenly there has been a dramatic development of the area. Where a short while ago there were only 200 or 300 people there are now several thousand. Many of them are young people who are being paid reasonably WC - well enough to enable them to have a fast car. Those cars are being driven on a road that was meant for slow moving rural traffic. What has happened? It has become a killer road of the worst possible kind. Quite recently 6 people were killed in a collision. Some months before that 5 people were killed. A whole family wa- wiped out. A few weeks before that 2 cars collided and I think 5 or 7 teenager; were killed.
The trouble with this road is that it is narrow and has deep shoulders. It could either be patrolled by police or perhaps the speed limit on it should be 40 miles an hour. It may even be necessary to close the road. A more sane approach would be for the local authority in that area to bring the road up to standard and make it safe. The State Government may not be able immediately to contribute funds to upgrade the road to the required standard. This is why I think there ought to be an emergency fund which could provide the money to upgrade these sorts of roads where ever they are located in Australia. I do not say that this applies particularly to the electorate of Kennedy, although it might be the finest electorate in Australia.
I thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to speak again in this debate. I also thank the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) for the opportunity to speak again. I just wanted to make those one or two comments. I conclude my remarks by saying that this is a good committee. The members of it have forgotten politics completely. I think it is working towards achieving what could be a policy for the next 25 years in setting the guidelines for a traffic code that will save many lives, instead of wasting lives as we have wasted 32,000-odd lives in this country over the last 10 years.
– I rise to speak to the motion that the House take note of the report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Road Safety. Having been associated over the last few months with this very fine Committee I would have been most disappointed tonight not to hear the Carpricorn Highway mentioned; so I am indebted to the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) for referring to it. I join with the previous speakers in this debate in saying that I hope this preliminary report of the Committee will play a substantial part in leading to the production of a com prehensive document which will lead to an alleviation of the road horror and the number of tragedies that we see from day to day as a result of road accidents.
It has been my pleasure to participate in the work of this Committee, which is dealing with one of the most important matters within the responsibility of this Parliament. The co-operation of everybody who has served on this Committee points to the advantage of all-party committees endeavouring to reach a consensus, in this instance, on the basis of which methods can be found to eliminate as far as possible the incidence of road accidents. I think that the people who have worked in concert with this Committee - in particular the Secretary, Mr Beggs, and other staff associated with the Committee - are to be commended on the way in which they have carried out their duties. I publicly acknowledge the work they have done on this very important task.
The interim report contains 3 preliminary recommendations. They include the setting up of a national authority on road safety and standards, the collection of statistical information to assist in a narrowing of the major areas of the problem and the need to develop a conscious desire to achieve a high degree of road safety by education including educational programs to influence children, drivers, pedestrians, passengers, cyclists, manuf acturers and the general community. A great deal of work already has been done. It has been carried out by a number of organisations which certainly have applied themselves in the areas in which they have been involved. But I believe that much of this effort has been wasted because, although the objectives of these organisations may be commendable, a number of bodies appear to bc pulling in all sorts of directions and because of this lack of co-ordination the results have suffered accordingly. For instance, I mention one aspect of the evidence that was put before the Committee. Evidence was taken from all sorts of people from all walks of life. They included people from the medical profession, manufacturers and road safety organisations. Evidence was also given by town planners and other people who are looking to conservation and areas that might be preserved around roads but not ignoring the effect their proposals would have on road safety.
I understand that for some 14 years we have been trying to get a co-ordinated, uniform method of putting statistics together so we would have the simple operation - I think it is a simple operation but there may be more complexities than I envisage - of people going to an accident on the road and simply writing down the statistics that are necessary to be compiled for the benefit of a uniform operation by those people who look at statistics, see how they can be analysed and see how they can advise various people who have an effect on road safety and who can be a party to the elimination or reduction of the road toll. After 14 years we have the deplorable situation that we cannot even get from each of the States a document compiled on uniform lines. We have 6 different States and 6 different documents. ‘It seems to me unbelievable that that should be the state of affairs, but the evidence is that it is the state of affairs. Australia is not so large that we should not be able to produce one document showing the make of car involved, how the accident happened and the other statistics that are necessary to conform with a uniform project. But that is not the case. I could show honourable members 5 different documents from 5 different States. So it seems to me that there is a necessity to get down to the matter of co-ordination and organisation.
We have had a lot of reaction to the report. Since it has been produced numerous people from all walks of life have contacted me saying: ‘It is a commendable proposition. We think that some of the recommendations must surely be supported by the Parliament. We think that surely the police departments in each of the States - the experts - can direct their attention to producing the wherewithal to reduce the road toll’. However some other people, for political or other reasons, have made some stupid observations about the recommendations and what I believe was a comprehensive report brought down by the committee. That is unfortunate, because we have heard the honourable member for Kennedy, the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) and others who have served on this Committee say that politics was set aside, because human life surely is above that when you are looking at such a serious proposition.
Therefore we should be looking at the matter of road safety in a vastly different way from the way in which we see some people within the various States looking at it. Instead of the Chief Secretary in Victoria, Mr
Rossiter, making some inane comments about the report, I would have expected the Victorian Government to make every endeavour to develop co-operation with the Commonwealth and the other States to institute a road safety code designed to reduce significantly the shocking road toll. It will not be just over the dead body of Mr Rossiter that we will achieve co-operation. If we do not achieve the utmost of understanding and liaison it will be over the dead bodies of a number of road users that people like the Chief Secretary will satisfy their ego. I think it is far more important to consider this than it is to listen to Mr Rossiter rave on about all these things.
One would think from the observations of Mr Rossiter that we were well equipped to deal with road safety, but let me tell the House that we are not. Statistics are not available to local organisations or panels set up to deal with this very serious matter. If they want statistics they have to go to the Commonwealth Statistician or perhaps make investigations through Mr Beggs or someone else to find out what information is available. If we intend to examine this question in a responsible way we should be looking to the next Commonwealth conference to see what will be made available to the States for national roads. The Country Roads Board in Victoria receives in the vicinity of 60 per cent of the return to the State from the tax on petrol. This is spent on roads within Victoria. Far more money is spent on the country highways than on roads in the metropolitan area where the standard of road is left to the whim or will of the municipality which does not come to grips with the major factor in road safety - the standard of the roads and the way in which they are maintained. It seems to me that a great deal of attention should be paid to roads generally in Victoria by the people concerned.
I do not desire to take up a great deal of the time of the Parliament but I would like to mention the areas into which the Committee will move. It will be looking at conservation. It will certainly be looking at the institutional frame work, the proliferation of authorities and the constitutional power which has been mentioned. There should be no constitutional barrier to setting up a central authority which could deal with road safety exclusively. No impediment should be placed in the way of any section of the community to prevent it from doing the sorts of things we would want it to do. The Committee will be looking at aspects of traffic engineering for road design, town planning, land usage, exposure to accidents and priority roads.
I refer again to Victoria. When it comes to the introduction of signs on priority roads Mr Rossiter should take another look at these things. The signs have been up and down like a yo-yo. Perhaps not enough thought was put into looking after the interests of people using the roads. A mad dash was made. The municipalities were given the authority to put up the signs. They did not know what was meant by priority roads. The signs were put up, and the next day they were ordered to be taken down. It was Mr Rossiter who indicated that it would be over his dead body that there would be co-operation with the Commonwealth authority with the expertise to deal with this matter in a proper and intelligent way. So it seems to me that, within the frame work of the environment we should apply ourselves in a very real sense to town planning. To deal with this concept we will have to have people who can not only look after the environment in a way to be admired but who can also apply themselves to seeing what trees along the sides of the roads may be hazards and will have to be removed. They will have to decide how to overcome what is referred to as the hardware along the freeways. One cannot be hard and fast about the principle of freeways running around cities or through them.
Human life is another factor to be looked at. It may well be a great thing to be able to enable an additional 1,000 cars to pour in and out of Melbourne each day. In terms of costs, it may well be that goods travelling between Sydney and Melbourne and beyond should not be impeded but the value of human life, to which the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) referred, must.be considered. I am pleased to note that every member of the Select Committee on Road Safety has set other considerations aside and has intelligently, in my view, considered the evidence that so far has been put before them. What is done from now on is in the hands of the Committee. There was a unanimous decision that the Committee should look at those fields to which I have made brief reference. Vehicle design, manufacturer cooperation and all the information that the Committee has had to this point of time from departments and other people must be taken into account. I commend the Committee’s recommendations to the House, which, at some future time, will have to face up to what is a commendable proposition from the Committee. The Committee certainly will be presenting further reports after - having examined people who, I am sure, are dedicated to the aspiration of all members of the Committee, its Chairman and its staff, namely to save as many human lives as possible. I commend the report and hope that Committee recommendations which come before the House will be supported by all honourable members whether from the Opposition or the Government benches.
– In rising to speak to the debate arising from the presentation of the interim report of the Select Committee on Road Safety concerning the setting up of a national authority I thank all members of that Committee for having brought the report down and for the manner in which they have gone about their responsibilities. They have an important task and the manner in which they have gone about it has been indicated by the enthusiasm of the last speaker, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes). The same enthusiasm has been evident in Committee members from the Opposition. When committees operate in this way we know that we will get reports that are prepared by men who are interested in and conscious of their responsibilities. For that reason I thank them for the report.
In recent times considerable attention has been paid to the tragic loss of life and limb on our roads and many proposals have been put forward with the aim of reducing or eliminating such loss. We have had our successes, in particular with seat belts. The Select Committee on Road Safety has estimated that seat belts probably have saved about 850 lives during the past 2 years. Some 850 Australians who are walking about today owe their lives to seat belts. To this number we must add those who would otherwise have been severely maimed and handicapped as paraplegics and quadriplegics. But we cannot afford to be complacent. The road toll has again started to rise. Last year there were 3,422 fatalities and in the 7 months to July of this year 2,044 Australians lost their lives on our roads compared with 1,905 in the same period_of_last year.
The Australian Government has recognised the road toll as a national problem warranting urgent co-ordinated action at the national level. The Government moved for the reappointment of the Select Committee on Road Safety. It accepted the major recommendations of the expert group, in particular the creation of a central information service for those working in road safety and a program of low cost improvements at locations with bad accident records. The sum of $3m has been provided for this purpose in this year’s Budget and we will be looking at further support in the context of our review of the Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation. A total of $975,000 is being provided this year for road safety promotion and research. I referred to the Select Committee the recommendation by the expert group for a high level specialist national office of road safety so that I could have the benefit of its views. The Select Committee reported on 25 September recommending a statutory national authority on road safety and standards which would take over and intensify the present activities of my Department in the field of road safety, emission control and consumer protection.
I have much pleasure in informing this House that the Government has accepted the recommendations of the Select Committee. We will set up a national authority on road safety and standards with the following terms of reference: (A) Advise the Minister for Transport on road safety, including proposals for financial assistance to the States for this purpose. (B) Formulate, in consultation with the relevant State and Australian authorities, proposals in respect of: Motor vehicle standards involving emission control and consumer protection as well as safety standards; road safety standards in respect of highway engineering, traffic management, roadside furniture and town planning; and uniform traffic codes; (C) Certify compliance of motor vehicles and vehicle components with approved standards. (D) Prepare road safety impact statements in respect of transport and urban development programs being financed to a significant degree out of Australian Government funds.
