28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received a message from the Governor-General informing the House that Her Majesty the Queen had assented to the Royal Style and Titles Bill.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable 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 Stewart, Mr Fairbairn, MrHurford, Mr MacKellar, Mr Mulder, Mr Peacock, Mr Ruddock and Mr Turner.
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 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.
Thatthe 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 McLeay.
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 Wilson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully shews:
Your petitioners therefore ask that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should acknowledge the right of every Australian child to equal per capita grants of government money spent on education, and so instruct the proposed National Schools Commission.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Peacock.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned respectively sheweth that your petitioners oppose the proposed reduction of Commonwealth per capita 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.
– I have to inform honourable members that on Friday last the Honourable Rex Patterson was sworn by Her Majesty the Queen as Minister for the Northern Territory. He, of course, remains also Minister for Northern Development.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received a request from the Premier of South Australia for a government contribution towards the cost of immense damage done to approximately 3,000 glasshouses in a freak hail storm which struck the Virginia district last week? If and when the request does come, will it receive his urgent and sympathetic consideration?
– No such letter has come to my notice. If one has been received I will seek leave to inform the honourable gentleman at the end of question time. The ordinary principles whereby the Commonwealth and any State affected agree to repair such natural disasters will apply in this case.
– I address my question to the Minister for Secondary Industry and by way of preface I point out that the previous Minister for Second Industry presented to this House on 12 April 1973 the report of the Committee on Small Businesses. The previous Minister told the House that the Government was anxious to attend to the problems of small businesses as they exist in Australia and to provide assistance where it might be necessary. Can the Minster now tell us what steps have been taken in this regard? Will the Government be putting forward any firm proposals directed to the needs of small businesses in Australia?
– The Government is hoping to put forward certain proposals concerning the needs of small businesses in Australia. My predecessor had occasion to make certain statements on this subject in this House some months ago. The Government takes the view that small business is a particularly important aspect of the business community in Australia and adds up to a very substantial proportion of all business activities. When one bears in mind the ever increasing tendency for business to become concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, with all the consequential problems of economic power, one realises the importance of giving assistance to small businesses. I am hoping that a Cabinet submission will be considered soon. Indeed, I take this opportunity, with the Prime Minister sitting alongside me, to express the hope that in the next week or so the matter will be listed at the top of the agenda for the next meeting of Cabinet so that it can be considered.
– Are you not doing too well?
– We are doing extremely well, but there are so many aspects coming forward on the Cabinet agendas that one has to push one’s claim all the time. I put that point of view forward at this time.
– And doing it publicly, too.
– That is right.
– Could I help out there?
– No, thank you. We are also hoping to organise a national small business seminar to be held in Canberra on 22 and 23 November. Invitations have already been sent out to representatives of small business throughout Australia. There has been a very enthusiastic response to it. The meeting will be in the nature of a symposium. We feel that a great deal of benefit will come from it which will lead to the creation soon of a small business administration.
– Will the Minister for Minerals and Energy tell the House his reaction to the unanimous resolution of the South Australian Parliament condemning his obstructive and doctrinaire attitude which is risking the establishment of a very much needed petrochemical industry in that State?
– May I inform the honourable member that my attitude is neither obstructive nor doctrinaire? I share the desire of the South Australian Government to see that a substantial petro-chemical undertaking is established at Redcliffs. However, I am charged with certain national responsibilities.
In particular I want to see that there is the maximum yield of motor spirit from the reconstitution of the liquids that will come down the liquids line to that refinery from Gidgealpa. Naturally, in accordance with the federal policy of my Party I also wish to see at least a51 per cent Australian equity. Those objectives are capable of achievement.
I intend to see that they are achieved.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Education been drawn to a reported reply by the New South Wales Minister for Education, Mr Willis, during a recent question time in the New South Wales Parliament in which he stated that the additional money provided in this year’s Commonwealth Budget for education for New South Wales was about a mere$10m? Is this statement correct.
– As I recollect the figures in the Karmel report, the sum total of what New South Wales will be receiving over the 2 years is $240m. I am quite sure that that is not merely $10m in addition to what would have been received by New South Wales. I can scarcely believe that Mr Willis has been correctly reported because, in common with the rest of the members of the Australian Education Council, he joined in warmly commending the Karmel report and the extra sums of money which the State of New South Wales would be receiving. I doubt whether he would have joined in any warm commendation if it involved only10m in 2 years. It is not correct.
– This financial year.
– I do not think that could be correct either, but I would need to find out on what basis he was discussing the question.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. He will remember an answer he gave to a question from the Leader of the Australian Country Party concerning a written undertaking given on 15 December 1972 by the former Department of the Interior to Queensland Mines Ltd. I ask the Prime Minister whether it is correct that the Department of the Interior was in existence on that date and whether Mr Barnard was Minister for the Interior in the first Whitlam Government. Did the Deputy Prime Minister authorise the letter to which the Leader of the Country Party referred last week in which assurances were given that ‘in the view of the assurances given by the former Government’ the renewal of the exploration licences from 1 January 1973 would be granted subject to certain conditions? I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a letter written to Mr P. R. Stork, the Manager of Queensland Mines Ltd, dated 15 December 1972 stated in part:
I have discussed with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister foi the Interior the matters raised in your letter of 8 December.
In view of the assurances given by the former Government and the expenditure incurred by your company I am authorised to assure you of renewal of exploration licences from 1 January 1973 and of the grant of leases subject to the following conditions:
The letter is here if any honourable member wishes to see it. Is the Prime Minister aware of this fact? Was he aware that the Deputy Prime Minister had given Mr George Warwick Smith, who was the Secretary of the Department at that stage, authority to write that letter?
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy will answer the question.
– Such a letter was signed by Mr Smith, but there were other qualifications in it as to the price to be obtained and other conditions. Let me say this to the honourable member: There is no need for undue haste in the whole matter. The contracts that are available provide for delivery to commence in 1976 and run on for an extensive period beyond that. In view of the answer given by the Prime Minister last Thursday to the Leader of the Country Party, the matter can well be left in abeyance. I do not see that there is the slightest need for agonising on the part of any of the companies concerned or the arm twisting tactics that they are attempting to follow.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Is it true that following the new policy on overseas students there has been a large number of applications from these students to remain in Australia on the completion of their studies?
– It would not be true to say that there has been a large number of applications by overseas students to remain in Australia. From memory, I would say that at the present time no more than twenty are seeking by representations to me to stay under the criteria laid down. At present throughout Australia there are some 10,000 overseas students of whom 3,700 are at universities and the others at schools and colleges. The scheme is designed to promote friendship and amity in our region. It is not meant as an aid gesture to our neighbours. During my visit to South East Asia a couple of months ago I discussed with the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia and particularly Singapore the criteria for students coming to and remaining in Australia. There was a ready recognition of the effort being made by Australia to extend the hand of friendship in this direction. With respect to students who graduate in Australia and wish to remain here I said, on behalf of the Government, that they would be counselled to return to their homeland because that was the basis on which they came to Australia to study but that if there were any persons who met the criteria and wished to remain, despite being counselled to return, they would not be discriminated against. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of those who come here and study successfully does, in fact, return home. The figures I have given testify to this.
– Did the Prime Minister have any communication with Professor Karmel between the letter of commission in relation to the Interim Schools Commission and receipt of the Karmel report? If so, what was the nature of the communication? If it was a written communication will the Prime Minister table a copy of it as the Minister for Education has done in relation to his communications with Professor Karmel?
– I see Professor Karmel 1 suppose every month or every two months but I could not remember in detail or fully when or where.
– Specifically about April.
– I would expect that I had seen him in April. I would be able to say that of almost any month since we became the Government but I do not remember any formal occasions on which I have seen him in any detail or particularity.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker, may I ask for clarification? Did the Prime Minister write to Professor Karmel early in April?
– I do not remember writing to him. This question can be put on notice if the honourable member wants a detailed reply.
-Order! The Prime Minister has stated that he cannot recall the occasion.
– Has the Minister for Social Security noted recent Press reports in Adelaide concerning allegations by the President of the Federal Wine and Grape Growers. Council of Australia that some people were approaching prospective employers in the industry asking them to declare falsely that work was unavailable in order that unemployment benefits could continue to be paid? Has he had the opportunity to investigate these allegations and, if so, what truth is there in them?
– Following the reports which appeared in the newspaper this matter has been investigated. The Department of Social Security advises that as far as it can establish there is no substance in the reports at all so far as it is concerned. In fact, the Assistant Director of the Employment Section of the Department of Labour in Adelaide says that from the period December 1972 to March 1973 - the grape harvesting season - only one person was receiving unemployment benefit. There seems to have been some sort of error of one kind or another on the part of Mr A. D. Preece who has been making these statements for the Federal Wine and Grape Growers Council of Australia.
– Was the Treasurer, in commenting on the September quarter cost of living increases, correctly reported in weekend newspapers as saying that inflation would probably get worse and that pensions should be increased by more than $1.50 in the autumn session? Since pensioners should not be disadvantaged now by the Government’s inability to control inflation, will the Treasurer advise that he is prepared to recommend the introduction of a Bill into this House this week to correct the imbalance by a fair and acceptable amount?
– I did not indicate that inflation would get worse; I indicated that inflation would not stop. If any member of this House thinks it would have stopped had there been a different government, he is entitled to that misapprehension. As to the figure which was released last week, I rather obliquely described it in one place as ancient history because it records prices for the most part as they were on 15 August last. I do not think any member of this House could tell me of anything that has fallen in price since 15 August. It is now one month into the following quarter. I merely indicated what I thought was quite frank and honest - after all, Frank is my name - that it is unlikely that the consumer price index for the December quarter will decline. It is true that it may decline relatively. I hope it may increase less than 3.6 per cent but there is no certainty that it will.
– God help us if it is not.
– Well, God did not help you much in the past, particularly on 2 December. If the honourable gentleman, who represents a rural seat, looks at those figures he will find that half of the increase in the consumer price index is accounted for by the higher incomes which the people he represents are receiving. Mr Speaker, I hesitate to use the word ‘humbug’, but it seems to me that it is humbug that those who are receiving higher prices should complain because the consumer price index has risen. I indicated that if at the autumn session, which is some months off, the $1.50 projected pension increase seemed inadequate taking into account what the consumer price index might show by March we would be prepared to look at the pension rate again.
– Has the Treasurer noted the annual report of the New South Wales Consumer Affairs Bureau relating to the deplorable activities of the Australian Motorists and General Insurance and Ajax Insurance companies? Will he take immediate steps to have the allegations forwarded to the Insurance Commissioner for investigation? What progress has been made in determining the terms of reference for the setting up of an expert committee of inquiry into the general insurance industry? What progress has been made in the preparation of the legislation concerning insurance brokers?
– My attention has been drawn to the conduct of certain insurance companies mentioned by the honourable gentleman and I shall certainly bring it to the attention of the new insurance commissioner. I would think that the commissioner has probably already had it brought to his attention. Of course, it was the misconduct of certain firms dealing with general insurance that made necessary the legislation that was drawn up by the previous government and ultimately passed by the present Government. I hope to be able to make an announcement in a short time about an expert committee. It has taken some time to set up the general insurance office, to get it staffed and to get it premises. I had a talk with Mr Bassett last week. We are considering personnel for the committee. The third part of the honourable gentleman’s question related to insurance brokers. Discussions have been held in Canberra between officials of the Australian Government and representatives of insurance underwriters. A draft scheme for supervisory legislation has reached a fairly advanced stage of preparation. The insurance brokers associations and representatives of insurance - underwriters are currently making submissions on the proposed legislation. Furthermore, there have been communications between the Prime Minister and the State Premiers seeking agreement to a meeting of Australian Government and State officials to discuss the introduction of the proposed legislation.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer him to the long and protracted negotiations between the New South Wales Government and the Australian Government concerning the responsibility for removing and appropriate action to remove 3 wrecks - the ‘Sydney Queen’ and 2 other vessels - from the public beach at Trial Bay. I ask him whether a previous assurance given to me that Commonwealth assistance would be forthcoming in this matter will be honoured. If so, when will action be taken? Will consideration be given to this matter with a view to removing the wrecks before the coming holiday season?
– The Minister for Transport will answer the question.
– Authority has been given and approved by me to remove the wrecks.
– And conveyed by me to the Premier.
– It has been conveyed by the Prime Minister to the Premier. I think the removal of the wrecks will be at Commonwealth expense.
– My question which is directed to the Treasurer deals with the serious increase in prices. The Treasurer would know that many items of food have increased alarmingly in price over a period of time. Among these items is a certain brand of canned fish which is packaged in Australia and which rose from 43c to 78c per 1 lb can. In view of the refusal by the New South Wales Government to exercise its constitutional authority to control prices, what action can be taken by the Australian Government to protect consumers until such time as the Australian people grant such authority to this Government?
– I think a lot of lip-service is paid to so-called consumer protection legislation which exists in the hands of the States but which is very little utilised. I think this ought to be a matter that concerns the people of New South Wales on 17 November. There is a lot of buck passing about what can or should be done in regard to powers which have been latent in the hands of the States for a good number of years but which have never been utilised. I believe that the best place to look after retail pricing, particularly of household goods, is at State level. I suggest as an alternative that the honourable member might consult with our colleague in this House who is Chairman of the Joint Committee on Prices with a view to referring this matter for consideration by that Committee.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Has the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia told the trading banks that money will become scarcer and dearer to the point where it hurts? Were the banks told to reduce their lending? If so, was this done on Government instructions and specifically by the Treasurer? At what level will interest rates be to make money dearer than at the present time when the overdraft rate is 9J per cent?
– I would say that as usual the honourable gentleman is behind hand with his information. The interest rates, as he knows, have been increased. Before they were increased discussions were held, as they should be, between the Reserve Bank and the trading banks. Whether the Governor of the Reserve Bank used the picturesque language that the Leader of the Opposition has attributed to him I do not know but I think he told them something of the sort that the gist of the words used by the honourable member would suggest.
– Has the Minister for Social Security seen reports attributed to the Victorian Miniser of Health, Mr Scanlan, that some of the Australian Government statements on its universal health insurance program were fraudulent, if not misleading? Apart from the curious syntax of the Victorian Minister’s statement, whereby fraudulence is not misleading, will the Minister comment on the accuracy of Mr Scanlan’s reported statement that the Australian Government’s plan is a blueprint to nationalise private hospitals and demonstrates an intention to put wage or price restraint on private hospitals?
– I suggest that Mr Scanlan does not understand the scheme too well. I have spoken to him two or three times about it and have had the opportunity of assessing just what he does know about the scheme. It has already been reported publicly that we have no proposals to fix the fees of private hospitals. That has been restated on several occasions. There are clear safeguards against nationalisation of medical services in the community. Section 51 (XXiiiA) of the Constitution makes that clear. But I rather thought that the statement of Professor Sykes, a professor of public law at Melbourne University, as reported in the ‘Age’ of 5 September, was significant. It was apparently missed by Mr Scanlan. Professor Sykes said:
While the medical professional organisations express concern at the prospects of the ‘socialisation’ of medicine it is somewhat doubtful whether they have any clear idea as to what they are talking about. Nationalisation in the sense of placing all doctors on the Government payroll and forbidding the carrying on of private medical practice is legally impossible without a drastic amendment of the Federal Constitution. Doctors are protected against nationalisation and they are also protected against any form of civil conscription . . .
But I thought a more pointed comment was made by the Opposition spokesman on health and welfare, the honourable member for Hotham, on 21 September in Melbourne at a meeting of the Australian Dental Association when he said:
Cliches such as ‘nationalisation of doctors, of medicine, lowering of standards of medical care’ and so on, without ever trying to prove such statements, are meaningless.
Now if it means instant nationalisation of doctors - and it doesn’t in its present form-
He was talking about our program- - let’s look at it more closely. Maybe it will lead to nationalisation. Maybe it will lead to lowering of medical care, but in its present ‘innocent’ form it doesn’t mean that. I believe that no longer can one delude the people of this country on the basis that they are half-wits or idiots, because people do think and do work things out for themselves.
Perhaps the observation in the last part of the honourable member’s statement might be noted by Mr Scanlan so as to help him to take a more objective and more informed view of our health scheme.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. The honourable gentleman just answered a question, or in fact did not answer a question, but having regard to what he said in that purported answer I now ask him: If the Governor of the Reserve Bank did use words to the effect that I have stated, did he do so with the authority of the Government or of the honourable gentleman? Secondly, having regard to the part of the answer in which he said that there were discussions before the last increase in interest rates, do I have an undertaking from the honourable gentleman that interest rates will not be further increased?
– I am surprised that one who has been a former Treasurer should ask such a question. It is hypothetical to begin with and I will not answer hypothetical questions.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. In view of the latest rise in the cost of home building materials of an average of 1.8 per cent in July in Australia’s State capitals, will the Minister give urgent consideration to the substantial savings to be made in housing Australians by the use of large high quality mobile houses? Is it true that such houses are becoming increasingly acceptable all over the world for the many advantages they offer, apart from the main advantage of much lower cost than a conventional home? Does the Government intend to take any action in this field?
– It is true that such houses are becoming popular in many parts of the world, especially the United States of America and Canada. For my part, I cannot see any reason why they cannot have a place in the sun here in Australia because it seems that many people consider such housing desirable.
Mobile homes can be of a very high standard and can be relatively inexpensive. As for their innovation in Australia, I understand the position is that at the moment no local government authority anywhere in Australia is competent to approve the location of a mobile home because there are no approved mobile home sites. I believe it is necessary for legislation in every State to be altered before such provisions can be made.
From the standpoint of the Australian Government, the Department of Housing already has drawn up in co-operation with the States a code for mobile home parks which is of a very high order. I hope that if the States introduce legislation to facilitate the innovation of these mobile homes our code might be of assistance to them. My colleague the Minister for Urban and Regional Development recently received a request for such a park in the Australian Capital Territory. I understand that at present he is considering the matter, particularly in view of the need for tradesmen in the Australian Capital Territory and the fact that they may prefer this type of accommodation. For my own part I hope that in the near future we will be able to see serious consideration given to the proposal that mobile homes be used in Australia. I personally would give them a green light if we could be certain that they would be of a high standard.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to a front page article in a recent issue of the ‘Financial Review’ stating that signs of underlying and potentially serious tension are starting to surface between Australia and Indonesia? The article also states that doubts are expressed that the close iden tity of outlook that prevailed with non-Labor administrations no longer exists with the present Labor Government. Does the Prime Minister agree that if this report is correct the position is extremely serious for Australia? Does he agree also that close co-operation between Australia and Indonesia is essential for the security and prosperity of the South East Asian region? If so, will he take all possible steps to rectify this position, if it has deteriorated to the extent suggested by the article, particularly as our defences have been allowed to deteriorate to an alarming degree under the present Government?
– There have never been any defence pacts or treaties between any Australian government and the Indonesian Government. There is, however, a considerable degree of defence co-operation between the Indonesian and this Australian Government. My colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister, has announced recent programs in that regard. In all other matters it can be confidently claimed that relations between Australia and Indonesia are more frank and fruitful than they have ever been. The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr Adam Malik, will be visiting Australia the week after next and there are frequent and cordial communications between President Suharto and me, and I would think that before next year is very old we will be meeting again.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Education, relates to money made available to the Victorian Government under the States Grants (Technical Training) Act. What is the total amount to be made available to the Victorian Government this triennium under this scheme? At this stage of the triennium how much of the total has been advanced to the Victorian Government? Has the Victorian Government been tardy in applying for this money and would this have delayed construction of buildings in the technical education field?
– The total allocation to Victoria under the technical education arrangements for the triennium that finishes on 30 June 1974 is about $12,822,000. On present trends - I cannot, of course, indicate that the present trends will continue exactly as they are now - at 30 June 1974 there will be $3,850,000 of this amount still to be spent.
While I am on my feet, I can answer the point raised by the honourable member for Barton.
The extra money to go to New South Wales in this financial year, 1973-74, is $52m, which is made up of $4m extra for pre-schools, $8ni extra for technical education and $40m extra for schools. This extra money does not take into account teachers colleges, universities, colleges of advanced education or whatever extra is required for pre-school teachers colleges.
– Is the Minister for Minerals and Energy prepared to table the legal opinions about the validity of the National Pipeline Authority Act, as he has already made reference to these opinions in the House during his recent precise and comprehensive statement?
– Yes, I will be very happy to table the opinions as received.
– Has the Minister for Social Security noted in the Press recently reports that Aborigines in Western Australia were alleged to be spending their money on taxis, liquor and in other ways rather’ than on family welfare? If the Minister has had an opportunity to investigate these reports will he advise of the steps he has taken and the steps he proposes to take in relation to this matter?
– I have seen these reports in the newspapers from Western Australia. Very clearly problems will arise if we try to interfere and direct that Aborigines shall not spend their social security benefits in the same way as other people. Having said that, however, one must also say for the record that problems are developing, especially in the more remote areas of Western Australia. I am sure that that is not the only part of Australia in which Aborigines are living under similar conditions. Tribal groups have suffered a rather severe cultural jolt as a result of the introduction of payments to them of social security benefits. The point has been reached where I feel great concern about this matter.
At this stage I ought to concede that when the honourable member for Mackellar raised this matter earlier in the year I expressed some scepticism of bis reports about the effects of the payments of these benefits to Aborigines. This problem is worrying many people, including anthropologists, sociologists and people generally who are concerned about the welfare of Aborigines in remote areas. A complete dislocation to the family and tribal tie-ups is occurring in some areas because of this money being made available. The tendency of the people receiving it is to move away from the area, for a number of reasons. I do not want to enumerate the reasons or the symptoms of what happens because there is a tendency for these to be exaggerated and dramatised for public effect. I merely say that there is clear evidence that because of the cultural difficulties of the recipients of these benefits in handling this money a serious cultural problem arises which is creating, it seems, a fair bit of human suffering. I will have to consider this matter more closely with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. If it is at all possible I intend to go to the north west of Western Australia and to other parts of that State well before the end of the year to view at first hand some of the worrying reports I have received from the Department about these effects.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. With inflation at such a high rate that it is doing serious social and economic harm to the community, will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House setting out the corrective measures the Government proposes in order to combat this insidious evil? Does the Government intend to concentrate its efforts on monetary policy?
– The Government has not concentrated and does not intend to concentrate its efforts in combating inflation purely on monetary policy. The Government has twice revalued the currency. On another occasion it stood firm when the United States of America devalued its currency. We had an inquiry into steel prices at the beginning of the year. We cut tariffs by 25 per cent. Pursuant to the mandate we sought from the people last year, we have introduced in the Senate trade practices and consumer protection legislation. We have established, pursuant to our mandate, a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices which is in the process of examining the prices of imports, building materials and other matters. The Prices Justification Tribunal has been established. Later, at the end of question time, I will be tabling the notification by the first companies affected by the determinations of that tribunal. We have augmented its membership. We have taken action on prices in the Australian Capital Territory where the Australian Government is able to do so. We have sought the co-operation of the States in an attack on inflation, particularly in those matters which lie within their jurisdiction, such as land prices. The State of New South Wales in particular has not responded to my invitation to the States. We have set up a royal commission into the oil industry with terms of reference to investigate the marketing and pricing policies of oil companies in Australia. We have put through the Parliament Bills for the people on 8 December to vest the power in this Parliament to pass laws with respect to prices and also with respect to incomes. The right honourable gentleman will remember that his predecessor as Leader of the Liberal Party suggested such a course as recently as last November, and he has on various occasions suggested it and taken steps away from it. I am not sure of his current attitude.
– This Government was the first Australian Government, in the exercise of any peacetime authority, to have an inquiry made into any basic commodities such as, in this case, steel. I acknowledge, as I did at the time, the fact that Australia’s largest company co-operated in the Government’s policy of having price justification for basic commodities. I express the appreciation of the Government and I believe of the Australian people that Mr Justice Moore, now the President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, performed the basic pioneering work in that regard. I did say that I would table material in this regard. I now take the opportunity of tabling the notification to me by Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd specifying the prices at which those companies proposed to supply the goods which were the subject of the recent inquiry by the Prices Justification Tribunal, the first such inquiry conducted by the Tribunal. I did table in the House on the eleventh of this month the report of the Tribunal in which it stated that it had formed the opinion that an average increase of 5.5 per cent instead of 9.4 per cent was justified. The company, under section 18 subsection 6 paragraph(b) of the Act, is required to give a notification of its intended action.
I would like in this case, too, to express the appreciation of the Government and, I am sure, of the Australian people of the Tribunal’s careful inquiry and report. I take this opportunity of commending the Tribunal both for this work and for its high degree of commitment to all its important obligations. The Government is very conscious of the pressures on the Tribunal and has recently reinforced it by the appointment of Mr Deputy President Chambers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as Deputy Chairman of the Tribunal. There are very many indications that the Tribunal’s presence and operations are having a salutary effect on prospective price increases.
– Is leave granted?
– Mr Speaker, this is a clear breach of an understanding of the conduct of the House. There is available to every honourable member who wishes to see it-
– I take a point of order. Would the right honourable gentleman mind sitting down? This honourable gentleman, or right honourable gentleman as he styles himself, has no right to continue speaking after he has been refused leave.
– I thought the Leader of the Opposition was complaining about a breach of arrangements. That has always been allowed in the past and it should be allowed in the future. I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– Honourable members on this side of the House were handed, in accordance with practice, a copy of a statement which the Prime Minister intended to make after questions. It related to the notification under the Prices Justification Act of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. I indicated to the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) who had the arrangements in hand that I would ask leave to make a statement. It is the practice of the House that, if the Opposition gives leave to the Government to make a statement, the Opposition is likewise given leave to make a statement. The Prime Minister, being aware of that, incorporated into the last answer to a question - which was no doubt a Dorothy Dixer - the terms of that statement so that it would be unnecessary to give leave to this side of the House. It is a breach of the practice, the spirit and the honesty of this House.
– If the right honourable gentleman-
– What is this - a point of order?
– It is regarding a breach that has just been brought up by the Leader of the Opposition.
– The honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) did not ask me a Dorothy Dix question. I did have a statement - a very brief one - which I was going to make afterwards, and I have incorporated it. But if the right honourable gentleman feels aggrieved, I am quite happy for him to make a statement on the same subject. The right honourable gentleman will realise that my statement was very largely a formal one, tabling the notification and expressing appreciation of the Tribunal. I wanted to express appreciation that the Tribunal has been traduced too much.
-Is leave granted?
– Leave is granted.
– The statement by the Leader of the Government - the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) - comes at a very strange time. Having been asked a question about what the Government intended to do about inflation, he refused to answer that question at all and he put together a long series of alleged actions taken to combat inflation. During the period in which this series of actions took place, inflation has climbed - as measured by the consumer price index - from 3.2 per cent in the months April, May and June to 3.6 per cent for the months July, August and September. Quite clearly those actions bear no relation to an attack on inflation as it exists today. Indeed, if there is to be a relationship between revaluation and the 25 per cent acrosstheboard tariff cut made without any reference whatever to the Tariff Board - a decision totally taken on a Sunday night together with a decision to increase interest rates - it is to be found in the fact that by these measures the Government has made inflation more severe and more savage in Australia rather than take any action to eliminate it. If the Government’s actions are to have any effect it will be in the long term, and that long term effect next year is very likely to lead to unemployment in Australia.
– I rise on a point of order. As I understand the situation, the Leader of the Opposition was given leave to make a statement about the Prices Justification Tribunal fixing steel prices. He complained about breaches of undertakings. When he acts like this no wonder undertakings are not given.
– Order! There is no point of order involved. The Leader of the Opposition sought leave to make a statement.
– On that point, I understood that it was to be a statement on the subject that I had raised.
– When leave is given to make a statement, the Chair cannot specify on what subject it is to be made.
– The whole basis upon which the right honourable gentleman sought leave to make a statement was apropos a very brief statement I made on my tabling of the notification by BHP as I am required to do by statute. The right honourable gentleman has not mentioned the BHP notification to this stage.
– Order! I understand the position. I re-emphasise that the Chair has no jurisdiction over the subject on which an honourable member seeks leave to make a statement.
– Mr Speaker, if the statement being made by the Leader of the Opposition is in regard to a statement that has been incorporated in Hansard by the Prime Minister, are members of the House entitled to have a copy of the statement made by the Prime Minister?
– Order! That is a matter entirely for the House to decide and not for the Speaker.
– Among the various meassures which were alleged by the Prime Minister to have made an impact on inflation, which have brought it from 2.1 per cent in the first quarter this year to 3.3 per cent in the second quarter and 3.6 in the third quarter, was the Prices Justification Tribunal legislation. That piece of legislation was before this House on 17 May. It is now 22 October. In the statement the Prime Minister made he said that the inquiry into steel prices is the first inquiry to be conducted by the Tribunal. The Prices Justification Tribunal is being referred to by most people as the prices exemption tribunal, because the greatest amount of work it has had to do has been to exempt companies so that they could charge the extra amount involved in the imposts of the Budget of the Treasurer (Mr Crean). It was known as the prices exemption tribunal when all those hundreds of exemptions were going through. The first inquiry relates to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. Is this a multi-national corporation about which the heretics on the other side of the House keep screaming? No, this company is the major Australian company.
