28th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon.J. F. Cope) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray by Mr Drury and Mr McLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned residents of the Dural/Galston area respectfully showeth:
That to establish the second Sydney international airport in the Dural/Galston area would deprive residents of the area of the privilege of having pollution-free air and peace and quiet in an undisturbed natural bush setting, which are part of the ideals of living in the ‘Hills District’.
That the area in which it is proposed to site the second Sydney international airport is unsuitable in the terrain, problems of access, inundation of power easements and the fog problem in winter, amongst other reasons.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House take steps to ensure that the Government does not site a second international airport for Sydney in the Galston area or surrounding suburbs.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Edwards.
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 proposals have been made aimed at dismembering the Repatriation System and transferring some of its facilities and services to other Authorities and Departments.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Australian Government does not allow dismemberment of the Repatriation System nor the transfer of any of its functions to other authorities and/or Departments.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hunt.
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 whale is an endangered species and should be protected by international agreement.
That whalemeat and all other whale products should be excluded from all Australian manufactured goods.
That no whale products should be imported into Australia.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will form appropriate legislation to protect the whale from commercial exploitation.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr McLeay.
To the honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that the Human Rights Bill will deprive free Australian citizens of religious liberty and freedom of worship, and parents and guardians of the right to choose the moral and religious education of their children in that:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House not proceed with the Human Rights Bill.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr McMahon.
To the honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That 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 McMahon.
To the Honourable Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That inflation which now besets so many countries today and in Australia is now at the rate of 14.4 per cent per annum is most seriously affecting and making life intolerable for those least able to take corrective action to maintain their position, namely, pensioners and those now retired living on fixed incomes.
Whilst the Australian Government is giving effect to its election policy of making$1.50 per week pension increases each Autumn and Spring such actions have been completely nullified by the stated rate of inflation.
This fact of life impels your petitioners to call on the Australian Government as a matter of urgency to:
Make a cash loading of $5 per week to those pensioners who have little means other than the present inadequate pension eroded by inflation.
That each Autumn and Spring the increase in social security pension payments be not less than $3 per week to ensure that within a reasonable period the Government’s policy pledge to affix all pensions at 25 per cent of the average weekly earnings be achieved.
In order that money may go to areas of greater need the Tapered Means Test ceilings of income and assets be frozen.
To allay the concern of social security recipients as to their future when in 1975 the means test has been abolished and replaced by a National Superannuation Act that there be an assurance by the Australian Government that the said Act will provide a guaranteed minimum income to social security recipients based on the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation and that of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, namely, the payment of 30 per cent of average weekly earnings adjusted from time to time in accordance with figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
And your petitioners in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Thorburn.
– I address my question to the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity of Minister for Defence. I refer to the 5-year defence procurement plan announced last night and reported in this morning’s Press. In view of the increasing naval activity in the Indian Ocean and the increasing significance of the Indian Ocean region to the defence of Australia, I ask: Will the 8 long range reconnaissance planes which he is to procure be stationed in Western Australia? If not, where will they ‘be stationed and what will the Minister do for the defence of Western Australia?
– Recently I have made a number of statements concerning the defence of continental Australia and, more particularly, Western Australia. I think the honourable member would be aware of the statements that have been made on this matter. I turn to the long range maritime patrol aircraft. In this respect I inform the honourable member that the question of the location of Navy, Army and Air Force bases in Australia is under consideration, and has been under consideration for some time. The report on this matter has now been completed and is available for my consideration, together with the Defence Force Development Committee. Naturally, what should happen in relation to the future of the long range maritime patrol aircraft will be taken into consideration at the same time as that report is evaluated.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Secondary Industry. In view of the threats by the Opposition parties to vote in the Senate against the Government’s appropriation Bills and so refuse funds for the implementation of the Government’s legislation, can the Minister for Secondary Industry give the House any facts that would indicate the measure of prosperity of Australia’s secondary industries that has resulted from the efforts of this Labor Government compared with the efforts of the previous Government?
– I thank the honourable member for his question. The comparison between the performance of this Government and that of the previous Government is quite remarkable. In 1972, business confidence was at a very low level in Australia. Unemployment was at an all-time high, with something like 200,000 people being unemployed. Business decisions to invest in capital expenditure were low and faltering. Business decisions to reinvest out of profits were low and faltering. All the surveys conducted at the time indicated a lack of confidence on the part of secondary industry in 1972.
After 15 months under the policies of this Government the situation is quite different. Unemployment has disappeared. Whereas 18 months ago business capacity in the factories of Australia was under-utilised and at an all-time low, in the December quarter of last year full capacity was attained. It was running at 90 per cent, as much as business could manage. So with the restoration of full employment, the achievement of record utilisation of capacities in Australan factories, productivity higher than ever before, imports higher than ever before - more than 40 per cent higher - the order books full . and with record rates of profit - something like 20 per cent on figures- - it can be seen that this Government’s policies have met with a remarkable measure of success. The last surveys conducted by the Department of Secondary Industry in regard to manufacturing industry in Australia indicate that the confidence being expressed by businessmen is expected to continue and that their reinvestment decisions are being made into the future for the next 6 months to 12 months because as far as they can see ahead the policies of this Government will continue to achieve and maintain the prosperity that they have already produced.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of reports that radio beacons floating on buoys are being used to guide high speed craft picking up hard drugs and sex drugs dropped from overseas ships in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef? Will he ensure that suitable steps are taken to prevent these activities if, in fact, they are taking place?
– I am not aware of these reports. Very clearly, however, Australia, with its very long coast line north-west, north and north-east requires greater surveillance facilities by sea and air than have been available in past years. This is a matter of policy. I expect to be able to make a statement on it in the next few weeks. It has been giving us concern. I am not aware of these reports, but over the years there have been many reports of ships coming into isolated havens in the north-west, say, and even of aircraft landing on old wartime airstrips in the north.
– In directing this question to the Treasurer I refer to the application by the gold mining industries of Western Australia for financial assistance for the purpose of immediate mine development and replacement of obsolete and worn out treatment plants. Does the Treasurer’s invitation to the industry to apply to the Australian Industry Development Corporation mean that no assistance will be forthcoming direct from the Treasury as a result of the application that I have referred to or is it correct that consideration is still being given to the form and terms by which assistance can be made available to certain areas of the industry? If the latter is correct, will the Treasurer inform the House of the current situation in that respect?
– The position mentioned in the latter part of the honourable gentleman’s question is the situation that prevails. A number of approaches have been made to the Government. I think it should be appreciated that there is considerable difficulty in making a global sum available for an industry in the absence of particular details from individual firms. When this question was first raised - the honourable member for Kalgoorlie has been persistent in drawing attention to the situation in the industry - and when we discussed it some months ago gold was selling at about $65 an ounce. Today the price is well above $A100 an ounce; it is something like $A110 an ounce. Certainly, the situation of some of the companies is different now from previously. The situation as it applies now is that 2 or 3 firms apparently are providing their own capital development from the increased prosperity in particular cases. One firm - I do not particularly want to mention any firm individually - has an application before the Australian Industry Development Corporation and it is being considered on the merits of the figures put forward. That does not preclude the company from finding help in another direction if help is not found there.
However, I would also point out that as recently as a day or so ago the Prime Minister, who is in charge of the Industries Assistance Commission, signed a reference to the Industries Assistance Commission to enable it to consider the need for assistance for the production of gold in Australia. That is at least one further channel where individual cases can be looked at. I assure the honourable member that we are aware of the difficulties prevailing in one or- two particular instances. Above all, we are aware of the importance of this industry to the viability of Kalgoorlie as an example of decentralisation in Australia. I assure the honourable member that every door will remain open to industry to enable a satisfactory conclusion to be reached in respect of any problems.
– Will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government has decided that the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers should be provided? What factors, apart from the seats of Dawson, Wide Bay and Leichhardt, influenced this decision? How do the circumstances in this case differ from those which led to the decision not to continue the bounty on superphosphate? Or does this decision mean only that the matter will go to the Industries Assistance Commission for examination?
– I confirm that the Government has decided to extend the Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act. Nitrogenous fertilisers are used for two particular industries and for specific regions. They are used for sugar and for irrigation fruit. Accordingly, the provisions of this Act differ very greatly from the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act which covers all areas and all industries ot Australia. Any reference to the Industries Assistance Commission of the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act would gum up the whole works of the IAC for years, so the Chairman told us.
I take the opportunity to repeat that if any industry or any region feels that it is disadvantaged by the expiry of the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act at the end of this calendar year it can ask the Bureau of Agricultural Economies, or, through the BAE, any other Australian Government department, for assistance in preparing a case for what ever may be the appropriate form of assistance. It is not appropriate - I notice that the right honourable gentleman is very careful not to assert that it is appropriate - that at times of booming rural incomes, rising by $1 billion in the last financial year, there should be a burden on the taxpayers of some $65m or $70m a year. I also reiterate, as I said the other day, that under section 91 of the Constitution any State Government can pay a superphosphate bounty if it has the approval of both Houses of the Australian Parliament. I have conveyed this to some of the State Premiers. They have not taken up the offer. They know perfectly well that any such bounty is inappropriate in present economic circumstances.
-Order! There are far too many interjections in the House and this conduct will not be tolerated by the Chair. I issue a warning that if there are incessant interjections I will take the appropriate action.
– I ask the Minister for Social Security whether his attention has been drawn to reports that child care centres could foster communism, indoctrinate children in Marxism and lead to immorality. Would he agree that these observations are a gratuitous insult to thousands of dedicated decent Australian women whose sole aim is to serve the community and to provide an opportunity for these children to be cared for whilst one of the parents may be working?
– Yes, I did note that certain spokesmen for the Australian Country Party expressed this point of view. They certainly display an optimistic expectation of the physical maturity at least of infants in the community. It was an unfortunate sort of statement and shows that the people who made it do not appreciate the problems of so many families in the community today. Every third person who is responsible for a child or children under 12 years of age in our community today is engaged in the labour force. This involves nearly 10,000 males and nearly 529,000 females. Of employed persons responsible for children under 6 years of age, nearly 45 per cent are usually absent from home for 8 hours or more on the days they work. Of persons in the labour force responsible for school children-
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The resolution that the Minister is discussing has nothing to do with this. The resolution in fact was defeated at the conference and he is quoting-
-Order! No point of order is involved. I ask the honourable gentleman
– It shows the sheer hypocrisy of the Minister.
– Order! No point of order is involved. The honourable member for Gippsland will resume his seat.
– He is making the argument
-Order! The -honourable member for Gippsland will resume his seat.
– I will, Mr Speaker.
– Order! I give warning that if any member flouts the Chair I will name him. That applies to any member of the House irrespective of the Party to which he belongs. If any honourable member flouts the rulings of the Chair I will name him.
– As I was saying, of persons in the labour force responsible for school children aged from 4 to 11 years about every eighth had made no arrangement or was unable-
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that the Minister has nothing whatsoever to do with resolutions before a Country Party Conference. The resolution was defeated. He has nothing whatever to do with it in his portfolio.
– I can assure you that I would have nothing to do with it.
– Order! I ask the Minister to refer to matters relating to his own portfolio insofar as they relate to the training of these children, and not to offer any opinion on what any other Party thought. The Minister should just answer the question relating to the training of children.
– That is exactly what I am referring to. I will commence the last point again. Of persons in the labour force responsible for school children aged from 4 to 11 years, about every eighth had made no arrangement or was unable to make any arrangement for after school care, and more than every third such person worked during school hours or at night. I apologise for detailing these statistics but it was essential because it does indicate that within the community there is a very definite need for adequate child care services for young children and, of course, for after school care for children of school age. In my ministerial duties, I have a responsibility for the Social Welfare Commission which currently is carrying out a survey as to the best ways in which child care services can be provided in the community. That survey is very close to being completed. I am advised by the Chairman of the Commission that the report will be before the Prime Minister fairly shortly.
I point out, finally, however, in view of the frenzy of the Country Party on this issue and a little earlier on the matter of the superphosphate bounty, that, for instance, the amount of $65m which will not be going to wealthy farmers after the superphosphate bounty ceases at the end of this year will be very handy to fund an adequate child care program in the community. Perhaps that fact explains some of the opposition of the Country Party to proposals put at the recent Country Party conference with respect to child care services. Country Party members know that a decision has to be made, where limited services are involved, as between competing priorities. Is it a priority to give $6Sm in superphosphate bounty to many farmers who are extremely wealthy at a time when-
– I take a point of order.