As I have said, the Authority will take over and develop the work my Department has been doing for some time. This does not involve any criticism of the work which has been done. We are seeking a higher degree of efficiency in a function which involves a large and complex transport system within a complicated institutional framework. To achieve greater progress it is necssary to attack the problem on a wide front by the use of vigorous, co-ordinated and multidisciplinary methods. In recent years the difficulty of tackling the problem has been increased by the growing number of organisations which have responsibilities involving one aspect or another of the road safety problem. It has become obvious that the only way of handling this complexity with any degree of efficiency is to create a national body such as the one the Government has decided upon.
The Authority is expected to be operational by the middle of 1974. We will appoint an interim commissioner to assist with legislative and organisational matters. It was expected that the necessary legislation would be introduced in the current session of Parliament. However, due to the weight of business, this may not be possible. To assist the Authority we will appoint an advisory committee on road safety research and information to carry on the good work of the expert group on road safety. We will also take an urgent and thorough look at the Constitutional position. Traditionally it has been accepted that the States had full responsibility in this field - except in the Australian Government’s own Territories - but this view has come under challenge. In fact it has been suggested that the Australian Government has ready-made powers which would enable it to legislate effectively in the road safety field in a national context.
The Government accordingly has decided to commission a thorough examination of the Constitutional situation so that we can remove as far as possible any barriers to effective action. In the final analysis the successful tackling of the road toll will depend on the goodwill and co-operation of all concerned. The Select Committee is to be commended on this its first report. I look forward to further valuable advice on how to deal with this national problem.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 25 September (vide page 1451), on motion by Mr Enderby:
That the House take note of the paper.
– In speaking in this debate I should like to refer to the remarks of the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) when introducing this report. He said in a somewhat smug manner:
It would be too easy to say that it ls the product of years of neglect by the previous Government and to try to lay the blame at the door of any particular group of individuals. That is only part of the story. The neglect, lack of concern and lack of awareness seem to me to be something that can be attributed to all Australians. Politicians of all parties and politicians of the previous Government demonstrated that lack of concern and lack of awareness.
He seemed to be ignorant of some of the events which have taken place in the Northern Territory. He was here crowing like a rooster then but he has no feathers now with which to fly. He can fly in the Secondary Industry portfolio but he soon will not be able to fly as Minister for the Northern Territory.
– That is very nasty, Sam.
– Honourable members opposite are not well known for being nice to me. As a final shot before the announcement that he was to be sacked from the Northern Territory portfolio he announced the land acquisition scheme in relation to the small landholders of Darwin. He is to be replaced as Minister for the Northern Territory because he did not know what was going on. I hope that the next Minister for the Northern Territory, Dr Patterson, will have more feeling for the people of the Northern Territory.
While agreeing with Judge Muirhead. I disagree with the automatic shotgun approach of the Minister, who was so quick to slam the previous Government and say that it was to blame. I again quote his remarks from Hansard. He said:
The reason why in 1973 we have this situation in our penal system in the Northern Territory is, in part, that our predecessors allowed the concealment of what was going on. . . . They perhaps relied on the old maxim, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. . . . The reticence of the previous Government may have been due partly to shame. . . .
He then said:
It is perhaps appropriate that my few words now should follow the earlier statement of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
The Hawkins-Misner report tabled by the Minister makes much of this problem. In fact the very first page deals with drunkenness in the Northern Territory. It has been estimated that 75 per cent of all prisoners in the Northern Territory are in prison because of public drunkenness. The report goes on to deal with Aborigines and drunkenness. In his speech introducing this report the Minister said that blatant racism is being engendered in the Northern Territory. I would say that blatant racism is being engendered in the Northern Territory and has been engendered there far quicker under this Government than under any government since I have lived there, and that includes the previous Labor government over 23 years ago.
As I said, the Minister came into this House and made these outlandish statements. He was lauding his own report. But since drunkenness is such a large part of the overall problem one would think that the Minister would have referred to the Northern Territory Legislative Council report of the inquiry concerning the liquor laws of the Northern Territory. It deals in far greater depth than does the HawkinsMisner report. The Legislative Council report appears to have been totally ignored. The Minister did not mention it in his speech. I do not know whether he has seen it. The Board of inquiry appointed by the Northern Territory Legislative Council to inquire into the liquor laws of the Northern Territory was headed by the eminent Q.C., Mr Phillip Adams. On that board of inquiry were Mr Haynes Leader, a well known former magistrate in the Territory and Pastor Paul Albrecht, bom in the Territory and head of the Finke River Aboriginal Mission set up in central Australia, who would know far more about Aborigines and their drinking problems than some imported American and some academic professor from Sydney, no matter what their legal qualifications might be. Also on that board was Mr Claude Narjic, a full-blood Aborigine from Port Keats. These people looked into this problem.
I mention this because much was made in the Minister’s report of the drunkenness problem. It is mentioned in the first paragraph and it is apparently one of the underlying problems. Yet why has the Minister ignored the report produced for the Northern Territory Legislative Council? Is it just another example of the fact that this Government does not give a fig for the people of the Northern Territory?
– Did you say ‘fig’?
– Yes. I remember saying something to the Leader of the House before and it was not at midnight. I would pull it on in broad daylight, so watch your step Jack. This report appears to have been totally ignored by the shortly-to-be-replaced Minister. In actual fact although he will have a quibble that he is still the Minister for the Northern Territory and try to make out that I do not know what is going on, I have a fair idea of what is going on and I know that he got the sack because of his bungling of that portfolio. I hope that the incoming Minister, Dr Rex Patterson, will have a far broader and far more understanding approach to the Northern Territory whether it be to the liquor laws or the land acquisition proposals.
The report of the Northern Territory Legislative Council recommends a complete revision of the licensing ordinance. That is a pretty sound recommendation. We heard nothing of this, yet this is one of the major problems of the Territory. The Minister mentioned Fannie Bay Gaol, which is no doubt a fairly ancient edifice, as is Coburg, Boggo Road or any other gaol in Australia. I do not know whether he spent much time in the Alice Springs gaol but that gaol probably is not too bad. The Minister probably will ask me whether I have spent any time there. But, as I say, this is a typical example of the approach of the Minister and of the Labor Government to the Northern Territory. They do not give a damn about the people who live up there, the reports that are made to the Legislative Council or the Legislative Council itself. They just produce what they in Canberra, in their somewhat small, narrow minded, egotistical and socialistic way, think is right.
This report deals to a great extent with the Northern Territory prisons ordinance which is, as T said before, the Hawkins-Misner report. The Northern Territory prisons ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council and I assume was commended by it. I ask the Minister: Has this report been put before the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory? It probably has been; the Minister no doubt will answer my question. But did the Minister for the Northern Territory consider this aspect any more than he considered the tabling in the Federal Parliament of the very comprehensive report commissioned by the Legislative Council to investigate the liquor laws of the Northern Territory which claims that liquor is the problem of 75 per cent of the people put in gaol in the Northern Territory. I hope that the incoming Minister will show more understanding, more interest and more humanity than did the outgoing Minister.
While I am speaking on this point I might mention the report on the reconstruction of the criminal justice system in the Northern Territory produced by the Minister for the Northern Territory. I should like to read a newspaper report of a statement by a member of the local Legislative Council. Mrs Dawn Lawrie. The report states: .if he’s sincere about wanting reform, he’ll urge his Government to assent to my parole bill which was passed a year ago.’
This is one of the main problems in the Northern Territory. People who may be visitors from the south are put into gaol. They are doing time in the Northern Territory and they are moved from the Northern Territory to a gaol in South Australia and their families do not. have access to them. One of the Legislative Councillors put this up. What has happened in respect of that matter. No mention has been made of this in the great furore created by the Minister and in his castigation of the previous Government for doing nothing. A comprehensive report has been produced and the Legislative Council has been looking into this matter. Yet all that happens is that the Council receives abuse from the outgoing Minister for the Northern Territory.
T should like to read quickly some of the recommendations contained in the report of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. I do not think I will have time to get through all of them; they are very extensive. The report recommends that there should be an excise on the sale of what we refer to as flagon wines - fortified wines. Yet, it is the one thing that this Government did not tax; it has not even taxed the spirit that goes into the wine. The Government is being very inconsistent. This is one of the major problems in the Northern Territory. Cheap sweet fortified wine is considered to be the curse of the Aborigine. We have heard so much from the Minister for the Northern Territory and the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on who fills the gaols in the Northern Territory and that 56 per cent of the 75 per cent of the Northern Territory inmates who are imprisoned for offences against the liquor laws are Aborigines; this is quite right. But what is the Government doing about it? It is doing nothing. It is all very well to talk about what happened in the last 23 years. We have heard that for the last 9 months, but now the Government has produced a report which is just skating over the surface of the problem. The Government is ignoring a very important in-depth report on this situation. It is just ignoring the Northern Territory and the Legislative Council by not taking into account a report compiled by eminent people such as Mr Haynes Leader, Pastor Paul Albrecht, Mr Claude Narjic and headed by Mr Phillip Adams, Q.C., who made a very extensive report on these major problems. Surely we must make an impact on these problems. Let us face it; I accept that we must say that the gaols are antiquated and run down. But we should not have these sorts of people making remarks of this kind. I do not think that there should be a cheap political approach to this matter.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to make one or two brief comments on the report. The report itself was short enough to encourage one to read it and yet, on some topics, was scanty enough as not to be convincing. I thought that the conclusion which the report draws on the. high incidence of Aboriginal drunkenness in the Northern Territory was very superficial, to say the least. Also, 1 thought that the comments in the report were very scanty on the question of the employment of prison officers, court clerks, police and social workers. In fact, they were worse than scanty; in my book, the report appeared to make statements which were not based on any evidence mentioned in the report. The complaint was that there were no Aborigines being employed in these positions. The report makes the bland statement that there has been a purposeful and premeditated policy of racial discrimination. There is no support for that view in the report which has been tabled and I would find it very difficult to believe that such a policy was being pursued in that way.
Some of the suggestions made in the report, particularly those dealing with the provision of a remand centre and various types of prison reform, are to be commended. There is nothing new in what is being suggested. The techniques of home leave for prisoners, work release and weekend gaol all are being used in other States of Australia. I recall that in Queensland work release and weekend gaol sentences have been operating for some 2 or 3 years. The incidence of prisoners who take the opportunity of being out of prison for the day to go to work and abscond is surprisingly small. Of those who do abscond, most generally return to the prison and report themselves after an absence of 24 or 48 hours. So, although we must expect in programs of this sort to have failures, the scheme itself appears to be working quite well in Queensland. There is no reason why a similar scheme should not work in the Northern Territory and I think that the proposals made in the report on those subjects are useful and ought to be followed up.
I found to be interesting the section of the report dealing with courtroom practices. 1 was surprised to find that legal aid was not available to persons of impecunious means in the Northern Territory. I would certainly hope a scheme to provide such aid would be implemented quickly. In Queensland there is a system of poor prisoners defence which is administered on a permanent basis by employees of the Crown. Some criticism of this scheme was expressed in its initial stages because it was thought that the Public Defender and his officers, being employed by the Crown, would lean in some way to the side of the Crown. This has not proved to be so in practice. The officers of the Public Defender in Queensland have been most diligent protectors of the rights of persons in criminal cases. They prepare briefs - sometimes at very short notice - and leave no stone unturned in seeking out witnesses and preparing the case for their client to the best advantage. I think that this scheme could be profitably employed in the Northern Territory also.