– Mr Speaker, did I hear rightly when I heard the right honourable gentleman describe honourable gentlemen in this Parliament as heretics?
Opposition members - Yes.
– Then I ask for its immediate withdrawal and an apology.
– Order! It has always been the practice of this House and of my precedessors since I have been a member of the House to rule that any such comments, unless directed at any honourable member in particular, are allowable. If he had said that someone personally was a heretic he would be required to withdraw it. Under the circumstances, no point of order is involved.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to make sure of the position because this will be a guideline for all subsequent occasions. Apparently when a Minister or any other person seeks leave to make a statement he is not required to make such a request for a specific purpose. I understood that leave was sought to make a statement on a specific matter. If that is not the case I give notice that in future if a request is made I will oppose it because what is now happening represents a clear breach of my understanding of what this matter was about.
– Order! I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to keep as near as possible to the subject matter on which he sought leave to make a statement.
– I sought leave to make a statement on the Prices Justification Tribunal, about which I am speaking. I deliberately used the word ‘heretic’ because the Australian Labor Party throughout its whole life has declared itself to be a party which supports low interest rates. In 10 months of government the Labor Party has increased interest rates by 2½ per cent. That is heretical and it is entitled to have the word I used ascribed to it. The Labor Party has let down the people who trusted it. At the time of the last Commonwealth loan people relied on a 7 per cent long term bond rate but within 2 months that rate was increased to 8½ per cent. This cut off almost $40m from the worth of the money that was subscribed to that loan. If that is not heretical, what is?
Regarding the Prices Justification Tribunal, there has been a clear admission by the Goernment that what we said at the time of its establishment was correct, namely, that it would not work. We said that we would let the legislation pass. We felt that if we gave the Government enough rope it would demonstrate its incapacity to handle the question of inflation. This is exactly what has happened. In October the first report of the Tribunal has been received and it concerns Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. That company applied for a 9.4 per cent increase in its prices because of increasing costs in its industry. Those costs were such that it had to increase its prices or else change its investment pattern. This is the sort of distortion that the Government’s policy is producing. If Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd cannot increase its prices in order to recover its costs and maintain a reasonable profit level on the making of steel, quite clearly it will have to divert its investment elsewhere. What government would want investment diverted elsewhere when there is already a shortage of iron and steel products which are produced by this company? Is this a government that wants a continuing state of shortages? Is this a government that wants a diversion of the economy away from basic material production? Does the government want the real strength of the economy diverted into merely satisfying temporary consumer demand? The very fact that the Government wants a referendum on prices is, in itself, a clear admission that the Prices Justification Tribunal has failed, as everybody knew it would fail. For the Prime Minister to come into this House and proudly put down a statement, which is the first report of the Prices Justification Tribunal, and at the same time be totally unwilling to tell this House what the Government intends to do about inflation and instead trot out a series of actions that have been taken and which bear no relation to today’s inflationary pressures, shows a total lack of understanding of the seriousness of the problem that we face in Australia today.
There is no credit in this statement for the Government at all. There is no joy in it for the future of the Australian people and of Australia’s economy. It can be regarded only as another contribution to confusion and uncertainty. It will make the people of Australia understand that while this Government continues in office there is not the hope for Australia which we are entitled to expect.
– by leave - In answer to a question without notice earlier today I made a brief statement which I had, as I told the Opposition, intended to make at the end of question time. It was a statement which I am obliged by statute to make. The companies affected by findings of the Prices Justification Tribunal are obliged within a certain time to notify me, as the responsible Minister, of what action they propose to take. This is the first sitting day since that notification was received. I accordingly promptly tabled it. I rise merely to speak about Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Tribunal. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has made remarks which are offensive to the Tribunal and gratuitous to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. I am certain that that company had no respect for the right honourable gentleman’s conduct when he was Treasurer and when it discussed prices with him. It will not thank him for this advocacy of its cause.
Furthermore there should be no need to defend the Tribunal for the way it has conducted its affairs. Mr Justice Williams is the Chairman of the Tribunal; Mr Deputy President Chambers is the new Deputy Chairman whose appointment I announced today in the
House, although his appointment was gazetted last week; the full time members are Mr J. K. Lawrence and Mr T. A. Pettigrew; and the part time members are Dr Allan Fels and Mr R. N. R. Johnston. I would believe that the people of Australia should be grateful that men of the experience of those I have named are prepared to serve in this key office. There should be no dispute in the minds of anyone that the Government undertook at the last elections to appoint a prices justification tribunal. The Parliament established that tribunal by statute. Many statements have been made about it which I believe are quite unwarranted. Although it is not necessary it may be appropriate to say that the Government appreciates the way the Tribunal carries out its statutory obligations. Somebody in the Parliament should say on behalf of the public that the general public does appreciate the existence and the operations of this Tribunal. Nobody has been able to specify or even infer any respect in which any members of the Tribunal have failed to carry out their statutory responsibilities.
The right honourable gentleman, in passing, made a few snide remarks about exemptions. To say that this is a prices exemptions tribunal is unworthy of most people holding office in this Parliament. I am still surprised that the right honourable gentleman should volunteer such a reflection on the Tribunal. The Tribunal has a very large task indeed to perform. It is inevitable that there should be some exemptions at this time. The exemptions look considerable if one sees the whole list of exemptions, but if one considers the particular aspects of the operations of the various companies which have been exempted I for one can find no ground on which to cavil at the way the Tribunal has discharged its responsibilities. Indeed there are many indications that price rises that would have taken place have not taken place because the Tribunal is now in operation.
I conclude by asking honourable members and the public to recall the supine attitude that the right honourable gentleman took when be was Treasurer because Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd had, 12 months before it ever discussed these matters with me, discussed them with him and the Prime Minister of the day. Honourable gentlemen will remember that there was a debate in the Parliament early last year about the correspondence between Mr McNeill of BHP and my predecessor as Prime Minister.
Honourable gentlemen do not need phenomenal memories to recall the debate which took place on that occasion. It can all be read in Hansard. Let me recall what the Leader of the Opposition had to say at a National Press Club luncheon on 16 February last year. In explaining away his inaction in this matter he is reported in the ‘Age’ as saying:
Later on I saw Mr McNeill, a director of BHP. He came to see me for the purposes of telling me in depth what they saw as their problems. He told them to me. I then told him my problems. I told him of the anxiety of the Government to restrain wage increases, the anxiety of the Government to be successful in our attack on inflation.
This was in February last year. Apparently there was inflation last year as early as February. He continued:
So, there was a mutual disclosure of problems. I made it clear to him that those problems were very difficult but we as a government are not a wage fixing authority, nor for that matter can we take commercial judgments. But I was anxious that any commercial judgment taken would be taken against the background of full knowledge of the Government’s intention and policy and of the difficulties of economic management as we saw them. It was then and it must be their commercial decision.
It was a good statement in showing how inept and supine Australian governments were before 2 December last year. As early as February last year there was inflation. As early as Feb.rurary last year BHP and Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd were proposing to put up steel prices. In fact when BHP stated to me last January that it was proposing to increase its steel prices and it was willing to have an inquiry before which the prices could be justified 1 very promptly acted. Mr Justice Moore, now the President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, agreed to undertake this pioneering role. BHP’s claim was not justified before Mr Justice Moore. BHP did it voluntarily and I acknowledged for the second time today and certainly not for the first time in Parliament or in public that BHP, the largest and in many ways the greatest of Australian companies, acted in a proper way. It knew what the public had expected after the election and it was prepared to act responsibly. True, there was no statutory requirement at that time, there was only a moral obligation. There was no machinery for justifying price increases, nor was there in February last year. At that time the then Treasurer, now the Leader of the Opposition, could have done what I succeeded in my discussions with BHP last January in bringing about. That is, that BHP is susceptible to reason. It may be that
I am a better advocate than the Leader of the Opposition and that I am more persuasive when talking with people who have great powers to make economic decisions in this community. In February last year the right honourable gentleman discussed the problems mutually with Mr McNeill and the result is that the Federal Government does nothing and BHP does what it wants. This year look at the contrast. Before there was any statutory obligation or machinery and still no greater constitutional jurisdiction in the Commonwealth we accepted the offer of BHP to justify its planned increases at that time. Now there is machinery BHP has made the first claim to the Tribunal. The Tribunal did not find the full claim justified. The result is that BHP’s increases in prices are not as great this year as they would have been and they are not as great as they were last year. There was inflation last year. There is inflation this year, but BHP is contributing to that inflation less this year than it did last year. I am grateful to the right honourable gentleman for raising this matter and for reminding us of his ineptitude and his supineness last year. I am looking forward to the motion of no confidence which at last he will summon up his courage to move tomorrow.
Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce- Leader of the Opposition) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said, among other things, that I had cast reflections upon the personnel of the Tribunal. That is not the fact.
– The prices exemption tribunal, is as you described it.
– Yes, I called it the prices exemption tribunal because that is the way it turned out to be.
– And that is not a reflection?
– The great advocate cannot distinguish between principle and persons. That is bis great difficulty. As a matter of fact his choice of persons is pretty bad. Clyde Cameron looks as though he has a knife in his back now. The honourable gentleman had no right to allege that I had made any reflection on the personnel. It so happens that Mr Justice Lindsay Williams has been a friend of mine for very many years and I have very great respect for him. The same applies to Mr Justice Chambers. Any suggestion that I made a personal reflection on them is a travesty of the truth, which only the Prime Minister could engage in so regularly. The second point I wish to raise concerns the honourable gentleman’s quoting what I said in February last year. I thought it was a good statement and on hearing it again I thought it a very accurate statement. I spoke about inflation. What the honourable gentleman is unwilling to acknowledge, to the great lack of complimentary replies from this side of the House - I chose my words carefully because I did not wish to say what the Government deserves - is that inflation in February last year was running at an annual rate of about 4 or 5 per cent and today it is running at 14 per cent. There is no way out of it for the Prime Minister. Unless he does something about it he will get the wrath of the people of Australia.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, on 2 different occasions in this House by the Prime Minister Mr (Whitlam). I was not here when the Prime Minister answered a question earlier in the day but I have been very reliably informed that he has kept on asserting that towards the end of last year I was prepared to advocate a prices and incomes referendum and that he did not know what my views were today. I think it should be clear from what I said in the House on either Wednesday or Thursday last week that I had never advocated a prices and incomes referendum and I would not do so. I stated that I was implacably opposed to giving the Commonwealth Government any further power. I said in the House that I would vote against a prices and income referendum when it occurred and that I would advocate to the maximum of my capacity that people vote against it. I think the facts can be well established. I believe in keeping both prices and incomes under control so far as they affect inflation.
I think it must be obvious to every member opposite, including my friend the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) because of his knowledge of economics, that when we were in government, according to Professor Nevile the implicit price deflator operating over the whole of the economic activity, not only the area covered by the consumer price index, for the December quarter we had reduced inflationary pressures in real terms to 2.2 per cent. Taken relative to gross national expenditure it was minus 2.3 per cent. We showed that we could control inflation without a prices and incomes referendum.
-Order! I think that the right honourable gentleman claimed to have been misrepresented in regard to whether he had supported a referendum on prices. I do not think he is entitled to debate the issue.
– I am making my point because the Prime Minister said he did not know what I thought now. I am giving the reasons-
– I raise a point of order. I think I can put the right honourable gentleman out of his misery. I did not say that I did not know what his attitude was today. I did say that I did not know what the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition was today. He has spoken twice and I still do not know.
– The second point of misrepresentation relates to the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. If the honourable gentleman has any memory at all he will remember that in February last year I informed the House, as a result of persistent questioning and against the advice of the Treasury, that I had written to BHP expressing my grave concern that there should be any inclination on its part to put up steel prices. That was stated in the House. At that time I was hostile to a proposal to increase prices. I believe that in the meantime BHP has justified its opinion that it is entitled to an increase in price. I believe that BHP is justified too, in its logic, anyhow, in the criticism it has made of the most recent findings of the Prices Justification Tribunal.
– Pursuant to section 39 of the Housing Loans Insurance Act 1965-1966, I present the ninth annual report of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation for the year ended 30 June 1973, together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– by leave - I wish to inform the House that it is the Government’s intention that the debate on the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) regarding the siting of the new and permanent House be resumed this Wednesday, 24 October. This timing is, of course, provisional to the extent that it may have to be reconsidered in the light of progress with urgent Government business. Honourable members will recall that at the beginning of these sittings I foreshadowed that, in the event that it was not practicable to finish debates on General Business matters on the day they were first dealt with, the debates would be adjourned and that later in the sittings the House might, if it so wished, have a special Friday sitting to consider all adjourned General Business debates.
The situation at present is that, of the various matters raised during General Business in these sittings, only the debate on the siting of the new and permanent Parliament House has not yet been completed. I am sure that honourable members will agree that it is most desirable that a decision be made on this matter without any unnecessary further delay. I am also conscious that the current sitting arrangements of the House are placing strain on honourable members and that many might be unwilling to add a further sitting day to the heavy program of sittings already in front of us. For these reasons, therefore, I believe it would suit the convenience of the House to hold the debate this week, before other pressures on the time of the House build up.
I ask for the co-operation of honourable members in ensuring that the debate does not take too much time from other important business.
Honourable members will already have had opportunity to consider the issues put before them when the debate first arose and to decide where they stand on these issues. I would hope, therefore, that we can look forward to a relatively short debate before the matter is taken to a vote.
Finally, I draw the attention of honourable members to the exhibition being set up by the National Capital Development Commission in King’s Hall.
– Order! I have received advice from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) that he has nominated Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Hannan.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Research laboratory at North Clayton (Monash), Victoria.
Ordered that the report be printed.
- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a short statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– On behalf of the Committee I would like to express our appreciation of the work and dedication of the research workers in the research laboratory of the Australian Post Office. We saw the conditions under which they work and the results they produce. We feel that the proposed work will give them a better opportunity to continue their dedication and work for the benefit of the Post Office, particularly in relation to their work on financial matters, environmental matters and the social atmosphere as far as the Post office is concerned.
Bill presented by Dr Patterson, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise a grant of $550,000 to the Queensland Government to assist in financing the construction of 2 weirs - one on the main stream of the lower Dawson River to replace an existing small weir, and another weir on an adjacent anabranch near Baralaba in the Fitzroy Basin of Central Queensland. Water resource development on the Dawson River at the present time is comparatively limited. There are 6 weirs on the river with a total storage capacity of 39 million cubic metres or, expressed in our earlier measure, 32,000 acre-feet. Water from these storages is already fully committed for mining, stock and domestic purposes, and irrigation.
The grant by the Australian Government for the 2 weirs will assist the State Government to provide water along the lower reaches of the river. The weirs will have a combined storage capacity of about 11 million cubic metres (9,000 acre-feet), and they are expected to yield an assured annual supply of 6.2 million cubic metres (5,000 acre-feet). After reserving a supply of water for stock, domestic and urban purposes, about 5.8 million cubic metres (4,700 acre-feet) will be allocated from a point about 22 kilometres (14 miles) above the river weir to the junction of the Dawson and Fitzroy rivers, and along the full length of the anabranch.
A grant of $550,000 was originally offered by the previous Australian Government in November 1972. That offer was accepted by the Queensland Government, but no legislative action had been taken by the time the present Government took office. Early this year the Government reconsidered the case for financial assistance to Queensland for the weirs and re-confirmed the offer of a grant of $550,000. The Queensland Government has accepted the offer.
Subsequently, however, the Queensland Government advised that, due to unusual geological features which had been discovered at the weir site on the main stream of the river, the estimated cost of the weirs had risen to $1,220,000. The State proposed that it would meet the balance of the cost of the project if the Australian Government would be prepared to endorse the offer it had already made of a grant of $550,000. The Australian Government agreed to this proposal. It is expected that construction will commence in the present financial year and that the weirs will be completed by the end of 1975.
The project area has a sub-tropical, subhumid climate with a fairly variable summer rainfall. Production and incomes vary considerably from year to year according to seasonal conditions. The main enterprise is beef production and the shortage of winter fodder is the principal factor determining stocking rates, timing of turn-off and limiting intensification of beef production. The provision of water will enable beef producers to overcome this restriction on their activities. It is estimated that the additional water available from the storages could be sufficient for some 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) although annual acreage could vary considerably depending on the water requirements of the crops that are grown each year. There is a more than adequate supply of suitable soils although, in some instances, the cost to landholders of reticulating water to suitable areas out of flood reach could be considerable.
There is a wide range of production possibilities and the project will strengthen the basis for commercial agricultural activities and the area will benefit greatly through stability. Crops with sound production possibilities include lucerne for on-farm consumption by cattle or for sale, particularly during dry spells; oats for winter grazing; summer fodder crops; grain sorghum; soy beans; wheat; and safflower. The gross value at farm gate of beef and grain produced under irrigation using water made available from the weirs would probably be in the order of $450,000 annually. When the Government received the revised cost estimates I arranged for the Department of Northern Development to undertake a further economic evaluation. Copies of the report of this investigation are available. Projections of beef and grain sorghum prices used in this evaluation were supplied by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, and there was close consultation between my Department and the Bureau at all stages in the assessment of the economic impact of the project.
Environmental studies undertaken by the Queensland Government, based on similar irrigation development upstream along the Dawson River, indicate that the Baralaba project will result in a significant improvement in recreational, ecological, economic and general living conditions. The project measures up well to the criteria of this Government in respect of water resource development for agriculture. It is soundly based and will contribute significantly to stabilising production and incomes in an established agricultural area. I commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Katter) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 18 October (vide page 2385). on motion by Mr Whitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I support the Industries Assistance Commission Bill. I admit immediately to 3 personal involvements which make my position perhaps rather unique. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in his second reading speech made it clear that the Tariff Board will cease to be after the Commission is set up. I should like to pay a tribute to the unique contribution of the Tariff Board system. I think we in Australia have a unique system that by and large has served us very well indeed. I want to point out that it is not a question of expert members of the Tariff Board hearing public evidence and making reports. The first requirement is for a Tariff Board member to have wisdom; the second is for him to have independence. There should be wise people on the Board and they should be truly independent so that they can make economic judgments for the Government to make political judgments thereon.
I speak with some feeling about this because my father was a member of the Tariff Board from 1929 to 1940. They were very trying years - in part the depression years - when to make a judgment not to grant protection was a very serious matter indeed. It really was a testing time for the Board. It had to weigh up the advantages that came from granting protection against the costs to the industry, to other industries and to the user industries. It had to measure the employment gained by giving protection against the employment lost by not granting it. I repeat: It was a testing time for the Board. I should like to pay a tribute to the Board for the work it did on that and other occasions.
I have another personal involvement in this question. When I was elected to this place in 1959 I came with a main interest in tariffs. Some members of the House who have been here for some time will remember the lonely battle I had during the early years of my time in Parliament trying to get the House and the country to realise that there was another side - that protection, although necessary, could often be to the disadvantage of other industries and to the disadvantage of the economy as a whole. They were difficult years indeed. I suppose it was here that I first learned that personal abuse sometimes replaces argument. I used to suffer from both sides of the House - from my own as well as from the Opposition.
I should like to pay a tribute to the memory of the late Arthur Calwell who one day when I was getting done over by friend and foe alike, came across the chamber and said: ‘Look lad’ - I was more of a lad then; it seems a long time ago - ‘I don’t believe in what you are saying but don’t let them frighten you.’ I used to battle alone in those days. I suppose there are 2 trials that an honourable member fighting a lonely exercise has to put up with. One is abuse and the second is the indifference of the House to the message he is trying to get over.
One of the personal memories I have is of my wife, who used to get so sick of my not having an audience that she came in and sat in the Speaker’s gallery. It was not crowded I might add. I was speaking about one of the tariff Bills and Laurie Failes, who was a Country Party member in this place, sat alongside her with one of his true blue Country Party disciples. His Country Party friend said: Listen for a while. This man seems to be talking sense, Laurie.’ Laurie woke up with a bit of a start and, sitting alongside my wife, said: ‘Yes, I know. But by cripes you get sick to death of him.’ This indifference was a greater burden than the personal abuse. One does not mind boring other people but when it comes to boring oneself it becomes really hard work.
Then the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) was elected to the House and helped to shoulder some of the burden. The honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) occasionally used to come into the debates. But lately there has been a realisation that some of the things I said in the past were sensible. I know that my real, deep interest in the subject, particularly the question of the independence of the Board, does not give me any authority to speak about this Bill. But it does give me the right to claim at least some understanding of the subject. I see in this Bill the Tariff Board being superseded by the Industries Assistance Commission. I want to pay a tribute to the Tariff Board system which has served us so well in secondary industry and has given us the guidance that we needed to get an independent judgment and which has given the Australian people the opportunity to hear public evidence and see the public reports thereon.
I say quite openly that I see the Tariff Board being superseded by the Industries Assistance Commission without any misgivings that the Tariff Board system or the system of protection for secondary industry will be damaged in any way. That is one of the reasons why I support the legislation.
Another personal involvement that I have with the legislation is that for many years I, in conjunction again with my friend the honourable member for Corangamite, Senator Sim and others, have been fighting for and urging the establishment of a rural industries board. We felt it was necessary that rural industry problems should get the same kind of public examination and public report so that the benefits that flow to the secondary industries and our understanding of them should be felt in the primary industry field also. This was not an easy battle. We had to fight it through our party. As honourable members would imagine, there is no easy road tor a new development such as that and it was not an easy road in this case to get the proposal through the party room, through the rural committee and then through the LiberalCountry Party council. Again I pay an overwhelming tribute to the honourable member for Corangamite who took a prominent part in this battle.
I do not claim to have authority to speak about rural industries but I claim to speak at least with some understanding. I represent a rural electorate which I understand is about twice as big as Victoria. My family has been farming the same country in South Australia for 100 years or more. I do not claim to be a good farmer, like the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) or the honourable member for Corangamite, and I do not pretend to be a big farmer but I do claim, and I do not think anybody would deny me this right, to speak with some understanding and with an anxious and urgent interest. Why should I be so concerned about the establishment of a rural industries board? The first factor that activated us was that we were concerned about the ignorance of city people as to the position in country areas. We have heard it said, and we hear it said continually, that rural industries are getting all kinds of help while the assistance given to secondary industries by way of tariffs is ignored. We were acutely conscious that in the cities there was a very tragic lack of interest in and understanding of what was happening in the countryside. This is one of the chief reasons why we felt that there should be a better understanding of the problems and a proper exposure of the problems when public evidence is taken. There would also be a published report so that the community as a whole and the cities in particular can understand the real problems involved.
Another reason why we were concerned was that we knew that the proportion of people engaged in primary industry had fallen. We were concerned, and indeed we still are, because the rural voice, though clear, though eloquently and courageously offered, was a diminishing voice. There will be a lesser number of electors involved in the rural side of industry. That was another reason why we felt that there was a need for a buffer. The rural voice will diminish because the proportion of farmers is falling. Also, looking ahead with some realism, we recognised that there would be a change of government one day and that there then would be an even greater need for some kind of buffer to protect rural industries from some of the things that may be done to them.
I and others also are concerned because we are fully aware that many of the problems that face us are not tariff problems. It has been said that the Tariff Board has been used and could be used to look at some of the rural industry problems. I refer to oil seed and so on. But those things represent only part of the problem. I am going to spell out some of the problems that are worrying me and, I think, worrying everybody. Wheat stabilisation is one of them. Everybody says, and I do not disagree, that wheat stabilisation has been a good thing. But are we going to have wheat quotas or not? This is one of the problems that we face in the future. Are we going to have a system whereby there will be a continual clamour for farmers to grow more wheat while we have a quota system to stop them from growing more wheat. Another of the problems that face us and which people seldom recognise is that this year, as in years past, money is to be taken from wheat growers and put into the stabilisation pool. I want to make a personal statement and say quite clearly that previously when I found, as a wheat grower, that I was putting money aside into a stabilisation fund I stopped growing wheat. The system of wheat stabilisation as we know it discouraged me from growing wheat when the world needed it most and encouraged me to grow wheat when the world needed it least. I do not think that anybody would deny that statement and the same thing is going to happen in my case again. I do not say that wheat stabilisation is wrong but it is the kind of thing that we should be looking into.
We also should be looking at the effect of taking away the superphosphate bounty. We should be looking at what should happen in the case of rural credit. Should it be at low interest, should it be long term, or should it be both? What will be the effect if those things are done? Is it not possible that the advantages are likely to be swallowed up in high land values? 1 mention these things as examples of real problems that should be exposed by the proposed Industries Assistance Commission which will have the dual duty of looking at primary as well as secondary industries. I repeat that the first requirement of membership of the Commission is not that a person have expertise. That never has been the case with the Tariff Board and I hope it never will be with the Industries Assistance Commission. The first requirement is wisdom and the second requirement is independence. That has been the case with the Tariff Board. I think that great value will follow the establishment of this system by which problems can be exposed, as they have been in the Tariff Board system. Experts will be able to present sworn public evidence to the Commission and they will be questioned thereon.
I turn now to my third involvement. I was pressing for a rural industries board. Sir John Crawford looked at the problem and said, in his wisdom - I think, on reflection, that he was correct in saying so - that it would be better to bring primary and secondary inquiries under the one philosophy and under the one roof. He said that they should be brought together. I would like to pay a personal tribute to Sir John Crawford. My third personal involvement is because of my great friendship, and my family’s friendship, with Sir John Crawford. I honour him for the work he did for Australia and for the Vernon Committee, and the work he did in exposing the tariff problem officially and with authority in the first place. I accept that his solution of bringing the 2 industries together is the correct one. I know that it is going to be better in theory. If we are wise it also will be better in practice. However, I do not think that it is going to be an easy thing. I admit that I am worried because the Commission may get so much work that it will be unable to do its work well. That is the reason why I will urge, and I hope the Government will accept, that in respect of clause 23 (4) (g) the length of time before further inquiries are necessary be lengthened to 2 years. I am concerned that in its early days the back of the Commission may be broken because it is given too much work.
As I say, I support the general principle of this Bill. I must admit immediately that I am opposed to the attitude of my Party on this question of temporary assistance and I will be engaging in the discussion on this matter when it is dealt with at the Committee stage. I would ask the Government to have a look at two other things so that is may be ready to deal with them when we come to them at the Committee stage. I ask the Minister to consider the effect of clause 20 which states that a commissioner shall not have a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any inquiry. I think that this provision is much too restrictive. If a commissioner who happens to be a farmer is examining, say, a request for a reduction in the tariff on tractors and he lowers the protection, it could be claimed that he has an indirect pecuniary interest. I think that this is unnecessarily restrictive and that the Government should have a look at it.
I am also concerned about clause 6 (2) which states that a commissioner should give the whole of his time to his duties of office. I would have thought that it would be much better to say that he should be engaged full time in the duties of his office. I am not a lawyer but I would imagine that the expression the whole of his time* meant that he could not even go to church or go to bed or anything like that. I ask the Minister to look at that matter. But in general I support the Bill with a unique degree of feeling that it is an additional arm in the Government’s armoury to see that primary industry receives the same kind of wise advice and examination that secondary industry receives.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the Bill which I believe to be a rather historic piece of legislation. It is historic insofar as it involves a reconstitution of the Tariff Board - that is in effect what it does- and a widening of the scope of its inquiry by enabling a broader range of industries and types of assistance given to be examined. In other words, no longer will it simply be a matter of looking at tariffs and bounties. The new Commission will look into a wide range of assistance given to all types of industry, both in the primary and secondary fields. As I say it is an historic piece of legislation insofar as the Liberal Party is now supporting it. Undoubtedly it would have liked to have introduced legislation similar to this when it was in office but it was not game to do so because the Country Party tail was forever wagging the body proper of the previous Government. I am very pleased that the Liberal Party in this instance has decided to stand on its own and to support this historic piece of legislation. One can say that it is historic because it is the beginning of moves towards indicative planning. All sectors of industry are quite happy-
– And regimentation.
– That shows how ridiculous are some of the remarks which the honourable member makes. All sectors of industry are quite happy to see indicative planning because they want to know where they are going in the future. Country Party supporters should talk to representatives of industry. If they did so they would find that industry is only too pleased to have a situation in which it knows what the Government’s future policies will be. Our policy is one of indicative planning. This Bill is not an end in itself, but it is a move towards planning of that kind. Of course, the Country Party has had a very bad week indeed.