– . . . farm incomes will increase by more than $1 billion this year or should it go to-
– Order! A point of order has been taken.
– My point of order is that the resolution to which the honourable member refers was defeated in the Country Party. Why is he raising this issue?
– Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Country Party.
– Does the Minister for Defence recall that in a reply given to the honourable member for Gellibrand by him in this House on 23 May last he said:
I give the honourable member an immediate assurance that the destroyers that will be acquired for the Navy will be built in Australia, and that there has been no change in the decision to build those destroyers at the Williamstown dockyard.
Has any decision been taken by the Government with respect to replacement vessels for the Royal Australian Navy? What is that decision? Where are ‘ these vessels to originate?
– I will he making a statement to the House-
– Either today or tomorrow, probably tomorrow, on defence. The question that the honourable member has raised will be dealt with in that statement. But perhaps at this stage I could point out to him that I did earlier - in point of fact, on the date that he referred to - indicate that there would he a destroyer program. Cabinet had approved a destroyer program at that time and that destroyers would be built in Australia. It was then necessary, as a result of the consideration being given to the destroyer program, for destroyers in other parts of the world to be evaluated. This was done.
The Defence Force Development Committee made a recommendation to me. It has recommended, as I announced last night, that we purchase 2 patrol frigates from the United States of America. This will mean that there will be patrol frigates in service- in Australia much earlier than would have been possible if the DDL program had been proceeded with. In any case, it would not have been possible to proceed with the DDL program, having regard to the fact that the cost had escalated from approximately $355m at the time of the previous Government to a figure certainly in excess of $400m at this time. It was not possible to proceed with that program. The patrol frigates will be in use in Australia in 1980. This means that the patrol frigates will he available for the Royal Australian Navy much earlier than vessels would have been available if we had proceeded with the DDL program or had decided to build the ships in Australia.
May I say in relation to this program that it was’ necessary to look at the question of where the destroyers should be built on the basis of the availability of a work force in Australia. As a result of the recent decision which I made to refit the River class destroyers and to update some other destroyers, the work load at Williamstown and Cockatoo dockyards will be sufficient to keep the work force fully employed until 1980 and probably beyond that time. In these circumstances a decision to build destroyers in Australia, which would have cost S30m more than if purchased from the US, would have meant a redistribution of the workload and the work force both at Williamstown and Cockatoo Dockyards.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Does the honourable gentleman remember my asking his predecessor 18 months ago whether he was prepared to initiate an Australia-wide competition for an Australian national anthem to include ‘Song of Australia’ and ‘Advance Australia Fair”’ Does he also remember his predecessor replying that he would have the greatest pleasure in looking into the matter? I ask the Prime Minister when he will receive and publish the results of the National Anthem Poll which was conducted in association with the Bureau of Statistics population survey in February and March.
– I well remember the honourable gentleman’s question. I completely agreed with my predecessor when he gave him this reply:
I think that increasingly numbers of Australians are anxious that we should have a distinctively Australian national anthem. Equally, I believe that large numbers of people would like us to retain in some form or another, for national days and other ceremonies associated with the Queen - as Queen of Australia- the present national anthem.
The right honourable gentleman later repeated these words in a written answer to Senator Jessop. I myself undertook during the last election campaign to conduct a competition for a national anthem, and I detailed the proposals on Australia Day last year. Last Friday the Acting Statistician sent me the results of the national anthem poll. The key results are: ‘Song of Australia’ 13.6 per cent; Advance Australia Fair’ 51.4 per cent; ‘Waltzing Matilda’ 19.6 per cent; and ‘Other’ 15.4 per cent. I ask for leave to have included in Hansard the more detailed statement which the Acting Statistician sent me and the percentages revealed in various age groups and States and Territories.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The National Anthem Poll was conducted in association with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Population Survey in February-March 1974. A publicity campaign, which concentrated on television and radio publicity, was carried out in conjunction with the Poll to help people in their choice of a tune for their National Anthem.
– The National Anthem Poll was conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in association with and as an adjunct to its quarterly population survey and was based on the same sample. The poll was the largest that has ever been held on any subject in Australia.
– I rise to order. I assure the honourable gentleman that he will be given leave to make a statement after question time. The purpose of my point of order is that the Prime Minister is filibustering in order to avoid awkward questions.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Sixty thousand persons of 18 years or more from all walks of life throughout the nation were asked to give their choice. The size of the sample was about 30 times greater than that of private public opinion polls which normally cover no more than 2,000 persons. I am confident that the result of the poll conducted by the Bureau is an accurate reflection of the will of the people. Although gallup polls are not as representative, they have shown a clear trend iri favour of a distinctively Australian anthem. ‘God Save the Queen’ was the choice of 57 per cent of people asked in a gallup poll in 1965 but only 25 per cent last month. As I said on Australia Day last year and on many later occasions - for instance, in answer to a question from the honourable member for Wannon last November - we shall continue to use God Save the Queen’ on occasions when Her Majesty is present or when it is especially important to acknowledge our links with the Queen as Queen of Australia and head of the Commonwealth.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the statement made by his AttorneyGeneral, Senator Murphy, to the Senate on 18 June 1970 as follows:
The Australian Labor Party has acted consistently in accordance with the tradition that we will oppose in the Senate any tax, any money Bill or other financial measure whenever necessary to carry out our principles and policies.
Is the honourable gentleman also aware that Senator Murphy tabled at that time a list of 168 financial measures, including taxation and appropriation Bills, which were opposed in whole or in part by the Labor Opposition between 1950 and 1970? If this was the clearly stated policy of the Australian Labor Party in Opposition, can the Prime Minister explain why he has suddenly reversed the Party’s attitude in government, or is he simply running scared?
– I do remember that Senator Murphy tabled such a list in the Senate. I did not approve of his tabling it. I do not agree that that was the Labor Party’s attitude. But I would have thought that honourable gentlemen would well know that I have consistently followed the attitude throughout my years in the Parliament - so has the Treasurer and so have all my senior colleagues - that it is inappropriate for the Senate to purport to cut off supply for the House of Representatives where governments are elected and to which governments are responsible. I have not always agreed with Senator Murphy in the past and I did not at that time. I would have thought that my attitude on this matter was well known. It has been expressed in committees of the Parliament - the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review- and on many occasions in the House itself. I do not have the same objection to the Senate or an upper house refusing supply if it also faces the people at the same time. That is a point of view which I have stressed in the Constitutional Review Committee which sat in 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959. It is a view to which I adhere. 1 believe that the honourable member for Moreton adheres to the same view and i support him in it. I believe it is quite wrong for any House of Parliament to refuse supply to a government without facing the consequences itself. I am very happy for both Houses of this Parliament to face the consequences of any refusal of supply.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education who is responsible for child-minding centres. I ask: Will he say that those engaged in controlling children in child-minding centres are amenable to the opportunities for brain washing? Will he clarify this statement so that our position may be made clear?
– The legislation governing child care centres was introduced by the honourable member for Flinders when he was Minister for Labour and National Service in the McMahon Government. That Government was not able to implement that legislation because the government changed at the election. It introduced the measure just before the general election of 1972. Responsibility for the Child Care Act was transferred to the Department of Education and it is wholly unamended. If there are any weaknesses in the Act the responsibility rests upon all honourable gentlemen opposite who voted for it. As I remember it, we did not oppose the legislation, although we suggested amendments when it was before the House. Amounts of $13. 5m in capital, more than $lm in recurring funds and $385,000 for research have been assigned under that Act. In the main the applicants have included churches - the Baptist Church; Methodist Church; Anglican Church, such as Saint David’s in Hobart; the Roman Catholic Church and orders such as the Sisters of Mercy - and many local government authorities. In fact, my impression would be that the majority of applicants to set up child care centres are local government authorities. I do not know whether the Sisters of
Mercy indoctrinate in the Catholic faith. I think the children in child care centres are very young for any form of indoctrination. I am not particularly concerned about these matters. We satisfy ourselves that those involved are respectable, responsible people. I think that their main concern is to help the parents who are working by looking after their children. There is not a scintilla of evidence that any of these child care centres, whether set up by local governments, churches or private charitable groups, have as their motivation any form of indoctrination.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether on 12 March 1974 - I will quote only the important part and not all of the statement, because of the time factor- he said:
I would add that I would expect- certainly, hope - that the Senate would pass the Constitution Alteration (Inter-change of Powers) Bill.
The Prime Minister used some more words and then he said:
Since then the 7 Parliamentary Draftsmen, the Commonwealth, the 6 State ones and all the AttorneysGeneral, the Commonwealth and the 6 State ones, have considered and approved the text of the Bill which I introduced and which the House of Representatives passed.
Is the honourable gentleman aware that Mr McCaw, the Attorney-General of New South Wales, has said that he and other AttorneysGeneral did not consider and approve the Bill; that Mr Wilcox, the Attorney-General of Victoria, said that the Prime Minister’s statement was quite untrue; and that Mr Knox, the Attorney-General of Queensland, said that the Prime Minister’s statement was totally false? Does the Prime Minister still adhere to the statement be then made? Does he still assert the truth of that statement he made on 12 March? If he does assert it will he give the basis on which he made it and table any relevant documents?
– I do reiterate the accuracy of that statement. I do not have the documents with me, but honourable gentlemen will remember the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention last September. They will also remember that last month I stated in the House the. dates upon which the drafts had been considered by the State and the Australian draftsmen. Also I stated there was a meeting in New Zealand, I think it was, at which the State and Australian Attorneys-General had discussed the matter. I have not heard from Mr McCaw by telephone nor ‘by letter about this matter. I have not seen any report of any such statement by Mr McCaw. I would be surprised if he made such a statement “because not infrequently I have been in touch with Mr McCaw. I have known him for many years and he has assisted the Government, and I appreciate the assistance he has given the Government in helping to make available judges of the Supreme Court of New South Wales as commissioners and chairmen of inquiries. I do not remember seeing any statement from Mr Wilcox about the matter, but he certainly has not been in touch with me. I did notice some statement by Mr Knox. I dismiss it because although he is an Attorney-General he is not a lawyer.
But more relevantly, on Friday, 22 March I attended a meeting - I chaired a meeting - of Committee A of the Constitutional Convention. It was attended by, among other members, the Premier of Victoria and the Minister for Education, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. We had before us minutes of the earlier committee meeting which had been attended also by Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, and Sir Charles Court, now the Premier of Western Australia. From all these proceedings - the minutes of these meetings, the agenda and the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention - it was quite clear that all the Premiers wished the Constitution Alteration (Interchange of Powers) Bill to be put to the people at the next Federal election.
– Mr Speaker, a point of order. My question related to, and I quoted:
Since then the 7 Parliamentary Draftsmen, the Commonwealth, the 6 States ones -
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order.
-Order! Wait until I hear this point of order.
– I want to know whether the right honourable gentleman -
-Order! I can consider only one point of order at a time. The Leader of the Opposition has a point of order.
– He did not say that he rose on a point of order; he just stood up and started to talk.
-Order! Is the right honourable gentleman taking a point of order?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. My question related to, and I quoted from, the Prime Minister’s Press Conference. I quoted the words relating to the Bill as follows:
Since then the 7 Parliamentary Draftsmen, the Commonwealth, the 6 State ones and all the Attorneys-General, the Commonwealth and the 6 State ones, have considered and approved the text of the Bill which I introduced and which, the House of Representatives passed.
I then referred to the statements made by Mr McCaw, Mr Wilcox and Mr Knox, Attorneys-General. The Prime Minister has now spoken about the Premiers. His statement related to the Attorneys-General-
– The Leader of the Opposition is debating the point of order.
-Order! In regard to the point of order, what the Prime Minister has said in his answer is quite relevant to portions of the question. I am not responsible for what he says in answer to the whole of the question.