A further interesting point mentioned in the report on this subject is the suggestion that there ought to be a permanent Aboriginal spokesman to serve as an interpreter for Aborigines who are charged before courts. This, it was suggested, would be preferable to the ad hoc appointment of an interpreter for each individual case. I think, however, that there may be a danger in appointing a permanent interpreter. A permanent interpreter would be dealing every day with criminal cases involving Aborigines. There would be a tendency for him to judge the case of his client rather than simply to interpret. This has happened in cases not only of Aboriginal interpreters but of all other types of interpreters. One who practises in courts and has to use an interpreter finds that often the questions which counsel or the court asks witnesses are put through a thought process by the interpreter rather than the actual words being conveyed to the witness. If a permanent Aboriginal spokesman were employed by a court, the tendency would be that, as he became familiar with that type of work, he would be likely to judge the case of his own client rather than simply to elicit information from him at the behest of counsel. In other words, I am suggesting that the old maxim - familiarity breeds contempt - may apply in a situation of this sort.
I mention also the desirability of having trained lawyers acting as prosecutors. In the Northern Territory, as is common in most Australian States and in fact is common throughout all British speaking countries, policemen generally prosecute in courts of petty sessions or magistrates courts. This has been the case for centuries. The system has worked well. But no doubt exists that on some occasions persons being tried for petty offences may gain the impression that the court is being run for the benefit of the police. However, by and large I think that the magistracy does preserve a measure of independence and does bend over backwards on most occasions to try to make sure that the accused is given a fair trial and that police prosecutors do not railroad cases through.
The practice of having lawyers to prosecute cases in courts of petty sessions is desirable; but, in terms of economics, I think that it becomes impossible in many cases, particularly in a large territory such as the Northern Territory where the population is scattered over the whole area and where court hearings will be held at various local and usually small centres of population. It may be that in some of these centres lay justices of the peace would preside on the bench. This is not always a bad thing. I am reminded of a story which came out of the Court of Petty Sessions in Camoweal which is situated in the electorate of the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). On this occasion a gentleman was charged before 2 justices of the peace with having used obscene language in a public place; to wit, a local hotel.
He was asked by the Bench: ‘How do you plead, guilty or not guilty?’ On his saying that he pleaded not guilty the presiding justice of the peace said: ‘What? We were there. We heard you’. So, on some occasions in court hearings in small centres the possibility of a miscarriage of justice is eliminated by the fact that the Bench and all other persons in court are quite well aware of what in fact happened.
The last aspect on which I wish to comment is the suggestion in the report that a procedure be adopted similar to that in the United States of America which would allow a person who has pleaded guilty before a magistrate to change his guilty plea on appeal on the grounds of the incompetence of his counsel or lack of knowledge on his part of the consequences of his plea, and on other such grounds. The report does not mention what ‘other such grounds’ are. I see no reason why we need to look to the United States for statutes that provide this kind of protection to persons who are overborne before magistrates. In most British speaking countries, it is possible for an accused person, if he has pleaded guilty in a magistrates court, or lower court, to change his plea on appeal in a superior court. He can do so if he was misled in any way or was overborne in any way by a police prosecutor or magistrate in the court below. In other words, the question is not, as suggested in the United States, whether his counsel was competent but rather whether the accused person knew what he was about and whether his plea of guilty was a voluntary act on his part. I think that we need to be careful in rushing to the United States to find precedents to apply to the criminal law in Australia.
I note that one of the parties to the report is an American. I mean no disrespect to American lawyers. But anyone who has made any study of the concepts of criminal justice in the United States could not be but appalled at the maze into which the Supreme Court of the United States has brought the administration of criminal justice by interpretations of various sections of the United States Constitution. There must be a balance between the desire of the community to have criminals convicted and the desire of the community to see that justice is done. In Australia, we have been lucky that we have had no major scandals which have disproved the fact that justice not only is done but also is seen to be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That in accordance with the provisions of section 12(2) of the Lands Asquisition Act 1955-1966, this. House resolves that the notice of the acquisition of land by the Commonwealth in the Hundred of Bagot, County of Palmerston, Northern Territory, for the purpose of the planned development and control of the City of Darwin and its adjacent areas, which appeared in Gazette No. 70a of 15 June 1973, and which was laid before the House on 19 September 1973, shall be void and of no effect.
I have spoken on this subject before. The subject has been considered in the Senate before. The notice of acquisition was disallowed in the Senate earlier this year. Last week, unfortunately, because of certain arguments which may have been specious, some senators did not support the small landholders in the Northern Territory whom I represent. The result was the second proposal that the notice of acquisition be declared void and of no effect was not accepted by the Senate. In actual fact we are now speaking in retrospect.
I think that something should be said about this matter in this chamber. It is not a question of the people of the Northern Territory, the members of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory who represent the area which is under discussion or myself not recognising the fact that Darwin has to expand somewhere; it is a question of the way in which the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) went about this matter. He should have known only too well that the pr ‘posed acquisition was not favourably received in the area because he stood before a meeting of some 300 to 500 people in respect to it and was completely disarmed by them. Had they had their way I think they might have taken some drastic action against him. I have been speaking to the representatives of the small landholders in the area and have ascertained that their feeling is exactly the same now. These people do not appreciate someone sweeping in from Canberra and saying: ‘We will take this lot regardless’, without discussing anything with them. I am certain that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development would not go about things in that way. He is an entirely different man. He would go and discuss them with the people concerned. The Minister for the Northern Territory is an expert at shooting from the hip. I will not mention what I said before about him. The people of Darwin and the rest of the Northern Territo. who are objecting to this proposal are objecting because of the way in which the Minister has gone about it. There has been a complete misunderstanding of the situation.
– They should have come to you for advice. They would have got good advice there.
– Thank you. There are not many Ministers in this Government who would take notice of the advice I might give to them. One who would have benefited is the present Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant), who was the previous Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Had he sacked Dexter instead of Giese he probably still would have been Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, but he did not. He did not know what to do; nor does the Minister for the Northern Territory. The big play of the Minister for the Northern Territory is that he is only carrying out the previous Government’s policy. That is not correct. The Minister responsible for the Northern Territory in the previous Government had this proposal put to him by his Department but he did not accept it. He certainly would not have accepted it in the way in which the present Minister has accepted it. The present Minister has made great play of the fact that all the Government is doing is implementing the policy of the previous Government. He should know that that is not correct. He can say what he likes; but that is not correct. Surely he got the message in this instance when he stood in front of the meeting of 300 to 500 people in Darwin. He completely ignored them. What did the Minister do when the Opposition, as the representative in this place of those people, was successful in having the notice of acquisition declared void and of no effect? He became most upset, to put it mildly. When it was declared void and of no effect he immediately re-gazetted the acquisition without even so much as thinking of the people concerned. It did not matter to him. He was living in a socialist world in Canberra. He thought that he would put the Northern Territory into the sort of situation in which Canberra finds itself - a testing place for the Australian Labor Party’s complete socialisation of Australia.
– A socialist enclave.
– Yes. I might say to the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Whan), who I do not think will be the representative of that electorate after the next election, that at least I speak with genuine feeling.
– What did I say?
– The honourable member for Eden-Monaro would not know what he said. In the arguments that have taken place concerning this matter we have heard the paragon of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate refer to representations that have been made on behalf of the small landholders in relation to this matter. A petition signed by 340-odd people was tabled in the Senate. It was claimed that it was a bogus petition. The petition was signed by landholders in the Northern Territory - not landholders in the area concerned. With a certain amount of astuteness the Government found that there was in it a name or two - probably under half a dozen - of people who were not actually living in the Northern Territory; so there was a great scream about its being a bogus petition. But the great majority of the people who actually signed it were landholders in the Northern Territory. Much was also made of the fact that only 33 of them would be immediately in strife because of the Minister’s shotgun tactics in acquiring this 32-square-mile area. But the others - I would have signed it myself as a landholder in the Northern Territory - would be dismayed at the thought that the Minister could just at the drop of the hat slap this sort of acquisition freeze policy on freehold land. I should add that the actual wording of the petition was:
We the undersigned landowners and occupiers in the Northern Territory respectfully seek your support in disallowing the acquisition notice. . . .
There is no mention of the 32-square-mile area.
– Who signed it?
– Have a look at who signed it. There is a list of who signed it in the Senate Hansard. Much criticism has been laid at the door of the member for Victoria River, Dr Letts, and the member for Arnhem, Mr Rupert Kentish, because they took the action they did. Why would they not take the action they did when their constituents were demanding that they fight against this-
– Overall lack of appreciation of their interests. Yes, it is the first step towards socialist acquisition of land and control of everything else in the Northern Territory or anywhere else in Australia. How did it come about that there was a change of opinion in the Senate? I gather that the Minister probably spoke to various people before the vote was taken on the second occasion on which the matter was debated and influenced them to vote against the proposal put forward. They were informed that there would be a shortfall of 1,000 to 1,750 blocks of land in 1976. The evidence which was presented in the Senate and on the basis of which honourable senators voted is false, according to what the landholders themselves have told me. The honourable senators virtually were misinformed. It was said that the landholders in the area affected by the acquisition order have been interviewed and generally they agree to the acquisition provided an assurance is given that longer term leases can be offered to them as soon as the acquisition is effected. But they had nothing in writing, and this is why they objected in the first place. The Government did not give them any information about compensation, plans for renewal of leases, or anything else. That is why they objected and that is why they are still objecting. They are disgusted with the decision that was made in the Senate. They have told me that no one has received compensation. That would be understandable. They have another 3 months in which to make application for compensation. There is no precedent of prices in that area and no one knows what to expect. This is what is worrying those small landholders.
I refer now to some of the evidence on which the motion to disallow the acquisition was thrown out in the Senate. This was said: Evidence is available of an attempt to exploit the position by certain landholders who expect to raise the price of land beyond the capacity of the home seeker with modest means to purchase a suitable block. What is the evidence? What about the Churcher estate? What about Mr Albany? He has asked the Government to treat for his land. It is said that he owns a quarter of it. Instead of attacking the small landholders, why did not the Government go to these people who between them would own half of the land? This is the sort of thing that I would expect of the ex-Minister for the Northern Territory. He has had it now; so it does not really matter. I would expect that a government would discuss the matter with the people concerned.
The way in which this Government has behaved is quite inconceivable. I believe that this was due mainly to the actions of the exMinister for the Northern Territory. He can get up and say what he likes about this, but he has done these things to which I have referred. He has instituted this acquisition of land in the face of the people. He has not taken any notice of the people. I will read what an honourable senator is quoted in the Senate Hansard of 11 October at page 1171 as having said. It reads:
In discussions with the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) on this development we have found that leases are now being issued to those who hold blocks.