First of all, the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) announced that the Government is to bring in legislation which will require the disclosure of campaign funds. That would mean, of course, that no longer would the Country Party be able to get its Sim handouts from different sectors of industry and multi-national corporations. After that announcement was made we heard members of the Country Party squealing. Having squealed about that matter they are now faced with this piece of legislation which will mean that no longer will they be able to negotiate in dark corners handouts as Party donations from sectors of primary and secondary industry. The light will be cast on these dealings and all such handouts will be subject to scrutiny and inquiry, the results of which will be available to the public. In other words, this will mean the end of any legal type of bribery.
It is interesting to note the split in ranks between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. In the Committee stage the Liberal Party will move some amendments to this Bill but I understand they basically support the legislation, just as the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) supported it a few minutes ago. On the “other hand, the Country Party is violently opposed to the legislation. This is an example of the solidarity of the Opposition Parties. They simply cannot agree between themselves. This is a good example of what would occur if this disunited rabble got into Government. The Opposition Parties make up a disunited organisation and they cannot agree between themselves and, of course, the Country Party tail will wag the body proper forever.
I think that honourable members will find during the Committee stage the Government will not be rigid on this legislation. We intend to have a look at some of the amendments moved. We will be having a good look, for example, at the proposed amendment to clause 20 which the honourable member for Wakefield mentioned. I think it is a worthwhile amendment at which we should have a good look. I think there is some validity in the arguments put forward by the honourable member for Wakefield in relation to this proposed amendment. I make the point that we will not be rigid in a consideration of this legislation. We want to have a look at the various proposals.
At this stage I want to touch on some of the matters referred to by previous speakers in the debate and some of the issues raised by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) in particular. For example, he argued - this is his argument against the legislation - that the effect of the legislation will be that the Government will merely rubber stamp the Commission’s reports.
– That is right.
– The honourable member for Kennedy says: ‘That is right’. Let us get the answer. That is not right, and the honourable member will see in a moment that it is not right.
– It is statutory; it is mandatory.
– Do not get excited. I will get around to that shortly. The Leader of the Country Party argued also that the legislation will have the effect of allowing the Commission’s decisions to have a standover effect on the Government. He said also that there would be a reduction in ministerial authority and that the Government would be bound to accept the advice of the Commission. He went on to say that the effect of the legislation would be to end all consultation and negotiation with industry. All those points made by the Leader of the Country Party are incorrect.
– Utterly valid.
– I am sorry, they are incorrect and I am about to tell the honourable member why.
– Who is making the speech?
– Apparently the honourable member for Kennedy, who is sitting at the table, thinks he is making the speech but what he is actually trying to do is imitate his Leader. The real facts in answer to what the Leader of the Country Party had to say are these: The Commission is to give advice only. The Leader of the Country Party has missed that point completely. If the arguments put forward by the Commission are good there is no problem. There is certainly no reason for consultation and negotiation with industry, whether primary or secondary, to cease. The Government is the one which finally makes the decision, not the Commission. The right honourable member is completely missing that point. It is the Government which makes the decision in the light of the facts which are placed before it, including the report of the Commission itself. That is the answer to that question.
The right honourable gentleman also said that the IAC would advise on such things as resource allocation and that this function will be removed from the Parliament.
– Well, will it?
– No. Clause 22 of the Bill lays down the general guidelines on which the IAC will operate and these are not matters which will be the responsibility of the Commission. In other words, the Leader of the Country Party had not properly studied the Bill. He talked of complicated and lengthy inquiries. Clause 23 specifies a time limit on inquiries beyond which the Government is free to act without any restraint whatsoever. The Leader of the Country Party could not have had a good look at this legislation. One never knows, but perhaps had he done so he might have supported the proposition instead of opposing it. The right honourable gentleman said that public scrutiny is already present in the Parliament. Well, this Bill will result in arguments for and against any particular assistance being put into the open and, as I said earlier, the light will be let in for all in the Parliament and the public to see.
The Leader of the Country Party went on to say that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is avoiding expert opinions from Ministers and departments. I will give the lie to that one because such a statement is utter nonsense. The Standing Interdepartmental Committee on Assistance to Industry already provides more opportunity for fully co-ordinated advice from all interested departments than has been the case in the past. For example, the Tariff Board report on colour television is being considered by the Departments of Secondary Industry, Overseas Trade, Customs and Excise, the Media, Science, the Post Office, Defence, Supply and Treasury as well as by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The recommendations of this interdepartmental committee will go to the Economic Committee of Cabinet for consideration by a wide group of Ministers who represent various departments before going to the full Cabinet and, of course, to the Government Caucus. In other words, the statement by the Leader of the Country Party suggesting that the Prime Minister is avoiding expert opinion from Ministers and departments is utter nonsense.
– It is utter hogwash. There is more provision for interdepartmental inquiries under what has been laid down by this Government than has ever been the case. The Government has provided for a far broader approach and there is a greater capacity to listen to the sensitive points put forward by the various sectors of industry and departments.
The honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) drew attention to the fact that the Bill will cut the number of members of the Commission from 11, as it is under the Tariff Board, down to nine. The Bill sets out that the Commission shall consist of not fewer than five or more than nine commissioners.. It is not rigid. The purpose of this arrangement is to allow for a much broader and flexible type of operation. Whilst the membership of the Tariff Board was eleven and the maximum number of the Commission is to be nine, honourable members should bear in mind that any number of associate members can be appointed to the Commission. Also, the Government will meet its obligations to present members of the Tariff Board. I make this point because it was referred to by the honourable member for Berowra. I definitely refute the rather specious arguments of the Leader of the Country Party who came into this House and made statements although quite obviously he had not properly considered the Bill. In fact, the right honourable gentleman made some rather outrageous statements in this place to mislead the public generally - I hope that he did not make those statements to mislead the public; I hope that simply he himself had been misled. As I said earlier, perhaps if he had understood the legislation better he might have supported the legislation.
The legislation contains some very good proposals. I have already dealt with the number of members who will serve on the Commission. The Bill provides for a retiring age of 65 years. I think it is very important that I should draw attention to clause 21 which sets out the functions of the Commission. The clause states that the Commission shall hold inquiries and make reports to the Minister: in respect of matters affecting assistance to industries and other matters that may be referred to the Commission. . . .
I would like honourable members to note the word ‘industries’. The Commission will deal with all sectors of industry. It will not just make inquiries into tariffs and the granting of bounties but will consider all types of financial assistance which can be given to all types of industries whether they be in the primary, secondary or tertiary sectors of the economy. Accordingly, it is this clause which gives effect to the Government’s wish to extend the present advisory system for manufacturing industries based on the Tariff Board. Together with clause 23 (2), which allows the Commission to consider all possible forms of assistance for a particular industry, clause 21 provides the basis for systematic analysis of the structure of industry assistance, and thus for evolving a more coherent and rational policy by the Government towards industrial development. I have dealt previously with the need to develop a coherent and consistent policy towards all industry assistance.
As I have said, I strongly support this legislation. I think it is an historic piece of legis lation which is a first move towards indicative planning which in my view, and in the view of the Australian Labor Party, is one of the needs of the Australian economy. Large sectors of industry which want to know where they are going in the future also believe that indicative planning is something which is very important for the future of Australia. Such a policy was very effective, for example, in building the economies of both West Germany and Japan after the last war. But more importantly this legislation is a reconstitution in effect of the Tariff Board and it will broaden the scope of inquiries by ensuring that inquiries will be made into all forms of assistance given to sectors of both primary and secondary industry.
I am pleased to see that the Liberal Party, with some minor qualifications, has decided to support the legislation. I am sorry to see that there is a division in the ranks of the Opposition parties and that the Australian Country Party refuses to support it. I cannot help but think that it must be for one of 2 motives: Either they do not understand the legislation or simply they know that this marks the end of the building up of party slush funds by around the corner deals with sectors of industry by giving those sectors of industry special handouts without any public inquiry. I am delighted that this legislation will ensure that the light will be let in to all handouts, to all assistance given by any government to any sector of industry. It is for that reason that I support the Bill.
– The Government has embodied in this legislation a plan for virtual socialist control of primary, secondary and tertiary industry.
– What rubbish.
– There he goes again.
– Honourable members opposite say ‘What rubbish’ but they are the first to acclaim their policy in precisely this direction when they are on the hustings or when speaking to members of their own Party. They cannot come into this House and deny that this is virtually what is happening with the Industries Assistance Commission Bill. This seemingly innocuous proposal needs to be examined critically by both sides of the Parliament and especially by those honourable members who represent or presume to represent private producers of goods and services. Certainly some of our friends from Tasmania - including the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) who interjected a while agoshould have a close look at it. Let us recall the recent Budget decision based on the Coombs report. It stripped primary industry of many of its inherent economic-
– There is the honourable member for Blaxland saying ‘Unnecessary’. Of course, he says that in this House on the very occasion when this Bill is being debated. In other words, he admits here and now that this legislation is merely the windowdressing for action by the Whitlam Labor Government to strip industry of all the assistance and all the protection and provisions it has had in this respect for a number of years, which have made Australia an effective economic unit for so long. Today we see it being eroded rapidly. Surely those who have had a really good look at this proposition will see just what is embodied in the legislation.
The principle that assistance to industry should be publicly justified has always been followed by our parliamentary procedures in the various controls on expenditure administered through the Budget. But now we see an example of bureaucratic control in the Coombs report, the decisions announced in the Budget and the interjections from people like the honourable member for Blaxland. It is plain subterfuge for the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to claim that it is necessary to create a large and expanding new bureaucracy of public servants with a full time departmental head and a huge staff to carry out the avowed intention of the present Government. The withdrawal of assistance from private industry, which amounts to the imposition of handicaps by restricting its profitability and expansion, is one of the clear objectives of the Government’s policy through the proposed Commission. The words used are ‘Assistance Commission.’ They are misleading. If and when those concerned understand the implications of the legislation, some industry organisations which have at this point said that they favour the general concept will be forced to reverse their opinions and recognise that they had come to their conclusions without adequate information and without a full understanding of what is really intended.
The -Bill has to be read in conjunction with Sir John Crawford’s report tabled when the Prime Minister delivered his second reading speech in this House. In support of the pro posal Sir John Crawford referred at page 9 of his report to revenue alleged to be foregone - amounting to $282m in 1971-72 - through assistance to industries. In other words, he meant taxation concessions. Honourable members will see if they refer to appendix table 3 on page 109 of the report that the Government in 1973-74 through the Budget, which is still before this House, will abolish all or nearly all of these tax concessions for industry. The Government did not even wait for an inquiry by the proposed Commission. It went ahead. If that does not prove the real intention of this measure I think little more is needed to bring out the point. If honourable members look into the details of the report they will see that the Commission is designed as a vehicle to implement the policy of the Australian Labor Party.
– That is what democracy is all about.
– Of course, the new Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) has made statements time and again which prove his determination in this direction. It is said that the proposed Commission will pursue a long term program of inquiry. Yet on page 113 of Sir John Crawford’s report we see that he calls for a ‘settled inquiry program’ in the 2 years 1973-74 and 1974-75 affecting assistance to primary industries. The question is: Why is primary industry already marked down for the first inquiry by the proposed Commission? I think that the answer is perfectly clear. It is a direct attempt to whittle away the present status of primary industry in this country. All the orderly marketing arrangements designed to provide stability for rural industries and to help them contribute more than half of Australia’s export income are marked down for interference, if not abolition. Surely this is a most serious concept to see in this national Parliament. It is for that reason that I and many other honourable members are opposed to this legislation. Can there be anyone so innocent as to believe that the Commission will be concerned to find ways of rendering further assistance to rural industries when we have already observed the policy of this Government and when we have seen it take action of the kind provided for in the Budget.
– Tell us about record incomes.
– The honourable member for Blaxland says: Tell us about the record incomes’. But of course he fails to have any understanding of primary industry and the kind of difficulties it has experienced over the past 5 years - or 8 years, in the case of some industries. Some sections of the wheat industry have had drought lasting 8 years and this is the first year in which there has been hope of a good crop. The honourable member does not understand these things but he is the kind of person who wants to perpetrate his policies on these industries without even taking the trouble to try to ascertain the real reason for the sort of assistance and protection that has been afforded to them over the years. Undoubtedly, the proposed Commission is designed directly to serve a negative and destructive purpose. The industries affected will be wheat, sugar, canned fruits, tobacco, apples, pears, brandy, rice, dairying and virtually all rural industries assisted by the fertiliser bounties which expire next year. Manufacturing industries, I believe, cannot expect any assistance to come from the Commission’s inquiries either. ‘ In fact, they can expect just the reverse. The Government’s attitude is hostile to all Australian private industries. As private industries are arbitrarily caused to contract government enterprise will expand in keeping with the Labor Party’s socialist platform and policy proposals to which I have just referred. This Commission will withdraw assistance from private industries and is meant to assist the blatant purpose set out in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in which he said:
The whole thesis- of the Government’s policies requires there to be some increase in the share of resources going to the public section.
In other words he wants to rob private enterprise in order to bolster the public sector so that an extension of many of the grandiose schemes of Labor can be financed. In other words, private industries have to receive less capital, grow at a slower rate and produce less than they are capable of producing so that the Government can take a larger share of a smaller national cake. That is the whole basis of the request to Sir John Crawford as disclosed in his report, and in fact the report itself is clearly designed to meet that requirement. But do we hear anything about inquiries into public utilities? Of course we do not. These would not be condoned by the present Government. Do we hear about an inquiry into the electricity industry, for example, or the transport industry. The Government would not want to tackle that, for a very good reason.
It would interfere with the comfortable position of its supporters, the unions, which finance its election campaigns and which provide large sums. We have heard a member in this House this afternoon make certain allegations against the Country Party. I suggest that that honourable member ought to have a look at his own party and his own side of the House before he makes the kind of claim which he made.
The Country Party believes in social reform and supports proposals to this end, but we believe that surplus resources have first to be generated, and certainly this measure does not aim in that direction. Only in this way can social reform be achieved without inflation reducing the standards of living and without cutting down on national development, defence and all the other essential requirements and in fact responsibilities of this national Parliament. Clearly there is only one way to generate these surplus resources, and that is by encouraging the maximum production of goods and services by industries. All the measures which the Country Party has ever proposed this Government now seeks to take away, to dismantle, to throw out. We have seen clear evidence of that. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) speaking earlier in this debate showed some fear, but he tried to cover that up by his expressions of some hope in the activities of the proposed commission. But if this were true why did we lose concessions for the countryside, as he terms it, in the Budget? Why have we seen the dairy industry subsidy already cut? Yet we find him expressing some confidence in the Commission that is proposed by his Party and which he had neither the strength to oppose nor the desire to defend because he would not want to prejudice his own position in his own Party.
Of course, none of the measures which the Country Party has introduced over the years has been put there without proper examination, prior debate, running the gauntlet in this House and being put through in a proper, clear fashion, the parliamentary system being used, to do it and our not hiding behind some kind of commission outside or hiding behind some bureaucratic process to achieve this end. So all the assistance the Country. Party has proposed over the years has in fact been justified publicly, and any assertion to the contrary is untrue and quite unjustified. In the more important sense I think it could be said that the beneficial results in raising the standards of living and hastening the development of Australia have been overlooked in this debate and have not been recognised as they should be at this point of time.
I believe that this measure, like the measure we debated last week, is designed to ensure government control of industry in all its facets. It is a proposal which will in the long run cripple the kind of enterprise which Australia has been able to develop in the last half century. This proposed new bureaucracy with power to follow its own initiatives, power to restrict the authority of Cabinet and to restrict the opportunity for quick action to be .taken by the Government, really resembles the central planning authority which is a feature of the socialist systems in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the People’s Republic of China and some other countries. Those of us who have had a look at just what goes on in these countries can clearly see that this is a step to bring about a planned situation to ensure that everyone will do as he is told and in which enterprise has no part, no hope and no future. Can we assume that this Commission will confine itself to an advisory role? Of course not. I think the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) in this debate pointed out very clearly the salient point which arises in this whole matter. He said:
In theory, the Government need only regard the Commission’s recommendations as recommendations which it is not bound to accept. That is the theory. But in practice-
This is the important point: the Government will find that it will have the greatest difficulty in rejecting the Commission’s recommendations because if it does, it will lay itself open to a great deal of public criticism. And this is bad and dangerous because the Commission will have sweeping powers, and it will exercise those powers and make public its views in such a way as to place the Government in an intolerable position.
I believe that if we reflect on some of the occurrences in recent years relating to the Tariff Board and consider the added powers that this Commission will have and the added scope it will cover we will see very clearly the departure from this House of real government in terms of a situation where a government in office is answerable to the nation. We will see a departure from the situation where initiative can be taken and we will see in its place a huge bureaucracy outside really dictating what ought to be done in its view no matter what the electors or the people of the nation are really seeking to have done for them.
In summary, the objections could be stated in this way: Firstly, the Bill creates a body responsible only to the Prime Minister and which will be given a blank cheque for writing policies of vital concern to all industries, both primary and secondary; Secondly, it will mean the end of the traditional system of forming policies relating to industries by the process of consultation between the representatives of industries concerned, the State governments and the important instrumentalities of the Australian Government such as the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Bureau of Census and Statistics, the Treasury and those other instrumentalities that provide vital information for the purpose of Government consideration, for the purpose of parliamentary consideration and so on, and of course, the Government itself; thirdly, it will destroy the previously existing relationship between industry and the Government through its departments within whose sphere of influence they fall and with the Ministers in charge of those departments. This must surely be a vital consideration. Perhaps this is the reason why the Whitlam Ministry is such an altered structure to that of previous governments, with one or two Ministers handling an enormous number of portfolios, with new portfolios being created, and with the changes we have seen even in the last week or so. Fourthly, it will substitute a multipartite structure which will assume all the more important functions of established departments such as Secondary Industry, Overseas Trade, Primary Industry, and Minerals and Energy. At the same time its sphere of influence will impinge upon the Departments of Customs and Excise, Northern Development, Transport and so on. It will truly be a juggernaut - unworkable, unnecessary and dangerous. For those reasons I am strongly opposed to this Commission. I am sure that in the long run those of us who have opposed it in this Parliament will be proved right.
– We have just heard from the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson) a typical whingeing, moaning Country Party speech. All that Country Party members are interested in is getting their hands in the public purse and on the public’s money - scurrying like rats in the larder. That is what their opposition to this measure is really all about. The honourable member for Cowper referred to the wheat industry. He is a Pitt Street farmer and has never grown wheat in his life. At least I can claim to have grown acreages of up to 2,000 acres on a number of occasions so perhaps I am a more genuine wheat farmer than any member of the Country Party. The honourable member for Cowper did not mention that his Party introduced quotas into the wheat industry. He did not mention that Mr Anthony, the Leader of the Country Party, jeopardised Australia’s wheat contracts with China and lost them. He did not recognise that our Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) has just negotiated $600m worth of wheat contracts with the People’s Republic of China. The Country Party has done nothing for the wheat industry.
The object of the Industries Assistance Commission Bill is to extend the amount of public inquiry into the process of government assistance to industry. It was a plank in the Australian Labor Party’s plaform at the 1972 election. To this extent we are coming to the Parliament with a measure which, was approved by the people. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) asked Sir John Crawford, a prominent public servant, to inquire into this matter and to report to Parliament. This request was made in March of this year and the report was brought down in June. That inquiry was entitled ‘A Commission to Advise on Assistance to Industries’. On the basis of that report the present Bill has been constructed. As I said earlier, the whole emphasis is to extend public inquiry. This new Industries Assistance Commission will operate in a similar fashion to the present Tariff Board which was set up in 1921 but it will extend the process of government inquiry on an impartial and an independent basis into other than secondary industry, for which the Tariff Board provides at the moment. It will extend the inquiry into primary industry and tertiary industries. The aim is to develop a rational and consistent approach to all industries regardless of their place in the Australian economy. What we inherited from the last Liberal-Country Party coalition Government was a mismash of inconsistencies and a discriminatory attitude in its policy-making machinery for assistance to industry. It caused discrimination between the primary and secondary areas of Australia. We believe that this is a bad thing and that all industries should be treated on the one basis and be treated fairly. There has been no effective inquiry into the basis on which assistance was given by past Liberal and Country Party governments.
– What about the Tariff Board?
– I am talking about primary industry. This Bill overcomes that problem. There has been a lot of talk by the Leader of the Country Party and others about what they call the mandatory provisions in this Bill which require any government to have the Commission report on any proposed assistance to an industry before the Government can act upon it. With much bleating the Liberal and Country Party members say that the Commission will usurp the role of government. That, frankly, is not true, because the Government must finally make a decision. What will happen, of course, will be that the Commission will bring down a recommendation to the Government but finally a political decision will be made by the Government as to whether it should accept the Commission’s findings and recommendation. Mr Anthony said that the Government would be merely a rubber stamp for the Commission’s reports. He said there would be a reduction in ministerial authority because Ministers would not be consulted. He said that the Government would be bound to accept the advice of the Commission. He said that the Government could not say that a report was bad and would not accept it. The fact is that there is and will be consultation with industry groups. There will be consultation with departments which will be able to put a view to their Ministers. Their Ministers, of course, sit in the Cabinet and that Cabinet and the Government will make a decision on any report from the Commission. At the same time the Commission will speak to industry personnel and organisations involved in a particular inquiry. There will be the broadest possible range of consultation. A decision will relate not only to what the Commission can do but also to what the Government is prepared to recommend when a report is presented. It is not a matter of the Government having to make a decision. The Government will be able to make any decision it chooses to make in the best interests of the national economy and of the people in general.
Of course there is not unanimity of opinion on the Opposition benches on this measure. Members of the Liberal Party support it. The Country Party, for obvious reasons, is opposing it. Perhaps it is appropriate to consider the Country Party’s position. I think it is fair to say that the Country Party is not interested in getting good public advice on these matters. Its bargaining power would be much reduced in the face of cohesive and comprehensive reports upon some industry matters. It is worth while to reflect upon an article by Mr Maximilian Walsh, one of the foremost political and economic journalists in the Press Gallery in Canberra, in the ‘Australian Financial
Review’ of last Friday. In talking about the Country Party’s attitude to this Bill he wrote:
It runs what might be called a political protection racket; assiduously looking after those who support it without a great deal of soul searching about philosophical conditions.
It has a reputation for delivering the goods.
This in fact is one of the oldest and least sophisticated forms of political organisation.
Later in his article he wrote:
For a political party which operates quite openly along the lines of the Country Party of using its corner position within the coalition to extract concessions for its supporters, such a proposition is indeed a threat.
As Mr Anthony said: ‘This legislation means that it will be quite pointless for industry to put its views directly to the Government, to Ministers, or to Government departments.’
If you take the view that the Country Party style of politics, of using political muscle for a narrow band of special interests, is counterproductive to the cause of optimising resource allocation and maximising economic growth consistent with economic welfare, this new institution might offer an attractive alternative.
Obviously the Liberal Party thinks it does. That is his view of the Country’s Party’s attitude vis-a-vis the Liberal Party attitude to the Industries Assistance Commission Bill.
– Who is he anyway?
– It is not only his attitude; it is the attitude of two-thirds of the members of this House. The Country Party and some members of the Liberal Party have suggested that no longer will industry be able to talk to this Commission - that it will be just a bureaucratic set-up, as they say in the usual jargon that they speak, socialising industry. In fact the Australian Industries Development Association, one of the best lobbying organisations in Canberra which has had reasonably cordial relations with the Country Party in the past, and the Australian Farmers Association and associated groups, according to the report of Sir John Crawford recommended that:
They also recommended that the Commission, in its investigations, be required to take note of the broad sweep of the attitudes of these organisations and also of the Government. These are 2 industry groups with which the Country Party would have had the closest of association yet these industry groupings have no special objection to this legislation but, in fact, support the proposals contained in it probably for the reason that they are sick and tired of being squeezed by the likes of the Leader of the Country Party and his predecessors in the past. Let us face it, the only reason why the Country Party has been able to prosecute elections as well as it has done in the past is because of the financial assistance it has been able to extract from those industry groupings that require government assistance.
The circumstances under which the Government will be required to seek advice from the Commission will be many and varied. In the sense that emergency matters may come before the Government, the Government will not be precluded from initiating inquiries even though, in the long term, it will be obliged to have the Commission make recommendations. For instance, the type of decision made for general economic reasons a couple of months ago to cut tariffs by 25 per cent can still be taken. It does not need to go before the Commission. In the field of international trade negotiations, should we wish to favour a developing country with tariff preference without awaiting advice we can do so. As far as temporary protection is concerned, we can ask for a report from the IAC or from the Special Advisory Authority which will be incorporated in the IAC.
On the question of temporary protection, it is generally agreed that there should be special procedures for dealing with requests for temporary assistance because of the need for prompt action, and the fact that inquiries by the IAC would normally be lengthy. The question therefore arises whether the IAC or some other independent authority, such as the present Special Advisory Authority, should provide advice on temporary assistance. Sir John Crawford indicated in his report to the Prime Minister that in his opinion the IAC would be the appropriate authority to provide advice on temporary protection. In support of his opinion he advanced 2 compelling arguments.
Sir John’s first argument is that if the IAC was responsible for temporary protection the scope for inconsistencies in the treatment of individual industries would be minimized. This argument finds support in the lack of consistency between temporary protection decisions of the existing Special Advisory Authority and the subsequent decisions of the Tariff Board. Of course the Liberals are opposed to the Special Advisory Authority being incorporated in the IAC. The Liberal
Party believes that the Authority should be left aside on its own. In the majority of cases the Special Advisory Authority has set rates of duty in excess of the rates of duty subsequently recommended by the Tariff Board. The problem of consistency of approach is compounded by the fact that industries most likely to apply for temporary protection are highly protected relative to Australian industry in general.
Sir John’s second argument is that the current undesirable practice of certain industries exploiting the temporary protection provisions as an effective device for avoiding the long term rates of duty recommended by the Tariff Board - that is, using the SAA as a court of appeal from the decisions of the Tariff Board - would be eliminated if the IAC was responsible for temporary protection. The most notorious case of this kind of practice is the ICI subsidiary Fibremakers Ltd which, since commencing the manufacture of polyester yarns in 1965, has managed to have temporary duties operative from June 1967 to April 1970, from September 1970 to November 1971 and since April 1972. To sum up, the 2 main advantages of giving the IAC responsibility for advice on temporary protection are that it would ensure consistency in tariff making and would preserve the autonomy of the IAC and the tariff-making machinery. What has happened in the past is that the ruse of temporary protection has been iff fact a permanent protection because of frequency of applications.
The measure is a good measure. It comes to the Parliament with the support of the people of Australia on the basis that it was one of the planks of the Australian Labor Party at the last election. It is supported by the Liberal Party, which is the major partner in the Opposition coalition, lt is opposed by the Country Party. I submit that it is opposed for the reason I have mentioned, that the Country Party has a special interest. The agrarian rump, the pressure group, has used its position through the portfolio administering secondary industry, in the days of Sir John McEwen and when Sir Alan Westerman was in charge of that department, and through departments like Shipping and Transport and Primary Industry which it insisted upon holding when it has been with its partner, the Liberal Party, in a coalition government, lt is through these departments that the Country Party has been able to discriminate for one industry against another in Australia, discriminating in favour of primary industry against secondary industry and in some cases against others. Where the Country Party has received financial assistance it has discriminated in favour of smaller secondary industries.
In fact this Government is now looking at the question of small business to give Australian manufacturers in the secondary area, who are employing 5 to 15 people, a genuine chance to improve their Jot in this country. That was never the case under the Country Party and Liberal Party stewardship of this area. Of course, the Industries Assistance Commission does away with that situation. Any matter that requires a decision by the Government will be referred to the Commission for a report and there will be continuous reports on industries. That depth of public inquiry is what is needed for the Parliament to allocate funds on a fair and equitable basis. That has not been the case in the past. It is true that we have had a Tariff Board since 1921 and it is true that references to the Tariff Board are made on various matters but the existing structure of the Tariff Board cannot of its own volition inquire into an industry. *J** needs to be supplied with a reference. I tnink it is pretty fair to say that most references that have come from the Country Party in the past or from the former government in this area managed by the Country Party have in a very large measure been loaded references.
The terms of reference by which the Tariff Board has been obliged to inquire have limited the scope of the inquiries and the real benefit of the recommendations to the Parliament. To that extent the Industries Assistance Commission will be a much fairer body and also the primary industry subsidies and handouts that have been given by the Country Party in the past will come under public scrutiny. They are subject to an Act of Parliament and are in the present and past circumstances completely legal decisions of an Australian Government; nevertheless they are motivated for reasons of political self-survival. That is not the motivation that ought to be the basis of financial commitments from this national Parliament to any industry in Australia. There will be now no discrimination from one industry to another, there will be complete reports on industries and the Government can choose either to accept the recommendations from the Commission or to reject them. The Government can take advice from its departments, its Ministers, industry groupings and from specialist people who have no particular axe to grind. The Government can take that advice, measure it up against the recommendations of the Commission, make a decision and have the Parliament, of course, ratify it. It is a proper way of seeing that preference to industries and assistance to industries is intelligently and honestly allocated. It is long overdue.