– I have already stated, and I reaffirm, that I have not heard from Mr McCaw or Mr Wilcox in the way that the right honourable gentlemen asserts. They have not written to me; they have not telephoned me; I have not met them. Whenever we meet we do in fact discuss issues such as this. But I have not heard from them or about them on this matter. I did read what Mr Knox had said and I said that I disregarded it. I have reiterated that last Friday fortnight I chaired a meeting of Constitutional Convention Committee A. Mr Hamer and Mr Willis, the representatives from Victoria and New South Wales, did not demur in any way to what I had said about this matter - and it was discussed. Also present were Senator Greenwood, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in the Senate - or is it the Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberal Party?
The following week, the week before last, I wrote to every Premier in Australia referring to the Constitution Alteration (Inter-change of Powers) Bill. None of them have queried what I said to them in that letter. The fact is that every head of government in Australia expected that the Constitution Alteration (Interchange of Powers) Bill would be put to the people by the Australian Government at the next Federal election. In the Senate - the
States House - the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party took it on themselves to disown what was agreed to by the leader of every State government in Australia. Accordingly, this Bill will be put to the people at the subsequent Federal election.
– Has the Minister for Services and Property noticed that shortly after the Government announced its intention of introducing a Bill to force political parties to disclose the source of contributions to their party funds, the Liberal-Country Party moved to reject the Supply Bills? Has his attention been drawn to reports from the business community that the multi-national backers of the Liberal and Country Parties have urged them to go to an election immediately? Will the Minister immediately introduce the proposed legislation which will require the disclosure of the source of campaign funds?
– It is significant that almost immediately after the public announcement that the Labor Government had endorsed proposals for the public disclosure of campaign funds, the Liberal Party announced that it would vote against Supply in the Senate. Such an event cannot pass unnoticed. I believe that undoubtedly the Government’s announcement concerning the revelation of where multinational funds come from that are delivered to the Liberal Party was a major factor that caused the Liberal Party to make its announcement. In today’s ‘Australian’ there is a full page advertisement headed ‘When strong determined leaders meet, big things happen’. In that advertisement we see a photograph of the handsome Leader of the Country Party and his counterpart in Brisbane. By the way, they are launching a new name, that is good.
– A point of order: Sir, your predecessor and yourself consistently have ruled that it . is not right to read from newspapers in this Parliament. The Minister is reading from a newspaper.
– Order! The ruling has always been that a member cannot quote from a newspaper in asking a question or giving an answer, but it is permissible to refer to it.
– I was referring to that only in order to say that the advertisement was paid for the Country Party by the BHP and by the oil companies so that they would sell Australia’s assets also in order to increase the price of petrol.
– A point of order. Mr Speaker, I seek your ruling and enlightenment on whether it is in order for a Minister to speak about something which is not his responsibility. I refer to the matter of the name change in Queensland not being within his jurisdiction. Mr Speaker, I ask for your ruling on that matter.
– Order! The question specifically asked the Minister about impending legislation in the House. The Minister is quite in order.
– I do not want to embarrass the Country Party on the eve of an election, so I will not quote further from the advertisement in the newspaper. I just repeat that the advertisement was paid for by BHP and by the oil companies in order that the Country Party would sell Australia’s assets and at the same time increase the price of petrol.
– A point of order, Mr Speaker.
– A point of order; and there is no need to shout.
– My point of order is that the advertisement referred to by the Minister for Services and Property, unlike the advertisements, being inserted by the Australian Government, is not being paid for by the taxpayers.
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– I do not know what effect the advertisement will have on the Australian public, but it has caused a hell of a shock to the Country Party. All I want to say in conclusion is that it is beyond doubt that unlimited money is pouring in from the multinational companies to those people opposite, and the Leader of the Opposition is on record as saying that he will take it from wherever he can get it. That means that there are obligations involved. The legislation that we propose will give honourable members opposite a chance to hide their sordid past and go straight in the future. We will introduce the legislation at the first possible opportunity.
H the Parliament goes long enough, honourable members opposite will see the legislation in before the Parliament finishes. Then we and the Australian people will know where the huge resources of the Liberal and Country Parties are coming from and be able to judge who is supporting Australia, who is maintaining Australia - whether it is the Labor Party or those who are paid by big business and multi-nationals. I thank the honourable member for that informative question, and I hope that he is satisfied with the reply.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Sir. During question time the Minister for Social Security was answering a question which obviously was a Dorothy Dixer. I want to make my point by reading a resolution passed at the Country Party conference. It explains-
– Order! There is no personal explanation permitted unless the honourable gentleman has been misrepresented himself - not his Party or anybody else. That is the only case in which the honourable gentleman is entitled to make a personal explanation. His alternative is to seek leave to make a statement.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. With characteristic looseness of tongue the Minister for Services and Property said that the Leader of the Opposition - that is referring directly to me - has said that he will take money from wherever he can get it and of course there would be conditions attached. Mr Speaker, that is a false statement and the honourable gentleman must well know it. In fact, in this House I have made it abundantly clear that no donation to the Liberal Party will be accepted if there is the slightest condition attached to it. That remains the position. It always will remain the position while I am the Leader of the Liberal Party. I was misrepresented by the Prime Minister when he-
-Order! Is this another personal explanation?
-Does the right honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. I claim to have been misrepresented by the Prime Minister when he was trying to extract himself from his contradictory statements. He tried to imply–
– I rise to a point of order. I think we have gone far enough in listening to the right honourable gentleman, who, in seeking to defend himself,- misrepresents other people. The purpose of a personal explanation is to say where one has been misrepresented and to put it right, not to attack anyone else.
-The point of order is quite valid. The right honourable gentleman should state where he has been misrepresented by the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister in answering the question I asked him this morning said that he had chaired a meeting on 22 March which was attended by, among others, Mr Hamer, Mr Thompson, Mr Willis-
– Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to come to the point where he has been misrepresented and not to speak in regard to a meeting that was attended by people other than himself. He should state where he has been misrepresented.
– It is necessary to identify that which I am speaking about.
– I take a point of order. Sir, I ask you to rule that when a person seeks to make a personal explanation he must indicate what statement was a misrepresentation. That can be done only by stating what was said and where it is a misrepresentation.
– He has already done that.
– We have not yet heard his statement on which he claims to have been misrepresented.
– I have just pointed out to the right honourable Leader of the Opposition that he must be very concise in regard to the point on which he has been misrepresented. He cannot debate other matters such as meetings at which other people attended.
– I cannot be more concise than to identify what it was the Prime Minister said and that is what I am doing. The Prime Minister spoke of a meeting of Committee A of the Constitutional Convention which he said was attended by Mr Hamer, Mr Thompson, Mr Willis and Senator Greenwood and that that was on 22 March. The clear implication was that he made a false statement because nothing was said on 22 March. The fact is that the Bill was rejected by the Senate on 19 March and therefore was no longer relevant to that Committee meeting on 22 March.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, the right honourable gentleman has misrepresented me. The point of my reference to the Constitutional Convention Committee A on Friday 22 March was that following the rejection by the Senate of the Constitution Alteration (Inter-change of Powers) Bill I reported to the other representatives from the State Parliaments that it would not now be possible for the Australian Government to put to the people at the forthcoming Federal election the Bill which last September at the Constitutional Convention and at the various meetings in between of draftsmen and Attorneys-General it had been agreed that the Australian Government should put to the people. Sir, that was the whole point of my reference. On that Friday, 22 March I pointed out that we would not now be able to proceed with that particular constitutional reform for which we had all been preparing.
I might also say that I did not state that Mr Thompson was there. I stated that the Premier of Victoria was there - that is Mr Hamer. I stated also that the Minister for Education, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in New South Wales, was there - that is Mr Willis.
– When you said Minister for Education, that is Mr Thompson in Victoria. I misunderstood.
– I did not say Mr Thompson-
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that the Prime Minister is not addressing himself to the point of this explanation at all. The whole point at issue is whether or not he lied in the House when he said-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member for Mackellar will withdraw that assertion.
– Sir, I made no assertion.
-Order! I am asking him to withdraw those words that he just mentioned.
– Yes, Sir, certainly. I do not know whether the Prime Minister lied in the House or not.
-Order! I have warned the honourable member for Mackellar. If he tries to flout the Chair and make a joke of some of the rulings I am going to deal with him. I ask him to withdraw that without qualification.
– 1 withdraw without qualification any references as to whether the Prime Minister was a liar or not.
-Order! I ask the honourable member to withdraw. This is his last warning. I ask him to withdraw without qualification.
– I have withdrawn, Sir.
-Order! I name the honourable member for Mackellar.
Motion (by Mr Daly) put:
That the honourable member for Mackellar be suspended from the service of the House.
-Order! The question is that the honourable member for Mackellar be suspended from the service of the House. Those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. Is a division required? Ring the bells. (The bells being rung.)
– What a despicable decision.
– You are down too.
Question put -
That the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. (The honourable member for Mackellar thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– Mr Speaker, I move:
That the House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition is out of order. Notice must be given to that effect.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
That the House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
I also draw attention to the fact-
– Order! The right honourable gentleman cannot debate anything. Sit down! Take your seat! The right honourable gentleman is not allowed to debate the matter. Written notice of the motion must be given to the Clerk.
– Mr Speaker, I move:
That order of the day No. 1, Committee of Privileges report relating to a letter fraudulently written in the name of the honourable member for Casey, be postponed to a later hour.
– Order! The Leader of the House is out of order. The notice of motion of the Leader of the Opposition must come first.
– In the meantime, Mr Speaker, could I table a report of the Industries Assistance Commission?
– Certainly not!
– Order! The Clerk will read out the notice of motion and it will be debated at a later hour.
– Notice has been received from the Leader of the Opposition that at the next sitting he intends to move:
That the House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
– I move-
– Order! The right honourable gentleman is not allowed to move or speak on this notice of motion at present.
– Mr Speaker, you must listen to me before you know what I am going to say.
– Order! The right honourable gentleman does not have the call and if he wishes to speak on his notice of motion, he will be out of order.
– Mr Speaker-
– Mr Speaker, I take the point of order that the right honourable gentleman is distinctly out of order in standing whenever he feels like it to make a speech and I ask you to rule that he must resume his seat and, if he does not do so, that he be thrown out of the House.
-Order! The point of order is quite valid. Does the right honourable gentleman want to speak on a point of order?
– Mr Speaker, I have the right in this House to move a motion and I stand for your call to move the motion.
– The right honourable gentleman has not taken a point of order. He is just standing up and doing the things I complained about.
-The usual practice when a notice of this kind is handed in is for the Clerk to read it and the matter then goes onto the notice paper and is debated later. That is the rule of the House.
– I want to move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -
– I take a point of order.
– I have a positive motion that 1 put to you, Mr Speaker.
– I take a point of order. Is the honourable member in order in just standing up without indicating that he is taking a point of order.
– Order! I understood that the right honourable gentleman was moving for the suspension of Standing Orders.
– That is right.
– Very well, go ahead.
– Mr Speaker, I stood to get your call to move that motion and you would hot permit me to be heard. I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the substantive motion that I have moved, ‘That the House has no confidence in Mr Speaker’, being debated forthwith.
I shall write out that motion.
– I take a point of order. The right honourable member did give notice that he was to move tomorrow a motion calling for a vote of no confidence in you, Mr Speaker. He did not ask whether honourable members on this side of the House would accept that motion for debate at any other time. We are prepared to debate it forthwith.
– That can only be done through the suspension of Standing Orders. The right honourable gentleman can seek leave to move it forthwith. Do you seek leave to move that motion forthwith?
- Mr Speaker, under the circumstances I consider that as it is a motion of no confidence in you, you ought to be given some time to consider it. If it is your wish, Mr Speaker, that some time for consideration be permitted I would be agreeable to that course. Otherwise we will go on with the debate right away. I have said that in deference to you.
– It is immaterial to me when the debate takes place. The Standing Orders of the House provide that such a notice must be placed on the notice paper. But if the Leader of the Opposition desires to go on with the matter straight away, and if he seeks and is granted the leave of the House it can continue straight away. I have no objection.
– Mr Speaker, by way of explanation, I am prepared to save the Leader of the Opposition trouble and embarrassment. I ask for the leave of the House to move for the suspension of Standing Orders to permit this motion to proceed forthwith.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving his motion forthwith.
– I move:
That the House has no confidence in Mr Speaker.