I am informed by the small landholders there that that is not so. It is just not happening. Although this matter has already been dealt with in the Senate and this is a case in retrospect, I am putting it on behalf of the small landholders in this area of 32 square miles in the Darwin land acquisition area. I feel that the decision which was made in the Senate was arrived at as a result of quite a lot of false information being passed on to it.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– I ask the House to reject this motion. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) has been making some personal accusations against the Minister for Secondary Industry and Minister for Supply (Mr Enderby) who was formerly the Minister for the Northern Territory. Let me say that the submission to Cabinet was a joint submission by the present Minister for Secondary Industry, who at that time was the Minister for the Northern Territory, and myself as Minister for Urban and Regional Development, and it had the full support of the Federal Cabinet.
There are sound reasons why we made the decision to acquire this land. The real purpose of the acquisition of this 32 square miles of land in the Darwin area is to provide for the future development of the city of Darwin. There are at least 4 reasons why we should acquire this land now. Firstly, on present projections the available urban land for Darwin will run out by 1977. Since 1966 the average annual rate of growth of the population in Darwin has been about 11 per cent. In order to cater for the expected future growth of Darwin in an orderly way, we must acquire land for comprehensive development now. Secondly, present land development in Darwin is becoming haphazard and extremely untidy. It is an uneconomic urban sprawl with no real amenities.
– Which government are you criticising?
– I am criticising the present position in Darwin which has been brought about over the past 23 years by the actions of the Government the honourable member supported. If the honourable member does not. know what the position is in Darwin he should visit the area, where he will see that the conditions under which the people live are appalling. There is no reason why this Government should not change those living conditions.
The third reason why we should acquire the land now is that land costs are spiralling as attractive land becomes relatively scarce and young people are finding it impossible to acquire land which they can afford. Fourthly, regardless of any possible decision to develop separate towns in other areas, there will be an increasing urban sprawl in the Darwin area. By providing for the orderly development of the growth of Darwin the Government is doing only what any responsible government would be expected to do in the interests of the people. It is a matter of extreme negligence that inefficiency and inequitable planning and development of Darwin have been allowed when at the same time a federal government has been able to create Canberra. One must ask why a government for 23 years was able to expend enormous amounts of money on the national capital of Canberra but was not able to develop Darwin? I might say that even before we became the Government we gave praise to the then Government for the action it was taking with respect to the development of Canberra. But why, when it had the constitutional powers and the financial resources available to it, did it allow this squalor to occur in the planning of Darwin? We have argued consistently that what has been done in Canberra should be done, in other areas of Australia, and particularly in Darwin. We say that it should be done particularly in Darwin and also in Alice springs because they come under the constitutional control of the Australian Government. There is no excuse at all for action not being taken by the previous Government to develop Darwin in the same way as Canberra was developed.
We need this land so that we can create a city of beauty - a city in which people can draw on the best amenities available in the planning of cities. It was for this reason that the former Government at last was forced to act. I challenge the former Minister for the Interior, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who is seeking to interject, to speak on this matter. The Government of which he was a member was forced to act. I point out to the House that the Minister for the Interior in the previous Government sought the responsibility for this matter. It was a little late in the day, but he was forced to take action. Consultants were commissioned to report on the future growth of Darwin and they reported at the end of 1971. The report of the consultants to the previous Government recommended that the 32 square miles of land be acquired by the Commonwealth. The honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) knows that the then Minister for the Interior recommended to Cabinet that the 32 square miles of land proposed to be acquired by the present Government be acquired by the previous Government.
Following the consultants’ recommendations the Minister for the Interior in the previous Government made a Cabinet submission recommending the acquisition of 32 square miles of land. That is to say, a member of the Country Party, a Country Party Minister under the previous Government, recommended to the Government exactly the same proposal as has been adopted by this Government. The previous Government took no decision on the matter because it was swayed at that time by the objections from the then Office of the Environment that certain studies should be carried out before the previous Government acquired it. This Government has taken full account of the views of the Department of the Environment and Conservation, and agreement has been reached at the interdepartmental level that the Government acquire the land but that the overall urban development for the plan of the area be subject to later consideration. This consideration will be based upon reports and studies, at least one of which meets the points raised by the Department of the Environment and Conservation.
The Cities Commission, which is under my Ministry, has commissioned a regional study by consultants on the long term future structure of urban development in the Darwin area. The Commission is also conducting an environmental impact study. The National Capital Development Commission is undertaking a de tailed study of the new development area. When these studies are completed and considered the Government will be in the best position to determine the best pattern of future growth for the Darwin area. So might I say that the principle we have adopted, to which the honourable member for the Northern Territory is objecting, is the same principle as a colleague of his in the same Party recommended to the previous Government. Might I also say that the principle of acquiring the total site and then developing it in a comprehensive way is the same principle as one State Liberal Party Government and one State Liberal-Country Party Government - namely, the Victorian and New South Wales governments^ - have adopted for the development of Albury-Wodonga. It is the same principle involved. The only way in which to acquire land orderly is under this proposal. The action taken by the Minister for the Northern Territory was the correct action. This principle ensures that urban development can be carried out in the most efficient and equitable way.
I ask the House to reject the motion put forward by the honourable member for the Northern Territory and to support the Government’s action in acquiring the 32 square miles so that we can get some orderly development, so that we can start to get some rational living in Darwin and not allow urban sprawl to occur. The procedure that is being followed in Darwin will be followed in other capital cities, country towns and provincial towns of Australia. The honourable member for New England knows that the only way to solve the problem of the urban land sprawl and spiralling land prices in this country is to take the action which this Government has taken.
– That is arrant nonsense.
– Therefore I ask the honourable members opposite at least to stop the spiralling land prices. It was their Government that was responsible for the spiralling land prices in Canberra when it changed the Canberra land tenure system.
– You have not improved the situation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The Deputy Leader of the Country Party has been continually interjecting throughout this debate. I think that in view of his position he should try to set an example to the House. He is not setting it. I call upon him to stop interjecting.
– Unfortunately the honourable member for New England was a Minister in an incompetent government that never got on with the job and never made the final decisions. That is why Darwin, of all places, which a Country Party colleague of his represents, is a squalor. It is a badly planned city. It has an enormous number of urban problems that have to be rectified. Only this Government will take positive action towards town planning. In place of the urban sprawl that is going on in Darwin we will provide more amenities and better conditions to make Darwin a decent place for young people to be brought up in.
– It is with pleasure that I second this motion. It is unfortunate that tonight a certain series of statements were made by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who I believe is sincere in his way and who, I think, would like to assist in the alleviation of the problems of Australia and those Australians who live in the cities, but who regrettably identifies himself with an arbitrary manner of administration which intends to deny and will result in denying to those whom he seeks to assist the benefits which he proposes and which he would like to extend to them. Certainly in the arbitrary direction which has been given to those who live within this area of 32 square miles - 20,000 acres - there has been a complete denial of the right of every one of those citizens to learn not only what the Government intends for the future planning of Darwin but also how much they will be paid, when and in what way their land will be used.
– And what will happen next week.
– And what will happen next week. The whole problem with this plan is that it has ‘been brought forward not because it is in existence but because the Government apparently says that it does not like what has happened in Darwin in the past. I have been through the papers to try to identify just what the problem is. I think all of us would agree that there is a tremendous problem in the development of Darwin. The people of Darwin advise us, and it is acknowledged, that they would look towards land in the future being used for the advancement of the causes of the city and they would hope that positive plans for development could be implemented. They are not querying the necessity for acquiring additional land. What the people are saying is that the arbitrary, high-handed intervention in the rights of the individual is something which is anathema to Australians. This Government is pursuing a course of action which denies the rights not only of those the Government likes to call the big men but of thousands of Australians - the Australian who owns his own home, the Australian who is paying a bank, a hire purchase company or a land development company for his land or his home. This Government could not give 2 hoots. This Government has intervened and said: ‘We will take over this land’.
I hope that those who are listening on the air tonight heard the Minister for Urban and Regional Development say that it is not only in Darwin that the Government is doing this but that it will do it in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. I think it is important that it is recognised that the urban policy of this country is apparently to be set by a man who has tonight stated that in future, if the referendum that is coming before the Australian people on 8 December is successful, and perhaps even if it is not successful, the Government will intervene to acquire arbitrarily and compulsorily not with the consent of the land owner, not with the consent of the householder, land in each of the capital cities, without a plan, without explaining what is to be done with the land, without announcing any basis of compensation, without people really knowing whether the land will be used or what will happen to it. This Government intends to go in and say: Well, we are sorry. We are taking over all of Enmore. We are taking over all the inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. We do not care who is there.’ This is what the Government has said tonight.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Development has said that what is happening in Darwin today is the pattern for future development of our urban areas of Australia. I thing it is utterly disgraceful that there should be this intervention in the rights of the small landholder in Australia. Australia is a country in which most people like to own their own homes. About 85 per cent to 90 per cent of Australians own their own homes. I suspect that even the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) who is interjecting fairly consistently and persistently from the other side might aspire to own his own home if he does not already do so. It is something that most of us like to do. Owning our own home is fairly important, but this Government does not care.
This Government has said that it will acquire the land in Darwin. Let me explain to the House and to those others who are listening to this debate that the landholders in question are not querying the necessity for the acquisition of some additional lan.l to allow for the future growth of Darwin. What they are querying is the necessity to acquire 20,480 acres with the threat of more. It is necessary to destroy all the freehold titles in the process. what are the alternative strategies? Perhaps moving some of those little used Crown installations would have been sufficient. Is it necessary to ignore the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory? Is it necessary to forget that there is a Government up there? Perhaps it is an incipient government, not yet acting and certainly under this Governemnt not likely to act as a truly independent body, but it has a certain amount of power. Is it necessary to ignore the feelings of the Legislative Council in the issue? There has been a complete denial by the Minister for the Northern Territory (Mr Enderby) and by this Government of the opportunity to test the opinion of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory.
It is absolutely deplorable that we have a Bill which affects the Northern Territory and which expressly denies the right of individual landholders to know what will be done with their land and how and when they will be paid. There is no question about what the Government is going to do. 1 accept, as the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has said tonight, that the planning of Darwin certainly leaves a lot to be desired. The planning of many of our cities leaves a lot to be desired, and I agree with that. This Government does not intend to tell us what it is going to do but comes in here and says: ‘We do not like what you have done. We are just going to take over the land. When we get the lane we will work out what we are going to do’. That is what it is doing. It is not telling us what it is going to dc with the land. It is telling us tonight that it does not like what is there. The Government does not care a fig about the people currently living in those homes. It says: lt docs not matter about the land. We will take it over. We will tell them what we are going to do. We will tell the landholders what they can do with their houses. We do not know ourselves but sometime we will work it out’.
I think it is absolutely deplorable that there should have to be such a motion before the House because this Government has not acted responsibly in considering individual landholders. I am surprised that Government members do not support the motion which tries to ensure that what ali these little men of the Territory want is taken into account. I believe that there is a basis upon which individual land owners should be given a chance at least to be told how they are going to be paid for the land that will be acquired. They should be told when this Government intends to develop that land it is taking over, whether the whole 32 square miles will be developed immediately or whether part of it will be developed this year and some of it in 5 years or 10 years time. I do not think that that is unreasonable. Obviously, a large tract of land cannot possibly be developed immediately. It will take time. I think the Government should be able to say: ‘This is our overall plan. This is the sort of thing we want to do. We would like to acquire this land today and perhaps that land next week. Next year we will probably acquire that land.’ I suspect that in this instance a significant part of the 20,000-odd square miles will not be needed for development in the foreseeable future.