A primary industry assistance commission was proposed many years ago and rejected by the former government. Of course, this proposal encompasses all industries as I have indicated. It is worth the support of all of the Parliament. I believe it is getting the support of the Government and the Liberal Party with a few amendments. It is being opposed by the Country Party. That is what we have come to expect with reasonable national legislation where it affects the position of the Country Party in coalition and affects its position to negotiate and to secure concessions from those people it has been able to help in the past. I support the legislation and commend the Bill to the House.
– I listened with interest to the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). The aim of this Bill is to implement the basic recommendations of the report prepared by Sir John Crawford on ‘A Commission to Advise on Assistance to Industries’. Sir John recommended that a body be set up under the name ‘Industries Commission’ although the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) apparently has preferred the title ‘Industries Assistance Commission’. I make no point about that. It is a matter of record. In his report, Sir John pointed to 3 main reasons for establishing a Commission of the type considered in this Bill. The report stated:
First, it can assist the Government to develop its policies for improving the allocation of resources among industries in Australia. Second, it can, because of its independence, be expected to provide advice on these policies which is ‘disinterested’. And third, it can facilitate public scrutiny of these policies.
The honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) who led for the Liberal Party in this debate, the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), who is Liberal Party spokesman on rural matters, the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) and the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) have adequately put views which the Liberal Party supports. Speaking for the Party generally, I say that our hope is that the Com mission will bring some objectivity and rationality to some of this Government’s decisions - 2 features that have been so notably lacking in its 10 months of office. Our hope is that this Government will no longer be able to take illconsidered decisions with devastating effects on our rural industries without proper and public consideration.
The establishment of a properly constituted Industries Assistance Commission will be a welcome improvement from the ad hoc inquiries and reports initiated by the Government through the Coombs task force and its countless other committees and inquiries. Recently the Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia released a statement which I commend to the House. That statement said, in part:
As a national Party we accept that we have a responsibility to evolve policies which will be to the benefit of all Australians, and the objectives of the proposed Industries Assistance Commission are consistent wtih this aim.
However compelling the argument may be for assistance to any industry, primary or secondary, greater public awareness of the issues involved make it inevitable that any assistance granted must be as a result of full and open inquiry.
Australian rural industries, which are amongst the most efficient in the world, would at last have a public forum in which their case could be presented.
Establishment of the Industries Assistance Commission will entail an expansion of the activities of the Tariff Board in two, ways. First, the Commission will be able to review all forms of assistance; secondly, it will be able to make reports on assistance to all forms of industry.
In supporting the general aims of the Bill I take the opportunity to make a few comments on the role the manufacturing sector has played in Australia’s development. Manufacturing is now and will continue to be our core economic activity. I want to assure the manufacturing industry that its significance is acknowledged by the Liberal Party and to assure it of the value that we place on its maintenance, its efficiency and imaginative development. In whatever occupation people have they are likely to be affected significantly by manufacturing. There is an important interrelationship between sectors. Few products go from raw material to end use without some processing. Commerce and rural and mineral producers exist to provide its inputs; commerce and consumers or users depend upon its outputs. Whole areas of the tertiary sector depend largely for their existence on the manufacturing industry. Those areas in turn make large demands on manufacturing industry for capital goods, the whole process contributing to a vibrant growing economy. Nor do the effects of a dynamic manufacturing sector stop there. Consumers benefit from the availability of high quality, technologically advanced durable goods. Our large and strongly growing building industry is dependent on the availability of a great range of high quality manufactured materials. Indirect and less qualifiable benefits permeate the whole economy. Manufacturing industry must continue to play this central role in the economy if our aspirations for economic growth through the 1970s and beyond are to be fulfilled. We are in the industrial growth and development stage in Australia today. Putting aside the current position, which is a government created aberration, we can be proud of the performance. The economy, of course, must be seen as a whole in a modern economy. The different sectors are so closely linked that we could not afford to concentrate on one sector to the exclusion of all else.
I may say that I believe that the rural sector and the manufacturing sector must not be seen as competing; they are complementary, one to the other. If one is in trouble the other is likely to be in trouble. If they are prospering they will prosper each other. Obviously, the rural, mining and tertiary sectors will continue to play a vital part in the growth and development of the economy. But a healthy, dynamic manufacturing sector will be of central importance and the future of manufacturing industry is therefore a subject of direct relevance to all Australians. Our policy eyes must see a continued development and look beyond tomorrow and tomorrow’s development. The manufacturing sector has provided much oi the impetus to economic growth in Australia during the post-war period. This is what one would expect, for Australia is a highly industrialised country by international standards.
When we look to export performance we see an extraordinary progress by manufacturing industry. As recently as the mid-1950s we were exporting manufactured goods worth under SI 00m, or only about 6 per cent of total exports. By 1970-71 manufacturing exports had reached $856m or 20.5 per cent of the total. The trend in each recent year has been strongly upwards in both absolute and relative terms. From 1971 to 1973 it has advanced greatly in total value terms. I am glad to say that in those more recent years the return to the great rural industries of Australia has likewise grown as prices for commodities have climbed. I do not need to labour the more qualitative contributions which manufacturing industry has made to the Australian economy. It plays a key role in providing the capital equipment - the vehicles, farm machinery, business and communications equipment and all the rest that is so necessary in a modern complex economic society - without which our modern economy simply could not function.
Manufacturing industry has had a dominant role in furthering technological progress, which is so important in spurring economic growth and improving living standards. Manufacturing industry has been in the forefront in developing Australian research and development projects and in the dissemination of overseas developed technology. We see an increasing activity in licensing overseas countries to use Australian processes which have been developed in this country and also to use inventions which have been made in this country under royalty arrangements. To ensure the continued growth of manufacturing, it is the Government’s job to maintain a stable economic climate, with the economy in or near internal and external balance. It is my belief that Australia’s economic future is irretrievably bound up with the future of its manufacturing industry. We have created an environment in which there has been built up over past years a large and sophisticated manufacturing sector and in which there was every reason for confidence in the future that the growth and progress of manufacturing industry would continue. At present there is not that confidence. There is confusion and it has been created by the actions of this Government over the period in which it has been in office.
But looking further into the future, as we must, there is reason to have every confidence in a growing economy and the core role that manufacturing will have in it. It will be essential for the development of the economy and the welfare of all Australians that it should do so. Manufacturers need to feel confident that their investment and planning decisions will be able to develop in a constant environment. Unfortunately they do not have that confidence today. They cannot foresee in the future the envronment being as it is at the time they make their investment decisions. I do not mean by this that economic management should be deprived of the tools needed; that would not be in the interests of manufacturing industry itself. I mean that the choice and application of those tools must be very carefully selected. We must ensure, as a nation, that manufacturing industry is unhindered in continued, efficient development.
What I have said or the manufacturing industry is equally true of the primary industries. In the proposal before the House there is now the opportunity, as was said by Sir John Crawford in referring to the matter in his report, to establish the Commission. Sir John gave 3 main reasons for the establishment of the Commission, and I repeat them:
First, it can assist the Government to develop Its policies for improving the allocation of resources among industries in Australia. Second, it can, because of its independence, be expected to provide advice on these policies which Is ‘disinterested’. And third, it can facilitate public scrutiny of these policies.
The Bill before the House includes a mandatory provision as does the Tariff Board Act. The relevant section of the Bill is clause 23 (a) which provides, in the words of the Prime Minister, that ‘the Government shall not take any action to provide assistance to a particular industry until it has received a report on the matter from the Commission’. The Liberal Party supports the mandatory provision and in fact it will move amendments to strengthen that provision. It is clear, however, that support for the provision is far from unanimous on the Government side of the House. In particular we know that the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) was opposed to it. His position is quite clear from statements that he made to this House on 28 August. In reply to the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), the then Minister for Secondary Industry, Dr Cairns, said:
I will give the honourable member an assurance that I will do my best to keep out of the Australian law in the future any mandatory reference to the Tariff Board. If I were a betting man I would give him even money that it does not appear henceforth.
Later in his speech he went on to say this:
It is a statement that is backed not by my ability to win an argument but by the overwhelming logic of the case. The Tariff Board is an advisory body whose advice should be sought by the Government. There should be no mandatory requirement to refer every matter to the Tariff Board.
That was said by the Minister for Overseas Trade in his then role as Minister for Secondary Industry on 28 August in this House. The Liberal Party supports the mandatory provision because it will ensure that all measures to assist industry are given proper considera tion. We support the mandatory provision in the hope that it will provide some check to the excesses of this socialist Government.
The Prime Minister in his second reading speech noted 4 qualifications to the mandatory provision. The first, which is quite proper, is that the Government is not obliged to accept the advice of the Commission. We do not believe that it should be obliged; but we do believe that there should be proper examination of the issues by an independent body. The contribution to be made by the Commission will be in its published reports; it should have no executive role. The second restricts the mandatory provision to primary and secondary industry, thus excluding the tertiary sector. In time there are strong grounds for supporting the inclusion of the tertiary sector. Sir John Crawford supports this view in his report. There is no reason why, in time, industries such as building and construction, transport and communications, should not be included in inquiries by the Commission. The third constraint on the operation of the mandatory provision is the way in which the Bill limits the Commission’s operation only to particular primary or secondary industries, but not all forms of assistance to industry. That which should be scrutinised should relate to particular industries as well as to groups of industries. There may be measures envisaged which affect a particular group or groups of industries. In that situation these groups deserve to ha”ve their cases heard - to have an opportunity to put their cases.
The taxpayer is entitled to be protected by an objective analysis of the issues involved. Accordingly, we will be moving an amendment to the Bill to include a particular group or groups of primary or secondary industries under the mandatory provision. This will strengthen the provision; it will make it more effective. The provision is also limited to financial assistance exceeding a period of 12 months. It seems clear, however, that an emergency situation requiring urgent but temporary assistance could last for a longer period of time. Take the example of two bad production years in one of the great primary industries. Limitation of emergency assistance to one year could in such a case impose unnecessary losses and hardship. We believe that it would be appropriate to extend the period for which temporary financial assistance can be granted to 2 years. Accordingly, we will move the appropriate amendments.
This brings me to the question of temporary assistance. The Bill provides that applications for urgent temporary assistance should be heard within the Commission. We believe that applications for urgent assistance, as at present, will be more effectively dealt with by an independent authority - a temporary assistance authority. Such an authority could give immediate consideration to such requests, enabling required action to be taken as soon as possible without disrupting the work of the Commission. Reports by such an authority could then be reviewed as soon as practicable by the Commission. It follows that the temporary advisory authority would have to conduct its inquiries against the background of the statutory responsibilities imposed upon the Commission as a whole. The Industries Assistance Commission can make a major contribution to economic policy making in Australia, particularly at a time when a government so lacking in economic expertise is in office. The Liberal Party does not oppose the second reading of this Bill.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 8 - by leave - taken together.
Mr KELLY (Wakefield) <5.7) - I ask the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) to look at the wording of clause 6 (2) of the Bill. It states:
For the purposes of sub-section 4 ‘(3 a) and (4) of the Superannuation Act 1922-1973 each Commissioner shall be deemed to be required, by the terms of his appointment, to give the whole of his time to the duties of his office.
As I read that sub-clause, as a layman, it seems to be too restrictive. I would have thought that the position should be a full time one. But to ask the Commissioner to give the whole of his time seems to impose an impossible burden on him. I am not a lawyer and I know that in law perhaps things quite often do not mean what they say, but if this sub-clause does indeed mean what it says it would preclude the Commissioner from going to church or doing other things that surely he is entitled to do. So would the Minister in charge of the Bill please give me, as a layman, a legal interpretation of what is meant by ‘the whole of his time’?
– All I can say is that on a literal reading of the sub-clause I am forced to agree that the sug- gestion put forward by the honourable member seems to be right. May I suggest this: These expressions come to us, as of course honourable members would know, from learned Parliamentary Counsel. They are taken from other statutes and other legislation. The courts give them a definite meaning and once the meanings are declared to expressions such as this - I am not committing myself to this particular one in that way - they have definite meanings. The uncertainty creeps in when one tries to change them. I think it might suffice if I say to the honourable member that the Government will have the matter looked into. It may well be something on which we can take action in another place.
– The amendment to be moved to this clause relates to some following amendments to later clauses which have a similar import. In my second reading speech I expressed some concern as to the size of this Commission in relation to the potentially vast range of inquiries and matters that it may be required to encompass.
I do not want to traverse too much ground which properly should be covered when we deal with a later clause of the Bill. Having such a small number of Commissioners to consider such a vast range of matters will potentially require the development of a vast bureaucracy. I want to underline the concern about that matter which has been expressed by a number of my colleagues from the Australian Country Party. They expressed concern about reducing the number of members from
I I in the case of the Tariff Board to 9 in the case of the Industry Assistance Commission. It is to be a comparatively small Commission with considerable powers apparently vested in the Chairman. I now come directly to the subject matter of our amendment. Without suggesting that there is any explicit intention in the Bill to the contrary, we believe it is important to maintain, and important that there is seen to be maintained, the concept which I think is appropriate in this context, namely, of the Commission as a body comprising a number of independent Commissioners of generally equal status. We believe that recommendations on assistance to industry and tariff policy should be a matter for the meeting of several minds, so to speak, with members of the Commission meeting as a group to determine matters of policy and other very important matters. The Commission should consist of a number of independent Commissioners meeting together and policy should thus be in their hands rather than potentially in the hands of one man should the situation emerge of there being a particularly dominant Chairman. Therefore I move:
Omit the words ‘, as far as practicable,’.
Clause 9 (2) (a) and (b) sets out the powers of the Chairman to convene meetings and so on. The Bill as it stands provides that that power shall be exercised ‘as far as practicable’ only after consultation with the Commissioners. Surely the Chairman will be in constant, perhaps almost daily, contact with his Commissioners. It is difficult to see why there should be this qualification’ as far as practicable’. We suggest therefore that the clause should more appropriately provide that the Chairman’s powers be exercised only after consultation with the Commissioners.
– The Government cannot accept this amendment. I suggest with great respect to the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards), because we are, as he knows, accepting many of his propositions in the Committee stage of the debate on this Bill, that on reflection he will come to the view that the words as far as practicable’ are reasonable. After all, these Commissioners could be in any part of the country. The powers of the Chairman in this sense are only to convene meetings of the Commission and to determine the form of the records. That is the limitation. There might well be many occasions when, because one Commissioner is in Melbourne and another in some other part of Australia, it would be not practicable to make it a mandatory requirement that every one of them be consulted when the question concerned relates only to the matter of calling a meeting together or determining certain records of previous meetings. The Government is very anxious and determined to ensure that the Commission is a body which will give proper assistance and expertise to Australian industry, as its name suggests, and therefore it has to be a practical working body. If those words are deleted there would be a slight risk, although perhaps not a real one, that it might not be so practical. Of course, one appreciates that in normal activities the Chairman will consult with his colleagues. We know that and we expect it. To write in that he must do these things might well make the whole thing unworkable.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards). Having heard the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby), I point out to him that the clause relates only to the convening of the Commission, determining the form of meetings of the Commission, requiring that its records are kept in accordance with this Act and deciding the procedure which is to be adopted at such meetings. The whole concept of the Commission surely must be that all members must be able and prepared to participate jointly in such normal procedural matters. It is not to operate on the basis that members in different areas of Australia meet only for a normal hearing or for some other purpose of the Commission. These 3 paragraphs of sub-clause (2) are applicable only for procedural meetings. For that reason I believe that the Minister might well consider the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra as being a worthwhile assurance that the Chairman does not exercise powers that we would consider excessive in relation to the normal functions of the Chairman of a body of this character.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 17 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
» » * *
– The amendment I propose to move is similar in import to the previous proposal I mentioned. I referred to the provision in clause 9 that the power of the Chairman in regard to certain responsibilities can be exercised only after consultation with the Commissioners. In clause 18, which we are now considering, powers again are conferred on the Chairman and it begins with the words ‘Subject to this section’. I move:
In Sub-Clause (1) omit the words ‘Subject to this section’, substitute the following words:
Subject to sub-section 9 (3) and to this section’.
The clause would then read:
Subject to sub-section 9 (3) and to this section, the Chairman shall convene such meetings of the Commission as he thinks necessary ….
The purpose of making this subject to clause 9 (3) is that in the exercise of these powers the Chairman shall consult with the Commissioners.
– The Government is happy to accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards). In our view the matter was sufficiently clear from the language used in the Bill but it is also our view that this amendment puts the matter beyond doubt and therefore we are happy to accept it.
Amendment agreed to.
– I propose to move a further amendment to clause 18. Without suggesting that there is any explicit intention in the Bill that in this context the appropriate concept is other than of a number of independent Commission members of generally equal status meeting together and determining matters of policy in these great issues of assistance to industry, nevertheless, it has sometimes been suggested that it is important in the determination of these important issues that there be frequent discussions of policy by the Commission as a whole - an appropriate meeting of minds of the Commission as a whole - on contentious issues. Of course, this cannot take place unless the Commission meets as a body to determine these issues. There may be from time to time disagreements within the Commission and the members of the Commission who are in disagreement may not have an opportunity within a reasonable interval to express their point of view. It is suggested, therefore, that by way of amendment a new clause 18 (1a) be inserted. My original amendments as circulated show proposed new subclauses (3a) and (3b), but taking the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel, I now move:
After sub-clause (1), insert the following sub-clause: (1a) Notwithstanding sub-section 9 (3), the Chairman shall convene meetings of the Commission at least once in each month and shall convene such a meeting whenever he is requested in writing to do so by not less than three Commissioners.’.
– The Government cannot accept this amendment, and again I would suggest to the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) that there are good reasons for not accepting it. I am reminded of a very basic piece of advice that was given to me years ago when I was a very young barrister practising in Sydney. I was given the job of drawing up the constitution for a certain voluntary organisation. With excess zeal I began to write in provisions for every possible contingency to which I could put my imagination. Of course, the advice I received was: ‘Do not waste your time. You are just making things impossible for the club to work’. It was a club with which I was involved. It seems to me that when people try to write into the constitution of an organisation that it shall always conduct itself in this way or that way, that it shall always meet at least once a week or not more than once a month, they buy into trouble. This is the thinking of the Government in relation to this proposition.
The honourable member for Berowra is proposing that meetings shall be held at least once a month and that they can be called in this way or that way. We suggest that therein lies legalism of a sort which is not productive. Given the quality of the men, and possibly the women, who will serve on this Commission, one can surely leave it to their judgment and their discretion as to how often they will have to meet to consider the work that obviously they will have to do. We know that this Commission will be very busy. The extent of the assistance which may be involved was revealed by the Coombs task force report. There can be little doubt, without risk, that the Commission will not meet often enough.
– There are 2 elements to this amendment. With due respect to the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) I think he has dealt with only one of them, namely, that part of the amendment which says that meetings shall be convened at least once in each month. Obviously it is important that a body of this character which has such a profound effect on industry in every section of the community should not only meet regularly but also should have an obligation to do so. It should not be possible for the Chairman to be able to operate without meetings of the Commission and I am not suggesting that it is his intention to do so. It is for that reason that I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) suggesting that meetings should be convened at least once in each month.
The second part of the amendment is probably even more important. It states that there should be an obligation on the Commission to meet whenever requested in writing to do so by not less than 3 Commissioners. It is important that, in the operation of a Commission with such all embracing powers as these, there should be in the hands of the Commissioners an opportunity to call a meeting or to have access to procedures by which a meeting can be convened if they feel that it is necessary. I believe that under the Bill as it presently stands there is no provision for the Commissioners to take action of this sort. Indeed, as I recall provision was made in the previous Tariff Board Act for some such procedure of this character. It is not an unusual procedure. It has always been the case that a body which has a number of representatives should afford to the Chairman or the President, whatever his terminology, the prior right to convene meetings, but other members alsoshould have some access to such a procedure so that in certain circumstances they also can do so.
We do not see this as being unreasonably restrictive on the Chairman, or in any way denying the normal efficient functioning of the Commission. For that reason I would support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Berowra and suggest that it is necessary that there be a capacity for not less than 3 Commissioners to convene a meeting if they feel it necessary. For that reason I would ask the Minister to turn his attention now not only to the first part but also to that second part of the amendment moved.
– The next amendment I propose to move also is related to clause 18 and is in pursuance of the same aim of establishing machinery whereby the Commission meets as a whole to determine policy and other matters. Clause 18 (6) (a) provides that the Chairman and merely 2 other Commissioners, in a body which may be made up of between 5 and 9 members, may constitute a meeting of the Commission. Considering the vast range of matters which can be brought under the purview of the Commission, it is likely that the Commission will comprise 9 members, in which case it appears to us that the Chairman and 2 others is a rather small number. One then asks: What number is appropriate? The Chairman and 4 others gives a rather larger quorum. While this may appear to be a comparatively minor quibble, the proposed amendment does seem to establish a better percentage of the membership of the Commission meeting together to form a quorum. We propose that a quorum should consist of the Chairman and 3 other Commissioners. Therefore I move:
In sub-clause (6) (a) omit the word ‘two’, substitute the word ‘three’.
– The Government has no objection to this amendment. It is arguable whether the number should be two or three. However, as I say, we have no objection to the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 19 agreed to.
A Commissioner shall not exercise any power conferred upon him by this Act in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
– I move:
This amendment relates to clause 20 of the Bill which states:
A Commissioner shall not exercise any power conferred upon him by this Act in any matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest.
The reason that I have moved this amendment is consequent on the Industries Assistance Commission encompassing within its responsibility primary industry. I would expect and trust that it is the Government’s intention in due course to have people as Commissioners or perhaps Associate Commissioners who are experienced in the rural industries. If, as I trust, in due course this does happen it is quite possible that people appointed in this way could still have an interest and be engaged in farming of one sort or another.
– In the AWU.
– Not only, as the honourable member for Kingston interjects, in the AWU but I would expect that Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners will be chosen from a wide cross section of people, some of whom will be skilled in the rural industries.
These people will be on the Commission for a specific purpose. The original clause as set out in the Bill could largely nullify the benefits and indeed the intentions behind having these sort of people on the Commission. I would like to give honourable members a practical example. If the fertiliser industry was up for consideration before the Commission and some member or associate member of the Commission was a farmer from one of the higher rainfall areas of Australia that person could be debarred from taking part in that inquiry although he would have the sort of expertise which would probably be exactly the sort of thing of which the Government would be seeking to take advantage. So we suggest that in place of the original clause we should insert the clause as circulated which follows the pecuniary interest clause as it applies to the Restrictive Trade Practices Tribunal. We believe that the amendment will result in a wider use being made of the particular expertise which we expect will be on the Commission.
– The Government is happy to accept the amendment which seems to be completely consistent with what it hopes to achieve with this legislation which seeks to set up the Industries Assistance Commission. As we all know, the ideal behind the establishment of the Commission is for there to be as many public inquiries as possible on matters of vital concern to the Australian public - and to remove from the public administration of government and politics the suggestion that has all too often been present that there are lurks and perks and all sorts of underhand secret dealings and disguised forms of subsidy which were referred to in the Coombs task force report. We want to get rid of these sorts of things. One has to recognise that there will be people who will sit on the Commission who may well have a direct or an indirect pecuniary interest in something to which they are required to direct their attention. The question of a conflict of interest is one that all too often plagues modern societies. The clause, if left in its existing form - direct or indirect - might well disqualify a lot of very capable people from being able to sit on the Commission and contribute to its work with their expertise and experience. It seems to us that the amendment is an advantage. It will draw attention to the fact that a particular Commissioner might have a pecuniary interest because he will be required to declare it. If that is revealed and made public it will then be a matter for the Commission to attach whatever weight it wishes to it. It might be something that it would discount; it might be something to which it would attach weight. Of course, it might well be something that in consequential public debate could be relevant either in this House, in the Senate or in some other place because the Government as we have made it clear, is not obliged to accept advice that is given to it by the Commission. As we have said often the Government could look for other advice. It might well receive advice that it has doubts about. We are happy to accept the amendment because we think that on balance it strengthens the purpose that we are trying to achieve.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 21 (Functions of Commission.)
– This clause refers to the functions of the Commission which are to hold inquiries and to make reports to the Minister in accordance with this Act in respect of matters affecting assistance to industries and ‘other matters’ that may be referred to the Commission in accordance with this Act. I rise to suggest that the area of possible inquiry by the Commission under this clause does appear a vast one, so vast that it undoubtedly opens up, or can well open up, the prospect of the Commission blossoming into a huge bureaucracy. This is a point which was well taken by one of my colleagues. It is intended that the Commission itself should do all the work of assembling the necessary data for its inquiries? Sir John Crawford had a great deal to say about this in paragraphs 118 to 128 of the report. But I ask the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby): How far will the hope as expressed as I read it in Sir John’s report, and widely held in industry, that the Commission should draw as much information as possible from the relevant departments brought in by this extension of the purview of the commission by the Bill - the Departments of Primary Industry. Secondary Industry, Minerals and Energy and
Transport - and supplement this only as required from its own resources, be realised?
One could perhaps go further and propose that it should in fact be the duty of the relevant departments assisted as appropriate by, for example, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Mineral Resources, where it is proposed to refer an industry to the Commission for report as to what assistance if any should be afforded it, to prepare some sort of initial position study of the industry for the benefit of interested members of the public as well as for the industry itself, related industries and the Commission, this study to be forwarded to the Commission with the reference. Of course, the Commission might wish to top this up, so to speak, in various ways. But if this were done much of the burden of detailed investigation of an industry would not need to be duplicated. Perhaps in this way the size of the Commission bureaucracy, about which I think there are legitimate fears, might be contained. I do not intend to make any formal proposal in that respect. But I would certainly express the hope that the Commission will work more along these lines.
– As I have said several times already, the Government sees this measure as being of great importance to industry and to Australia as a whole by bringing out into the light those decisions which so greatly affect Australians - decisions involving the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money - so that they can assess whether the money is being spent in the right way. I think that the Government is as aware as the Opposition and anyone else of the dangers of a large bureaucracy. This is one of the features of modern living. The Government is concerned about it. There is no suggestion in the legislation of anything of that nature emerging. Indeed, this Commission is, in many ways, only an improved form of the Tariff Board. At this stage anyway one has to rely on the quality of the men who comprise it. Naturally, it is the Government’s intention that the departments would offer as much informaion as possible in their areas of expertise, in the way in which the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) described it. That would be only natural and proper. The Government certainly hopes that that would be so. The Government is quite confident that it would be so. It seems to me that there is nothing calling for an amendment at this stage. In legislation like this, one has to watch to see how it is working. Such legislation may be improved as time goes by. I remind honourable members that clause 21 provides that inquiries will be held in accordance with the Act. That expression is repeated on 2 occasions. The Act is pretty specific and pretty particular.
– I did not intend to enter into this debate but the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) raised a couple of matters of some significance. Honourable members may recall that a couple of years ago reference was made in this chamber to matters being referred by the Tariff Board to outside bodies such as Monash University which was conducting a dynamic model study of the Australian economy and the effects that certain alterations to tariffs might have throughout the economy. Mr Chairman, you may recall that at that time the question was raised whether it was proper for these outside authorities to have access to confidential material that had been made available to the Board.
The Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) has said - I agree with him - that it is highly desirable that all the expertise in the country be made available for the use and the help of the Industries Assistance Commission when it carries out its deliberations. I hope that when it makes decisions on matters not only will it have regard to departmental submissions and submissions from bodies such as the Bureau of Agricultural Economics but also it will be able to draw on the academic expertise and experience that is available in the various universities and other academic institutions. I hope that consideration will be given at some future time to the question whether assistance from outside should be made available specifically to the Industries Assistance Commission so that there will be no doubt about the legitimacy of certain material being made available to these outside personnel when they are drawing up submissions and gathering data to help the Commission in its deliberations.
Clause agreed to.
In the performance of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government, in pursuing the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia, with full employment, stability in the general level of prices, viability in external economic relations, conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living, and, in particular, to the desire of the Australian Government to -
– I move:
That is the first amendment circulated in the name of the Leader of the Australian Country Party, Mr Anthony. The purpose of this amendment is to give expression to the fundamental objection that the Australian Country Party has to this whole legislation. We regard the Government as being the elected representatives of the people, and consequently the Government should be prepared to exercise the responsibility accorded to it. This clause sets out as guidelines for the Commission a range of responsibilities which cover the whole traverse of every aspect that might in any way be related to assistance to industry.