The office of Speaker is an honourable position. It has been known in the parliamentary system and in the Westminster form of government as being most important for the protection of parliamentary democracy and for the protection of every member of this House. I notice, Mr Speaker, that Labor Party members have walked out. They intend to vote jackboot style according to their numbers. They have no intention of giving consideration to your performance as they ought to do. The Speaker should protect every member in this House. He is the custodian of parliamentary democracy. The Speaker is the man who should sit in this chamber and act objectively and fairly while occuping, in a parliamentary sense, a judicial office. He ought to consider every argument which is put. He ought to be able to make a judgment on those arguments, having no regard whatever to any fear or favour which may flow from his actions.
Because in our parliamentary system the Speaker is elected by the House on each occasion it meets following an election, for the House, it follows that the Speaker always comes from the Government side. The fact that he comes from the Government side of the House does not mean that he represents the Government side. He represents the Parliament. In fact, the Speaker has an important duty in the department of state which is the Department of the House of Representatives. He has an administrative function. He stands above politics. When he comes into this chamber it is his duty to protect the rights of every member in the House. The Speaker has a requirment to act with dignity. He has a responsibility to act with fairness. He has a responsibility to be just in the determination of the matters before him.
Mr Speaker, the position which you occupy is not a position from which to clown; nor is it a position from which you should serve the interests of the Government. I am bound to say that I believe that you, Mr Speaker, misunderstand totally your duties in the chair. What you, Mr Speaker, constantly do is try to make jokes from the chair. You try to be the witty man and you try to be the man who succeeds, by making a sharp comment, a smart comment or a witticism, over a member sitting in the chamber. If you are dissatisfied with an interjection or a comment made by a member of the chamber you should ask that member to withdraw the remark, ask him to cease making such remarks or ask him to be silent. It does not serve the dignity of this House if, in the voice that you adopt, you call for order and then try to make a witticism which outwits the interjection. That sort of behaviour does nothing for the standard and the dignity of this Parliament.
All honourable members know that when you. Mr Speaker, sat on the backbench you had a reputation for being a witty interjector. We all paid tribute to you for your interjections. We did not expect that, when you attained the position of Speaker, you would fail to understand the translation in your position from backbencher to Speaker. Mr Speaker, you are no longer a backbencher who can just toss off a witticism as he wishes and take the consequences, which in your case were mostly a laugh, but must be prepared, if necessary, to take the consequences if there is vitriol in the interjection. You are no longer representing the Labor Party. Mr Speaker, you are a man who has been elected to the highest office in this Parliament. It is not for you to be a comedy act. That is what we believe you allow yourself to descend into so often. Wherever I go I hear reports about the conduct of the Parliament. Those reports are distinctly uncharitable to us all and they are aimed particularly at you, Mr Speaker. They are aimed at you because all members of the broad public know, whenever they listen to the broadcast of the proceedings of this Parliament, that what I am saying is true.
I can have no confidence any more in a Speaker who seeks to be some sort of comedian in order to entertain not only the Parliament but also the people who, from a national sense of interest, listen to the debates of this House. They do not listen to the proceedings of Parliament for entertainment of the kind that you, Mr Speaker, try to give them. I might say, Mr Speaker, that if you were witty on the backbench in Opposition, you are no longer witty and you are no longer funny. The attempts at jokes that you, Mr Speaker, make fall flat. There is no humour in saying to a member on the Opposition side of the House: ‘You will find yourself out of the door before long’. That is not a matter of dignity. Mr Speaker, if a member says something for which you want to reprimand him, you should state clearly and precisely that he is to cease making such remarks or ask him to withdraw the remarks that he made; you should not try to outsmart him. Is it your expectation, Mr Speaker, mat every member in this House should have a scriptwriter to write comedy for him to use when he comes into the House? Is that what you have on your staff? If so, sack him. He has failed you. This is not a position from which to clown. Nor is it a position from which to serve the interests of the Government. The Government owes you nothing except that which every member of this House owes you: The responsibility of obeying your conduct of this House. All of us owe you that in the same way. But you owe nothing to the Government.
There have been so many times in this place when the Government side interject consistently and make an enormous uproar and you do not call them to order. If there is any continual interjection from Opposition members, you turn to them and attempt to deal with them, to quieten them. One recalls the number of times on which the conduct of the affairs in this chamber has been designed to protect a Minister who is acting incompetently or stupidly or saying provocative things which beget from the Opposition a response which one would expect from it. Too often, Mr Speaker, you have conducted yourself to protect the Government.
There have been so many circumstances in which we have had objection to your rulings. You made a distinction when some of my colleagues referred to the Prime Minister’s act as shameful. You named them and had them thrown out of the Parliament. I then pointed out to you that that was a wrong decision. I also said to you that if anybody else had done it, we would have described it as shameful - and you were unable to take action because your original decision was wrong. If there needed to be any confirmation of that then the other day when the Prime Minister stood up with that schoolboy smirk, indicating: ‘How clever I am in appointing Senator Gair as Ambassador to Ireland’-
– Too smart by half.
– Too smart by half it was. But the smirk I shall never forget: ‘How clever am I’. There was a competition on that Tuesday when they thought it was smart-
– I rise to order. I want to know what it has to do with this motion, whether the Prime Minister appointed an ambassador to Ireland or did not. The appointment of an ambassador to Ireland has nothing whatever to do with this motion.
-Order! I think that the honourable gentleman is making only a passing reference to it. I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– When the smirk came and there was competition for the credit as to who thought up the appointment, which I must say the Attorney-General won by a nose, I said that it was a shameful act. You, Mr Speaker, did not require me to withdraw that. You moved in an entirely different way. You moved to falsify the records of this chamber by instructing Hansard not to report what had been said.
– I rise to order, Mr Speaker. That statement is not merely a passing reflection on you. That is a very serious allegation to make even in a debate of this kind. I bring to the attention of this House that I know that you with your impartiality, probably thinking that the honourable member knows that you will not take offence at this statement-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I should like to point out, to make things clear as far as Hansard is concerned, that unless a member gets the call, his remarks should not be included in Hansard. This was a point always accepted by my predecessors. I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– Only a short time before, the Prime Minister had come into this chamber and asked for leave to make a statement about the referendum. He was granted leave by whoever was at the table on the Opposition side. I was not given the courtesy of being informed that he intended to make a statement. I did not know he was speaking until I heard it on the radio in my room, my attention being drawn to it by the Whip. The Prime Minister asked for leave to make a statement on the referendum. He was given leave to make a statement on the referendum and he could have spoken about any aspect of it as any honourable member when he is given leave to make a statement about a subject so long as it is relevant to the subject. The Prime Minister chose to make a short statement. He did not want a debate on it, which is why he made a short statement. I asked for leave to make a statement about the referendum. You, Mr Speaker, said that I had asked for leave to make a statement along the lines of the statement made by the Prime Minister. That was incorrect. Furthermore, everybody in this chamber knew it to be incorrect.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. At the time to which the Leader of the Opposition refers Mr Deputy Speaker Luchetti was in the Chair, not you. Therefore this is out of order.
– Order! I am quite aware of that fact and I think that the right honourable gentleman, when he reads Hansard, might alter it. I do not want to be placed in the position where it may be suggested that I am trying to stifle the Leader of the Opposition. If he says anything that is incorrect I am sure he will alter his Hansard green in respect of that matter.
Bt Gun - That would be falsifying what he said.
-Order! I was not in the Chair at the time about which the Leader of the Opposition is speaking.
– Mr Speaker, did I hear you correctly? Did you say that if I said anything wrong I would alter Hansard?
– No, I did not. I said that if the right honourable member on reading his Hansard greens found that he had made a mistake he could alter it. That is all I said. As long as an honourable member does not change the context of his speech he can alter it. This is done every day of the week, so long as the member does not change the context of what he said. Let me point this out: I have heard honourable members refer in this House to billions of pounds. Subsequently they have altered it to millions of pounds. Such alterations are made without affecting the context of their speech. Honourable members alter their greens. Every honourable member of this . House has done it.
– Mr Speaker, what you said I found offensive. As you have now explained it, I hope that I will be able to rely upon that being your intention at the start. I appreciate the intervention of the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). My recollection was faulty in that it was Mr Luchetti as Deputy Speaker, not yourself on that particular occasion. That was only one occasion. There what happened was that the occupant of the chair was one of your Deputies. Nevertheless that position remained. I made an error in that respect.
– Is that an apology?
– Certainly. I apologise, Mr Speaker, that I did make that error. It does not in any way detract from my want of confidence in you, as Speaker of this chamber. Mr Speaker, you have tolerated Government actions which are rowdyism. Mr Speaker, you have tolerated interjections constantly. On 4 April, addressing me, you, Mr Speaker, said:
Order! The right honourable member will resume his seat. I will name you if you keep on taking false points of order.
You later said to the honourable member for Wannon:
I will tell the honourable member that the first time he raises what he describes as a point of order which is not a point of order I will name him.
You have put up with Ministers from the front bench of the Government constantly taking points of order so as to interrupt any body from this side of the House who is wanting to make a point. You give preference to Government members. You do not take action against them. You allow Ministers to get away with murder, to use the vernacular. Mr Speaker, you have allowed continual interruptions by Government members. You have allowed false allegations to be made by Government members, and when false allegations are made during question time, as they are made constantly by Ministers in answering questions, you will not permit the point to be taken by the Opposition then that it is a false allegation. The consequence of that is that a false allegtion made when a Minister is answering a question goes out over the air waves when question time is re-broadcast. The honourable member of the Opposition parties who has been maligned never gets the opportunity to refute the allegation. He does not have the opportunity of correcting the position by means of the same media - that is, during the broadcasting of the question time. You have followed this practice constantly, Mr Speaker.
Never have so few questions been asked during question time as over the last 16 months. You allow Ministers to go on and on when answering questions. You allow them to quote from papers. You allow them to read page after page instead of requiring them to make a statement after question time so that the matter can be debated. Fewer questions are being asked during question time. Therefore, there have been fewer opportunities for members of the Opposition to ask questions of Ministers. On the other hand, Ministers have had more opportunity to protect their weaker colleagues who could not stand up to questioning. The result is that members on the Opposition side of the House are called to ask a question no more often than about once every 3 or 4 weeks. Because of your responsibility to all members of this House, you ought not to permit that to occur. You know that during question time which lasts 45 minutes the proper number of questions asked should be somewhere between 20 and 25, depending on the day. But the fact is that the number of questions asked rarely reaches double figures. The reason for this is that you will not say to Ministers, or mean it if you do say it, that they must give an answer which is relevant to the question asked and that they must stop reading great pages of documents prepared by their departments. It is the Minister who is under question not his department. If there are enough public servants in a department they can anticipate all the questions that will be asked.
You have done nothing for the rights of back-benchers, Mr Speaker. You have created a new set of standards in this Parliament, standards which I have never known in the period I have been here. Mr Speaker, you have not only been the poorest Speaker I have served under but also you have not improved the standing of the Parliament as you should. You have allowed new words, such as ‘yahoo’, to become parliamentary. You have made other words unacceptable in the Parliament. You have thrown out honourable members, and today you have thrown out the honourable member for Mackellar, Mr Wentworth. When you asked him to withdraw, he did withdraw, and every honourable member in this . chamber heard him do so. Then you named him. That, Mr Speaker, was the pinnacle of your lack of control of this House and your lack of understanding of what this House is.
– Order! The right honourable gentleman’s time has expired. Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. I regret that the Opposition has felt compelled to move this motion of censure against you, Mr Speaker, as the Speaker of this Parliament. I heard what went on in the Parliament this morning and I was very disturbed to hear your ruling, Sir. It highlighted a growing tension that has existed between you and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). It is quite obvious that whilst you are expected to carry out your duties in this House impartially and whilst you have a right to have your own personal opinions about honourable members in this House, you have no right to exercise any vindictiveness by using the authority of the Chair. That is the charge that is laid against you in relation to the decision that you have taken against the honourable member for Mackellar. The honourable member for Mackellar is a very effective and competent member of this chamber.
– He is a lunatic.
-Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw that remark. It is a personal reflection.
– I withdraw it, Mr Speaker.