This Government has not yet implemented nor presented a plan which shows what is going to be done in Darwin. For that reason I believe that the whole of this acquisition is arbitrary, is denying the rights of individuals and should be rejected. One thing that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development said - I think that this needs to be noted also - was that the former Minister in charge of the Northern Territory - the former Minister for the Interior, my colleague the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) - did not present o his Government submissions prepared by his Department. He was prepared to listen to the people of the area. He was prepared to see something of what the people of the Northern Territory were interested in. He was concerned to know what type of impact it would have on their land, on the property they held, on their houses, where they were going and what they were doing. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am sure that you are a man of commiseration. I am sure that you are concerned about the rights of landowners and about the rights of householders. I am sure that if you had been a Minister you would have rejected the submission from the honourable member’s
Department if it did not present a complete case for the takeover.
It is important when a government compulsorily acquires land that it knows what it is going to do. It is more important when we have a major problem in the development of our cities to know what we are going to do with that land. I think all of us are horrified by some of the consequences of the urban and suburban sprawl. We are concerned about how city life can be made more meaningful in the future. If the best that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development can do is to come in here and say ‘We are going to do the same thing in every city in Australia’ then we shall be faced with deplorable circumstances in the future. That is the city plan he is going to present to us. He does not tell us how he is going to do it, what he is going to do or how he will compensate landholders. He says: ‘We are going to take them over.’ There are the jackboots at work again. He has already said that he does not like freeway development. I think some aspects of freeway development need looking at. But let us accept the fact that the sooner we get an integrated road system which will allow the rapid movement of people and goods around the city with the maximum of safety, the better we will be served.
It is quite arbitrary for this Government to say tonight that the first step in its urban policy is the one it has pursued in Darwin, a policy which obviously will affect very significantly every person - not only those who live in that city as it is today but also people who will live in every city in Australia in the future. I deplore this move. I deplore compulsory acquisition of land. I deplore the denial of discussion and consideration as to where a country, a city or a householder goes. If this Government wants to develop Darwin we would all accept that it needs to acquire more land. But it needs to work out what it is going to do with that land. It needs to be prepared to talk to people. We are beginning to see some reaction against the Government around the traps. We are beginning to see that the Government is not prepared to listen to people. It is just going to go ahead and it does not matter what people want. When the Government makes up its mind it says: ‘This is the way we are going to develop Darwin today, Sydney tomorrow and Melbourne the day after. We are not going to listen to the little people. We are not interested in the landholder. We arenot interested in the house holder. We are not interested in the person who is really concerned about the quality of life. All we are going to do is take over the land.’
I think that one thing should be recognised about the development of Darwin. I commend the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) for his assiduous representation of his constituents in this Parliament. One thing that has changed in Darwin is that now people do not just go there to live for a short term. People have not just put their money where their mouths are but have gone there with a heart and a will to develop the whole of that northern part of Australia. They have an interest in the place. They have a motivation. For that reason I hope that there might be something more meaningful than compulsory acquisition in land development in Darwin. I hope that there will be a city plan - a plan to provide parks and gardens and reasonable city amenities for the place. However, people are acquiring land on a freehold title and spending money there. They are going there to live permanently. There is no action more likely to deny the opportunity of a person living there permanently than the knowledge that whatever he spends today on the development of his particular block of land is likely to be taken away tomorrow, and taken away without him being told what he will be paid for it and what is to be done with it. This measure will deny the progressive development of Darwin. I think it is completely deplorable. I commend the honourable member for the Northern Territory for moving this motion. I support it completely and have great pleasure in seconding it.
– We have heard the usual excellent performance by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) - an excellent performance which really boils down to typical Country Party hypocrisy and humbug. Wherever one finds defenders of privilege and defenders of profiteering one finds in the forefront representatives of the Country Party. Let me give one example of these little men they seek to defend. I quote from the evidence given to the part-heard Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenure’s being conducted by Mr Justice Else-Mitchell who is Chairman, Professor R. L. Matthews of the Australian National University and Mr G. J. Dusseldorp, who is fairly well known as a developer. A gentleman named Mr McNamee was asked some questions, because he was one of these little men. Professor Matthews asked him: ‘What did you pay for your land?’ The witness replied: ‘That is no consequence.’ He did not want to answer the question. He was asked by another man assisting the Commission, Mr Willcox: ‘Would you oblige Professor Matthews please?’ McNamee answered: ‘About $32 an acre.’ Mr Willcox then said: ‘And you want to sell at $5,000 an acre’. That was the asking price. There is the little man. He pays $32 an acre for it and demands as the price of it being put to good use - a price that the community and the taxpayers of Australia must pay - $5,000 an acre. If that is multiplied by 4,800 acres one gets an astronomical figure.
– When did he buy that land?
Order! The honourable member for the Northern Territory has been continually interjecting.
– The Minister is misrepresenting the case.
– Put him out.
-I will if he is not careful. The honourable member for the Northern Territory has already had his say. I ask him to keep order and to stop interjecting. The same thing applies to the honourable member for New England.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-I am sorry; I meant the honourable member for Cowper.
– The humbug of the Country Party members - these defenders of privilege and of profiteering - can be seen in a better light when one hears their talk about inflation. The Government moves to stop the spiralling escalation of land prices in this way - the best and only way - and what do those members do? They spring to the defence of the people who want $5,000 an acre for land that cost them $32 an acre. I can tell a story that occurred with respect to land in the Australian Capital Territory. In the Australian Capital Territory 9,000 square miles of land was acquired in 1909 under the Seat of Government Adminnstration Act at 1908 values. It was acquired at about $2 an acre. I am talking of the land on which Canberra stands.
The land on which this building in which we are meeting stands was acquired for about $2 an acre in 1909 at 1908 values. This was done because of the foresight of those politicians - statesmanlike politicians and not Country Party members like those we have listened to tonight. That magnificent success which was able to be achieved in Canberra is a tribute not to a Labor government or a non-Labor government but to the foresight of those people long ago. Canberra has become the most beautiful and planned city in Australia.
The Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) referred to the squalor that exists in Darwin. He referred to the lack of planning, the lack of facilities, of sewerage, of kerbing and guttering, of parks, gardens, trees and all those features that go to make the good life. Such squalor does not exist in Canberra because of foresight. Honourable members opposite would not want such conditions in Canberra. But in the forefront, in the vanguard of the opposition to these improvements being effected in Darwin, is the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). He is the one man who does not want to have it happen in Darwin. He defends most vigorously these people who want to convert $32 an acre into $5,000 an acre.
– I am advocating on behalf or the people who have only 5 acres of lane.
– The honourable member knows that in the area under consideration there is no kerbing and guttering, no parks and gardens and no schools.
-Order! I have already warned the honourable member for the Northern Territory. He has already spoken. He has been continually interjecting during the speech of the Minister for Secondary Industry.
– I am putting him right.
-The honourable member also has interjected when previous speakers have been talking. 1 warn the honourable member for the Northern Territory.
– I have referred to the hypocrisy and humbug of Country Party speakers and I want to say again what I have said before about them. They engage in conspiracies against the public interest. They assist, aid and abet conspiracies against the public interest. They have referred to a petition. Let me read out a statutory declaration that refers to the petition that has been mentioned - the so-called petition against acquisition. This statutory declaration is by a Mr Edgar who solemnly and sincerely declares that:
About 6 weeks ago a ‘Mr A. Albany approached me to sign a petition against the acquisition of land.
Mr Albany is one of the biggest landowners in the area. The declaration continues:
He told me if 1 signed and the move was successful
That is the move to disallow the acquisition - and I aligned myself with him I would stand to gain $40,000 for my land.
He is a little man - an honest man. His declaration continues:
I considered this ‘ an inducement to my signing, to gain cash. I refused.
So much for the petition. This is a statutory declaration to that effect. Again we have a Country Party spokesman in the forefront - in the vanguard. All the time wherever there is someone seeking to get something for nothing - the cost will be passed on to the consumer, to the citizen, to the ratepayer - one will find Country Party members in the forefront with flags held high for privilege and vested interests. Let me give another example. It is well known thai because of the failure of the previous Government to complete the acquisition of all land in the Australian Capital Territory years ago so that it could be properly developed for houses to be built on it for families and people who wanted to live the good life, some pockets of land remained. That land could have been acquired by the taxpayers at $2 an acre. The previous Government eventually was forced into moving to do something because of the growing scandal of rising land prices in about 1971. Instead of having to pay about $200,000 for 9,000 acres - and again the benefit of that would have been passed on to the people who will live in Tuggeranong - what was the asking price? lt was S35m. lt was the previous Government’s malicious neglect that produced that asking price of $35m. If that price is upheld it will have to be passed on to every poor family which goes to live in Tuggeranong, the new satellite city being built to the south of Canberra. Let no one be under any misapprehension. The guilty men are the members of the Country Party. It is only because of the weakness of their Liberal Party colleagues that they are allowed to sit in this House and push the Liberal Party into these situations. If the right thing had been done years ago that scandal would not have occurred. The fact that only one pocket of land was involved, and not many, probably can be attributed to the fact that the Country Party has never had much influence in the Australian Capital Territory. That can be put down to the good political sense of the people of Canberra. In the one part of Australia where the Country Party has had influence - the Northern Territory - this scandal of the 32 square miles upholds. It is only in the Northern Territory where there is influence from people such as Mr Geoff Letts, the Country Party member for Victoria River, that wc have a situation where a man can buy land at $32 an acre and then demand that the taxpayers of Australia pay him $5,000 an acre before he will let people build houses on it.
– You have no plan.
– Was there a plan for Canberra when it was acquired in 1909? Think your position out, man. The things which I have just said have been said by others. I should like to quote a proposition by that very great Englishman, Sir Winston Churchill, on this very subject. It bears being heard over and over again.
– I have heard it before.
– Well, the honourable member is going to hear it again because it is worthwhile hearing. Sir Winston Churchill said:
Unearned increments in land value are not the only form of undeserved profit but they are the, principal form and they are derived from processes which are positively detrimental to the general public.
Those remarks should be reflected upon. In this case land has been bought for $32 an acre and it has been sought to be converted into $5,000 an acre in a short period of time. Sir Winston went on:
Land, which is a necessity of human existence, which is strictly limited in extent and which is fixed in geographical position, differs from all other forms of property.
A landowner who happens to own a plot of land on the outskirts of a great city-
This is what we are talking about, the outskirts of Darwin - watches the busy population around him making the city larger and more famous every day and, all the while, he sits still and does nothing.
This is particularly so in the case of the speculator. Sir Winston continued:
Roads are made, services are improved, and water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles away.
All this is done with the taxpayers’ money. The quotation continues:
And all the while the landowner sits still-
This like this little gentleman who paid $32 an acre and now wants $5,000 an acre. He did nothing for that land to improve its value. Sir Winston continued.
Everyone of these improvements is effected by the labour and the cost of other people.
To not one of these improvements does the landowner, as a landowner, contribute and yet every one of them enhances the values of his land.
He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.
The population of the city grows and keeps growing.
This is like Darwin where the population is growing at the rate of 12 per cent per annum. He continued:
And, at last the land becomes ripe for sale, and that means the price becomes too tempting to be resisted any longer.