The Country Party sees the Commission as being objectionable because it denies Government the right to make decisions in a way which will take account of all the factors which are a complex of normal decision making. It is obvious that there are very real reasons for ensuring independent advice in particular areas where expertise is significant. The general nature of the Tariff Board has demonstrated that the Board has been able to provide this type of assistance. I believe that there is purpose also in providing on an ad hoc basis for special purpose inquiries through persons who are practitioners in a particular field - perhaps members of a university who are learned in that area - or persons who are consumers or individuals with a talent who can appropriately bring information to the Parliament, to the Government and to the people. But in this instance that is not envisaged. Laid down in the policy guidelines for the Commission is a firm overall compass covering an expanse of responsibilities which traditionally have been seen as normally being exercisable by the Government. For that reason we believe this clause to be objectionable. It will foster the development of bureaucracy to which the honourable member for ‘Berowra (Mr Edwards) referred. We are concerned lest this Commission becomes just that.
It will be a major bureaucratic organisation operating outside direct democratic responsibility to the elected representatives of the people. Inasmuch as this clause covers such a broad compass, it will give to that bureaucratic establishment a far broader and wider responsibility than any other body operating in the field of Australian Government. Indeed, as I remarked during the second reading debate, we believe that it will directly contravene the principles which the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, laid down as his objections to the planning type concepts of the Vernon Committee and the planning economic board which that Committee recommended. We see this Commission as intervening directly in the responsibilities of Government and we regard the powers accorded under this clause as objectionable.
The amendment says:
In the performance of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government . . .
That enables the Government to state a particular area in which it believes there is a reason for establishing a new industry in Australia or to utilise a particular resource. One thinks of the gas resources off the north-west coast of Western Australia. Perhaps the Government might also desire to enable the utilisation of regional resources which are under-utilised. One thinks of decentralisation and the development of employment opportunities for people living in country communities. The amendment continues: that assistance to industry be on the basis of it being economic and showing sound prospects for success.
Those are words which were used by the Tariff Board in its 1959 report - words which the Board believed to be more appropriate to modern circumstances than ‘economic and efficient’ which is the current jargon in the Tariff Board Act.
I believe that the criterion which relates specifically to ‘economic and showing sound prospects for success’ is far more pertinent than the broader, lengthy specifics that are included in the present clause 22 subclause (1). Let me advert to that. The words used there are: in pursuing the genera! objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development.
In other words there will be a broad compass of the whole field of Government policy. There will be no direction as to what it was, but taking note of what those policies are said to be. All of us have had difficulty in interpreting this Government’s policies. If one turns to the It’s Time’ booklet and then sees what is being implemented today one finds a succession of statements by individual Ministers. It becomes apparent immediately how complex is the task of the proposed Commission in working out just what the Government’s policies are. Those are very good reasons for stating exactly, firmly and with a measure of direct and correct identification the purpose of the Commission’s inquiries. We believe that they should be on the basis of being economic and showing sound prospects for success.
The third part of the amendment is: that there be adequate scope for public scrutiny and evaluation on the basis of the Commission’s reports.
Again it is obvious that if this body is to be available to service the community and not the community to service it, the reports it prepares must be capable of not only scrutiny by the public but also comprehension by the public. The public must be able to evaluate the basis on which the reports are submitted and the basis upon which changes are to be made. A body being given such wide powers, being outside the direct democratic control of the electoral process must be placed in the position where people are able to comprehend the purposes of the reports brought forward and the reasons why significant changes - and no doubt there will be significant changes - are being suggested in particular industries.
Take as an example the elimination of a wheat stabilisation scheme, a scheme which could well come within the compass of this Commission. If the Commission says, as it is empowered to do, that there will be no future wheat stabilisation proposals one believes that there should be adequate public scrutiny of such a recommendation. One believes that there must be an adequate evaluation of the basis of such a recommendation. Yet there seems to be inadequate provision for this within the present Bill and certainly within subclause (1) of clause 22. There is within the provisions of these policy guidline expressions cause for concern for every individual in the Australian community. There is cause for concern not only because this body is to be a large bureaucratic body, not only because this body is to take over the reins of Government but because this body will be able to interpret its own policy within the broad ambit of the policy guidelines so loosely worded as they are in the clause as it is now phrased.
For those reasons I believe it is essential that there be a specific, firm and direct way by which individuals in the community can see the purposes for which this Commission will undertake its task and read into what it is doing particular motives, but the Australian Government retaining the opportunity to lay down where it believes necessary specific policy objectives. Of course that is the intention of the opening words of the recommended new sub-clause, namely, ‘shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government’. That will give to the Australian Government the policy making initiative. It does not lay it down for the Commission to formulate its own ideas. It gives the Australian Government, the elected representatives of the people, the responsibility. To my mind that is far more desirable and far more in accord with the precepts that this place democratically should hold dear. Finally it lays down that there should be adequate scope for public scrutiny and evaluation of the Commission’s reports. These two are equally objectives that one would think that this House and the Parliament would see as eminently desirable in a Commission of this character.
I believe that all three parts of this amendment are absolutely essential if this Commission is not to destroy completely the capacity of government to act in a field of such major importance. It is true that there are problems in setting down efficiently in words the guidelines which any organisation should follow, and the terms ‘economic* and ‘efficient’ under the Tariff Board legislation are significant in that respect. We believe that the words ‘on the basis of its being economic and showing sound prospects for success’ are words which enable the fulfilment of a worthwhile objective, independent inquiry if such an inquiry is to be made. We would far prefer those words and believe that the service of the Australian community and the future development needs of this country can be accommodated only if this amendment is supported.
– The Government cannot accept this amendment. Far be it for me to be abrasive in this debate, because we have welcomed many of the amendments put forward by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards), but one could say - and one cannot say it too often - that the attitude of the Country Party is predictable and well known. During the debate on the second reading of this Bill it opposed the whole concept of it. It sees this legislation extending into its domain the general principles which apply to the rest of Australia and which have applied to the rest of Australia for many years. It sees the principles which we would lay down and which have been laid down for secondary industry being applied to rural industry and it seeks to throw a cloak over its activities as they have been carried on by the Country Party in many previous years.
That cloak was torn away by the Coombs Task Force report. The disguise was ripped away from its face when the Coombs Task Force report disclosed to the world how many hidden subsidies and how many disguised bounties had been amassed to themselves by the members of the Country Party over many years, forcing, pushing, blackmailing perhaps, the Liberal Party into a situation where if it was to retain power it had to do what the Country Party demanded to be done in the interests of the Country Party. It is that which cannot be said too often in this House and be heard by the people of Australia.
– None of it is correct. It is nonsense-
– It is correct. You will be judged by your actions. You oppose the Bill.
You oppose everything the Bill stands for.
– Order! I suggest that the Minister come back to the Bill.
– This legislation provides that those things for which the Country Party claims to stand shall be subject to the same public scrutiny as every other Australian has always been subjected to by bodies such as the Tariff Board. That is why the Country Party does not want it.It does not want its hidden subsidies exposed. It is worth while reading the proposals in the Bill as it now stands - proposals which I understand are supported by the Liberal Party. It is the words that I now read out to which the Country Party objects:
In the performance of its functions, the Commission shall have regard to the desire of the Australian Government, in pursuing the general objectives of national economic and social policy and urban and regional development, to improve and promote the well-being of the people of Australia -
That is what the Country Party wants to delete - with full employment -
That is what it wants to delete - stability in the general level of prices -
That is what it wants to delete - viability in external economic relations -
That is what it wants to delete - conservation of the natural environment and rising and generally enjoyed standards of living -
That is what it wants to delete - and, in particular, to the desire of the Australian Government to -
That is what it wants to delete -
That is what it wants to delete -
That is what it wants to delete -
The Country Party wants to delete that too -
It wants to delete that too -
That is what the Country Party wants to delete. It wants it to be done in secret. It wants it to be done in the way in which the Coombs Task Force report disclosed how it was to be done. One only has to bear in mind this: When one reads clause 21 - the clause that the Country Party wants to delete and change - one is seeing a system that the Government hopes to extend to the Country Party together with other Australians whereby Australians will know, by inquiry that takes place in public, how their money is being spent, so that the Commission can then report to this Parliament and this Parliament can then debate the report and either accept that advice or reject that advice or adopt it in part or reject it in part. That is what the Country Party wants to reject. It wants to do it in the dark, in secret, as the Coombs Task Force report disclosed it had done it for many years.
May I give one example. We know that the standing inter-departmental committee on assistance to industries provides co-ordinated advice already, as do many of the forms of machinery that exist, and we know that the Tariff Board, which is virtually the same thing for practical purposes as what we are talking about now, has issued a report on colour television and it is being considered by the Department of Secondary Industry. It is also to be considered by the Department of Overseas Trade, the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of the Media, the Department of Science, the Post Office, the Department of Defence, the Department of Supply and the Treasury as well. They will all consider it, and when a decision it taken on it it will be announced in this Parliament, where it can be thrashed out in public debate again over the air so that Australians can hear it. But it is all these sorts of things to which the Country Party predictably objects and seeks to change.
– I want briefly to reply to the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby). It seems to me worth while for members of this Committee and the listening public to recognise the categories of responsibility which the Minister seeks to pass to the Industries Assistance Commission but which we on this side - certainly in the Country Party - believe should be the responsibility of the Government. In no way do we seek to hide these specific matters from public scrutiny and evaluation. On the contrary, if the Minister cared to read the amendment which I have moved he would see included in it the words ‘there be adequate scope for public scrutiny and evaluation of the basis of the Commission’s reports’. Unlike the Government which seeks to hide such significant reports as those on the Berowra airport decision, the Galston airport decision and the recommendations of the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), we are happy to have these reports brought to the public eye.
It is necessary to recognise that we see it as a government responsibility and not that of the Commission to determine the matter of full employment and stability in the general level of prices. Obviously this Government, which is unable to cope with the problems of inflation or to manage the economy, seeks to pass these responsibilities to others. The Government proposes that the Commission shall have regard to viability in external economic relations. Unable to engage effectively in the international economic arena the Government apparently sees this responsibility better exercised by the Commission. The Government proposes that the Commission also shall have regard to the conservation of the natural environment. The Government, unable to report to the Parliament on the processes of environmental impact studies, sees the Commission as better exercising this function of government. I could recount the list of matters to which the Minister has referred. However, it is obvious that the Government seeks not to exercise its responsibilities but to deny them. This Government, apparently unable to determine the range of important issues that affect the provision of assistance to industry, seeks to pass such power to the Commission.
We do not deny the necessity for obtaining outside independent advice; rather we seek that advice in such a way that government may comprehend it. We say that the Government should retain the ultimate responsibility. We believe that this Bill, if passed in its present form, will deny that responsibility of government. It will deny the opportunity of government taking into acount the very factors which are set down in sub-clause (1) of clause 22 as originally proposed. These include improving the efficiency with which the community’s productive resources are used - this involves the making of an economic judgment concerning the prospects of success for an industry and surely that should be within the compass of government and not within the compass of an outside commission as should be matters relating to the maintenance of an appropriate standard of living and full employment - facilitating adjustment to changes in the economic environment and recognising the interests of consumers and consuming interests likely to be affected by measures. These are all worth while and plausible objectives. We do not deny this but we believe the Government should exercise the responsibility and not the Commission. Our objection is not to the provision of an independent inquiry but to the fact that this Government seems incapable of taking judgments on its own part and seeks rather to pass to others responsibility which should be its own.
– As my colleague, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) has stated, an amendment has been moved to clause 22 which we see as one of the most obnoxious clauses in the Bill because it extends the charter of the proposed Industries Assistance Commission virtually to carry out any function of examination. Almost any pretext can be used for making a judgment on how industry resources will be used, how determinations will be made in the interests of consumers, how the environment may be affected or the public interest concerned. Whilst on a quick examination the Government’s proposal may have superficial appeal, I believe it is frightening in its concept to imagine bureaucracy intruding into an area where a precise or mathematical judgment cannot be made. It should be the job of government or of the Parliament to exercise such judgment. Those who are legally responsible to the people should make the judgment, not some gigantic outside bureaucracy looking at factors and then making an economic recommendation. A whole range of factors should be considered, including sociological factors which could be the determining factors. The Commission will be taking into account not how an industry might succeed but what the impact may be on the environment, the employment situation or something else.
Over the years the Tariff Board has carried out a most important, useful and valuable function in determining what should be the level of protection or level of assistance given to industry. Once the Board makes that judgment it must defend it by putting a case to the Government. A mathematical judgment can be defined or qualified but when a judgment is based merely on an assessment of intangible factors it is frightening that bureaucracy should make such judgment. Politics is concerned with socio-economics and I refuse to accept that bureaucrats can make these sorts of decisions which should be the combined judgment of elected members of the Parliament or of the Cabinet. It is only when one has the results of research and the advice and knowledge of many government departments, each making recommendations to its respective Minister, that one has a concerted opinion. From the multitude of opinions coming together one forms a concerted judgment on what should be done, but it is now proposed that a bureaucracy should make the judgments or express the opinions.
– No, the recommendations.
– We have heard that before. We have heard that the Coombs report contains only recommendations. If the Government wants to shelter behind the Commission it will seek to defend its actions by saying that this is merely the advice of some expert body. It is frightening to think that this Commission will be used as a device behind which a cowardly government can hide when it seeks to withdraw assistance from a particular industry. However this position is not simple. When there is a bureaucratic body of enormous prestige with enormous authority conferred upon it by the Government, it is very hard for a vested interest or a minority interest to change the decisions of that body because such interests are abused and accused of merely opposing the point of view because they are looking after their own interests.
Politics is concerned with groups within the community. When such groups feel they are being ill-treated or unfairly treated they are able to make representations to members of the Parliament to try to have the situation changed. I have seen numbers of Tariff Board reports and recommendations presented to the Parliament. If the slightest interference is proposed to any industry charges are made by the Press and others that there is bias and that some favouritism is being conferred deliberately on a particular section of industry. If there is an organisation twice or even many times the size of the present Tariff Board I would challenge any member of the Parliament or any political party to refuse the advice of that body. If they do so it will be alleged that they are ridiculing the organisation and they will be accused by the Australian public of not accepting the advice of the body that has been set up.
– You were criticising us last week for not taking advice; now you say we must take it.
– You have been a complete failure once, do not be a complete failure a second time. You laugh now like an idiot.
– You would make anyone laugh.
– I suggest that the Leader of the Country Party withdraw that remark.
– I withraw it, but he deserved it because of his interjection. This measure, in which wide terms of reference are being given to the Commission, virtually enables an enormous body to be set up. If this Commission is to make more than an economic judgment, it must have a special section to look at the environmental factors. If it is to have a special section to look at the effects on consumers, if it is to have a special section to look at the employment situation or if it is to have whatever section it wishes for whatever particular function it wishes, it will be an enormous body. If this body is to be able to look at service industries, such as transport industries or whatever, there is no saying how great it will be.
It is quite obvious that the Commission will be usurping the functions of many government departments. I do not believe that that is the method of governing for which the British parliamentary system stands. I believe the British parliamentary system means that a series of departments will be directly responsible to the Ministers, and the Ministers will be charged with the responsibility for seeing that certain points are put before the Government. A common point of view is put to the Cabinet which determines what the attitude will be. Now this new, great bureaucracy will collect together all the points of view not with any direct relationship to Ministers but only through the Prime Minister or his designated Minister. It appears that that designated Minister is not to have any direct involvement with sectional interests.
– God, you are scared of this.
– Well, I am scared of it because I believe in the proper functioning of government and I believe Labor members who at times-
– You are worried by the scrutiny of handouts.
– Order! I suggest that honourable gentlemen remain silent.
– The scrutiny is the last thing that concerns me. I believe that all legislation that comes before this Parliament needs to be scrutinised. It is an indictment of parties on either the Government side or the Opposition side if it is not scrutinised. It is an indictment of the Press if it does not look closely at legislation and expose its weak nesses. Ministers are not given their proper right of being able to express their points of view or the points of view of their ministries due to the provisions of this Bill. They will have to wait until this body formulates whatever policy or point of view it might have and makes recommendations to the Government, before they will be able to exercise a degree of influence in Cabinet. That would be possible only after the Commission had made public its report, with all the weight and the prestige of that body. It will be impossible for a government to buck it.
All I can say is that this Commission is placing around the necks of whoever is in government the greatest albatross that I can imagine. It will bring down governments. If there seems to be a direct challenge between the Government and this new Commission, if the government of the day cannot see that it will run into this trouble, let the very problems which the Government has created for itself remain on its shoulders. It is not only for the government of the day that a problem is being created, but also for every member of this Parliament. If any member offers a challenge he will be accused of being biased or sectional.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I will not delay the House. I will speak for only a moment. I just wish to take the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) to task on one point. He referred to the Coombs Committee report and said that it would be impossible for the Government to buck such reports. Only an infinitesimal number of the recommendations in that report were accepted. The other things were left aside. That illustrates the lack of understanding which the Leader of the Country Party has of this proposal. This proposal is aimed at having complete scrutiny over all assistance to industry in Australia, regardless of whether it is rural or secondary industry. The Country Party is afraid of the fact that there will be scrutiny over the handouts that it has made in the past.
The position of the Country Party members on the corner benches of this Parliament will be weakened because they will not be able to act as the tail wagging the dog, the Liberal Party, and to put up recommendations contrary to the best interests and the economic interests of the country. That is what is at issue, not the bureaucratic set-up. What members of the
Country Party are saying is that the Government should not receive good advice on a broad range of criteria.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was sepaking in the Committee stage on the Industries Assistance Commission Bill. I was referring to the suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country Party that this Commission denies to the Parliament the right to decision making that it had in the past. I was making the point that the reason for that suggestion - this is fundamentally the objection of the Country Party - is that the establishment of this Commission will rob that Party of its strength in its corner position of the Opposition Parties. When the LiberalCountry Party coalition was in government the Country Party was able to wag the tail of the Government dog, but that position will not be open to the Country Party if this Commission is to inquire into and report upon a range of industry matters, not limited to secondary industry only as was the Tariff Board but including also primary industry matters.
The Leader of the Country Party is opposed to any concept which allows public scrutiny and public assessment of funding from the Commonwealth to specific industries, particulraly primary industries. He is trying to preserve that right and to preserve his strength within the coalition by implying that this Commission is a bureaucracy being lumped on the people and that all the economic decision making will be in the hands of the Commission. In fact, the guidelines to which’ he is objecting are designed to provide the Commission with a formal reminder that it is, in itself, part of a general apparatus of economic management and that its decisions cannot be taken out of context with general economic considerations. It does not have responsibility for those economic considerations, it must only take account of them. That is the fundamental flaw in the argument of the Leader of the Country Party. He is saying that it is a bureaucracy which in fact will determine the economic policy of the Government. That is not a fact.
The Commission will be a machine set up to assess assistance to industry on the basis of commercial and economic criteria and its recommendations will be presented to the Parliament. The Government can act on those recommendations by agreeing to them, amending them or rejecting them. It may take advice from a whole range of industry people, industry groupings, from its own departments and from its own Ministers, and weigh that advice against the advice of the Commission. There is no basis in the Country Party’s objection to this organisation. Its objection fundamentally is that the setting up of this body will weaken the Country Party’s bargaining strength and the strength it derives from the fact that industries come to it seeking subsidies and have subsidies delivered to them. There was no adequate public scrutiny of the decision making processes to determine primary industry subsidies and other subsidies under the stewardship of the Country Party when it was in Government.
The Country Party is the only Party objecting to this Commission. The Liberal Party of Australia supports it, admittedly with amendments, but it supports it in principle. I believe that the Parliament should take no heed of the false and mock indignation of the Leader of the Country Party who insists that this is another extension of what he calls, in the jargonistic terms that he used, a socialist enterprise and another galloping bureaucracy. The Country Party is famous, as the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) said on one occasion, for capitalising its profits and socialising its losses. It never worries about government initiative or government interest in commercial activity when the government is subsidising losses or subsidising the people who support the Country Party. The only time it ever complains about government initiative in industry is, of course, when it is in terms of the holding back of some of the largesse that goes from this Parliament to a lot of different industries throughout Australia. The Government is supporting the setting up of this Australian Industries Assistance Commission. It flows from the report on the establisihment of an Australian Industries Assistance Commission which Sir John Crawford was commissioned by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to make in March. This Bill is constructed from that report. It is to see that adequate assistance goes to all industries in Australia and that there is not discrimination between the primary and secondary area or indeed between the small secondary manufacturing area and the large secondary interests with which the Australian Country Party has identified itself in the past.
That is the fundamental reason why this Labor Government is intent upon extending the Tariff Board, as we know it and as it has existed in the past, from the organisation it is today to this new Commission which will encompass, as I said before, not only secondary industry but primary industry as well. I suppose it is a bit of a knock to the Country Party to think that its decisions in the future will have to come under the scrutiny of this Commission and that its decisions and the reasons for those decisions and recommendations to the Government will be made public. It will not be so easy for it to disregard any of the opposition that is generally offered in counter to its proposals for assistance to the various industries that it assisted in the past. I support the Government in this Bill. I am opposed to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Country Party. His arguments are bunkum. They do not deserve support. They are advanced to prop up the sectional interests of what is the most outrageous agrarian pressure group this country has ever seen.
– I was hoping to speak to this Bill earlier in the day in the general debate but having been prevented from doing that I should like to say at least one or two words in relation to this particular clause of the Bill which we are discussing at the moment. I listened with some note to the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). He seems to be concerned that the Australian Country Party did certain things during its term of office, which was over 20 years. I remind him that those things could not have been too bad because of the very fact that the situation in our current account in Australia today is better than it has ever been in the history of this country. The decisions taken by the previous Government on a broad plane leads us to that conclusion. But in relation to the point of taking decisions, I would regret the day we change our system of government which has been operating for many years - a system of government where the people of Australia elect representatives to this Parliament and from the Parliament is taken the government of the day which is responsible for the various departments to administer under the respective Ministers the general procedures of government from year to year. Setting up bodies such as this obviously takes away from that system the responsibility of making decisions in relation to these matters.
I should like to say a few words about one particular industry which is well known to a number of honourable members in this Parliament and in relation to which some amount of discussion took place over the last few years, lt is the largest industry in Australia, and that is the wool industry. This clause refers to how the Commission will go about its business. The Commission is being set up to take evidence, as I understand the Bill, in relation to any industry which is under its notice at a certain time. The question is: From where does it take its evidence? I think that this is fairly clear in some respects in the Bill. For instance in clause 22 (c) it is stated that the Commission will recognise the interest of consumers and consuming industries likely to be affected by measures proposed by the Commission. We must take into consideration at all times the consumers of Australia especially. But I am dealing now with an industry 95 per cent of the product of which is exported. So we are considering consumers overseas, but not to any great extent within Australia. The question I ask of the Government and of the Minister is: From where would it take the evidence?
If this Commission operated in the wool industry - no doubt it will; the Government is not moving in . that area at the moment, although it stated that it would - from where would it take its evidence? In relation to clause 22 (c), would it take its evidence from the overseas textile industry? Representatives from those industries were here some 2 years ago when wool was 30c per lb. They indicated around this place and to Australia in general that the price of wool should not go beyond that point. They said that wool could not stand any further increase in price and that the wool industry was in fact finished. This is what was said by the big textile groups. If the Commission took its evidence from that quarter the evidence would be grossly wrong. If the Commission took its evidence from the opposing factors, the other textile industries, that also would be wrong. The Government of the day has been talking about the multi millions of the overseas interests.
– Ad nauseam.
– As my friend the honourable member for Calare says, ad nauseam. That evidence would be wrong. Those groups were saying throughout the world that wool was finished. If the evidence were taken from the economists and the various universities around Australia that also would be wrong.
MrDuthie - Whose evidence would have been right?
– That is the point I will come to in a moment. If the evidence were taken from the Press - this point can be brought to the surface - and from the comments made by those who write to the Press about these things, that evidence also would have been wrong. Even the ‘Financial Review’, which is supposed to know about the economics of this country, stated on one occasion that it was time the wool growers of this country woke up to the fact that the wool industry was finished. That is what honourable members would find if they searched through some of the leading articles in that journal. That evidence would have been wrong. The evidence that was accepted came from the members of this Parliament who were elected by the Australian people. They were the people who weighed up the situation and fought to have money made available to back that industry. The industry, was not given handouts, in the main, as was suggested by the Press but interest bearing money was made available by the Government and by the banks, and it was all paid back by the industry. Honourable members who were here at that time can remember the pressures that were brought to bear in relation to that matter. However I have no doubt whatsoever that if the evidence I mentioned had been presented in open court, as suggested, and a recommendation made on the basis of it a negative report would have been presented to us.
As we are looking to the future of this industry, I contend that if its case is submitted to an organisation such as is proposed in this Bill there can be nothing but a damaging effect upon it. On the one hand, if the Commission were to say that the industry was not in need of protection, that would be the end of the legislation we have at the moment and it would be the end of any future legislation. On the other hand if the Commission recommended that the industry be backed to the extent of $100m in order to save it - that was about the figure involved previously - to buy in wool when pressure was applied by the overseas people I mentioned previously - that would also be doing the greatest disservice that could be done to the industry, because if the Labor Party knows all about the big pressure groups from overseas it should realise that a decision having been made that a certain amount of money be used to back the industry the over seas interests could adopt the tactic - they do this, of course - of taking that $1 00m out by reducing bids on the floor, reducing bids for the offerings made until such time as that $100m was spent. Then, of course, they would have an open market.
This is the situation at which I beg the Government to look, because if it adopts methods of that kind it will ruin an industry. The only way in which a successful situation can be established in relation to the wool industry is for the government of the day to negotiate with the industry and the Australian Wool Corporation, as we know it at the moment, to see that those things which happened a few years ago do not happen again. Until decisions in relation to the wool industry can be made from within the Government and not from outside it, until these decisions are based on the evidence which is available to those who know what is going on and who wish to look at the evidence, until the sort of operation that we are talking about tonight under this clause of the Bill is put into effect, and until the evidence and the recommendations that we have put forward tonight are taken into consideration, as I would expect them to be, it will mean the end of any assistance to the wool industry.
Motion (by Mr Daly) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to resume his seat. He is not entitled in Committee to raise matters relating to the second reading stage. For the information of the right honourable gentleman I point out that the second reading stage concluded when no one rose to speak.
That the sub-clause proposed to be omitted (Mr Sinclair’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . . . 67
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Declaration of Urgency
– I declare the Industries Assistance Commission Bill an urgent Bill.
– Order! The question is that the Bill be considered an urgent Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr G. G. D. Scholes)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time
– I move:
That the time allotted for the Committee stage of the Bill be until 9.15 this day.
The debate on this Bill has now been proceeding for 6 hours 41 minutes. There were 4 hours 48 minutes on the second reading debate and there has been 1 hour 53 minutes in the Committee stage. Earlier today we especially extended the speaking time on the second reading to meet the convenience of members of the Australian Country Party and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). We purposely extended the time on the understanding that a reasonable time would be taken in Committee and that honourable members opposite would finish the debate on this measure by about 8.30 tonight. Those arrangements were not honoured. But, mind you, this was not as a result of any action by the Liberal Party; it was because the Country Party refused to let the majority party on the Opposition side dictate what the Opposition would do. The situation is that all day honourable members opposite have been seeking to hide their differences on this Bill. It was only a few moments ago when I goaded them that they crossed the floor and voted in the way they had indicated in their speeches.
This Bill is being declared an urgent measure because the Country Party has fought to let the people know that it is opposed to it, but members of that Party did not have the guts to vote against it, except on one minor amendments a few moments ago. We are forced to make this an urgent measure because the Country Party is seeking to frustrate the business of the Parliament, trying to give the phoney impression that it is fighting this measure. I excuse members of the Liberal Party. They are casting one of their most intelligent votes on this matter. The Liberals are voting with the Government.
– Mr Chairman-
– I wish to move-
– I wish to move: That the question be now put.
– I call the Leader of the House.
– Mr Chairman, honourable members can see-
– I raise a point of order. I have moved: That the question be now put.
– There is no question before the Chair at the moment; therefore the motion ‘That the question be now put’ cannot be moved.
– All right. I will move it at the appropriate time.
– It will be seen that the honourable member, after about 30 years in the Parliament, does not even know the Standing Orders - and he is one of the brighter members of the Country Party. The reason this measure has been declared urgent is, as I said, that the Country Party has refused to honour agreements made in respect of this legislation. Its members know that on this occasion they are not being as intelligent as their Liberal counterparts and are not voting on this measure as they should be voting.
– Not as honest.