– It is true that he disturbs this Parliament. It is true that he takes many points of order. It is also true that he is very brilliant in the points of order he takes, and many times he arrests this House and directs it to the proper proceedings of this House. But in the course of the honourable member’s doing this, he infuriates you as Speaker. Today it seemed as though it just became too much for you, Mr Speaker, with all the pressures that have been on the Party to which you belong. Unfortunately your decision is the culmination of a number of decisions that have caused a good deal of concern amongst members of the Opposition, including myself. In recent days we have had to move dissent from your rulings, which is not a light thing to do in itself. We believe that we had real justification for dissenting from your rulings, but it appears that even though we expressed ourselves in dissenting from your rulings it has made little impact upon you. Today you took the extreme measure of wanting the honourable member not only to withdraw his remarks but also almost to bow down on his knees in some humble state and plead mercy from you.
The facts of the matter are that the words of the honourable member for Mackellar were to this effect: ‘The question is whether or not the Prime Minister lied to the Parliament.’ You asked him to withdraw his assertion. There was no assertion to withdraw. He asked a question whether the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) had lied to the Parliament. He did not accuse the Prime Minister of lying. But being in such a supersensitive state, as Government supporters are to the credibility and integrity of the Prime Minister, you reacted without even thinking closely on the situation. The honourable member for Mackellar was prepared to withdraw and did withdraw. But you wanted some qualification that he had made a frightful mistake, that he was sorry and that he did not mean it. I just wonder to what extent he had to withdraw. He withdrew his remarks emphatically and the Hansard record will show that he withdrew them. Everyone in this chamber heard him withdraw them.
– He qualified his withdrawal.
– He did not qualify his withdrawal; he did it openly and frankly as any man would. In circumstances in which he had nothing to withdraw, what more could he do? But in these obviously dying days of the Parliament the Government will throw its weight around with the strength of numbers. It will control this Parliament. The whole place is getting into a pretty sorry state when this kind of situation continues. Your conduct in this House, on a number of occasions, Mr Speaker, has been questionable. It is unfortunate that a Speaker has only to make a few rulings, which cause the House to lose confidence in him, for him then to put himself in a position where he is no longer fit to hold that office.
I recall last year that you made a decision and I had to move dissent from your ruling. You named one of my colleagues, the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), when he said that the Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself. You ruled that that was unparliamentary. As a result, a number of honourable members were thrown out. Goodness me, if that sort of comment cannot be made in this Parliament what sort of criticism can be levelled at a Prime Minister when he is throwing insults at the Opposition? I should like to bring up another case in this House. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in one of the. most unfitting performances that the head of this country could ever carry out and by the gravest breach of parliamentary privilege that is known under the British parliamentary system, under the precedents that are laid down in the Westminster system, accused one of the members of this House of being drunk. That is the gravest breach of privilege that anyone can make in this House. We asked that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee.
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The motion is a motion of no confidence in you, and it should not be used as a vehicle for the ravings of the Leader of the Country Party in slighting the Prime Minister. I ask you, Sir, to bring the Leader of the Country Party to order.
– Order! There is no point of order involved.
- Mr Speaker, what I am saying has a direct relevance to the way in which-
– That is why I ruled that there was no point of order involved.
– I am answering what the honourable member is trying to get over the air to the Australian people. I want to get over the air to the Australian people what the true facts of the situation are. We asked, as is the right and privilege of the Opposition, to have the matter referred to the Privileges Committee. That is a decision which you,
Mr Speaker, with your authority could have made on your own initiative. It was not a question of making a decision; it was a question of allowing an objective assessment of what had gone on to be made. But you, Sir, in your position referred the matter back to this chamber to make a decision, knowing that the weight of numbers on the Government side would crush the Opposition’s proposal. Mr Speaker, you would not even allow a full and proper examination of the rights of one of the members of this House because you wanted to shelter and protect the Prime Minister who, I believe, then commenced an operation which highlighted the lack of integrity standards and principles of this man. On those grounds we should have censured you, Sir, but we were prepared to accept that you were trying to do the best you could in your circumstances, but today this performance from you of trying to make the honourable member for Mackellar humble himself and plead with you for mercy was beyond any redemption whatsoever.
Sir, we have seen you on other occasions allowing the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) to take countless points or order, one after the other, but when members of the Opposition have stood up to take points of order you have sat them down. Last week we had the case when you ordered the Prime Minister to sit down. He stood up and continued to talk even though I had the right to speak; I could not talk any longer. The Prime Minister refused to accept your ruling. He disobeyed you. He flouted your ruling. But you, Sir, sat there and took the lot because he was the Prime Minister, he was the head of your Party, and you were not going to discipline him for one moment. This is no way for a Speaker to behave.
Perhaps this is only a small matter, but there is the question of the tape recording of parliamentary proceedings. You, Mr Speaker, ruled that you have a discretion to decide whether tape recordings ought to be replayed immediately or whether they ought to be delayed until there is a break in the proceedings. Anybody knows that if we are to have an impact on a debate in this House where points of order are taken and where there is a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders, we have to get straight away the facts of what was said. You, Sir, have made a new ruling that we cannot have the tape recordings replayed until a few hours later.
The ordinary sensible suggestion was made that we have 2 tape recorders operating at the same time. But no, that was not to be considered or allowed. Perhaps it is too expensive to buy another tape recorder.
At question time you, Sir, on many occasions have ruled members of the Opposition Parties out of order for interjecting and taking points of order when Ministers in this Government continue to speak at length, ad lib, until we have reached the stage where a minimum number of questions is being asked. This is the technique which the Government is using in order to prevent us from questioning and examining the motives and policies of this Government. You, Mr Speaker, should be ruling that there is a limit to the period of time which Ministers can take in answering questions. All these matters have caused such indignation in the ranks of the Opposition that today, as much as we dislike it, we felt that we have to move this motion of censure of you. It is regrettable that a person of your very high standing and position in Parliament should have brought himself to the situation about which the Opposition felt so very bitterly incensed, but I am afraid that we have to explain to the Australian people just where we are going in this Parliament because of the shameful and shabby Government that we have at present.
– We have just witnessed an electioneering act put on by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) in a most despicable and contemptible way. Rarely in my time in this Parliament have I heard the Leader of the Opposition, who would be better occupied haunting houses than trying to be Prime Minister, in worse form. The same is true of the Leader of the Australian Country Party. Mr Speaker, let this be a lesson to you. Your tolerance, understanding and decency are not appreciated. The two worst offenders in this Parliament are the two who have spoken to this motion. If the Standing Orders were strictly enforced the Deputy Leader of the Country Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) would never be in this House and his Leader would be outside with him most of the time. The attempt to attack you, Sir, is a thinly veiled attack on the Prime Minister and almost everybody else on this side. I will tell you why they have put on this act today. In another place they are trying to muster the numbers to vote against supply. All over the weekend and at all hours of the night they have been trying to get their colleagues to vote against supply and we are forced to debate this motion so that the business of the House will be held up. This motion is the means of deliberately stopping us from passing the Appropriation Bill.
The Leader of the Country Party said that Ministers are long-winded. Does he know that his former respected leader, Sir John McEwen, took 27 minutes one day to answer a question? When he had finished he still had not said anything. That is the situation. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has been named today. I do not know whether he should have gone out today but I do know that he has stayed in many times when he should have gone out. That is the third time during the life of this Government that he has been suspended. He is more unruly and disrespectful to the Chair than any other member I have seen in the Parliament. There is no doubt that today members of the Country Party and others will do anything to disrupt the proceedings of the Parliament. Anybody who has had any experience in this Parliament will have observed the trend in recent weeks. As soon as question time starts the rabble opposite act like a rabble and try to convey to the people outside that their behaviour is your fault. You have an exemplary collection of men on the government benches. They are highly intelligent and respectful to the dignity of the Parliament. Not one member from this side has been named; that is because of our exemplary conduct and the way we adhere to your rulings.
How often has the Deputy Leader of the Country Party deliberately flouted you? You will remember that the other day the Leader of the Opposition said that all interjections should be in order. Let me remind the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country Party that you, Sir, are the unanimous choice of this Parliament. If they thought that the things they were putting over today in their electioneering speech were correct, why did they not oppose your appointment to the Chair? They know full well that you are the unanimous choice of this Parliament. All honourable members opposite supported your election as Speaker. They all voted for you and said what a remarkable man you are. Today, for downright rotten political ends the Leader of the Country Party demeaned himself. Knowing full well you cannot reply he said things in a contemptible and miserable way that he would not be game to say if you were on the floor and able to reply as I am doing today.
The trouble with the Leader of the Country Party is that he is believing the propaganda of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. He is beginning to believe that the things he is writing about himself are correct. On 27 February 1973 the Leader of the Country Party said:
Mr Speaker, on behalf of the parliamentary members of the Australian Country Party, I congratulate you on your unanimous election to the position of the supreme office bearer of the House of Representatives. I wish you well. I hope that you can fulfil your role with great dignity and distinction. . . .
He went on to say:
You have displayed to this House at times a great sense of humour through your interjections. I hope that, when the atmosphere becomes tense and tempers are high, you will be able to draw on this wit to defuse that atmosphere and to maintain order.
Now we have the Leader of the Opposition saying that he is no good.
– Order! The Leader of the Country Party, who is trying to interject, is breaking the Standing Orders.
– Yes, he is disorderly already. On the same day the Leader of the Opposition said:
The practice of this Parliament is to select the Speaker from the Party which has the majority of members in this House. In recent years there has been a practice in which the nominee of the majority Party has been opposed from the other side of the House. We did not adopt that course on this occasion, as is apparent to everybody.
I will tell honourable members opposite why. It is because they know he is the fairest and the most just man on this side of the Parliament for the position. The haunter of houses, who has justleft the chamber, went on to pay tribute to your wit, Mr Speaker. He then said:
We will not interject while you are speaking . . .
Mr Speaker, you can hardly be heard sometimes for the rabble of the yahoos opposite. The Leader of the Opposition continued:
Mr Speaker, you have to be jolly decent to members of the Opposition. You are not to offend them at all and are not to give a decision against them when they play up. You are not to call them to order. The Leader of the Opposition went on:
Further, we will be parliamentarians at alltimes, no matter what the circumstances.
This brings me to the phoney motion which the Opposition has moved today. One of the problems of this Parliament has been the the deliberate tactics of the Leader of the Country Party and also the Leader of the Opposition who, instead of setting a high standard of parliamentary conduct, have decided that members of their parties who sit behind them will look and act like a rabble in this Parliament. They have endeavoured to do so by upsetting you, Mr Speaker. They have tried to convey over the air by yelling, screaming and walking out occasionally, that the Chair cannot control them. It is difficult for anybody to control people who act like hooligans. It is difficult to control people who pay no respect to the dignity of this Parliament. That is precisely what the Leader of the Country Party does. I know what members of the Country Party do. They even have beer bottles and Lord knows what in Forrest Place. They fight it the hard way, and good luck to them. But when they are throwing their bottles and beer cans in this place at the Speaker they should not expect him to be as tolerant as others have to be who cannot defend themselves.
A similar motion was moved some time ago. I repeat that this motion has been moved to allow the Liberal Party in particular to go into another place and see whether it can get the numbers. We want to debate the Appropriation Bills but the shuddering members who sit opposite said: ‘No, do something to the Speaker. Whatever you do do not bring the vote on because we like this place. We only have a couple of week to go if there is an election’. That is the reason why this motion has been moved today. I do not intend to prolong this debate at great length but I say to you, Mr Speaker, that your tolerance and understanding has been taken for weakness by those opposite. No Speaker has put up with more disreputable conduct from those who sit opposite or with the misuse of parliamentary proceedings. The Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country Party or the National Party, whatever the blessed name is this Monday, do not show any respect to you at all and they seek, by leading their people against the Standing Orders, to infuriate you to such an extent that the public will think that you are the one responsible.