And then, and not until then, is it sold by the inch or by the yard, at 10 to SO times its true value. This evil process strikes at every form of activity.
The more a municipality has improved the area-
He is referring to the taxpayers, the citizens - the more it will have to pay for any land now required for future improvements.
And, not matter where you look or what examples you select, you will see that every form of enterprise, every step in material progress, is only undertaken after the landowner has skimmed the cream off for himself.
And everywhere today the man or the public body who wishes to put land to its highest use is forced to pay a preliminary fine to the man who is putting it to an inferior use and, in some cases, to no use at all.
This is similar to the man in the Northern Territory who bought land for $32 an acre and wishes to sell it for $5,000 an acre. Nothing has been done to the land; not even cattle have been run on it. Sir Winston continued:
And its owner is able to levy toll upon all other forms of wealth and any other form of industry.
The good senators who considered this matter last week realised the strength of the acquisition, as indeed the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who now sits opposite realised last year the strength, merit and purpose of the acquisition. He did not acquire the land. I do not wish to go into why he did not do so. But he recognised the merit and the strength of the acquisition. Circumstances overtook him. I think we should all understand this because, after all, it was 1972. But the honourable member for Gwydir recognised the merit of the acquisition, and 1 say that to his credit. He is perhaps the only member of the Country Party, that I except from what I have said. This acquisition will allow the Government properly to plan the development of Darwin and properly to provide facilities such as schools, houses, land, parks and gardens, kerbing and guttering and all the amenities of the good life which the people of Darwin have been denied for so long.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 29 August (vide page 526), on motion by Mr Morrison:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)I call the honourable member for Cowper.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the increase in licence fees for commercial broadcasting stations is yet another Budget impost introduced by the Whitlam Labor Government.
– Order! I advise the honourable member for Cowper that the House has just carried the motion “That the Bill be now read a second time’. Is it the intention of the House to go into Committee? I call the Minister.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– The question is That the Bill be now read a third time’.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order-
– I call the Deputy Leader of the Country Party.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the normal procedure of this House-
– Is leave granted to proceed to the third reading forthwith?
– Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, the second reading debate has not yet taken place in this House.
-I beg your pardon. It has been carried. (Opposition members interjecting.)
-Order! I want to make this clear: I put the question: ‘That the Bill be now read a second time*.
– To which the honourable member for Cowper rose. He has been listed to speak on the Bill. He was endeavouring to attract your attention. He was standing there, endeavouring to get you to call him. There was no call from you in the Chair, and at the first available opportunity he spoke. Mr Deputy Speaker, the normal practice of this House is that you read a motion, which says: “The question is that the Bill be now read a second time’, and then you call on a spokesman from the Opposition. I would suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that it is now for the honourable member for Cowper to have the call and to have an opportunity to speak on this question.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, speaking to the point of order, the honourable member for Cowper could not have been jumping for the call because he was not the leader of the debate on that side. The list given to me shows that the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) is down as the leading Opposition speaker, and consequently he was the one who should have been called. If the honourable member for Cowper was jumping, he had no right to do so because he was not entitled to the call.
– I wish to take a point of order.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, could I explain this?
– No. Before you explain it, if I could explain it a little bit-
– May I speak on a point of order?
– As the Acting Opposition Whip I went to the members of the Country Party a little while ago and asked them if they would mind leading with the honourable member for Cowper in this debate. They agreed and sent for the honourable member for Cowper. Now, I am sorry, Sir, if we were a bit slow getting up, but that was a genuine proposition and members of the .Country Party will know that what I say is true. I would deeply deprecate any attempt to push this Bill through on technical matters when that was a decision made by us. We asked the honourable member for Cowper to lead in this debate on this occasion. I assure you that is the truth, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Banks and the honourable member for Calare to resume their seats. I put the question quite clearly ‘that the Bill be now read a second time’. I looked at both sides of the House and at the centre table. Nobody rose from the centre table. I looked at the Country Party area of the chamber and I looked at the other part of the Opposition side. Nobody had risen, as the honourable member for Angas has just said. They were very slow. At that point I put the question that the Bill be now read a second time’. The question was resolved in the affirmative without division. I made one error at that stage. Going straight into the third reading stage I called the honourable member for Cowper. I was in error in that respect. The position now is that the House may go into Committee on this matter if it so desires or it can proceed, if leave is granted, to the third reading forthwith. It is up to the House itself to make that decision.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The practice of this House has long been that there should be a second reading debate. I accept that you did not notice the honourable member for Cowper rise. He rose at what he believed to be the appropriate time. There was an agreement-
-Order! I want to make it quite clear that the honourable member for Cowper did not rise at the appropriate rime, nor did any other member of this House. I waited before putting the question.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I raise a point of order on 2 counts. One is that I walked across from my/ seat to speak to the Deputy Leader of the Country Party. The honourable member, for Cowper was standing up as I walked past because I bent down so that I was not obstruct-,/ ing him. It would be impossible for you as a Deputy Speaker to have gone through the motions that you said you did go through without noticing the honourable member for Cowper. The other factor in regard to this matter is that when a situation like this has occurred on odd occasions - I suggest that the Leader of the House will agree that this is the case-
-Order! Is the honourable member for Lyne suggesting .that I have misled the House?
– The Chair has put the question again for the second reading and allowed the debate to continue.
– There is no point of order.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I might not be very popular for saying this but frankly there has obviously been a technical error here tonight. I do not see any reason why the ordinary processes of Parliament should be frustrated by the absence of a person to take the call when’ he was intending to take the call. I ask the Leader of the House to condone the recommital of the second reading.
-Order! I want to make this quite clear. I have already said that when the question was put ‘that the Bill be now read a second time’ I hesitated for some time looking for somebody to rise. Nobody rose from the centre table or from the Country Party benches, as was mentioned by the honourable member for Angas. I have already indicated to the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party who is in the chair at the centre table now, that the matter can be quite easily rectified by going into Committee, when honourable members may speak on the Bill, or they may speak in the third reading debate. I would suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Country Party should indicate which way he wants to do it.
– May I speak on a point of order?
– On the point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, you have said that you looked for the honourable member for Berowra because his name was on some list.
-I did not say that.
– How did the name of the honourable member for Berowra come into the debate?
– The Leader of the House said that.
– Very well. I accept, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you did not mention the ‘honourable member for Berowra.
– That is right. I do not know of any list.
– This is the point I want to make: Mr Speaker does not take cognisance of any list.
– That is quite right.
– Therefore if he looks around believing that someone ought to be there because he was on the list and does not see that person this is no reason why he should not therefore-
– There is no point of order. It is not a point of order.
– The second point I want to raise, Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Look, I did not mention the honourable member for Berowra. I know of no list of speakers. I mentioned that nobody rose from the centre table or from either side of the House.
– So I move on to my second point. You said then, Sir - there is no question about this - that nobody rose from the centre table. There is no particular priority that somebody has at the centre table. It was your duty, Sir, I submit, to see if any member rose anwhere, whether someone you expected to rise because he was on a list, someone who happened to be at the centre table or someone who happened to be on the front bench. It was your duty, Sir, plainly, I submit, to see if anybody on this side of the House rose. Quite obviously the honourable member for Cowper did rise.
– Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– We are making a travesty of the-
-The honourable member has not made a point of order.
– This is a travesty.
-The honourable member will resume his seat. Leave has not been granted to proceed to the third reading forthwith and accordingly the House will now go into Committee.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, can I raise a point of order? I put this proposition to the Leader of the House: The normal practice of this House is that there should be a second reading debate. There are a number of speakers from the Government side as well as from the Opposition who want to speak on this debate. I accept, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you have made your judgment on this matter. I believe that it was perhaps unfortunate that you were not able to see the honourable member for Cowper rise. I ask the Leader of the House -
-Order! The honourable member for Cowper did not rise when the motion was put. The suggestion from the Deputy Leader of the Country Party is that the Deputy Speaker did not see the honourable member rise. I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw that, Mr Deputy Speaker. I suggest that perhaps the Leader of the House might be prepared to permit a second reading debate to take place as it was the belief of members of the Opposition that there would be a second reading debate and in view of the fact that there seems to be misunderstanding on the order of speakers.
– You were a bit slow, that was your problem. I call the Leader of the House.
– I am quite certain, Sir, that your ruling is correct. We were waiting for the debate to continue and nobody on that side rose to take it. The Leader of the Australian Country Party, instead of approaching me in the first place, came in on the bounce and on the hop, and said that the honourable member for Cowper did rise. He said that you did not see him, Mr Deputy Speaker, and that you should have called him. And then later on in the course of discussion he said perhaps you did not see him; perhaps he did not rise. I am not influenced by death bed confessions. Consequently, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not ask you to resubmit it.
The Opposition, which is saying that it is to be the next Government, ought to be awake and alert. If its members are asleep when these things come on that is their business. For mv part this debate now is in the Committee stages and instead of wasting the time of this House, use up the time available to you by debating it in Committee as you should. Mr Deputy Speaker, I suggest that you stand by the decision which has been justly given and wrongly challenged by every honourable member opposite. It was a just one and a proper one and the Opposition can now debate this in Committee.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I move dissent from your ruling.
– What is my ruling?
– Your ruling is that the second reading speech is concluded and that we should go into Committee. You have already ruled that.
– My ruling is that the question that the Bill be now read a second time has been carried by the House. The question we are now discussing is whether or not leave is granted to proceed to the third reading forthwith. I have asked whether leave is granted but you have not replied. If your reply is in the affirmative we will proceed to the third reading forthwith and the debate will then continue. All the honourable members you are worried about will get their opportunity to speak. Alternatively, we can go into Committee and they will still have the opportunity to speak.
– I submit that you have just given your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, and from that we dissent.
– Order! This is not a ruling on the interpretation of . Standing Orders. All I have done is to state what the position is. It is not a question of acceptance of a motion of dissent from a ruling because I have not given a ruling on the interpretation of Standing Orders. All I have done is to state a factual situation, which is quite clear, that there was a question that the Bill be read a second time. I looked for honourable members from both sides of the House to rise to their feet to speak on it. I waited some considerable time and then put the resolution. I made one error in after that proceeding to the third reading and calling the honourable member for Cowper.
I corrected that and asked should we proceed to the third reading forthwith. I have still not received a reply to that question. Otherwise we go into Committee. I have not given a ruling; I have simply carried out the Standing Orders of this House and therefore the question of dissent does not come into it.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– I move:
-Order! Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– I second the amendment.
-The House will come to order, particularly those in the gallery. I think that in future members need to be a little quicker on their feet and a lot of trouble will be saved.
– The practice of this House has always been that honourable members should be given a fair and adequate opportunity to speak in this chamber on legislation which is submitted to them for consideration. We have before us at the moment a Bill called the Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Bill. All honourable members of this Parliament are concerned about the opportunities there are foi them to speak on the air and to use mass media both for the dissemination of information relative to their own particular interests and the availability and the content of matter that is used by broadcasting stations. This legislation relates to licence fees pertinent to broadcasting stations. There has been complete denial of the opportunity of any honourable member of this Parliament to talk in the second reading debate. I believe that there was unfortunate confusion as to the first speaker listed but the fact that there was only a first speaker is significant. The Leader of the House, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) suggested that there is a list of speakers and that the person whose name was at the head of that list was not here and consequently it was quite obvious that there was to be no debate. The fact that there were 2 Government supporters and something like 6 or 7 Opposition members wishing to speak is ignored.