– They are not as honest as they should be on this matter. The situation is that we have no alternative to declaring this Bill an urgent measure. Nobody regrets more than I do the necessity for action of this kind. Nobody regrets like I do the curtailment of debate. I like to have a few words myself occasionally. Consequently I know the agony I inflict upon others when debate is curtailed in any way. But what can you do when it is forced on you by people who irresponsibly discard all the traditions of Parliament and try to frustrate the passing of legislation? They say at the college that this should not be done and all this kind of thing. A former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said: ‘If an Opposition is silly enough it can force you to use the gag and guillotine from time to time.’ I ask honourable members opposite to take his words to heart because they are being silly and forcing the curtailment of debate. Tomorrow honourable members opposite will want to -debate a censure motion all day. Tonight they want to hold up the business of the House on an issue in which on one clause only out of 45 clauses have they been game enough to show their colours in this Parliament by crossing the floor. I am sorry I cannot give an opportunity to the Liberals to spend most of the night on this Bill. I know that the Country Party will not be game again to divide the Parliament. On this occasion, in order to get this important and far reaching legislation through, we have no alternative to taking action to stop the Country Party from endeavouring to run this Parliament from a rough corner in the Parliament, irrespective of the wishes of the majority. Ninety honourable members out of 125 want this legislation. Honourable members can see that the blood pressure of the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson) is up; he is roused. He missed out on making a speech the other night, but he will not miss out tonight. I suggest to honourable members opposite that they should not waste time on this debate. Let us decide this question now without a vote and without any further discussion. Let us get on with the debate on the remaining clauses in this legislation. It is an important measure.
– I want briefly to reply to the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) who in a nonsensical and irrational manner has decided to curtail debate on the balance of the Committee stage of this Bill. In a completely stupid fashion he has tried to suggest that there are between honourable members on this side of the House differences which we were not prepared to delineate at an early stage. In fact, we would have divided on the second reading stage but there was a premature closure of the debate and for that reason a division was not called. We called for a division on clause 22 because we see that as a very urgent and important part of the changes that the Government seeks to make. We believe that provisions in clause 22 demonstrate the area within which this Labor Government is prepared to pass up its responsibility. For that reason we called for a division on it. We believe that it is necessary for argument to take place on the Bill rather than on the facade around the Bill. The presentation that the Leader of the House has put up does little credit to him and no credit at all to this place. We do not regard this as an urgent Bill; we regard it as an important economic measure and not one to be rushed through in a hasty fashion.
– I want to make it quite plain that the negotiations that go on between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House bears no relation to the speaker’s list that is handed from one Whip’s office to the other. On this occasion the Government Whip’s office took off the tail end of the speakers’ list as handed in by me to that office. For that reason I, who was the next speaker on this side, did not rise. I want to make quite clear that if I had spoken obviously the debate would have been gagged. I want to make that plain out of deference to my friends on the same side in the Opposition.
– I rise on this occasion to ask the 2 Opposition parties to clarify their position. I found it a bit extraordinary when it was suggested that there was no division of opinion first of all, and secondly -
Motion (by Mr Ian Robinson) agreed to.
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 22 agreed to.
The Minister shall not take any action in respect of any of the matters specified in sub-section (4), being action that is related to the provision of assistance to a particular primary or secondary industry but not being action that is necessary in order to implement the policy of the Australian Government -
The matters referred to in sub-section (3) are -
For the purposes of paragraph (4) (g), any period for which financial assistance has been provided to an industry and which occurred not less than six years before the commencement of the further period referred to in that paragraph shall be disregarded.
– I ask that the remaining clauses be taken together and that the remaining amendments circulated in Mr Anthony’s name be incorporated in Hansard.
– There being no objection, leave is granted for the remaining clauses to be taken together and for the remaining amendments to be incorporated in Hansard. (The amendments read as follows) -
– Order! We have taken the remainder of the Bill. I take it that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party is moving one of his amendments to the clauses. He has asked that the amendments be incorporated in Hansard.
– I wish to move all the amendments circulated in my name.
– I am afraid that cannot be done. The honourable member would have to get leave to do that and on a previous occasion it was ruled that leave could not be granted to incorporate all of the amendments.
– They have been incorporated in Hansard and I am speaking to the substance of each of the amendments. I would have moved each of these amendments had there been time. In another place I would hope that my colleagues would do just that. I see each one of the amendments as being necessary to improve the substance of the Bill to provide for government an assurance that it should continue to govern and I see the specifics to which I am just referring, requiring that reports be tabled and that other clauses be excluded, as a necessary way in which this Commission should be permitted to operate if it is to operate at all. The final amendment to clause 45 was to omit the words ‘that may include recommendations for changes in the nature or extent of the assistance provided by the Australian Government to industries generally’. This is to ensure that in the annual report of the Industries Assistance Commission the actual text of the report covers specifics and not generalities. Again it is based on the premise that we believe that the Commission should not deny government the right to govern. In view of the guillotine I do not intend to take the time of the House by speaking further. Had time permitted I would have spoken to each of my amendments in detail. I believe they all are essential if the Bill is not to deny government its future efficacy and if a large bureaucratic organisation is not to deny the people of Australia a proper chance for the consideration of policy measures upon which the Government is itself elected.
– I want to make one observation upon the amendments which have been moved this evening. The whole of the submission by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) has been based, it seems to me. on the fact that there was going to be some continuation of the secrecy of the past. But 1 would point out to the Committee at this stage that under this legislation the whole of the decision making will be in public. The whole of the processes will be known and understood by not only those industries that are applicants but by everyone associated with them and the Australian taxpayer who in fact meets the Bill. As we pointed out before, tariffs are taxes. This process gives an opportunity to all concerned to scrutinise the decision making processes. The whole of the amendments are designed to suggest that there will be a continuation of past secrecies. The whole purpose of the legislation is that there will be decisions made under public scrutiny - the Australian taxpayers’ scrutiny. For the first time al] of the processes that in fact lead to what are imposts of taxation in the guise of tariffs will be scrutinised.
I think this should be clearly understood. This is one reason why the Australian Farmers Federation, the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association, the Victorian Farmers Union and all of these grass roots bodies in the community support the legislation which is presently before the Parliament and which incidentally is supported by the overwhelming majority of the members of the Parliament. The point I am making is that the amendments are nothing more or less than a smokescreen designed to give an impression in the countryside and the nation as a whole that there will be something not quite open about the proceedings of this body. Surely the whole of the thrust of this piece of legislation is that secrecy and back door methods are at an end for the first time in the nation of Australia. We should all be unanimous about that. I for one am deeply disappointed that a small section of the Parliament should opt to return to the sins of omission and commission of the past when in fact everybody that those people have been associated with over the whole of the last generation have wanted this reform and this legislation.
– I seek leave of the Committee to incorporate in Hansard the remaining amendments which stand in my name.
– There being no objection, leave is granted for the remaining amendments to be incorporated in Hansard. (The amendments read as follows) -
I indicate that the Government accepts those amendments circulated in the name of the honourable member for Berowra, which are amendments Nos 8 and 9 relating to clause 23. I also formally refer to the Government’s proposed amendment, relating to clause 23 (5), which simply aims at tidying up one aspect that can be tidied up and improved. So that vetting of rural industries by the Commission can be phased in during the transitional period, we seek to insert after the word ‘paragraph’ the words ‘or occurred before the commencement of this Act’.
– What is the amendment proposed by the Government?
– I am referrering to the Government’s proposed amendment to clause 23 (5).
– Order! The Minister is indicating that he accepts certain amendments but those amendments cannot come before the Chair unless they are moved by the honourable member for Berowra.
– He has not done that. I appreciate that point. His difficulty, and I imagine our difficulty also, is the time limit that was imposed on us all. I must say that the probability is that all this will be resolved in the Senate. That must happen in any event, given the nature of this Bill. I might indicate the Government’s attitude to some of the proposed amendments just for the record. I refer to the amendments moved by the honourable member for Berowra on behalf of the Liberal Party.
– What makes it urgent?
– It is urgent because the people of Australia need it.
– That is why we have to wait until it gets to the Senate before changing it.
– Well, the other amendment standing in the name of the honourable member for Berowra is amendment No. 11 which refers to clause 24. The honourable member for Berowra seeks to substitute the words ‘ten years’ for ‘six years’. The Government cannot accept that amendment.
– That is amendment No. 8.
– No. It is No. 11 and it refers to clause 24.
– It is No. 8.
– No, it is No. 11. lt may be convenient for the record if ‘I refer to all the proposed amendments by numbers because time is running out. The Government cannot accept amendments Nos 12 and 13.
– I am sorry, but we are not working on the same basis.
– If the honourable member for Berowra adds up all the amendments he will find that he comes to the number I refer to.
– Do you mean the totality of amendments?
– Have you numbered down this list?
– Yes, all the amendments that are being moved as you go down the list. I am referring to the proposed amendment to clause 24 standing in the name of the honourable member for Berowra as amendment No. 1 1. The Government cannot accept amendment No. 12 which also relates to clause 24. It cannot accept amendment No. 13 relating to clause 24. It cannot accept No. 14 relating to clause 24 and it cannot accept the amendment relating to the proposed new clause, clause 24a. The Government cannot accept amendments Nos 17 and 18. Proposed amendments Nos 19, 20, 21 and 22 were circulated by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). I have indicated already that in the Government’s view the amendments circulated by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party are nothing more than a device, a sham, aimed at restricting and hamstringing.
– Even that relating to the tabling of reports?
– That will happen. By and large, by the very actions of the Deputy Leader of the Country Party - and he knows this - he has proved what I said over and over again. All that the Country Party wants to do in relation to this Bill is delay it and frustrate the Government because this measure will open the lid on the hidden subsidies, the secret bounties, which for so long the Country Party has indulged in in this country to the detriment of Australians generally. The scandal, if I may call it that-
– Order! The time allotted for the Committee stage of the Bill has expired. I put the question:
That the remainder of the Bill be agreed to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment circulated by the Government agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave–adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Enderby) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 27 September (vide page 1635), on motion by Mr Whitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Enderby) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 17 October (vide page 2299).
– I suggest that further consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Education be postponed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Is the suggestion of the Minister agreed to? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Department of the Environment and Conservation
Proposed expenditure, $1,729,000.
– The small percentage of national revenue allocated to the Department of the Environment and Conservation by this the first Labor Budget in 24 years indicates that these two important facets of modern living are treated just as nice sounding rhetoric and not as matters of fact. It is a rather remarkable occurrence to observe not the few items included in the estimates for the Department but the items and procedures that have not even been mentioned. The miserly allocations are needling the public, and they prove that the powers that control the Labor Party are not digesting the lessons of political life. Within the framework of these estimates some elucidation is necessary on subdivision 4.01 which relates to grants-in-aid for the Australian Conservation Foundation and subdivision 3.02 which deals with water resources research.
One often reads of the conservation problems in the coastal areas, and one often reads about Lake Peddar, but one does not observe even passing reference to the most insidious of all rape of natural resources - soil erosion. In Queensland 3.6 million acres of cultivatable land need low cost preventive treatment against soil erosion and 2.7 million acres need intensive treatment. Of the 3.6 million acres, 550,000 acres have been protected, while 800,000 acres of the 2.7 million acres have received at best partial treatment only. Early action will prevent the problem from becoming greater and more expensive to control in the long term. Any proposal to minimise erosion damage must contain measures which allow for an in-depth analysis before new land is ploughed for cultivation purposes. It is much better that land be not brought into cultivation if the contour and soil structure is such that it is likely to be eroded, with the resultant silt polluting the stream and creek beds, damaging roads and fences and generally aggravating the inconvenience which such erosion causes to all.
The Queensland Government deserves the praise of all conservationists for showing initiative in relation to soil erosion control. It has declared 5 shires - Allora, Clifton, Pittsworth, Cambooya and Jondaryan - areas of soil erosion hazard, and statutory controls will be placed on shire councils and land holders. There are sound agronomic and conservation arguments for these controls as it has been reliably estimated that 10 million tons of top soil are washed away each year. The State Government is offering a subsidy of $1,000 on a dollar for dollar basis for contour bank construction and/ or for the purchase of stubble mulch machinery. The Government realises that there is an urgent need to protect a large area of arable land and that progress in the introduction of protective measures has fallen well short of what is required. Unlike the big city oriented Labor Government, it realises that droughts and natural disasters, combined with rapidly rising costs and low prices, have not allowed farmers in recent years to spend capital on these various essential conservation measures. Additionally, following the budgetary decisions, there will now be a major deterrent to future progress in these measures because of the loss of tax deductibility concessions in the year of construction on all expenditure for this purpose. The cost of construction of this kind will now be spread over 10 years for tax concession purposes.
– -I hesitate to interrupt the honourable member, but I rise on a point of order. I seek your guidance under the Standing Orders, Mr Deputy Chairman. Is it right and proper for the honourable member for Mackellar to listen to the debate giving the appearance of being asleep?
The DEPUTY (CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! That is not a point of order, that is a fact.
– Following the statutory proposals as outlined by the Queensland Government, land holders involved will face compulsory expenditure which in many cases will strain their financial resources. The loss of the tax deductibility concession in the year of expenditure will be magnified and could result in the entire scheme of conservation being jeopardised. This is why I cast grave doubts on the Government’s sincerity in the matter of conservation. Its actions indicate that it merely mouths meaningless platitudes in this regard. Where is the matching Commonwealth contribution in this very essential conservation proposal? I appeal to the Government to match the State subsidy and help the farmers to combat and control this menace. We are dealing with our soil, our national heritage - a heritage from which real wealth emanates. The Labor Government by its contemptuous dismissal of the depth of the problem, seeks to ignore it. Not only are personal problems encountered but also local authorities are involved.
The Bjelke-Petersen inspired Government of Queensland has granted help in the form of a 25 per cent subsidy for road cross-drainage and structures required to link up the water disposal systems, thus providing a continuity of water disposal from the top of the catchment area to the eventual main watercourse, be it creek or river. I have been informed that Queensland has applied also for a matching subsidy from the Commonwealth to alleviate the financial burden on local authorities which, like the landholders, will be compelled under statutory controls and authority to carry out certain work. I have also been informed that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, under the direction of the Minister, is conducting an in-depth analysis of this proposal which will probably be finished next March. In this Estimates debate I ask the Minister whether there is any prospect of hurrying up this in-depth analysis because the people of Queensland and the people of the areas involved are concerned with the vein-like erosion of their top class arable land. They are concerned that this present Government does not appear to be appreciative of the great problems that are confronting the area and that the Government does not appear to be concerned with the great problems that face the local authorities. We ask for a matching Commonwealth subsidy to the State governments-grant of 25 per cent subsidy for these very essential purposes.
The other point I want to deal with in this debate is the amount of money allocated in the water resources division. In a country such as ours, which is one of the driest in the world, any legislation which deals with water, water harvesting or measuring water resources is of significant importance. We are somewhat upset to find that the amount of money that is allocated under this proposal is the same as that allocated last year and takes no account whatsover even of the insidious rate of inflation which is now running at 14 per cent per annum. It is true to say that the farmers of this country have developed techniques of farming which maximise the rather moderate rainfalls on an irregular basis which their lands receive in comparison to the regular rainfalls of other continents. We have the best machinery in the world and we have the best farmers. It is a fact of life that in Australia we have fast flowing rivers in the eastern areas which discharge almost unlimited quantities of water into the ocean, water which often causes severe flood damage to homes, properties and businesses, and even loss of life. Rains would sweep across into inland areas if they were not blocked by the Great Dividing Range and the resultant water could benefit the dry inland areas. As a result of being blocked by the ranges these waters are not being harnessed for the maximum benefit of the Australian economy.
As long ago as the 1930s we had such eminent engineers as the late Dr Bradfield of Sydney Harbour Bridge fame advocating along with many others the diversion of these fast flowing coastal rivers into the inland river system so that water which is almost wasted would become the life blood of the drier areas. I speak not only of the farming areas - it is certainly not an insular approach that I take - but also of the water needs of the inland cities. Water is a precious commodity not only for irrigation purposes but also for serving the needs of urban people. Indeed, I submit that one of the most important aspects of decentralisation and of creating growth centres is the availability of adequate water to service these needs. Water in effect in inland Australia is liquid gold. The points that we on this side want to make in regard to the allocation of what seems to us a rather minute sum of money are, firstly, the intention to accelerate the survey of the measurement of the discharge of rivers and the possibility of inland diversion and, secondly, the investigation and measurement of underground water resources in such areas as Brookstead Basin in the Darling Downs division.
– It was rather amusing to hear the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh) talk of the niggardly appropriation for the Department of the Environment and Conservation because, Mr Deputy Chairman, you are no doubt aware that in 1972-73 the appropriation for the Department was $778,700, the actual expenditure was $760,215 and yet the appropriation for this year is $1,729,000. I think that the honourable member for Darling Downs should read the Appropriation Bill and perhaps reflect on the years of neglect of this field when there was simply the Office of the Environment and Conservation; it had not been brought up to the rank of a full department. I think that the honourable member would be generous enough to admit that the Department of the Environment and Conservation is going through a building-up period and is steadily defining the functions it will serve as far as Australia is concerned. I think we all welcome this massive increase of almost $lm in expenditure.
Having said that, I wish to refer to several matters which I think come within the scope of the Department of the Environment and Conservation. A number of honourable members will have received a brochure on what is called the Botany Bay project. They will note that this has been issued under the authority of the Australian Minister for Science (Mr
Morrison), the Australian Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), the Australian Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), and the New South Wales Minister for Environmental Control. According to the brochure the study is designed to examine the impacts of about two long lifetimes of human settlement on a wide range of typical Australian coastal environments and from this to predict the course which future impacts may take. It spells out in many ways what has already been done and the factors that are to be investigated. It is going to be rather important in the future that we should be clear on the functions of the Department of the Environment and Conservation because I note that the initial funding of this project was done through the Department of Science or through the Australian Minister for Science. We now have a committee of Ministers, State and Federal, in collaboration on the Botany Bay project. I hope that the Minister for the Environment and Conservation will sum up the present position of the Botany Bay project when he is making his closing remarks because it would seem that the results that will be obtained from that will have a great deal of application to many other areas in Australia.
In the Estimates for this Department there is also an allocation of $100,000 for the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service. Too often, of course, the questions of environment and conservation are overshadowed by the question of wildlife conservation, or the term might even be ‘preservation’. One welcomes the fact that the positive setting up of this Service has occurred because there is a need at the present time for us clearly to institute a national policy with regard to the provision of national parks and reserves to preserve or to ensure that all habitat types that we know of will be preserved. It is only through this sort of body that such a policy can be implemented. The National Parks and Wildlife Commission will be very restricted, of course, without the co-operation of the various State governments. One hopes that it will reach an eminence and an influence that will allow the preservation of these habitat types to an extent that has not occurred before. Once again the Commission must go along with the biological survey that has been conducted by the Department of Science. I hope that it will be used as an opportunity to bring about some central compilation and storage of information which is already available to scientists in this area.
Finally, the question of environmental pollution affects the electorates of honourable members in different ways. I represent a suburban area of Melbourne and probably the most important sources of environmental pollution there are either industrial pollution or pollution resulting from automobile emissions. I wonder when we are going to get down in the Australian context to a thoroughgoing examination of what we are to do about automobile emissions. As is known, for a number of years the Federal Government of the United States of America has concentrated quite firm legislation on this matter. However, it is having only varying degrees of success.
I refer to an article by Jacoby and Stein.bruner entitled ‘Salvaging the Federal Attempt to Control Auto Pollution’. From this we can perhaps learn some lessons. The article points out that in the United States at the moment 3 basic options have gained enough support to define effectively the context of the debate. The first option is to persevere in the established policy in the expectation that the critical technical parameters will eventually yield to a steadfast public will. The second alternative is to relax the emission standards, accepting levels of pollution higher than those envisaged in the legislation but preserving the conventional automobile engine and realising substantial cost savings in that way. The third is to adjust the policy to ensure serious preparation of an alternative engine technology. We read of a number of instances of improved engine technology. I wonder whether the Department of the Environment and Conservation is giving any attention to this aspect, because if we are to think of this third alternative it is quite obvious that we must have a look at what regulatory devices we put into the system. It may even be necessary at Australian Government level to provide incentives for these developments. Only in this way will the most important source of urban environmental pollution in any case be satisfactorily tackled.
The honourable member for Darling Downs mentioned water resources research. I have time to touch on this subject only in passing. There is considerable experience overseas that suggests that in many areas there is excessive expenditure on treatment plants, for treatment of water and of sewage, and that these are draining money away from the areas where pollution of the water supply is worse. I think there is a lesson that we can learn from these overseas experiences. I know that the Minister for the Environment and Conservation has indicated in another paper his interest in this matter of water supply, water resources research and water resources determination. I trust that we will see in the next Appropriation Bill a large increase in the amount devoted to water resources. This is one of the problems that is predominant in Australia because of the relatively dry environment and the arid nature of a lot of the area. I will close with those remarks. There are many other environmental matters on which I would like to speak. I think that the Department of the Environment and Conservation has got off to a very good start in this year.
– I will certainly not endeavour to attack the Government on the estimates for the Department of the Environment and Conservation. I think the Committee would agree with me that the amount of money allocated is pitifully small. But I would say also in all fairness that it is greater than it has been in the past. I think the Commonwealth Government has perhaps got off to a rather late start in regard to this important matter of conservation. Although it was the previous Government that started to have some Commonwealth conscience in this matter, the present Government has at any rate taken up that initiative and is expanding it. I am not here to attack the Government or even to defend past governments. We are all a little guilty here. In the past this matter has been considered - wrongly, I think - to be peculiarly a State province. Some of the States have done a lot in this regard; we should not ignore what they have done. I hope that I will not be considered parochial if I speak particularly of New South Wales and the great efforts that have been made in that State, particularly in regard to national parks. I hope that they will be further extended.
I want to speak simply about one facet of conservation. In so speaking I do not want to imply that there are not facets of comparable importance. It seems to me that we should be sponsoring in the eastern States of Australia a project to preserve our heritage in the Great Dividing Range. That is the range that starts in the north in Cape York and runs down, ending in the Grampians in Victoria. It is probably the most important physical feature of our continent and, although it has to some extent been despoiled, it still has a tremendous amount of its original attraction. I do noi know whether many honourable members are familiar with it in its diversity from the big timber in the far north, in parts of Cape York, or beyond in the unique wet lands at the tip of Cape York, down through the rugged ranges - they are rugged; they are not very high but they are rough by any world standards - behind Brisbane, behind Sydney, through Canberra and down behind Melbourne.
The great point about this range surely is to preserve the remaining timber. I am not suggesting that it should all be forest but I do suggest that the most important single measure of conservation available to Australia is the preservation of the timber and the remaining rain forest in the range. I hope that it will be possible for us to have on an Australian scale an authority to look after the range, perhaps with local chapters but certainly utilising the machinery of the State. Of course, it is in the States that the authority over lands particularly resides. In this immense area there are bits that should remain as farmland, as they are now. Diversity has a great attraction, but let us above everything try to preserve the remaining timber and the remaining bushlands. Exploitation of these resources is not so important, I believe, as their preservation for posterity.
Of course, I am not suggesting for one moment that we should shut up the Australian timber industry. I would try to preserve some sense of proportion here. There are some areas which can be with advantage cut through properly and there are areas, much more significant, which could be afforested or re-afforested and used as commercial timber sources on a rotating basis in perpetuity. But the forests that remain, particularly in those strategic positions, must be preserved. At the present time I do not think they are being entirely preserved.
The most important parts of the range, of course, are those which are reasonably accessible to our centres of population. Again may I be pardoned for being parochial and speaking of the mountains that lie behind Sydney - that is, perhaps 100 miles north and South of Sydney. These are still to a great extent wild territories and they should remain so. I would hope that a tremendous area could still be dedicated either as a national park or as some kind of reservation. This would not be expensive. I speak particularly of the 2 million acres which lie to the north of the Colo River - a grand area very little known, and perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps it has been preserved because it is little known. A great deal of it is still Crown land and the protection of the remainder would cost peanuts compared with what we are thinking of spending on other projects in less significant and populous areas.
A magnificent area is available here and now. I am speaking of the mountains that lie in what I think Cunningham named the King’s Range that go out from Coricudgy and Mellongelly and those mountains that come down the Great Dividing Range to the Hunter Valley. As I say, there is an area of 2 million acres of the grandest country near Sydney, not to be developed, I believe, in any intensive way but to be reserved, to be made moderately accessible, not perhaps to vehicles except insofar as vehicles could be used to allow people to go in on horse and on foot. Round Sydney - and again I do not want to be parochial, but I speak of Sydney because that is the country I know best - surely there is more opportunity for developing the use of the horse and to preserve, not necessarily in that mountain country but perhaps in some of the more open country, large areas where the horse can be the normal method of sport and recreation. We are forgetting the horse in Australia. It is funny that this should be so because Australia is one of the countries which made its progress in the back of the horse.
I know that conservation is far wider than the thing of which I have spoken, but I put up a concrete plan that we should have some kind of authority based partly on State law coordinated with Federal law, with Federal funds available to it, with local chapters to look after their own sectors, to preserve the Great Dividing Range and particularly the timber of the Dividing Range from Cape York down to the Grampians, with special reference to the area-; behind our main cities.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Among the matters covered by the estimates being discussed at the moment in this Parliament the development of a national water resources program will be particularly welcome to Australians wherever they live. It will be welcome to those who live in the rural areas of Australia and the outback areas of Australia, where water historically has been so scarce a commodity. It will be welcome to those who live in the State capitals of this country where it has been realised for the first time in recent years that the supplies of water available are not unlimited. We are faced for the first time in this country with the prospect faced already in other countries of using waste water for drinking and other domestic purposes. The World Health Organisation issued a warning in 1971 which I should draw to the attention of the Committee. It said:
When a choice has to be made between alternative sources, the quality of the raw water (and hence the extent of the treatment required) as well as the adequacy and reliability of the sources, from a quantitative point of view, together with the potentialities for expansion in the future, must be considered. The choice of a source requiring a minimum amount of treatment must always be regarded as preferable to the installation of sophisticated purification plant.
One of the ways in which this problem of the sources of water that we should prefer for drinking purposes has come to the fore is through the decision of the Victorian Government to proceed with the construction of the Yarra Brae Dam and associated facilities on Sugar Loaf Creek and Watsons Creek. This was a decision reached not on the recommendation of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, which is primarily responsible for Melbourne’s water supply, but as a result of representations made by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Victoria. Indeed, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works has strongly opposed the proposal. In evidence he gave in 1966 its engineer pointed out that water from this scheme involved chlorinated supplies to some of the metropolitan consumers, ‘to which there would be considerable public opposition while alternative sources of safe unchlorinated supply are available’. He pointed out that ‘the high iron content would be a disadvantage to various industries unless special treatment were carried out to reduce the iron, and a large proportion ot the industries in the area would have to be supplied from such a scheme’. That evidence given in 1966 continues to reflect the view of the Board. The present Premier of Victoria, as Minister for Local Government, was obliged to admit in 1971 that the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works had not sought the Yarra Brae proposal and ‘was, and is, opposed to it*. He said that it would require a complete reversal of the M & MBW’S traditional policy of drawing water only from closed and uncontaminated catchments.
Since this proposal was first floated in the early 1960s, and since the chief engineer of the M & MBW gave his views on it we have learnt a good deal more about the problems associated with the re-use of waste water for drinking purposes. It has become clear that even the most sophisticated systems of water purification will not deal with all the impurities found in waste water. We know that diseases such as hepatitis are transmitted through water supply, and there have been instances in which hepatitis bacteria passed through even the most sophisticated system of water purification, including chlorination. We know that the purification process does not remove completely the very complicated organic chemicals used in detergents and pesticides, either in their original chemical forms or in the forms into which they break down in water.
If the Victorian Government and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works have carried out analyses of Yarra River water for these refractory organics, they have not pub,lished the results. They have not taken the public into their confidence. Indeed there has been a lack of frankness with the public over this whole question of the impurities of the water proposed for storage and treatment in the Yarra Brae scheme. The World Health Organisation lays down an E. coli count limit of 10 parts per 100 millimetres and the count for Yarra Brae waters published in the 1967 report of the Victorian Public Works Committee was up to 10,000 parts per 100 millilitres. A report, which so far has been kept secret by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, reveals that between 1968 and January of this year the count was up to 35,000 parts per 100 millilitres. Of the samples of Yarra Brae water tested for turbidity 98.3 per cent exceeded the World Health Organisation’s highest desirable level and 54 per cent exceeded that Organisation’s maximum permissible level. Of the samples of water from Yarra Brae tested for colour 100 per cent exceeded the highest desirable level and 65 per cent exceeded the maximum permissible level. These figures mean that feeding Yarra Brae water into Melbourne’s water supply will involve a costly purification process of coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, rapid sand filtration and disinfection.