Mr Speaker, you have added dignity, understanding, tolerance and fairness to this Parliament. Your judgment has been as wise as that of Solomon. In the face of great misuse of the Standing Orders by those who sit opposite your patience has astounded me and members on this side of the Parliament. I say to members of the public at large that if they could all come here and see this Parliament in action, there would be no doubt, when they look at those who sit opposite, as to who is responsible for any misconduct in this place. It is undoubtedly the ringleader opposite. I want the Appropriation Bills to be voted on. I want to see those opposite line up in another place and see what they will do. I do not want the members of the Liberal Party who are organising the vote wandering around any longer than is necessary in order to get the parties’ members into line. This motion was moved exclusively for that purpose. I again congratulate you, Mr Speaker, as the unanimous choice of this Parliament. You have the complete confidence of everyone. As it is now time that we should get on with the real business of the House, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 12
– Permission is granted.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the House has no confidence in Mr Speaker (Mr Snedden’s motion)
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 1.8 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Daly) agreed to:
That order of the day No. 1, Privilege, be postponed until a later hour this day.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I move:
That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Western Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs B. S. Nicholls, W. G. Henderson and J. W. Robson, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 12th day of March 1974, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name of ‘Tangney’ be substituted for O’Connor’.
The Government has now considered the report of the Distribution Commissioners for the State of Western Australia, together with the suggestions, comments and objections lodged with the Commissioners in pursuance of Sections 18(A) and 21 respectively of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and has decided to recommend approval of the Distribution Commissioners’ proposals, in the expectation that both Houses will ensure that the Governor-General may be enabled to proclaim this redistribution at an early date. Such an action will ensure that the people of Western Australia are able to elect the 10 members of the House of Representatives to which they are entitled.
The possibility that the people of Western Australia may be required to vote for the House of Representatives earlier than the Distribution Commissioners may have expected has, in the Government’s view, simply given additional urgency to the need for action in this matter. This will presumably be one matter upon which the Government and all Opposition parties in both Houses can agree. The Government has noted that the Distribution Commissioners’ final proposals are virtually unchanged as compared with those published in October, 1973, despite the substantial body of criticism made by the various political parties, individual parliamentarians and other competent or interested citizens.
The Government wishes to voice what it considers to be 3 valid grounds for criticism, though these grounds, taken either singly or together, are not, in the Government’s view, sufficiently serious to warrant rejection of the overall proposals, particularly given the present requirements for equitable Western Australian representation in this House. The Government’s reservations, all or some of which are shared by people outside the Australian Labor Party, can be summarised as follows: Firstly, while it is pleasing to note that the previous and existing inequalities in voting power as between the electors in various divisions have, on the whole, been reduced - this refers not just to inequalities between urban and rural electorates, but also among urban electorates themselves - the position is still unsatisfactory.
The Commissioners have seen fit to vary the proposed Kalgoorlie Division by 15.57 per cent below quota and the proposed Swan Division by 14.12 per cent over, although the variations from the quota have lessened in both cases since July, 1973, and now stand at about 11 per cent under and 12 per cent over the quota respectively. Had the next House of Representatives election in Western Australia not been held until 1975, it is likely that the gap between enrolments in these 2 Divisions would have closed considerably. Both of them would have come under 10 per cent variation from the quota. However, it would have been preferable for the situation to have taken place immediately. Incidentally, this comment relating to the inequality of voting power between electors in Kalgoorlie and Swan is not based on party political considerations, but on the consideration of equal voting power, as nearly as is practicable, for all Australians, irrespective of their place of residence. These 2 Divisions are represented in the House by Australian Labor Party members.
At least the situation under the new boundaries will, be more tolerable than at present, with nearly 80,000 electors in the existing Divisions of Stirling as against about 55,000 in the existing Division of Forrest, based on enrolments at the end of March, 1974 for the exsting 9 divisions. The Government regards as intolerable this present degree of inequality among Western Australian electors, even though it is not so brazen as in the State Parliament, where Legislative Assembly seat enrolments vary from about 2,000 to 21,000 and Legislative Council from 6,000 to 88,000.
Secondly, the Government also considers that Distribution Commissioners could well have exercised a little more imagination and flexibility with regard to the need to split up certain existing subdivisions, particularly one or two in the outer metropolitan area, such as the Subdivision of Pearce, which has gained an enrolment increase of over 30 per cent since July, 1973. To a lesser degree, this criticism could also be applied to the Commissioners’ decision to reject suggestions relating to the possibility of splitting one or two inner metropolitan subdivisions, such as Mt Hawthorn and Joondanna, in order to satisfy more completely the ‘community of interest’ principle. However, in this respect, the Government acknowledges that such anomalies are less striking than in some previous redistributions.
Thirdly, related to the points I have just raised, the Government also considers that, in particular, the Commissioners have proposed inappropriate boundaries between Moore and Stirling Divisions, although some improvement as compared with the present situation has been made with regard to the boundaries between Perth and Moore and Swan and Moore Divisions respectively, though even in the latter case it should have been possible to include more of the north-east urban corridor areas in a metropolitan electorate. The Commissioners, unfortuately for the present Honourable Member for Moore (Mr Maisey), have failed to allow for the rapid rate of population growth in the southern portion of the Pearce SubDivision, not to mention substantial growth in the Kalamunda Sub-Division. Hence, there is already the situation where the supposedly rural electorate of Moore contains mainly metropolitan electors, and has already outstripped the adjacent inner metropolitan electorate ot Stirling in number of electors.
The new member will have a difficult task of serving the electorate covering both rural areas and many rapidly expanding outer metropolitan areas, while the member for Stirling will serve fewer electors, all of them in the metropolitan area. I merely note that this seems to be a rather odd interpretation of the obligations imposed on the Commissioners by the criteria contained in Section 19, Subsection 2, of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It is also contrary to their views on the provisions of Section 19, Sub-section 1, of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in Curtin, Kalgoorlie and Swan Divisions.
In view of the constant criticism by Liberal and Country Party members of the electoral policy of the Australian Labor Party, it is interesting to note that the ‘West Australian’, on October 19, 1973, had this to say about the original proposals which remain practically unchanged:
At first assessment there appears little fault to find with redistribution proposals.
It went on to say:
The distribution proposals have still to run the gauntlet of objections before they reach Canberra. But there does not appear to be need for a major change. No Party has much to complain about.
Finally, as regards the naming of the new tenth Division, the Government has given due consideration to the suggestions made by various people, including the Commissioners. The names of an eminent deceased engineer, an Aboriginal tracker and a Country Party Prime Minister have been among those mentioned. The Government is also aware that various explorers and pioneers, not to mention deceased colonial Governors, have been honoured in this way. However, it has been decided on this occasion to honour a living person, who was indeed a pioneer in. a very real sense. I refer to Dame Dorothy Tangney, who relinquished her teaching career in Western Australia to become the first woman member of the Commonwealth Senate in 1943, and serving West Australians, and Australia as a whole, during which time she held many responsible positions, including that of Temporary Chairman of Committees in the Senate. The Government is delighted to have this opportunity to honour a distinguished West Australian in this fitting manner.
– This proposal, put by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), on behalf of the Redistribution Commissioners provides for 10 seats for Western Australia in the House of Representatives. This situation is caused by the relative increase in population in Western Australia as compared with the other States. The Minister who is responsible to the Parliament for this particular area - in spite of the fact that the Commissioners enjoy an independent position and have come to their conclusions and recommendations independently - mentioned in his opening remarks the possibility that the people of Western Australia may be required to vote for the House of Representatives earlier than the Distribution Commissioners may have expected. I think that admission should be pointed out immediately. It is clear from the tone of his argument that the Government is fully expecting an election. The Opposition certainly welcomes it. Indeed, it has precipitated it, despite the reluctance that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) is showing in certain areas.
– That is not right.
– Of course it is. On television last Thursday night when the Prime Minister was asked whether he would proceed with an election if the Appropriation Bills were passed by the Senate he said ‘no*. So let us not have any talk about the Government welcoming an election. The Prime Minister earlier may have called an election but he chose not to do so. I know that some Government supporters are nervous. I can understand why the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) should be nervous. He has a charming smile, but he is nervous.
The history of this matter is fairly long, but I shall refer to it only briefly. I know that my colleague the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) will be discussing this aspect because in the previous Government he was the Minister responsible for this field. There was a lot of criticism by present Government supporters when they were in Oppo- sition of the fact that no redistribution was carried out to allow for 10 seats in Western Australia for the 1972 general elections. It is clear from the statement at that time of the present member for Gwydir that the timetable just did not permit it. The necessary procedures would have prevented it.
I make one additional political point. In my view, and the view of Liberals in Western Australia, if the redistribution could have been achieved before the December 1972 elections it probably would have been to our benefit. After all, the Liberal and Country Parties at that time held only 3 of the 9 seats. If there had been a redistribution with any fairness in it at all - I should have fully expected that - we must have increased our proportion of the seats. The whole idea of saying to the people - of course, it was intended to serve a Labor Party political purpose - that we were delaying that distribution was absurd. We would have improved our position to either 5 to 5 or 6 to 4. On the basis of the results as they came out, I think it was more likely to have been 6 to 4 because after the December 1972 elections the Liberal and Country Party had 5 seats and the Labor Party only 4. I point out that since the current system of elections came into being for the Senate in 1949, Western Australia has never returned more than 2 Labor senators out of 5 at an election. In other words the Labor Party has always been in the minority. The honourable member for Gwydir may see fit to allude in more detail to the matter of timetable. I suppose that at this stage it is only history but so much was made of it both before and after the election that it is high time some rebuttal was offered.
The Opposition accepts these proposals. It is true that the Liberal Party was one party - I believe the Labor Party was another - which offered some objections to the proposals. In the case of the Liberal Party they were relatively minor objections. The law provides that when the original proposals are made, objections can be lodged. A great number of people did lodge objections which were examined by the Commissioners who brought down their final report which we see today and which provides for minute variations in the borders of some of the divisions. It is a pity that these differences have not been spelt out clearly in the report. I go further and suggest that future Commissioners might make clear what are the amendments, no matter how minor they may be, so that honourable members can easily follow them. This would assist honourable members and others who are interested in and read the reports.
– I agree. I think there could be more detail.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance. He expresses his agreement, if I may use the word of the week. The Liberal Party believes that the proposed boundaries do not entirely follow the geographical features as much as they should. 1 say this knowing that it is often hard to determine fair distributions which follow geographical features. However, with those reservations we have come to the stage where we, like the Government, accept the proposals entirely. The Commissioners have considered all objections and the time for objections is past. The report was tabled only a few days ago. It was very difficult to obtain a copy of it. I received my copy only this morning. The report was tabled and it could have been viewed in the office of the Clerk or in the Bills and Papers Office. I believe a copy was also in the Parliamentary Library. So there seemed to be some hesitation by the Government about proceeding with these proposals. Perhaps if there had not been the possibility of an imminent election the Government may not have introduced and agreed to the proposals with the 3 qualifications made by the Minister today.
If honourable members read the fourth paragraph of the Minister’s statement they may detect some hesitation by the Government as to whether it would support these proposals without qualification. The Minister went to some length to outline the qualifications. There have been rumours around the House as to what the Government might do about these proposals. I have no idea where the rumours started. Perhaps the Minister himself was in 2 minds. I do not know, but in any case we have reached the stage today where the Government is accepting the proposals and the Opposition is agreeing to them. One gets the impression that some haste was involved in all this matter, but the proposals are before the House and I suppose one can be thankful for that.
I take up the Minister’s point about the quota variations because this is a most contra.versial matter between the major parties at present. In his speech he referred to the 2 seats which are not within a 10 per cent variation of quota. I want to comment briefly on this matter because the Opposition has strong views on it. Although the Minister did not use the phrase which is bandied around on this question - one vote one value - it is an emotive phrase which certainly has been used in debates like this. But what does it really mean? The situation is that the present law - this is what the Commissioners have relied on - provides for a 20 per cent variation in the quota which is more or less than the average of enrolled electors per division. Last year the Government introduced a Bill to reduce that to 10 per cent on the argument that it provided for one vote one value. It was defeated. I think one can question that principle because, after all, if one has a 10 per cent variation rather than a 20 per cent variation that hardly gives a result closer to one vote one value. Now the Government has a proposal to put before the people on 18 May to have no variation whatever. The Minister has really given the game away in his statement because he was trying to explain away the quota differences. He was saying that if the next election were held in 1975, which is the full term of the Government, the electorates which are under quota would have caught up. Of course that is the whole point, namely, that population and enrolment changes are occurring between the Divisions so quickly that it is necessary to. have a variation so that some sort of stability can be reached and so that we are not having redistributions all the time, which are not an advantage.