In the case of most legislation dealt with in this Parliament there has been a second reading debate. For us not now to have the opportunity of having a second reading debate is indicative of the sort of tactics that the Leader of the House and the Government seek to pursue. The Government is not interested in hearing about the causes and consequences of the pattern of legislation which it has introduced. It is more interested in trying to push things through. Its view is: To hell with the consequences no matter how people are affected by the legislation. This Parliament can survive only if the people elected to represent the Australian people are given a reasonable opportunity of expressing a point of view on legislation which materially affects every Australian. This legislation is important. I believe it is significant that quite a number of speakers were listed. The nature of the legislation covers an area of concern, not only to parliamentarians, but also to people whereever they are in Australia. Yet there is to be no second reading debate.
The Leader of the Government apparently has decided to exercise arbitrary judgment and to deny an opportunity for all those members to speak other than he whose name was first on the list and who was not here in the chamber at the time. This is completely unacceptable. I regard your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, as quite regrettable. You, I understand, as a Deputy Speaker, perhaps have not had the opportunity of being in the chair throughout each stage of this debate and other debates. But whoever is in the chair, whether it be you, acting on behalf of Mr Speaker, or Mr Speaker himself, should provide adequate opportunity for members to debate significant issues. It ill behoves the Leader of the House to deny the opportunity for honourable members to talk on matters of this character. I believe that this is an instance which needs to be driven home to the people of Australia of how power is now running to the heads of the members of this Labor Government. There is no denying that they are forgetting all about those who elected them. They are not concerned about hearing the point of view of the average Australian. The Minister for Minerals and Energy-
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Country Party will resume his seat. The honourable member is suggesting that there is an attempt by the Chair, and by the House, to prevent honourable members from having their say. I already have pointed out clearly that on a number of occasions I asked whether it was the wish of the House to proceed to the third reading forthwith, in which case any honourable members on either side of the House would have had the full right of debate. I also pointed out that if the House decided instead to go into Committee every honourable member concerned would have a full right to speak. Therefore I ask the Deputy Leader of the Country Party to withdraw the inference that the Chair has tried in any way to prevent honourable members, as he put it, from having their say.
– Mr Acting Speaker, you do not seem to realise that this is a dissent from your ruling.
-Order! It is not a dissent from my ruling.
– I withdraw that remark because I accept that it is not.
-The honourable member should not become quite so confused as to what motion he really moved. He has moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to permit the recommittal of the second reading of the Bill. I ask him to stick to that motion and not to speak on extraneous matters; otherwise I will have to pull him up again.
– I have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders. This House should support the concept that the second reading debate on this Bill should be recommitted. The only action available to the Opposition in order to ensure that there be a debate on this Bill is to move for the suspension of Standing Orders to allow the recommittal of the Bill. It is important that this House be given the chance to debate important legislation. We are concerned with the implications of this Bill. Unfortunately no opportunity has been given for any member from either side of the House to speak on this Bill.
– A point of order!
– The provisions of this Bill affect every member of the House -
-Order! A point of order has been taken. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party will resume his seat.
– The honourable member for Richmond is again reflecting on the Chair by saying that no opportunity was given to members on either side of the House -
Country Party supporters - It is the honourable member for New England.
– Well, the honourable member for New England has again reflected on your integrity by suggesting that there was no opportunity given to members on either side of the House to speak at the second reading stage. I was present in the House when you called on the second reading motion and I saw that the honourable member for Cowper did not rise when you called.
– What nonsense! Of course he rose.
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Country Party -
– That was nonsense.
-Order! Look, that little corner, the extreme left corner, will-
– The extreme left is over there. You do not know your left from your right.
-Order! The extreme left, the Country Party corner will maintain a little more order, if they do not mind. I think that the Deputy Leader of the Country Party understands - I hope he does - the Standing Orders of this House and that under those Standing Orders there can be no attempt on the part of the Chair to prevent members from speaking. The Chair has outlined quite clearly that it has not under any circumstances prevented members from speaking. It has given them every opportunity. I therefore ask the honourable member to withdraw any remark of that type. If he continues with it it is an inference against the Chair.
– I believe that this Bill should be recommitted at -
-Order! I ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark.
– -What remark?
– Do you not listen?
– I heard a series of comments.
-The remark was that the House was trying through the Chair to prevent members from speaking in the debate on the Bill.
– I withdraw that remark. It is necessary that this legislation be recommitted to the consideration of the Parliament to afford members an opportunity to speak on it-
– A point of order!
– It is necessary that there be an opportunity for the legislation again to be considered by the Parliament. The farce that is being pursued by the honourable member for-
-Order! A point of order has been taken.
– He is again reflecting on your integrity by repeating that the opportunity was not given. The opportunity was given when you called.
-Order! I gather that the Deputy Leader of the Country Party has withdrawn the inference that the Chair was endeavouring to prevent debate-
– He said it again.
-If so, no point of order arises.
– Members of the Government seem to have defects in their hearing - apart from any others. It is necessary in my opinion that the Bill be recommitted to the second reading stage to enable a second reading debate to take place. I believe that members in this chamber would like to speak on this legislation. I believe that it is an important piece of legislation. I have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders so that the Bill can be recommitted to the second reading stage and members may speak on a piece of legislation that increases charges applicable to broadcasting stations and which prejudices small stations wherever they be situated. I believe that this piece of legislation has aspects which need to be debated. Without a second reading debate, it is not possible for all the implications of the measure to be considered effectively. It is a complete departure from the customary practice for no second reading debate to take place. For that reason, I believe it absolutely essential that this motion be supported.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! The question is: ‘That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prohibit the recommittal of the Bill and so enable the second reading debate to continue’. The motion has been seconded by the honourable member for Barker who reserved the right to speak.
– Mr Deputy Speaker -
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I have risen to my feet. You have failed to give me the call, as you did earlier, and you have demonstrated clearly your incapacity -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– What rules are you following?
-Order! When I called for a further speaker the honourable member for Barker indicated that he seconded the resolution. I call the Leader of the House.
Motion (by Mr Daly) put:
That the question be now put.
-The question is: That the question be now put’. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it. Is a division required?
Opposition members - Yes.
– Ring the bells. (The bells being rung)
– I rise to order under standing order 93.
-Order! There is a division in progress.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, under standing order 93 you must allow the motion to be seconded before you put it, and the closure cannot be moved until that is done. The movement of the closure was illegal and against the Standing Orders of this House. You cannot allow the question to be put. You have gone beyond your powers. You have forgotten standing order 93. We cannot have a division.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I request that you call off this division.
-Order! If the honourable member for Cowper does not resume his seat I will name him.
– Mr Deputy Speaker -
-Order! Resume your seat while the occupant of the chair is on his feet. I have never seen such a disgraceful exhibition in the House. If honourable members do not remain silent during the division I will have to take -
– You cannot call a division. It is not a division.
-I name the honourable member for Mackellar.
– .You cannot in a division.
-The honourable member will withdraw the remark or withdraw -
– I withdraw the remark.
-I understand that the situation in the House is not as calm as it should be but I ask honourable members at least to carry out the decorum of the House.
– If you give us a proper ruling.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, as the person most directly concerned in this matter I request that you give consideration to calling off the division, restoring order, and allowing the House to resume its business in a normal and orderly fashion. If you fail to do this you are failing to exercise your duties as a Deputy Speaker.
– Firstly, I point out that the Chair has no powers under any standing order of this House to call off a division.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Speaker had no power to call on this division. This is not a division.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker-Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prohibit the re-committal of this Bill and so enable the second reading debate to continue.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . . . 1_1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Order! It being past 15 minutes to 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 22 August I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– In the very short time left tonight I just want to observe that this Parliament has in recent weeks, and particularly this evening, degenerated into a most ineffective legislature. I make the point there was dissent on the Government side. The honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) rose and sought some common sense approach in this chamber, but he was not accorded any consideration by his own Leader. He, of course-
– Order! The honourable gentleman is not in order in raising during the adjournment debate a matter which is the subject of a continuing debate in the House.
– I referred to the procedures of this House, and I am sure that
I am quite entitled to speak on such a matter in the adjournment debate. I did, of course, refer to an occurrence earlier this evening. I was saying that the honourable member for Barton obviously was so disgusted with his own Party that he left the chamber and did not vote; nor did the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby).
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable member is now trying to defend himself against the earlier ruling by the Chair. There is evidence on our side to the effect that, whilst he claimed the call, he was misleading the Parliament or falsely saying that he had risen when in fact he had never left his seat.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The Minister will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I call the honourable member for Cowper.
– The Leader of the House has just quite wilfully misled the House with his observations as to what had occurred in this chamber earlier this evening-
– Order! It being 11 p.m., the Chair will be resumed at 11 a.m. tomorrow. The House stands adjourned.
Mouse adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following treaties were deemed to have been presented on 15 October 1973, by command of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral:
Treaties to which Australia has become a party by signature:
Agreement establishing the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Co-operation, signed at Apia on 17 April 1973.
Exchange of Letters constituting an Agreement between Australia and New Zealand on Rates and Margins of Preference, signed at Canberra and Wellington on 7 May 1973.
Protocol relating to Milk Fat, drawn up at Geneva on 2 April 1973 and signed for Australia on 11 May 1973.
Exchange of Notes between Australia and Laos constituting a further Amendment to the Agreement of 24 December 1963 concerning the Foreign Exchange Operations Fund for Laos, signed at Vietiane on t lune 1973.
Protocol to Amend the Agreement on North Atlantic Ocean Stations signed at Paris on 25 February 1954 and amended on 13 May 1970. The Protocol was opened for signature at Montreal on 1 December 1972 and signed for Australia on 4 July 1973.
Trade Agreement between Australia and the People’s Republic of China, signed at Canberra on 24 July 1973.
Exchange of Notes between Australia and the United States of America constituting an Agreement Extending the Agreement of 16 October 1968 relating to Scientific and Technical Co-operation, signed at Washington on 30 July 1973.
Exchange of Notes between Australia and the United States of America constituting an Agreement concerning the Launching of seven Aerobee Rockets, signed at Canberra on 18 September 1973.
Agreement and Conventions to which Australia has become a party by accession:
Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen drawn up at The Hague on 23 November 1957 and acceded to by Australia in 18 April 1973.
Convention on Nomenclature for the Classification of Goods in Customs Tariffs signed at Brussels on 15 December 1950 and Protocol of Amendment signed at Brussels on 1 July 1955. Australia acceded to the Convention and Protocol of Amendment on 18 April 1973.
Convention relating to International Exhibitions signed at Paris on 22 November 1928, and amended by the Protocol of 10 May 1948, 16 November 1966 and 30 November 1972. Australia acceded to the Convention as amended by the 1948 and 1966 Protocols on 6 September 1973 and to the 1972 Protocol on 7 September 1973.