The Board itself admits that this will be the first complete treatment of water for the metropolitan system and that therefore experience is not available. However, it proposes to proceed immediately with construction of a processing plant from which 10 million gallons a day will be discharged into the Maroondah aqueduct. By the end of 1977 the Board will have installed a 50-million gallon a day treatment plant which will have been built, in the Board’s own -words, after a minimal amount of experience in handling Yarra River water. This hurried approach to the provision of additional water for Melbourne’s water supply involves treating the people of Melbourne not so much as consumers of water but as guinea pigs in a water purification experiment. The haste with which the business is being tackled seems to me to be most unwise. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works has shown that it is worried. It showed its concern in a recent report which emphasised that the Yarra Brae plant will involve the first complete treatment of water for the metropolitan system and, as such, will be constructed without the benefit of past experience. The report said:
The major reason against initially constructing a pilot plant is that insufficient time in available to-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of the Environment and Conservation I, like previous speakers, have no desire to attack the Government on this issue. An examination of the proposed expenditure of $1,729,000 this year as compared with the appropriation of $778,700 last year indicates that the Government is increasing its muscle in this field. I believe that more money, thought and action must be devoted to the conservation of our forests and our water resources and to protection of the environment which is most important from every point of view. Conservation, at its simplest, means the wise use of resources. The environment and, in particular, the countryside hold resources capable of many uses for agriculture and forestry, for water catchment purposes, for mineral workings, for settlement and, increasingly, for outdoor recreation. At the same time the rural environment is valued in a less tangible way for the culture and history of its community, for its wildlife, for the beauty of landscapes and, in some areas, for its remoteness. Environmental conservation is therefore concerned both with the quantity and quality of many different resources.
Conservation of land for agriculture, for forestry or for leisure alone may not be in the best interests of environmental conservation as a whole which aims to harmonise all resources with the minimum of conflict. For example, wildlife cannot be conserved simply by the establishment of nature reserves. It is against this complexity of rural land use that the advantage and disadvantage of leisure activity must be seen. Increasing urban development, which destroys the countryside, is associated with increasing leisure activity. The visual effects of and pollution from industry and towns in the country side and on the coast are often damaging to leisure interests while the characteristic pollutants of leisure - litter, noise and vehicle exhaust fumes - cause problems for other resource uses. There are also many conflicts between modern agriculture and forestry and leisure activity.
In 1971 it was my good fortune to accompany overseas a parliamentary delegation from the Federal Parliament. In our travels we were the guests in Great Britain of a pollution and environmental experimental station some miles Out. of London. There we were able to see at first hand the attack that has been made in Great Britain on pollution and methods of controlling pollution. I should like to see set up in Australia a similar experimental station on an Australian Government basis in complete co-operation with the States making every Tort to control this menace which is causing great concern in Australia. At the British experimental station we saw methods of breaking up oil slicks, a matter with which we arc daily concerned in Australia. In tonight’^ P:es’ under the heading ‘Reef birds - oil threat’ there is a report of a giant oil slick sweeping towards the Barrier Reef and menacing two of north Queensland’s biggest bird sanctuaries. We often see such reports relating to our sea coast, our rivers and our beaches. We must make every effort to stop this pollution which is causing considerable trouble. In Great Britain the Government has co-operated with the major oil companies, which provide ships, and ways and means have been devised by which oil slicks can quickly be broken up, thus alleviating the difficulties which follow from them.
Contamination of rivers is another problem. The emptying of waste into our valuable river systems has caused great concern. We often read about oysters in our rivers being destroyed by detergents and industrial wastes being poured into our river systems. It was an eye-opener in London to see the control that is exercised in respect of the Thames River. We saw children catching fish at the London Bridge - something which has not been seen in England for perhaps 100 years - simply because of the great control that has been exercised over the emptying of waste into this wonderful river. It is something that should be followed in Australia. We are a young country and we can profit from the experiences and problems of overseas countries. We also witnessed in England the treatment of sewage. While I have no desire to drink water that has passed through a treatment plant, an engineer in charge of one of the pollution and environmental stations was quite happy to drink the water that had passed through the London sewers and had been treated in the London system. This is another aspect that we must look at.
I was a keen surfer in my younger days and I was shocked to see the sewage pollution at lovely Bondi Beach and further down the coast while flying to Canberra today. It is a tragedy to see this raw sewage being emptied into the sea and polluting the finest beaches in the world. We as Australians should be ashamed to see this taking place. Let us hope that the State governments and the Government in Canberra co-operate to end this dreadful scene which members of Parliament can observe if their plane happens to fly over the sea near Sydney. This problem can be eradicated by putting some more muscle into pollution control and by giving the Minister for Environment and Conservation more finance to enable him to work in co-operation with the States so that this dreadful raw sewage is stopped from entering our coast and desecrating the lovely beaches about which I have spoken.
The electorate of Paterson covers 187 miles of the New England Highway. The pollution by diesel trucks on our main highways in this country is shameful. If one is driving a nice clean car and passes a diesel truck with faulty atomisation, at the next town the car is covered with carbon. This filthy pollution could be stopped if some control were placed on the users of the diesel vehicles to see that the atomisation is in first class order and is not belching raw fuel into the atmosphere, contaminating those who have the misfortune to be driving in the vicinity or to have contact with the fumes. I feel we should be making every effort to devise ways and means to ensure that the atomisation is in first class order and that the pollution is stopped. This has been achieved in Great Britain. Controls are placed on vehicles there. In the week when I was in London I did not see very much pollution coming from road vehicles but in Australia it seems to be allowed to go on.
The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) said that we should be looking at the methods which are being adopted overseas to find ways and means of combating these problems. The honourable member for McKellar (Mr Wentworth) said that pollution and environmental control has mainly been in the hands of the States. This is true but I feel that the Minister for Environment and Conservation will agree that we should be using our best endeavours to co-operate with the States to do whatever we can to improve our environment and to eliminate pollution.
– It is indeed an honour to follow the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe). One cannot help but think of Rip van Winkle when it seems that the honourable member has suddenly made a new discovery, that of air pollution. One wonders why, the honourable member coming from an area just north of an industrial city like Newcastle, on the occasions he must have passed through it he did not notice pollution before. It is strange that he did not raise the matter when he was a member of a party which was in office for so many years and which did nothing about the problem.
– When things are different they are not the same.
– Of course they are different. Recently in this House I referred to the 1972- 73 report of the Air Pollution Advisory Committee tabled in the New South Wales Parliament. Tonight while debating the estimates for the Department of Environment and Conservation I wish to say something about the effect of cities and urban development on the quality of the air. The report stated that the level of air pollution in New South Wales cities was too high and had not decreased as much as was desired. The report stated that the prime reason for the situation was the increasing population, with accompanying increases in cars, industrial activity and incineration. The major cities in New South Wales had average pollution levels exceeding those recently offered by the World Health Organisation as long term goals. To combat this the Committee has steadily increased the stringency of the action against polluters. Mention was made of prosecutions being recommended against 9 companies last year but I would be interested to know how many prosecutions were actually launched in New South Wales. I understand that there were none.
A very interesting report appeared in the United States ‘New and World Report’ of September 1973 which outlined the impact that cities, roads and buildings have on the degree of pollution and air quality. It showed that in the USA it has been found that cities are generally hotter than nearby rural regions, that it is not as windy in most cities, which means that air pollution is not dissipated as fast and heat tends to linger longer in the atmosphere. Urban air was found to have about 100 times more dust particles and 5 to 25 times as much foreign gaseous pollution as that in rural regions. Urban centres and small towns were described as heat islands that twisted the climate. The buildings were heat holders and the question was asked: What lies behind all this? For one thing, the first step man takes when building a town or city is to replace trees and grass with asphalt, concrete and brick. These building blocks wreak havoc on natural weather patterns.
Concrete and asphalt absorb heat like giant storage batteries by day and radiate the pentup warmth at night. On a summer day, surface temperatures of a asphalt parking lot will reach 115 degrees Farenheit. while the grass that surrounds the lot will register a maximum of 90 degrees. Even several hours after sunset there still will be found a difference of 14 degrees in temperature. Big buildings, as well as well as streets, store heat. Not only do these structures radiate shafts of hot air into the atmosphere, but also they break up wind currents on the ground. This leaves the urban centre with stagnant air to breathe and extreme turbulence, as aeroplane passengers can testify, in the nearby upper atmosphere. Studies show that cities experience higher temperatures, greater cloud cover and more pollution during the 5-day work week than on weekends. It rains, for example, 24 per cent more often Monday to Friday than on weekends. This week day - weekend weather difference is caused by the thousands of automobiles, air conditioners and industrial plants that heat and pollute city air only during the week. Dr Helmut E. Landsberg of the University of Maryland’s Institute of Fluid Dynamics and
Applied Mathemathics has been reported as saying:
Most spectacular among the effects of the city upon the atmosopheric environment are those caused by air pollution . . . This smoke pall affects an area SO times that of the built-up regions. And these values are probably conservative.
Dr Landsberg, who is described as one of the nation’s leading authorities on city induced weather, explains that this added heat load becomes particularly burdensome during natural hot spells and is reflected in higher mortality figures for city dwellers. The effect is probably hardest on persons in the higher age groups with impaired heart and circulatory functions.
The social impact also is that the people in the lower income groups in these inner urban areas who are subject to the poorer quality of air because of financial barriers are unable either to afford an air conditioner or to move from the area. Scientists and engineers have said that in construction of cities, for one thing, trees should never be chopped down when construction work begins. They have said that condensation and air currents created by trees in summer can turn the hottest street into a city oasis. Those are just a few of the points in the article. There is a very strong case for thought and planning to be given in the size, area and height of buildings within city areas and also the very important point that parking areas for motor vehicles in cities ought to be constructed underground rather than having asphalt plains, as we do in the cities. These areas absorb and maintain heat, unlike an area of grass and vegetation.
It has been interesting to note in the Press during the last few days a report stating Fumes at night are like a fog’, according to a Port Kembla resident; a report in the ‘Canberra Times’ stating that a Geelong company was fined $1,000 for polluting the air; and a report on the opening of a symposium on air quality by Professor Zelman Cowen who spoke of air pollution as an ‘abomination - a defeat of man by man himself.
There are 3 ways to develop proper and effective air pollution control: Firstly, there is the need to establish complete monitoring facilities to determine the status of the air; secondly, guidelines and action programs have to be developed; and thirdly comes the institution of an effective abatement program. No co-ordination on a national basis had been taken until this Government came into office: the previous Government did nothing about it.
It did nothing about air pollution control. This evening the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) informed the chamber of air pollution as his new discovery. The previous Government left it to the States and to local governments. However, because we have an international responsibility for the protection of the global atmosphere, the Australian Government has in its platform on environment a clause stating that it is the responsibility of the Australian Government to show leadership in co-ordinating measures designed to monitor the level of air pollution and to develop programs to protect the quality of air in Australia.
The Australian Government has offered to the United Nations Governing Council on Environmental Programs to provide within Australia a baseline monitoring station to measure the baseline levels of air pollution in the world’s atmosphere. This station will be one of 10 situated throughout the world. Its basic function will be to give us readings on the quality of the earth’s air at those places where the air is purest. We need these stations so that we will have a yardstick with which to measure how polluted the rest of the earth’s air is becoming, and particularly the air around our cities. Such measurements will include all those pollutants which are commonly measured, such as sulphur dioxide, sulphur trioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and dioxide, ozone, hydrocarbons and solid particles.
Having brought the subject of air pollution before this chamber on a number of occasions in recent months, and coming from a city where I have seen the benefits of the development of a properly controlled program of air pollution and the development of proper programs for abatement, I know what the results are and I know the benefits that can be derived. As recently as last week following my comment on the emissions from a ferroalloy plant I was very pleased to learn that in Newcastle the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd immediately made a public announcement that the plant concerned would cease operation on 30 June next year. To me that was a great victory for the cause of air pollution control in Australia because it was an acceptance by industry at the highest level and an acceptance by our largest Australian company that it has a responsibility to participate in the improvement of the quality of air within Australia.
The program that has been followed by BHP in other areas of its activities in the Newcastle region, in the development of antipollution control and particularly water pollution control, is something that ought to be looked at by other major manufacturers and other major companies within Australia. I hope that this Government will press on with its stated policy as soon as possible and as soon as the work load enables the progress that is needed to be carried out.
– We are at the present time debating the estimates relating to the Department of the Environment and Conservation. This is a wide-ranging topic and in the time available to each honourable member who wishes to speak upon these estimates there is, of course, not adequate space in which to deal with all those topics that are of interest. However, there are one or two matters upon which I would like to speak this evening. Firstly, I would like to take up the point made by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) a little earlier this evening. He spoke of his concern about the environmental effect - particularly with reference to water - on the development of a new reservoir in the State of Victoria. He drew to the attention of honourable members the disadvantage and possible risk attached to the re-use of water for domestic purposes. He read from a report which indicated that where possible water that does not need to be treated should be used for domestic purposes.
It is perhaps significant that tomorrow further steps will be taken with regard to the development of a complex at Albury-Wodonga. As a South Australian - becoming parochial for a moment - one wonders whether an adequate impact study has been undertaken to ensure that the River Murray system does not become a giant sewerage drain from a large community complex in its upper reaches. The ultimate consequences of the River becoming a sewerage drain would be that the people of the city of Adelaide, which has already a developed and sizeable population, would have to have their water treated to a far greater extent than is even now necessary. There has been little discussion, little reference to the significance on the effect on the River Murray water system, of locating a large urban area on an inland river system. It is perhaps significant to note that most of Australia’s population development has in fact taken place on our coastline and, even there, we have problems enough, as the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Morris) pointed out, in dealing with sewage, effluent and other forms of waste.
I draw to the attention of the chamber the great concern about the impairment of the River Murray system by the location upon it of further large urban development. I urge the Minister for the Environment and Conservation to act as the Government’s conscience and as the nation’s conscience to make sure that we do not develop urban areas out of political whims - building castles in the sky - and seek to place them at locations which seem attractive for political purposes. When analysed in the calmer atmosphere that should prevail in a department such as that headed by the Minister, we should, if we find there are risks of an environmental nature which cause us to question politically made decisions, be strong enough to be outspoken and to have those decisions changed.
In this debate many of the speakers have drawn attention to the significant - though I still suggest small - increase in the Australian Government’s financial allocation in respect of its concern and responsibility for the environment. I ask the questions: Where is the money for the buying of national parks? Where are the funds so that more historic buildings can be bought and preserved? Where is the money to enable the greater protection of our beautiful coastline? Where are the resources whereby governments - State, Australian or local - can be funded to enable them to buy other areas of environmental significance? Maybe the Department is gearing up. We would hope that if this process of gearing up did take place, in the next Budget there would be the signs of very large increases in the budgetary allocation to achieve some of the things which the Labor Government in its election promises led the people to believe would in fact be achieved.
I, like other honourable members and concerned people, am worried that very often in debates such as this we talk a lot about the environment and create the illusion that a great deal is being done when in fact little is being done and that which is being achieved is often being achieved in a crisis atmosphere; where large sums of money are needed to save something in respect of which the public conscience cries out that it should be saved. Then we find that the resources of the nation are spent in saving something which, if the public had been alerted previously, could have been saved at a fraction of the cost and the balance of the money used for saving that environmental resource could have been spent in preserving other significant assets.
It has been of concern to me that in answer to questions the Minister has indicated that little has been achieved in the way of consequences of environmental impact studies. I drew to his attention in a question on 18 September that the studies are undertaken only to preserve a rearguard action. He pointed out that he at that stage was disappointed in the results so far achieved. Later I placed on the notice paper a question seeking information about the number of impact studies that had been carried out: I asked:
How many environmental impact studies have been initiated by him or his Department on projects proposed or initiated by (a) the previous Government and (b) the present Government.
I was disappointed to read the answer that not one impact study had been initiated by him. He pointed out that it was the responsibility of the department or organisations putting forward the proposal to initiate the related environmental impact statement. I would have thought that it was the responsibility of his Department to initiate impact studies in areas to ensure that departments take appropriate action.
If we go back a little further and look at the Press statement of the Minister on 13 February this year we see that he announced the guidelines that would be used by his Department in requiring impact studies to be preserved. He said that these statements will now be required for all departmental projects within Australia which have significant environmental consequences where Australian Government funds are involved or where federal constitutional power is involved. One would have thought that Australian Government funds are required in a vast range of major national projects and indeed in a vast range of projects conducted by the States. He said that these statements will be required, yet in his recent answer to me he told me that none has been initiated by his Department. I urge upon him and his officers that their role should be that of an auditor or alternatively it should be a conscience role - a role whereby public attention is drawn to projects in their embryonic stage. Otherwise we will face the consequences of a government department - State or Federal - developing a project, having its own impact study, announcing it to the public and the first time the concerned public becomes aware of the project is when it is announced as a fait accompli. Then there would be a call for an independent inquiry. There would be inadequate time for it to be carried out.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– It is not my intention to weary the Committee. I gained an inspiration to say something on this very important question affecting the nation and particularly to advert to the Labor Party’s determination to challenge the erosion of the country as the result of polluting the environment. Public alarm throughout the nation to my mind in the last decade has reached an all-time high on the question of pollution and the interest in the natural environment. But in my view it needs to go a lot higher to truly awaken the Australian community as a whole as to the need to stir governments, both State and Federal, and the need to protect the natural environment for future generations. Already we have turned many rivers in Australia into shallow bedded creeks. This has undoubtedly been done by the lack of foresight or the selfishness of previous generations. The cutting down of trees and the reducing of rich grazing lands have also contributed. I will not refer personally to a certain party in the House but I think that honourable members concerned would agree that its forebears, due to lack of thought in cutting down trees and reducing grazing lands to sand dunes has contributed.
This has been said by very prominent Liberal men in the past. I can remember years ago as a very young man hearing the late Billy Hughes, a former wartime Prime Minister of Australia, putting great emphasis on the fact that grazing lands were being reduced to sand dunes as a result of overstocking, particularly with sheep and cattle, and the cutting down of trees. If we start again to analyse those very wise words of a man that was held in very great regard by the Australian people we stop and think. In the very rich Hunter Valley region on the Hunter River there are lift up bridges which have not been lifted for generations. The honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) no doubt would have liked to refer to it had time permitted. In the olden days when the river was easily navigable ships used to pass right up to the city of Maitland. Now that is impossible.
Why? Because the cutting down of trees and the blowing of the rich soils in dry seasons have reduced the Hunter River in many parts to virtually a creek.
I believe that the honourable member for Paterson would support me in that view. He probably is more conversant with how far up the Hunter River ships can navigate to bring out their cargoes. I believe that it is a pity that we never had a government, State or Federal, with the interest in conservation and preservation of the natural environment that my Government has shown in this very important subject. We know too that the Darling River also has been affected. I remember at one time I was at Collarenebri and there was a lift up bridge which some of the old timers told me had to be lifted for the steamers which travelled there.
– ‘They took wool from Walgett to Adelaide.
– The honourable member for Paterson says that they took wool from Walgett to Adelaide by water. What do we find today? Even conoeists have to pick up their canoes and carry them on their backs to get around some of the Darling because it is so shallow. Why? Because we have not protected the natural environment. The cutting down of trees and overgrazing have contributed. The fatness of people’s purses became more important to them than the preservation of the natural environment.
I believe that we have to arouse the Australian people. This Government intends to arouse them. The present Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) and the Whitlam Administration are taking the most positive determined steps by the creation of the very ministry which the distinguished Minister holds to arouse even more the Australian people’s need to support the Government and the Department which is determined to protect the natural environment. In my electorate of Hunter, of course, our greatest problem with the natural environment is coal dust from inferior coal that burns in chitter dumps for years and years once a fire is started by spontaneous combustion. Old disused mines heave out black damp and other gases into the community and old retired miners cannot forget that once they worked down in the bowels of the earth where they developed silicosis and bronchitis. They spend the twilight of their lives still breathing the refuse and poison gases from these burnt out mines. If it is not economical for the mining companies to curb or prevent this nuisance, 1 believe that our Minister for Environment and Conservation will sympathically consider subsidising steps to alleviate the worst of these nuisances. I would not ask him to eliminate all of them because that would be too big a task but perhaps he could subsidise the elimination of some of the poison gases that issue from old mines in our coal mining areas and from the burning chitter dumps.
We are told that Los Angeles is one of the worst polluted cities in the world as a result of the emission of carbon monoxide from motor vehicles. One could speak at great length on this subject, but it is not my intention to weary the Parliament. I am very proud of my Government, the Whitlam administration, for setting up a Ministry aimed at preservation of the environment and conservation. No government could have made a better choice of a man to head this Ministry than the present Minister. I believe that world indignation on this question was possibly brought about by that great American, Dr Linus Pauling, who pointed out in the first place the radioactive fall out from atomic bombs in the form of strontium 90. This awakened the minds of people and they went on to think about the destruction of the natural environment of man.
When I talk to some of the old time fishermen in Newcastle they tell me that when they were boys of 17 or 18 years they could go around the waters of Lake Macquarie and Myall Lakes and spear fish with a stick. Now crabs and prawns are frequently in short supply. This is attributed sometimes to over fishing and to pollution of natural waters by industry. I believe that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has shown great public co-operation. It is not my wont to bestow praise upon that company but I believe that it is trying to meet the public wishes and the wishes of government in reducing air pollution to a minimum. In conclusion I again congratulate my Government for the positive steps it has taken in regard to this important social question and I wholeheartedly and sincerely congratulate the Minister for Environment and Conservation on the task that he is undertaking on our behalf.
– Tonight the Committee is debating the estimates of the Department of the Environment and Conservation. It is most interesting to note that the total expenditure of the Department this year is estimated to be $1,729,000. A large part of that sum is for administration but that is to be expected seeing that a separate department has been set up to deal with this field. It is interesting to note that in subdivision 3, dealing with other services, the River Murray Commission is to receive $19,000 as a contribution towards expenses; $270,000 is to be spent on water resources research; and the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service is to receive $100,000. I applaud the Government for proposing this expenditure but more particularly for its grants in aid, set out in subdivision 4, which to me represent the function of a Federal government in this sphere. Under that subdivision $150,000 is for the Australian Conservation Foundation and $100,000 is for grants to other conservation organisations, and those provisions augur well for the future of this Department. An interesting item in this subdivision is the provision of $20,000 for the Keep Australia Beautiful Council. I understand that many industries subscribe to this organisation to assist in the campaign to keep Australia beautiful. Unfortunately members of the general public do not seem to be aware that they also can participate and do something to keep our country beautiful. We find that there is much litter around.
However tonight I particularly want to speak about the disposal of waste. As we all know, waste disposal is becoming an increasingly large problem to many city and shire councils. Apparently two or three different methods of waste disposal are being used. One is the land fill method; I think most of us are aware of it. But unfortunately today the cost of a hole is becoming far greater than the cost of actual land. In the near future the major cities will be faced with the immense problem of how to dispose of waste because they cannot buy holes in the ground. The Australian Government can provide immense assistance in this field. I know that the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) could not do so out of the amount that his Department has been allocated this year but obviously this point will arise again later.
In my view the Department of the Environment and Conservation ultimately will become a most important and integral part of our future. I believe that the Australian Government will be asked to provide assistance in the way of both money and expertise to help the major cities, and the towns and the cities in the country areas, to overcome this looming problem. In some States the land fill method is not of great significance because many vast waste areas are scattered around which could be used for this purpose. However in New South Wales and Victoria in particular, where the population is of greater density, the number of holes available for land fill is diminishing very smartly. As a result town and city councils are being forced to look at such processes as incineration.
It may be all right for the cities of Sydney and Melbourne to look at incineration methods on a large scale. Very sophisticated systems of incineration are required if they are to be successful in combating the problem of polluting the atmosphere as many incinerators do. However I understand that some very expensive incinerators can be purchased and used to burn the various wastes at a very intense heat &o that there is an absolute minimum of atmospheric pollution. In this way too I can see a future for this Australian Government in its role of protecting the environment and conservation in that the Department will provide the expertise and the funds to help the smaller shires and also councils in the suburbs of the cities to provide this necessary means of disposing of their waste.
A third method of waste disposal is the recycling system. This again requires expensive machinery if it is to be effective. It is not just a matter of saying: ‘OK, we will recycle the rubbish*, lt is not that easy. The Minister’s hands are perhaps tied in this field so far as doing something practical is concerned but he certainly can provide the expertise. His Department can investigate the best possible methods of dealing with this great waste disposal problem. I am sure that if some of the money provided under this appropriation could be devoted to a study to bring forward the expertise necessary to dispose of rubbish Australia will have gained a great deal from that expenditure.
Proposed expenediture agreed to.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Berinson) - Order! It being 15 minutes to 11 o’clock, in accordance with the order of the House, I shall report progress.
-The question is:
That the House do now adjourn.
– On the motion for the adjournment of the House I wish to speak on the matter of bank interest rates which, I think, are a matter of importance to us all at the moment with the bond rate running free. I wish to draw to the attention of the House the very significant effect that this has on what are commonly called the working people of this country - the people who save desperately to put money aside for a rainy day and who have a small savings account of a few hundred dollars or even up to a couple of thousand dollars. Unless they have an amount of more than $4,000 in a savings account their money earns 3i per cent interest. This compares with the 6 per cent that those who save more than $4,000 earn on their money deposited in a savings bank. If a person invests his money, whether it be $100, or more, in a permanent building society or similar institution he will receive an interest rate of 7i per cent on his daily balance. I believe that this situation leaves a very bad taste in the mouths of the many people who have small savings accounts.
Savings deposited in savings banks at the end of the financial year totalled $ 10,438m, which was distributed over 17,542,000 accounts. Of course, the greatest number of those accounts would be the little accounts to which I referred - not the great big ones with many thousands of dollars in them but little accounts belonging to the people who have saved and put aside their money for a rainy day. Many of these people do not use this money to buy their homes; they do not use all their money to buy their cars. They like to have that little pot of money kept aside in case some problem arises. Therefore one finds that when they wish to buy a car, a refrigerator, a television set or furniture foi their homes they have to pay at least 9 per cent or 10 per cent interest on the money they are required to borrow, provided that they can borrow the money through a bank on overdraft, by opening a separate account or by taking out a personal loan. If they borrow through an accredited finance organisation they will probably have to pay a much higher interest rate.
Many young people who wish to buy their own homes save a certain amount of money so that they are able to put down a deposit on their land. They keep saving and set aside a little more again for the house. When they go to build a home, they find that because of the cost of homes today they are allowed to borrow so much and no more. Then they are forced to take out a second mortgage. I believe that in the Australian Capital Territory many people actually take out a third mortgage. This means that these people have to pay interest rates as high as 9 per cent and 10 per cent on the money borrowed to build their homes. They have no hope of ever seeing the day when they can proudly say: ‘This is my home’. But the worst thing about this situation is that they cannot afford to put money aside in a savings account, perhaps for their annual holidays, to look after themselves if they become sick or to buy something in an emergency, for the simple reason that they are losing money on every cent that they have in their savings accounts. They receive 3i per cent interest on the money in their savings accounts but they are paying out 9i per cent on their borrowings. Obviously they are losing 6 per cent or 7 per cent on every dollar that they keep aside. This to me is a shameful thing and I believe that it is time that the Australian Government and the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in particular took notice of this situation. I believe that it is time that he had a look at the whole range of interest rates applying to savings accounts. He should do something for the people.
Let us look at the situation of the pensioners of this country - the people for whom the Labor Party so proudly boasts it is doing something. It has done something for them. In the country areas in particular, it has increased the rentals that they are required to pay for their telephone service. It has introduced the payment of income tax on the earnings of pensioners. I am pleased to note that it was not too long after I made a speech a couple of weeks ago on the estimates for the Repatriation Department when I pointed out the anomalous situation of imposing taxation on the earnings of pensioners that the Treasurer obviously woke up and realised that he had to do something. He raised the limit of earnings that these people were allowed to have to something like $3,000 before they became taxable. Nevertheless, I am very much concerned that anybody should be required to pay tax on his pension.
I am speaking particularly of people under the age of 75 years who are not free of the means test but who in fact are subject to the means test To impose taxation on this money is a deliberate fraud on the part of the Labor Government in relation to the people who are so involved, because such an imposition is unfair on them. Although they receive no extra income they are paying out extra money by way of taxation. This should not be allowed. I believe that until such time as these people are free of the means test they should not be required to pay tax on this money. I do not advocate that the tax should not be applied to those who are now free of the means test. I believe that this is quite just and fair, provided that the scale of taxation is reasonable and not at the level it was previously. But, as I said, the Treasurer finally woke up to the situation and has taken steps to overcome the problem.
The next step for the Treasurer to take is to look at the two areas I have mentioned tonight. Firstly, I ask him to look at the matter of interest rates paid to people who have small savings bank accounts. The interest rate should be increased so that these people can feel that they are wanted in this country and so that they are given an incentive to save through the savings banks. If this is not done, it might well be that the Treasurer will find that many of the people among those who hold the 17 million-odd savings accounts will withdraw their money from the savings banks and deposit it with another savings institutions, such as the permanent building societies, where at least they can get a fair rate of interest The other matter at which I would ask the Treasurer to look again shortly is the imposition of taxation on those people who are receiving a pension but who are still subject to the means test.