When the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) speaks on this matter - of course it includes Western Australia - he often refers to the conclusions of the Constitutional Review Committee as contained in its 1959 report. He was a member of that Committee. It recommended that the variation should be 10 per cent, but the report also stated that the Chief Electoral Officer and all States advisers were of the view that it ought to be 20 per cent. They are the people who deal with the practical day to day administration in this field. The Committee went on to say that having heard that advice it still did not agree with it, but the Committee said it in a way that indicated that it understood the problem involved. Now the present Government says that it wants no variation whatever.
– That is right.
– That is a contradiction of the Government’s Bill of last year and a contradiction of all the advice that was received by the Government from the Commonwealth and State electoral officers as it was presented to the Committee which brought down that 1959 report. Clearly the question of variation is important to people and to the proper administration of the electoral redistributions. Clearly the term ‘one vote, one value’ has no precise meaning, lt is jargon which is wheeled out to raise to the surface the proper ideals that people have for a more democratic system, to gain . support for Labor.
The Minister for Services and Property said - it is irrelevant to the motion - that the proposal is not as bad as the State redistribution. The Western Australian State redistribution certainly does not have equal quotas, but that is a system that until quite recently was agreed to by all parties. When we say that there is a smaller quota in the country and smaller in the north west, let us not forget that for years the Australian Labor Party won seats in the country and in the north west. Indeed, for many years the north west electorates were pocket boroughs for the Labor Party. Why? Because the small mining outcrops in those remote regions had far more, enrolments than the number of pastoralists and others. That is the political situation. Now, for the first time that the Liberal Party has taken all the north west seats in the Upper House and the Lower House, it is called a ‘gerrymander’ and there is something wrong with the situation. That is sour grapes if ever one has heard it. I cannot speak for much longer because my time is running out, but I state that the Opposition accepts the renaming of the tenth seat after Dame Dorothy Tangney. We believe that she is entitled to recognition. We believe, by the way, that C. Y. O’Connor is entitled to recognition too. He was a very great man. Dame Dorothy Tangney was the first woman senator in Federal Parliament. We have respect for her. We know that she is a fine person. I hope that day comes when we are able to name a seat after Sir Paul Hasluck who, in my view, is the greatest Western Australian since Lord Forrest. We, and I in particular, think that Curtin should have his name on a Western Australian seat, not that he was a Western Australian by birth but because of his close association with that State. The remainder are place names. The Opposition agrees with the proposals.
– I was interested to hear the previous speaker say that the timetable did not permit the previous Government to give Western Australia an extra seat. This is typical of anything that has ever been said by the Opposition about Western Australia - it is either too late or too early or too something or other. Western Australians usually get the harsh end of the deal. I am particularly pleased to see that in this case under this Government at least Western Australia is having some allowance made in that, facing an election, we are making room in the timetable to bring forward this particularly pertinent piece of legislation which at least will give some respect to Western Australians true feelings. If the record of metropolitan votes is any indication, the new seat of Tangney will follow the political colour of the person who so ably represented Western Australia in the Senate, as will the 5 senators who will be returned. It is with particular pleasure that I see this measure go forward.
I do not wish to take up too much of the time of the House. This is a particularly fair distribution in the circumstances. The Commissioners have leaned over backwards, I feel, in an attempt to be fair. This is why there have been so few changes to the original recommendations that came forward even though I, for one, would have preferred to see the area of Applecross go back to Fremantle or some other area where the people are orientated in education, work, shopping and so on. In my opinion there has been a rather unnatural boundary and attachment to the area. It makes very little difference to the voting potential of the area but it is regrettable for the people concerned. However I was disappointed, as one always is in redistributions, to lose old friends in Manning and particularly in Bentley. I fail to understand the reasoning in moving (hem from the area of Swan. The distribution divides the area of Bentley - St James directly down the centre. The local shire council boundaries, shopping boundaries and so on are all centred within the area of Canning. However, I suppose that this resulted from the endeavours of the Commissioners to perform a very difficult job.
I am particularly pleased to receive areas such as Guildford, Midland and Koongamia. But again, I feel that the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) might possibly be upset at not having the areas of Swanview and Wexcombe added to the area of Swan. I think this might have been a logical conclusion. No doubt in some future redistribution this will be looked at. However, one regrettable feature is the high enrolment involved. If the 10 per cent difference had been preserved it would have been far preferable in the metropolitan area. When one looks at the new Swan electorate, at this moment with some 65,506 people, it makes one wonder about the justice of the service that can be offered to the people concerned. This is my concern - the fact that one member will represent such a wide area in the case of Swan distributed over an electorate about 16.3 miles long. No doubt I will service it to the best of my ability, but there is some inconvenience for people in travelling to the electoral office which is situated at East Victoria Park. Perhaps the question of relocation of the office needs to be looked at. These are factors which come out in redistributions. Somebody in the centre of an area before a redistribution usually finishes up in this situation.
However, I am delighted that Western Australia is to have a tenth seat in the forthcoming election and I am delighted that the status quo will be preserved. Under these figures without question the seats of Swan and Perm will remain as they are with the type of representation that they have. All in all, I should like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Commissioners although I have some criticism of an overall job which has been well done, I feel, in the circumstances. My only regret is that it could not have been done prior to the last election so that Western Australia would have had at least another member on the Government benches.
– I rise to support the motion before the House in relation to the redistribution of electoral boundaries to create an additional seat in Western Australia. The population in Western Australia ‘ has been increasing rapidly for some time. The presentation of this matter before the House today is, in fact, very acceptable to all Western Australians. At the time that the report was drawn up by the Distribution Commissioners for the State of Western Australia, the total number of electors in that State was 574,028. This figure is probably a little out of date today because of the continuing population growth in Western Australia. In 1972 the number of electors in my own electorate of Canning was 65,069. By 1973 the number of electors had increased to 72,975. By 29 March 1974 the number of electors stood at 76,683. Those figures give some indication of the growth in that electorate.
Most of the electoral growth in Western Australia has occurred, of course, in the southern area of Perth. The industrial development of Kwinana has resulted in a tremendous growth rate in that area which, of course, is one of the areas that will be incorporated in the new seat of Tangney, as it is now to be named.
The area of the electorate of Canning will be considerably increased in the redistribution. The number of electors in Canning will be reduced and its area will be increased to 49,064.5 square miles. Of course, its size is quite small in relation to the area of the electorate of Kalgoorlie which, I notice, now has an area of 876,980.3 square miles. The electorate of Kalgoorlie, I am sure, is still by far the largest electorate in the world. The electorate which I now represent, with the addition of those extra square miles, will extend into the Esperance area, which was previously in the electorate of Kalgoorlie. The population in that area, again, is increasing as it is in most areas of Western Australia at the moment.
May I say one or two words in relation to the change in the name first proposed for new electorate. Mr C. Y. O’Connor, as I have mentioned in this House on numerous occasions, was a well respected and a very fine engineer. He did a great deal for Western Australia. The Government has decided to name the new seat Tangney after Dame Dorothy Tangney. We in Western Australia respect Dame Dorothy Tangney very much. She is certainly respected by the Parliament in Canberra for her long period of service here. Nobody can object on this occasion, I think, to this new electorate being named after Dame Dorothy. But I ask that, perhaps at some future date, after further growth in Western Australia consideration be given to honouring that very great engineer, Mr C. Y. O’Connor, by naming a Federal electorate after him. Following his history, one can only appreciate what tie did for the State of Western Australia as a whole. I think in this context the honourable member for Curtin mentioned naming a new Western Australian electorate after someone else.
Again, I am very pleased that the Western Australian people will now have an opportunity to elect 10 members to the House of Representatives. As I said earlier, the opportunity for the electors of Western Australia to elect 10 members to the House of Representatives has been a little overdue for some time. I appreciate the action of the Government in bringing this motion before the House today. I anticipate, of course, as the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) himself acknowledged, that there will be very rapid growth in the enrolments in some electorates in Western Australia and, therefore, possibly it will not be very long before another redistribution of boundries will be required to provide 11 seats for Western Australia. Certainly another redistribution will be required to even up electoral numbers in the electorates. I think this is a problem which exists in most cities in Australia today. The population in outer metropolitan areas of our cities grows so rapidly that it is very difficult for a redistribution of boundaries to keep up to date with those changes. A redistribution is made and new boundaries are laid down. But the rate of population growth, being what it is, means that the figures on which that redistribution was made are distorted very quickly. I do not think that there is any way at all in which we can avoid this situation.
In this redistribution of boundaries an opportunity existed to adopt the variation of 20 per cent above or below the quota. It is noted, of course, that the Distribution Commissioners took due note of that factor. The Commissioners took into consideration that requirement and varied the appropriate electorates accordingly. In his speech on this motion the Minister for Services and Property indicated that the number of electors in the proposed Kalgoorlie Division would be varied by 15.57 per cent below the quota and that the number of electors in the proposed Swan Division would be varied by 14.12 per cent above the quota. So, consideration has been given to the provisions of the Act.
Another factor which the Commissioners took into consideration - it is quite an important point - was the boundaries of existing seats. The Commissioners disturbed as little as possible, as far as I can see, existing electoral boundaries in Western Australia. But at the same time they created another electorate in the Perth metropolitan area. By and large, I commend the Commissioners for the job that they have done. Their task was not an easy one. I believe that the redistribution of boundaries will be to the advantage of the State of Western Australia.
– In common with other honourable members from Western Australia, I welcome this redistribution of boundaries to give to that State its tenth seat. lt is some 3 years since it became apparent, as a result of the 1971 census, that Western Australia was entitled to an increased representation in this House. It is to be regretted that it has taken so long for a redistribution to occur and to be brought before this House for approval. Honourable members on this side of the. House especially those from Western Australia will certainly see that this motion is given speedy acceptance so that the redistribution may be put into effect for the election that we fully expect will be held very shortly.
As observed by the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), the electorate of Stirling has been changed quite significantly in the redistribution of boundaries. At the time the Distribution Commissioners considered the redistribution of boundaries my electorate was the fourth largest electorate in Australia, that is, in terms of the number of electors on the roll. Some 76,000 were on the roll. This was a large number of electors and an even larger number of people to look after, with all the multitude and variety of electoral interests and problems that they have. The number of electors in my constituency has now been reduced to 54,500. The electorate is certainly a much tidier package than it was before. I welcome the redistribution in that regard as I think all honourable members welcome a much tidier electorate to service.
– It is bad luck they are going to get a new member.
– I can assure the Minister for Services and Property that after 18 May 1974 there will not be a new member for Stirling. I am quite confident that I will still be there, much as Government supporters would like to see the change in boundaries result in the election of a Labor member for Stirling. I regret that I will lose certain parts of my electorate. I refer to areas such as Woodlands, Wembley Downs and Double View, which supported me so well in the 1972 election. I regret losing also the area of Mount Hawthorn, which, again, in 1972 supported me so well. A great number of older people, and pensioners, in particular, live at Mount Hawthorn. I had great satisfaction in looking after those who came to me for assistance in their various problems. I do not receive any new areas out of this redistribution of boundaries. That is a matter on which the Minister for Services and Property has commented. I am pleased to see that at least on one matter the Minister and I agree. The Minister thought that some of the rapidly growing northern and coastal suburban areas of Perth could well have been included in the electorate of Stirling. In fact, an elector of Moore, as he then was and as he still is, put in a submission to the Distribution Commissioners - I notified the Commissioners that I agreed wholeheartedly with his submission - suggesting that some of those new and developing areas such as Warwick, Greenwood Forest, Hamersley, Kallaroo and other similar areas which have a community of interest with the adjacent developing urban areas of my electorate, should become part of this electorate of Stirling. Regrettably, the Commissioners did not see their way clear to accept my submissions, and the reason is quite obvious. If about 3,000 electors were taken out of the seat of Moore, which now has 53,789 electors, and brought into the electorate of Stirling, the number of electors in the seat of Moore would decrease quite significantly. So for very practical reasons it can be seen that the Commissioners could not accept the submissions that were made.
The Minister also has highlighted the fact that the seat of Moore now becomes very much a patchwork of rural and urban interests, and he is quite right when he says that the member for Moore in the future will certainly have his time cut out in looking after these newly developing northern urban areas of Perth. The name that the Government has given to this new seat is significant. I did not have the privilege of serving in this Parliament with Dame Dorothy Tangney, but my colleagues in the other place who have spoken of the name that is to be given to the new seat and of Dame Dorothy herself have always spoken very highly of her as a Western Australian and of the service which she has given to the people of Western Australia. So the Opposition has no hesitation in accepting the name that the Government is to give to this new seat.