Convention and Covenants to which Australia is considering becoming a party by ratification:
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, drawn up at Washington on 3 March 1973 and signed for Australia on 21 September 1973.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature at New York on 19 December 1966 and signed for Australia on 18 December 1972.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, opened for signature at New York on 19 December 1966 and signed for Australia in 18 December 1972.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Department of Primary Industry:
asked.the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry provided the following answer to the honourable members’ question:
Wales$0.55-$7.00 per sq. ft; Victoria $0.25- $7.25 per sq. ft; Queensland$040-$3.85 per sq. ft; South Australia$0.31-S$4.00 per sq. ft; Western Australia$1.25-$4.50 per sq. ft; Tasmania$1.35-$3.50 per sq. ft; Australian Capital Territory$4.00-$6.75 per sq. ft.
The average rental paid in each capital city is: Sydney $3.64 per sq. ft; Melbourne $4.13 per sq. ft; Brisbane $2.25 per sq. ft; Adelaide $2.36 per sq. ft; Perth $4.05 per sq. ft; Hobart $2.20 per sq. ft; Canberra $4.37 per sq. ft.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
How many civilians were employed by each of the Services as at 30 June 1973?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is:
asked the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As separate Commonwealth and State rolls are maintained in both Queensland and Western Australia it is not practicable to make a comparison between the names on these rolls in order to ascertain the information sought.
In South. Australia approximately 18,000 persons aged 18-20 years enrolled for State purposes prior to 21 March 1973 (the date of effect of the lower franchise age for Federal purposes). Of these, approximately 400 are enrolled for House of Assembly purposes only. The remainder (17,600) have either obtained enrolment for both Federal and State purposes or are no longer eligible for enrolment in South Australia.
In Tasmania the number of people enrolled for Federal purposes exceeds those enrolled for State purposes. Enrolment for the 18-20 years age group became effective for Federal purposes on 21 March 1973 and for State purposes in Tasmania on 1 August 1973.
A person who is guilty of an offence against this section is punishable upon conviction -
in any other case - by a fine of not less than Four dollars and not more than Ten dollars.’
asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
The figures quoted in 3 (a) were derived from an examination of income tax returns of companies which have discovered petroleum in commercial quantities. The figures do not include the cost of potential deductions available to those companies which are not yet petroleum producers.
A forerunner to that Section (77a) provided a similar concession for petroleum exploration and mining companies from 1959 to 1969. The Commissioner of Taxation estimates that the cost to revenue of that concession was $82m over the period.
asked the Minister for the Envir onment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In the case of Western Australia assistance for the Ord Project and the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme has been outside the framework of the national water program.
The following projects have been approved by the Government -
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The proposed staffing for the Sydney Centre includes - 1 Sessional Medical Consultant 1 Sessional Clinical Psychologist 2 Sessional Remedial Teachers 1 Executive Officer 1 Case Work Coordinator (Psychologist) 1 Social Worker (Number of positions will be dependent on the size of the case-load) 1 Senior Vocational Counsellor 1 Welfare Officer 1 Workshop Manager 2 Foremen 4 Instructors 1 Storeman 2 Clerical Assistants 1 Typist 1 Labourer
Hospital Benefits Funds (Question No. 904)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Where a medical fund ordinary contributor lodges a claim for fund benefit with an organisation and the organisation is under its rules relating to the eligibility of an ordinary contributor to be paid fund benefit in respect of a pre-existing ailment or relating to the maximum fund benefit payable to an ordinary contributor entitled to disallow and does disallow the claim the organisation shall transfer that contributor to the medical fund special account.
Details of hospital and medical costs of special account contributors are not known, however, the following information may be of assistance to the honourable member:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In determining eligibility for this higher rate of benefit, regard is had to whether the patient is wholly or substantially dependent on nursing care. While blindness in itself is not considered sufficient to warrant intensive nursing home care, a blind person who is incapable of looking after himself and is wholly or substantially dependent on nursing care, is considered to be an intensive nursing home care patient. A sympathetic approach is adopted when an aged blind patient is suffering from some concurrent illness.
It is necessary for the proprietor of a nursing home to make application in respect of any patient who, because of his condition, is- provided with intensive nursing home care.
I am informed that for the year ended 30 June 1973 intensive nursing home care patients constituted approximately 47 per cent of all nursing home patients throughout Australia. In contrast with this figure the ratio of approved intensive nursing home care patients at the Homes for the Aged Blind at Bendigo and Ballarat, Victoria, for the months May to July 1973 were approximately 94 per cent and 71 per cent respectively.
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
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:
The loans were made without any decision being taken on a request by the industry for assistance < to offset losses from international currency changes.
In relation to Leeton Co-operative, a sumof $781,000 was initially provided to the New South Wales Government. Pending determination of the size of the cannery levy to cover 1972 cannery losses, and in keeping with the conditions of the loan, the New South Wales Government withheld $281,000. Subsequent arrangements by the present Australian Government enabled the payment of a further $170,000 to the cannery in June 1973. The balance of $111,000 was refunded by the New South Wales Government. (2)(c) The loans were repayable over two years in four equal half-yearly instalments, with interest, also payable half-yearly, at 5¼ per cent per annum.
The Australian Government has agreed to a deferment for six months of the initial capital and interest payments by South Australia and New South Wales.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Did he at any time give an undertaking or commitment of any kind to the British Minister for Defence, Lord Carrington, to the effect that Australia would maintain its forces in Singapore under the Five Power Arrangements.
– I gave no undertaking or commitment of any kind to Lord Carrington that was inconsistent with the Government’s announcement on 4 July concerning Australian forces in Singapore or with the Australian Labor Party’s policy speech, which was made before Lord Carrington’s visit.
Pensioners: Travel Concessions (Question No. 975)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Government does not provide any concession for either interstate air or road transport journeys. However, the. Australian National Shipping Line provides a SO per cent concession to the following: T. and P.I. pensioners; Limbless Soldiers (and wives); Blind pensioners plus attendant; Blind civilians plus attendant and all Age, Invalid and Widow pensioners.
New South Wales
Concession Fare Passes are issued to all pensioners enrolled in the Pensioner Medical Service who permanently reside in New South Wales. The pass entitles them to reduced fares on New South Wales Government trains, buses and ferries.
Concessions also include intra-state travel, and interstate travel between Sydney and Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane.
On production of their travel concession cards, pensioners (who qualify for Commonwealth fringe benefits) and dependent wives and children may travel at reduced fares on trains and Tramway Board trams and buses. Reduced rates on certain interstate train travel are also available.
Pensioners may apply in writing to the Hospital Travel Section, Health Department, for free rail, bus or tram travel to attend a Public Hospital, the Dental Hospital, or the College of Optometry.
A person who holds a Pensioner Medical Service Entitlement Card may be issued with a Pensioner’s Concession Rail Fare Permit by the Commissioner for Railways. The permit entitles the pensioner to the following concessions:
Pensioners may use these concessions as frequently as they wish.
The concessions do not apply to sleeping berth tickets, seat tickets, surcharge tickets or to any portion of a trip made other than by rail.
Subject to certain qualifications and exceptions, pensioners who are bona fide residents of Queensland may be eligible for a free return rail journey between any two stations in Queensland. This privilege ls available only once in each calendar year and is restricted solely to the Queensland Government Railways system.
Pensioners (who qualify for Commonwealth fringe benefits) may obtain concession authority cards which entitle them to reduced fares when travelling interstate on Commonwealth Railways, i.e. from Port Pirie, South Australia, to Alice Springs and Perth.
Pensioners holding concession authority, cards may travel between Adelaide and Melbourne at half fare provided they travel in sitting cars.
Pensioners holding concession authority cards are entitled to travel at half fare on trains travelling within the State.
Social Security pensioners who qualify for Pensioner Medical Service, and who live permanently in Western Australia (and recipients of Department of Community Welfare relief) are issued with a free travel concession fare certificate which entitles them to:
Free travel on metropolitan rail services and almost all regular bus and ferry services operated by the Metropolitan (Perth) Passenger Transport Trust.
Half fare travel on country rail services and special services operated by the Metropolitan (Perth) Passenger Transport Trust to race meetings, sporting fixtures, special events such as Royal Show and ferry excursion cruises.
Special concessions are available to blind pensioners.
The Metropolitan Transport Trust offers a con- cession in the areas where it operates: Hobart, Launceston and Burnie, to eligible pensioners who are issued with a Transport Concession card for travel at concession rates.
The Transport Commission provides a concession of approximately SO per cent on rail travel within the State to all age, invalid and widow pensioners.
asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is general knowledge however that there were many former Senators and Members who, on leaving the Parliament during the period 1949-1972, were appointed to Government positions in Australia and overseas by former Liberal Country Party Governments. To mention but a few from immediate recollection:
Mr W. T. Arthur
Hon. Sir Howard Beale, K.B.E., Q.C.
Hon. Donald Cameron, O.B.E.
Hon. F. C. Chaney, C.B.E., A.F.C.
Mr Roger Dean, C.B.E., K. St. J.
Hon. Sir Alexander Downer, K.B.E.
Hon. Sir Josiah Francis
Hon. Gordon Freeth
Mr H.B. S. Gullett, M.C.
Rt Hon, Sir Eric Harrison, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O.
Hon. Sir Denham Henty, K.B.E.
Hon. Sir Alister McMullin, K.C.M.G.
Hon. Sir Hubert Opperman, O.B.E.
Hon. Dame Annabelle Rankin, D.B.E.
Hon. Hugh Roberton
Hon. Sir Percy Spender, K.C.V.O., K..B.E.. K.St.J.. Q.C.
Dame Ivy Wedgwood, D.B.E.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Australian Ionising Radiation Advisory Council.
Burdekin Project Committee.
Commission of Inquiry into the Maritime Industry.
Committee on Development of Outdoor Recreation.
Committee of Inquiry into the Protection of Privacy.
Committee of Reference for Defence Forces Pay.
Committee on National Uniform Safety Code for
Australian Government Employment.
Committee on Possible ways of increasing imports.
Consultation with Young People.
Consumer Affairs Council (Related to A.C.T.).
Inquiry into Aboriginal/Police Relations.
Financial Needs for training teachers for special education in tertiary institutions.
Financial Support for approved private teachers colleges.
Inquiry into Certain Aspects of Stevedoring Industry.
Government Industry Panel on Cherries.
Inquiry into Employment in the Building Industry.
Inquiry into Technical Education in the A.C.T.
Inquiry into the prices of certain commodities and services in the A.C.T. and Northern Territory.
Interim Executive of the Australian Health Insurance Commission.
Interim Primary Schools Libraries Committee.
Legal Aid Review Committee.
Medical Fees Tribunal.
National Committee on Discrimination in Employment and Occupations.
Possible development in Australian universities of studies in linguistics, including Aboriginal linguistics.
Possible steps to encourage studies in Australian universities of the languages and cultures of people who represent a significant component of Australia’s migrant intake.
Royal Commission into Petroleum and Petroleum Products.
Second Interim Committee for the Schools Commission.
West Australian Airport Advisory Committee.
Working Party on Nursing Homes Fees.
Working Party on the Environmental Implications of the Woodchip Industry and the Softwood Forestry Program.
Workshop on Aboriginal Health Services and Aboriginal Health Workers.
It is my intention to make a statement at the end of the current sitting along the lines of that which I made in the House on 31 May, at the end of the Autumn Sitttings.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731015_reps_28_hor86/>.