– I want to take advantage of the few minutes that are left to point out a small grievance I have with the Government at the present time. I do so on behalf of the war service land settlers in my electorate. It is a long time now since those who are under budgetary control - some of them have volunteered to be placed in these circumstances and others have been put under budgetary control to help them in the management of their blocks - have received an increase in what is officially referred to as advances for living expenses. The current level of payment is about $2,200 a year. I ask those honourable members to think for themselves: How many of them could look after their wife and family on an advance for living at the rate of $2,200 a year? I have forgotten the exact period of time but I think it is probably 18 months since this amount has been looked at and increased.
I wrote to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) in relation to this matter some time ago. I received a letter from him today. He objects to my using the phrase ‘living allowance’ and says that I should use the phrase are granted advances for living’. He does so for the simplereason that in the case of these advances for living’ all sorts of expenditure items are not brought into account. He lists certain items and comments that the $2,200 a year is meant to cover little more than the cost of food and clothing for 12 months. In his letter the Minister says that expenditure for such items as house rent, medical, hospital and dental expenses and the cost of education and holidays are provided separately. In all fairness to these people I must point out to this House that I think that this is a parsimonious, ridiculous and hard hearted attitude to take. The justification for this sum is included in a paragraph in the letter which says:
It should be recognised that keeping the advance against living expenses at a reasonably low level is in the settlers’ own interests.
If they can exist. The Minister went on to say:
By avoiding unnecessary expenditure the equity of each settler is increased year by year.
We can accept this. But surely to goodness people in this House do not think that it is possible for a man and his wife and family to exist at that level, even for only food and clothing, for 12 months in this day and age.
That was bad enough but the thing that really made me see red, if I might presume to say so tonight, was the final paragraph which said:
Since taking over this portfolio, I have bad cause to examine a number of individual cases, involving the manner in which the War Service Land Settlement Scheme is being administered and I am satisfied that settlers are being treated fairly and as sympathetically, as is possible.
This surely is quite out of all real touch with the cost of living today. Might I again ask the House: How can people reasonably be expected to live at this level in many cases in outlying areas where costs frequently are higher for many goods than they are in the city? I hope that the Minister concerned and the Government will take notice of the fact that there are soldier settlers, people of whom this nation is meant to be proud and whom we are meant to care for, being treated in this fashion.
In spite of the glowing terms in which this letter points out how much the Government is saving the soldier settlers each year I am quite certain that not many of the settlers concerned think along these lines and it is for that reason that I have risen on their behalf tonight to say that I am dissatisfied with the situation. I beseech the Government to have another look at this matter and to do whatever it can. If ever there was a time when costs were rising at a far more rapid rate than ever before it is now. One would have thought, firstly, that the Minister would have been aware of this fact; secondly, that he would have accepted some of the blame as the Minister of the Crown who is partially, at any rate, responsible for this raging increase in costs to which everybody is subject; and thirdly, that he should do something about it under the particular authority that he possesses by being in charge of the war service land settlement scheme. I hesitate to use these words, but I think it is a scurrilous situation - a situation that conveys no gratitude or consideration to war service land settlers who are subject to these rigid and stringent conditions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.59 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department of Civil Aviation does not hold any record of the sound levels referred to in parts (1) and (2) of the question. Although Noise Exposure Forecasts have been prepared for various airports they are theoretical predictions of aircraft noise only and cannot be used to describe the actual noise environment.
The statistics requested in part <3) of the question are not readily available from the Bureau of Census and Statistics. It is possible that the information could be obtained in due course but the necessary research might delay the completion of other vital projects.
Part (4) of the question refers to the number of people working at the airport and this number fluctuates fairly regularly. The figures quoted, therefore, are not to be treated as absolutely accurate. The airports are listed alphabetically with the number of people employed at each airport shown alongside.
There is no known study which can be considered to be authoritative on the matters referred to in part (5) of the question.
The Department of Civil Aviation has a hearing conservation plan which is aimed at protecting individuals in those jobs which might expose an employee to damaging levels of noise. The airlines have also instigated hearing conservation plans which are broadly similar and the basic details are as follows.
As a result of a preliminary noise survey conducted in 1968 at Essendon, Moorabbin, Sydney and Bankstown airports it was decided that those occupational groups exposed to aircraft noise should be brought into a hearing conservation program. The program would include regular monitoring audiometry and the use of hearing protective devices. Although the origin of the survey was related to aircraft noise, it was noted that noise levels emitted from plants such as generators, prime movers and workshop machinery often exceeded the acceptable limits for long term hearing conservation. Protective devices were issued to those exposed in these situations.
Since 1968, the extent of the problem has been better defined in so far as it affects departmental employees. The number of people exposed to aircraft noise is, in fact, small, the exposure intermittent and the duration short. The main sizeable problem is noise arising from industrial sources within the airport. A working party on hearing conservation was formed in 1973. The recommendations of the working party (which will be finalised shortly) include the establishment of a hearing conservation and noise control officer and committee within each Region, Selected staff will be trained in the control of noise and protection of hearing.
The protection of employees whose hearing may be at risk will include measures (where applicable) such as the reduction of noise at source, the re-siting of noise sources with respect to work place, the installation of noise barriers and the issue of personal protective devices as well as the monitoring of employees’ hearing ability. Although Regional Hearing Conservation Committees have yet to be formed, many of the recommendations are already in force in certain areas.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
Will he bring up to date the information supplied by his predecessors regarding the number of departmental teachers who (a) have resigned, (b) are in employment and (c) are in training (Hansard, 6 May 1971, page 2862 and 9 November 1971, page 3203).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
South Wales, Victoria and Queensland the information I provided in reply to a similar question asked previously (Hansard, 9 November 1971, pages 3203-5) is still the latest available and has not been repeated in this answer.
The Commonwealth Statistician does not publish separate details of primary and secondary teachers employed. Compilation by the Department of Education of separate primary and secondary details on the basis used in the previous reply, a basis which was not consistent with the Statistician’s published estimates, has been discontinued. The primary and secondary information shown above has been estimated, largely on the basis of data published by State Offices of the Bureau of Census and Statistics and in State Education Departments reports. Later information is currently being compiled. I will provide this information to the honourable member when it becomes available.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
In view of the deep consideration that was given by the Government in choosing Galston as the likely site for an international airport and the consequent public concern over airports in the Sydney area, will he take steps to move the Royal Australian Air Force Base from Richmond to Narromine, New South Wales, which has served the RAAF so well in the past.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There are no current plans to remove RAAF activities from Richmond, but you will be aware that I have instituted a special committee to review the location of al Defence establishments against current and foreseeable requirements, with full regard to be given to environmental and other community aspects. You can be assured that should the need arise in the future to provide an alternative site for an RAAF Base in New South Wales Narromine will be given due consideration along with other sites.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These numbers do not include the naval salvage and minesweeping force which, since April 1972, has - worked in the port of Chitttagong in Bangladesh. This force, which reached its peak in October 1972, at present comprises 1 oiler, 2 minesweepers and S salvage vessels.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As a general principle, the linking or ‘hypothecation’ of particular tax revenues to particular expenditures is to be avoided. Government expenditures for whatever purposes are undertaken to satisfy the needs of the community and the resources allocated towards meeting those needs should be in accordance with the priorities which the Government of the day attaches to particular problems, and not simply on the basis of the revenue collected from a particular tax. Unless expenditure proposals compete for a share of revenue on their merits, lower priority but ear-marked expenditures may get precedence over higher-priority expenditures.
Hypothecation can also lead to a weakening of fiscal control and flexibility if both the expenditures and revenues concerned cannot be varied for economic management purposes. Tax rates may need to be altered on economic management grounds but there is no reason to expect that the desired level of expenditure on activities that might be linked with them should move in step. Under the prevailing system of general revenue financing, expenditures draw on the common revenue pool and can be varied in response to decisions and needs.
The funds provided by the Australian Government to the States for road expenditure have not been linked to raisings from petrol taxes for many years. This government, like its predecessor, takes the view that expenditures on roads should be determined in the light of evaluation of road needs and of the relative priorities for expenditure on other important services.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Civil Defence Directorate has been transferred to the Department of Defence. There will later be created a National Disaster Organisation in accociation with it to cope, in co-operation with other civil authorities in Australia, with the effects of natural disasters.’
Since then my Department has made a number of studies into this matter. These are to form a basis for discussion with interested departments and then for later consultations with the appropriate State authorities.
When these consultations are completed I will make a statement in Parliament concerning the creation of a National Disaster Organisation.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Papua New Guinea - As members of the PNG Defence Force are enlisted as members of the Australian Armed Services, it is not possible to provide completely the breakdown sought by the Honourable Member. However, the following information is available.
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What was the number of discharges of Air Force personnel from 7 December 1972 to 31 August 1973 in each of the following categories:
What was the number of accepted enlistments for the Air Force during the same period.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Pensioner Medical Service (Question No. 988)
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
New South Wales
Allison, j. j.- 61 Currajong Street, Parkes.
Allsop, D. B.- Bridge Street, Coniston.
Arnheim, R. - 61 Currajong Street, Parkes.
Barrand, j.- 1 Watts Street, North Rocks.
Bedingfeld, R. C- 292 Victoria Street, Kings Cross.
Begg, j. H. - 17 Redleaf Avenue, Wahroonga.
Belfer, j. B. - 46 Longueville Road, Lane Cove.
Buhagiar, A. R. - 8 Pritchard Street, Wentworthville.
Burfitt, W. F. - 1 Richmond Road, Rose Bay.
Burrnan, L. - 348 Pennant Hills Road, Carlingford.
Burns, C. A. - 183 Molesworth Street, Lismore.
Byrnes, F. C- Box 1200 P.O., South Gosford.
Chieu, V.- 122 Railway Parade, Canley Vale.
Christie, M-. j.- 112a Stafford Street, Penrith.
Clarke, B. - 110 Sydney Road, Manly.
Clements, j. C. - 61 Currajong Street, Parkes.
Cunningham, D. M. - 21 Chertsey Street, Merrylands.
D’Arcy Williams, F. - 2 Guilfoyle Avenue, Double Bay.
Daniel, P. M. - 111 Anzac Parade, Kensington.
De Ruyter, E. A. A. A. D.- Box 21 P.O., Berowra Heights.
Doust, I. S.- 226 The Boulevarde, Fairfield.
Drake, F. P.- 61 Currajong Street, Parkes.
Drummond, N. C- Box 7 P.O., Wauchope.
Dunlop, W. R.- 130 Station Street, Wentworthville.
Elliott, R.- 113 Station Street, Wentworthville.
Erby, R. j. G. - Warrwong, Wingham.
Farley, M. M. - Suite 8, The Wallaceway, Chatswood.
Ferrier, M. - 822 Anzac Parade, Maroubra.
Freeman, D. - Dongog.
Gibson, A. G- - Barham.
Goldner-Reiss, I. - 71 Boundary Street, Roseville.
Hock, W. J. - 62 Avalon Parade, Avalon.
Kerby, M. - 109 Pitt Street, Sydney.
Lantos, S. S. - 19 Hopetoun Avenue, Paddington.
Maclachlan, I. - 60 Wilga Street, Fairfield.
McCormick, R. G. - 113 Bellambi Lane, Corrimal.
McDonagh, W. P.- 1 Heffron Road, Pagewood.
McKinnon, M. G. - 348 Pennant Hills Road, Carlingford.
Martin, L. S- 584 Old Northern Road, Dural.
Mayze, C. R. - Box 45 P.O., Macksville.
Muller, H. M.- 46 Stanmore Road, Stanmore.
Musgrove, J. D. - 822 Anzac Parade, Maroubra.
Oakley, D. W.- 433 Mowbray Road, Chatswood.
Oliver, J. - 185 Molesworth Street, Lismore.
Owen, H. M. - 63/8 Fullerton Street, Woollahra.
Phipps, R. J. - 44 Manning Street, Kiama.
Pingus, R. C. - 379 Bunnerong Road, Pagewood.
Protopopoff, S. N. - 525 Hume Highway, Yagoona.
Relf, L. L.- 130 Stations Street, Wentworthville.
Robertson, R, E. - 61 Currajong Street, Parkes.
Robinson, J. D. 167 John Street, Singleton.
Roger, J. R. O.- 54 Wynter Street, Taree.
Sayer, L. K. - 80a Ebley Street, Bondi Junction.
Scrivener, H. R. - 35 Otho Street, Inverell.
Shortland, G. C- 52 Albury Street, Holbrook.
Sooy, D. W. - Valencia Arcade, Gosford.
Soper, H. L. - 330 Princes Highway, Sylvania.
Spivey, J. E. - 37 Berry Street, Nowra.
Staden, J. - 92 Broomfield Street, Cabramatta.
Steinberg, W.- 92 Old Prospect Road, South Wentworthville.
Stewart, P. W. - 67 Conway Street, Lismore.
Stuttaford, D. T.- 198 Main Street, Gosford.
Sutherland, 1. - 3 Maclive Parade, Wingham.
Swan, C. R.- 13 Bridge Street, Epping.
Symons, C. Y. - 71 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead.
Taylor, J. M.- 54 Wynton Street, Taree.
Temesvary, A.- Box 93 P.O., Tottenham.
Thomas, A. D. - 333 Clarinda Street, Parkes.
Thomas, D. L. - 822 Anzac Parade, Maroubra.
Thomson, B. F. - 8 Gladstone Avenue, Mosman.
Thornton, S.- 2a View Street, Chatswood.
Waddell, J. J.- 333 Clarinda Street, Parkes.
Warren, R. H.- 10 Seven Hills Road, Baulkham Hills.
Watson, C. P. K.- 32 Bungay Road, Wingham.
Weinrauch, L. - 93 Cambray Avenue, Engadine.
Whitby, W. T.- 100 Old South Head Road, Bondi Junction.
Williams, D. - 39 East Esplanade, Manly.
Wolfe, C. A. - 67 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross.
Wood, C. A.- Box 156 P.O., Young.
Barter, J.- 151 Bulleen Road, North Balwyn.
Bartram, D. J. - 61 Centre Oandenong Road, Dingley.
Castran, P. - 16 Alexander Avenue, Mount Waverley.
Cohen, J. - 263 Glen Eira Road, Caulfield.
Doran, T. - 262 Springvale Road, Glen Waverley.
Douglas, J. G- 37 Main Street, Pakenham.
Duval, A. - 357 Camp Road, Broadmeadows.
Edwards, B. - 151 Wattletree Road, Malvern.
Edwards, K. E.- P.O. Box 178, Rosebud.
Evans, R. P. - 326 Balcombe Road, Beaumaris.
Flanagan, J. W. - 162 Manningham Road, Bulleen.
Gibson, D. - 1 Dangerfield Drive, Springvale.
Grasso, A. - 1098 Heatherton Road, Noble Park.
Hamp, E. J. C. - Princes Highway, Drouin.
Hetherington, J. - 8 Finch Street, Malvern.
Hryckow, J. E. - corner Langhorne and Foster Streets, Dandenong.
Hyland, S. - 49 Grace Street, Coleraine.
Jagger, J. R. - 63 Phillipson Street, Wangaratta.
Key, J. R. - 157 Maude Street, Shepparton.
Larkins, S. G. - 16 Alexander Street, Mount
Leder, J. - 1098 Heatherton Road, Noble Park.
Leicester, R. D. - 160 Tucker Road, Bentleigh.
McMahon, H.- Camp Road, Broadmeadows.
Mackellar, J. D. - McLennan Street, Mooroopna.
Malcolm, P. B. - 85 Lincoln Road, Croydon.
Melia, P. - 1335 Nepean Highway, Cheltenham.
Meyer, J.- 326 Balcombe Road, Beaumaris.
Miglic, W. D.- 691 Ferntree Gully Road, Glen Waverley.
Moore, J. M. - 30 Percy Street, Echuca.
Moraitis, S- 86 Westbury Street, St Kilda.
Moss, A. J.- 1098 Heatherton Road, Noble Park.
Nance, R. A. - 326 Balcombe Road, Beaumaris.
Nash, E. J. - 691 Ferntree Gully Road, Glen Waverley.
Nicholson, K. A. - 16 Alexander Street, Mount Waverley.
O’Doherty, M. B. - Yarra Street, Yarra Junction.
O’Donnell, J. K- 151 Wattletree Road, Malvern.
Orme, B. J. - 215 Camberwell Road, CamberwelL
Pearson, R. D.- 102 Watton Street, Werribee.
Pointon, B. A. - 16 Alexander Street, Mount Waverley.
Poutsme, J. - 436 Geelong Road, West Footscray.
Ritchie, P. M.- 341 Toorak Road, Burwood.
Smith, N.- 836 Pascoe Vale Road, Glenroy.
Stephens- 1098 Heatherton Road, Noble Park.
Story, J. N. - 495 South Road, Moorabbin.
Tan, D. B. P.- 268 Keilor Road, North Essendon.
Thomson, T. R. A. - 24 Glenferrie Road, Malvem.
Trauer, R.- 8/30 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda.
Vogel, M.- 601 Toorak Road, Toorak.
Wain, C. R.- ‘Flintona’, Coleraine.
Warr, A. J. - 163 Coleman Parade, Glen Waverley.
Warr, W. - 163 Coleman Parade, Glen Waverley.
Williams, H. L- 275 Pakington Street, Geelong.
Williams, R.- P.O. Box 178, Heywood.
Wood, I. H.- 1 Pakington Street, Geelong.
Alberts, G. J.- Box 532, Bundaberg.
Atkinson, L. - 538 Vulture Street, East Brisbane.
Audley, I. A. - Front Street, Mossman.
Barnes, J. H.- 191 Abbott Street, Cairns.
Brannelly, B. - 172 Denham Street, Townsville.
Broadbent, G. D.- 172 Denham Street, Townsville.
Buchan Hepburn, G. J. - 21 Thorn Street, Ipswich.
Carroll, F. J. - 21 Thorn Street. Ipswich.
Croese, K. V.- 40 Macrossan Street, Childers.
Doyle, P.- 130 Charles Street, Townsville.
Everding, K. P. - 187 Lilian Avenue, Salisbury.
Farrell, M. J. - 8 Burke Street, Mount Isa.
Farrelly, M. C. - French Street, Currajong.
Hall, L. B.- Box 66, Mirani.
Horn, A. M. - 10 Iluka Street, Currajong.
Jaa, E.- 1837 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads.
Jannusch, V. - 24 East Street, Ipswich.
Marendy, P. C. - 377 Oxley Avenue, Margate.
Maxim, B. - 212 Station Road, Sunnybank.
Milne, E. - 31 Miles Street, Mount Isa.
Milne, I.- Box 669, Mount Isa.
Australian Capital Territory
Other doctors who have ceased to participate in the Pensioner Medical Service in the 6 months ended 30 September 1973 for other reasons such as transfer interstate, movement overseas, specialisation, retirement or death etc., are:
New South Wales
Wheatley, J. N.- Pacific Highway, Chinderah.
Whiteman, D. P.- Coral Street, Tuncurry.
Woolier, H. O. - Main Road, Boolaroo.
Ambrose, J. R. - Playne Street, Heathcote.
Baldwin, G. J. - P.O. Box 308, Sale.
Bergman, F. - 141 Durham Road, Sunshine.
Bergman, M. - 141 Durham Road, Sunshine.
Bosschart, L. A. - 180 West Toorak Road, South Yarra.
Bromberger, D. F. - 141 Durham Road, Sunshine.
Bryce, J. - 30 Anzac Avenue, Seymour.
Bunn, M. - 47 Venice Street, Mentone.
Butterworth, R. F.- 899 Park Street, West Brunswick.
Cass, M.- 141 Bridge Street, Port Melbourne.
Chrapowicki, S. N. - 61 Gaffney Street, Coburg.
Constantinou, C- 141 Bridge Street, Port Melbourne.
Day, A. - 29 Plantation Avenue, E. Brighton.
Docherty, E. D. - 23 Como Road, Mentone.
Duff, G.- 1307 Nepean Highway, Cheltenham.
Fjnch, J. A.- P.O. Box 308, Sale.
Howson, K. - Johnson Street, Maura.
Jarvis, D. A.- IS Errard Street, North Ballarat.
Jones, A. P. - Cnr Langhorne and Foster Streets, Dandenong.
Jones, B. P.- 1222 Centre Road, Clayton.
Kay, N. E. - 109 Rosamond Road, Maidstone.
Knight, E.- 9 Ranfurlie Cres., Glen Iris.
Lindsey, M. J. - Cnr Burke and Malvern Roads, Glen Iris.
McDonald, G. D.- 55 Ryrie Street, Geelong.
MacDonald, K. - 47 Venice Street, Mentone.
Manton, H. J. - Tolmie.
Marshall, A.- 141 Bridge Street, Port Melbourne.
Marshall, P. - 483 Main Street, Mordialloc.
Milecki, M.- 248 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill.
Nelson, P.- 483 Main Street, Mordialloc.
Officer, C. B. - 22 Anzac Avenue, Seymour.
Officer, M. H. - 32 Anzac Avenue, Seymour.
Peers, V. - 24 Huxtable Avenue, Altona.
Phillips, I. A.- 19/425 Toorak Road, Toorak.
Quin, D.- 548 Main Street, Mordialloc.
Rankin, J.- 32 Balcolmbe Road, Mentone.
Rao, J.- 4 West Street, Pascoe Vale.
Reid, J. D.- 275 Pakington Street, Newtown.
Retallick, J. A.- 205 Beach Street, Frankston.
Rose, D. L. - 17 Orvieto Street, Merlynston.
Ross, A.- 1110 Nepean Highway, Highett.
Russell, R. - 30 Anzac Avenue, Seymour.
Russo, J. - 96 Lower Dandenong Road, Mordialloc.
Sahhar, A.- 1110 Nepean Highway, Highett.
Snow, M- 2/ 14 Chastelton Avenue, Toorak.
Thomas, P.- 626 Sturt Street, Ballarat.
Vanrenen, B. S. - 426 Punt Road, South Yarra.
White, E. J. - 925 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill.
Goodman, E. - 303 Toorak Road, Burwood.
Gorman, J. - 48 Queen Street, Bendigo.
Hickey, P. W.- 217 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne.
Hodge, D. - 47 Venice Street, Mentone.
Horsley, L. A.- 438 Warrigal Road, Ashburton.
Aggar, Mabel- 15 Merthyr Road, New Farm.
Benson, F. R.- 1408 Logan Road, Mt Gravatt.
Brown, R. W.- District Hospital Ayr, 27 Ridley Street.
CaUanan, V. I. - 7th Street, Home HilL
Campion, R. V. - 162 Lambert Street, Kangaroo Point.
Casey, T. M. - Chester Street, Nanango.
Ceglarski, J. - Julia Creek Hospital, Julia Creek.
Cooke, S. C. S. - P.O. Box 177, Charters Towers.
Crawford, A. P.- Cnr Eton Street and Sandgate Road, Nundah.
Delamothe, P. R.- P.O. Box 240, Bowen.
Dick, A. D.- 100 Marine Parade, Southport.
Dowling, J. M. - Ingham Hospital, Ingham.
Edmeades, T. R- P.O. Box 16, Charters Towers.
Elliott, B. C- George Street, Gordonvale.
Everingham, D. M. - P.O. Box 328, Rockhampton.
Gold, M. R. - 160 Bolsover Street, Rockhampton.
Graff, R.- 487 Sandgate Road. Albion.
Harrold, A. G.- P.O. Box 237, Nambour.
Hocker, G. A.- 149 Wlckham Terrace, Brisbane.
Hoffensetz, B. A. - East Street, Ipswich.
Jackson, B. M- 11 Archer Street, Rockhampton.
Joyner, K. D. - Stanthorpe Hospital, Gympie Road.
Kelsey, G. P. S.- Quilpie.
Knott, L. G.- 77 Lamont Street, Wilston.
Lai, S.- P.O. Box 486, Fortitude Valley.
Lee, E. W.- 120 Beaudesert Road, Moorooka.
Lewis, P. E. - 387 Cavendish Road, Cooparoo.
McGregor, H. R- 211 Stafford Road, Stafford.
Mclntyre, K. J. - Lillian Avenue, Salisbury.
Moore, B. D. - Louise Street, Cunnamulla.
Morgan, R. W.- P.O. Box 58, Eidsvold.
Morris, J. G. - Ipswich Road, Annerley.
Naylor, R. E. A. - Hughendon.
Nielsen, J. M.- 605 Rochdale Road, Rochdale.
Noble, J. A.- 349 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba.
Orr, R. H. - 176 Bolsover Street, Rockhampton.
Pasquarelli, G.- 452a Enoggera Road, Alderley.
Payens, J- 38 Stanley Road, Camp Hill.
Peter, R. D.- 5 Main Place, Broadbeach.
Pollard, E. J. - Louise Street, Cunnamulla.
Pratt, R. V.- P. O. Box 259, Burleigh Heads.
Robinson, M. F. - Mount Rose Street, Eidsvold.
Sing, J. - Julia Creek Hospital, Julia Creek.
Spark, I. D.- 145 Abbott Street, Caims.
Stewart-Hunter, G. C. - Primrose Street, Townsville.
Stratford, G. P.- 1210 Logan Road, Holland Park.
Stumer, M. B. - Sara Street, Tara.
Sullivan, K. - comer Logan and Holland Roads, Holland Park.
Valery, J. K. - Themxore.
Wainer, B. B. - Bulcock Street, Caloundra. South Australia
Baudinet, W. H.- 168 Fisher Street, Malvern.
Chadwick, J. M– 421 Port Road, Croydon.
Clezy, T. M.- P.O. Box 183, Mount Gambier.
Danius, V. P. - 50 Princes Road, Torrens Park.
Dawson, M. D. - 206 Grange Road, Flinders Park.
Handsworth, J. L. - Trinity Crescent, Salisbury North.
Hutton, W. R.- 7 Darlington Street; Enfield.
Jansen, M. G.- P.O. Box 13, Orroroo.
Laws, D. F. - 21 Kaurie Road, Hawthorndene.
Peters, G. E.- P.O. Box 43, Henley Beach.
Ramsey, D. K. W.- West Terrace, Cleve.
Senior, R. C- 1147 Main North East Road Ridgehaven.
Smallhorn, B. E.- 421 Port Road, Croydon.
Welch, H. W.- 175 North Terrace, Adelaide.
Beel, J. A.- 199 Alexander Drive, Dianella.
Burke, N. T. - 693 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley.
Easdown, R. R. C. - Narembeen.
Frayne, J. R.- 71 Alver Road, Doublevlew.
Graf, T. M.- 179 Scarborough Road, Scarborough.
Hearn, R. E. - 47 Star Street, Carlisle.
Hogan, P. C- 488 Hay Street, East Perth.
Inglis, J. S. - 488 Karrinyup Road, Karrinyup.
Male, T. A. - 17 Johnston Street, Collie.
Moschella, S. C- 91 Princess Road, Balga.
Myles, G. L.- Moora.
Oehlers, M. J.- 91 Princess Road, Belga.
Poll, A.- 17 Spring Park Road, Midland.
Roberts, R. W.- 24 Sawyers Street, Midland.
Tallentire, P. J.- ‘12 Pearson Street, Floreat Park.
Warren, D. J.- SO Thorpe Street, Rockingham.
Burke, J. K- 2 High Street, Burnie.
Crick, W. F. H.- Nubeena.
Dargaville, D.- 15 Shoreline Drive, Howrah.
Dow, D. W. M. - 2 High Street, Burnie.
Edison, M. G.- 132 Wilson Street, Burnie.
Hudson, J. W. - Queenstown.
Khan AH Farhat, Royal Hobart Hospital.
Khan Sakander Naseeb - Snug.
Lai, J. - Strathgordon.
Levet, D. - 52a Cambridge Road, Bellerive.
Lovet, A. A. - Grassy, King bland.
Parker, J. H.- 2 High Street, Burnie.
Pigot, P. L. - 2 High Street, Burnie.
Rayner, H. J.- 100 Tamar Street, Launceston.
Sykes, J. B.- 2 High Street, Burnie.
Australian Capital Territory
Hollingsworth, P. S.- Deakin Court, Deakin.
Holt, J. A.- 8 Petrie Street, Canberra.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows: (l)
There were 1,343 handicapped persons placed in employment following rehabilitation assistance during 1972-73, but statistics of these cases, according to age, are not maintained.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The report of the Working Party on Homeless Men and Women was received too late for inclusion in Budgetary considerations for the current financial year. Action to be taken on the report is a matter for decision by the Government and an appropriate announcement will be made as soon as a decision is taken. This will also apply with respect to model legislative assistance in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory.
asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As final building costs are not known until after a project has been completed the average actual costperhead is not available, particularly for the latter quarter.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
A lack of suitable venues has not prevented the presentation in Darwin of performances arranged by the Trust.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19731022_reps_28_hor86/>.