I turn to the question of delay which Western Australia has suffered in receiving this tenth seat. It is true that the wheels of government grind slowly, but it is equally true that the slowness with which this redistribution has come into effect shows an urgent need to update the electoral procedures, and I hope that the Minister has a review of the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which relate to redistribution high on the list of matters that he is to consider. Regrettably for the Minister, he will not have much time in which to consider this matter, but I am sure that the incoming Minister in charge of electoral matters will very quickly have a look at it.
It is quite obvious from our history that what has happened on Western Australia is a shocking example of administrative inadequacy in the electoral field and also of political delays. I understand that the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt), who is a former Minister for the Interior, will explain the electoral machinery to the House in order to show that the redistribution could not have occurred during the life of the previous Government, however much it wished to bring the redistribution into force. That example of administrative inadequacy can be seen right through the field, from the gathering of statistics on population figures to the operation of the electoral procedures in the Act itself. Whatever reason for delay there might have been for the former Government not being able to bring about this redistribution, there is really no excuse at all for the delay which has occurred in the last 16 months since the present Government came into office in 1972.
We might well ask: What are the reasons for those delays? I do not think there can be any question but that those delays have been politically inspired by the present Government. This is particularly so when one considers that many months have passed since the Commissioners brought forward their first recommendations, and it was open talk in the West that once the Commissioners’ recommendations were made public the present Government would not accept them. The Minister himself has mentioned the variation from the quota in the 2 seats of Kalgoorlie and Swan - a variation of 15.5 per cent below the quota in the first instance of Kalgoorlie and a variation of 14.12 per cent above the quota in the second instance of Swan. It was open knowledge that the Government was unhappy with that variation because it simply did not match up with its proposals in the
Electoral Bills which were rejected by the Senate last year in which the Government wanted to limit the variation to 10 per cent either way.
It is equally obvious, too, that with the election for this House which will be held on 18 May, the Government could not go to the people of Western Australia without having given the tenth seat to them. We know that the Government had the opportunity further to delay these proposals, if not to reject them outright, which it has the right to do if it so desires, and had there not been an election on 18 May, it would have rejected these proposals and sent them back to the commissioners. That is what would have happened. The Minister has very carefully set out the objections which the Government had to the redistribution, making it appear as if it is happy to accept the proposals when, I believe, the truth is that the Government never wanted these proposals at all. We on our side of the House are happy to go into an election on 18 May with the new boundaries, and we are happy that the people of Western Australia will have this tenth seat.
The history of the Government and of the present Minister, in particular, in the delay and the dilatoriness with which he has proceeded with this redistribution can be amply demonstrated by looking at the relevant dates. The Government was elected to office on 2 December 1972. In March 1972 the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) condemned the previous Prime Minister for not having moved more quickly to give the tenth seat to Western Australia in time for the 1972 elections. With the frenzied activity of the WhitlamBarnard administration - the 2-man Government - in December 1972, and in the face of what the Prime Minister had said previously about this tenth seat in Western Australia, Western Australians could have expected that the Prime Minister would have acted with as much - expedition in giving this tenth seat to that State as he did in releasing draft dodgers from gaol. But not a word was said and not a thing was done by the Prime Minister in that 2-man Government. It was not until the release of a Press statement by the Minister for Services and Property on 23 May 1973 that the present Government moved to put into operation the machinery necessary to bring about the redistribution - to arrange for the proclamation which was the start of the operation of that machinery. That was in May 1973, and the machinery had to follow the normal course set out in the Electoral Act.
But it was just before the Parliament rose in December 1973 that the Commissioner’s proposals were made public and were tabled in this House. It was just before Parliament resumed at the end of February 1974 that the objections, submissions and suggestions that were considered by the Commissioners were brought before the House. It is nearly 3 weeks since that was done, and there was no indication from the Minister at all whether or not he intended to move for the acceptance of those proposals. It was not until Thursday of last week, in the heat of all the events that happened last Thursday in the aftermath of the Gair affair, that the Minister moved very quickly - he was stimulated by those events and, of necessity, he had to move quickly - and gave notice of the motion that is before the House today. There can be little doubt that had it not been for the election of this House which is to be held on 18 May, the matter would not have been brought forward by the Minister last Thursday.
What has been displayed to this House and to the people of Western Australia, as in so many other matters, is that the Prime Minister is no friend of that State. He came to Western Australia in March of 1972, as I mentioned, proclaiming the delay of the former Government in bringing about a redistribution. But the so-called delay at that time is nothing like the delay of the present Government and the present Commissioners because he should have moved much more quickly and sooner than 23 May 1973, which was some 6 months after the Government was elected in December 1972, to set in motion the machinery to bring about the redistribution. Neither the Prime Minister not the present Minister for Services and Property can play the Western Australian people for suckers because you cannot try on the people of Western Australia in acts of - political double dealing. They can be seen easily for what they are, and they are known presently for what they are.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) has spent a deal of time in trying to criticise the Government in the most unreasonable and unrealistic manner for not bringing in this redistribution proposal earlier. Surely the situation is that even had the Government brought in the redistribution the day after it was elected to office the situation would not have changed until the next election. This is the reason why there is haste at this time. It was not until just a few days ago that there was the possibility that there could be an election for the House of Representatives. Therefore the Government naturally wants to ensure that the people of Western Australia have the tenth seat allocated to them. Had the previous Government acted as quickly as it should have done there would have been a tenth seat in Western Australia before the last election. So the people who should be criticised are not the members of this Government but the members of the previous Government. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has acted very quickly and very correctly to ensure that whenever the next election comes forward the people of Western Australia will gain this tenth seat. I commend him for it.
I would also like to take the opportunity of congratulating the Minister and the Government for the decision to name the tenth seat Tangney. I think that this is a very appropriate Dame Dorothy Tangney was the first lady of the Senate. She was a very good Western Australian and a person who had the complete respect of everybody in Western Australia irrespective of their politics. It is very proper that some recognition should be given to her work in this place and of her work outside Western Australia generally. The work which she has done for the women of Western Australia and of Australia generally is very much to her credit. I have no quarrel with the Distribution Commissioners over the name O’Connor, because after all C. Y. O’Connor was a great man who made it possible for the goldfields to come into full operation at a much earlier stage than otherwise would have been the case. It is a pity that the critics of his scheme should have brought about a situation in which he did not live to enjoy the achievement of his efforts.
My submission to the Distribution Commissioners was quite consistent with the one that I made in regard to a previous redistribution. I made my submission because of the section of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which states:
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Divi sion contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of, the quota of electors by more than one-fifth of the quota.
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Division, to
community of interest within the Division, including economic, social and regional interests;
means of communication and travel within the Division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance;
I have had the honour to represent the seat of Kalgoorlie which, as has been mentioned I think by the honourable member for Canning (Mr Halle tt), covers an area of about 880,000 square miles which is almost nine-tenths of Western Australia. It is obvious, that large distances are involved in representing the electorate.
The Commissioners have decided in their wisdom that they will take out of the division of Kalgoorlie the local government shires of Merredin and Esperance. My submission was that the shires of Esperance and Merredin should remain within the electorate of Kalgoorlie but that the Greenough area, which is further to the north, should have been taken out. Naturally I am a bit concerned that I should have lost Merredin and Esperance because of the acquaintances and the friendships that I have build up in these areas. By the same token I would have been very sorry to have lost friends up in the Greenough area. I would have been quite happy, adopting the principle of one vote one value, for my electorate to have a greater number of electors and to have carried the lot. This would have suited me fine. My submission was that because of the distances and the travel involved it would have been more reasonable to retain Esperance and Merredin because of their vicinity to Kalgoorlie where one could expect the members to live. I suggested that it would be better to take off that part of the electorate which was further away from Kalgoorlie and where communications and travel facilities are not so good. This submission was practically on all fours with the one I made on the previous occasion when I suggested that Merredin- Yilgarn should be part of my electorate.
The seat of Kalgoorlie has now been determined, and we will accept this decision. There is no doubt that the electorate of Kalgoorlie will remain a Labor seat and the people of Kalgoorlie will continue to vote very strongly in favour of Labor. One cannot offer any criticism in that regard. Having represented the Merredin-Yilgarn area for about 6 years and the Esperance area for many many years, I would like to place on record my sorrow that those areas will not now come within my electorate at the next election, whenever it is to be held. By the same token, the numbers are building up in the north of the State in the Pilbara area. Three, four or five years ago there were a couple of thousand people in that region and there are now about 8,000. This will continue to grow as time goes by and will grow very rapidly. It will not be very long before the numbers on the electoral roll will be substantially greater than they are now.
I notice also from the figures contained in the report of the Distribution Commissioners that the population of the Kalgoorlie electorate is 123,520. This is the highest number of people in any electorate in Western Australia, and I understand is the third largest population in electorates throughout Australia. So whoever happens to be the member will certainly have plenty of people as well as plenty of area to look after. But that does not alter the fact, of course, that whatever the situation there should be equality in all electorates. This is the situation that I would like to have seen.
I do not wish to say any more except that I am very pleased that an electorate is to be named after Dorothy Tangney. I am pleased also to support the proposition.
– I certainly support the motion before the Parliament. The constitutional provisions relating to an electoral redistribution are set out, in section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which states: (1.) A re-distribution of any State into Divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directedby the Governor-General by proclamation. (2.) Such proclamation may be made -
Clearly the Government has a constitutional responsibility to provide for a redistribution in Western Australia prior to the next election, which we anticipate will be held on 18 May. Far from being opposed to this kind of action in 1972, as the then Minister for the Interior I was completely in support of the proposal to carry out the redistribution. The honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) would remember that the final figures from the Commonwealth Statistician did not come to hand until 27 September, and the day they came to hand the Chief Electoral Officer furnished a certificate which was tabled in this Parliament. I quote from a speech that the then Prime Minister made on 28 September.
– In what year?
-In 1972. The then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon), said:
The Chief Electoral Officer has advised the Government that there is not now sufficient time to give effect to a redistribution of any State before the forthcoming House of Representatives elections. Nevertheless, the Government believes that it has an obligation to set in motion the machinery for a redistribution of Western Australia so as to ensure that that State gains its entitlement of an extra member from the beginning of the 29th Parliament. The Government therefore proposes to recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of distribution commissioners for Western Australia.
Of course allegations were made, I think by the honourable member for Swan, and certainly by the then Leader of the Opposition, that the then Government was hedging on this issue. I pointed out to the House at the time that in fact it took between 28 and 30 weeks from the time that the certificate was issued to actually carry out a redistribution. Certain statutory obligations and limitations are imposed upon a government under the Representation Act. There are 14 separate steps that must be taken in accordance with statutory times, so it was impossible between 27 September 1972 and a proposed election day before the end of that year to undertake a redistribution in Western Australia. Let us get the record clear on that. I do not think the present Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), interestingly enough the shadow Minister responsible for electoral matters at the time, was guilty of making those charges. Perhaps he understood the Electoral Act and its requirements better than most other members of the then Opposition. He too undoubtedly has found that there is a time lag involved from the time that commissioners are appointed until the Parliament is able to debate a matter such as this. So let us not try to distort the facts and go back over the old ground that I covered effectively on 28 September 1972.
I well recall the moves that were made to initiate steps for a redistribution in Western Australia but, I said earlier the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Ley, was not able to furnish a certificate until he had the final figures which ultimately disclosed that Western Australia was entitled to an additional seat. One of the interesting facts that has emerged already from the redistribution in Western Australia is the number of electors in the various divisions at the time of previous redistribution on 19 October 1973. In Canning, the commissioners decided on a division in which the number of electors was 7.6 per cent below the quota for each State electorate. In Curtin the number was 12.43 per cent above; in Forrest it was 3.42 per cent below; in Fremantle it was 9.12 per cent above; in Kalgoorlie it was 1S.S7 per cent below; in Moore it was 6.3 per cent below; in the proposed division of Tangney it was 5.01 per cent below; in Perth it was 9.44 per cent above; in Stirling it was 5.06 per cent below and in Swan it was 14.12 per cent above. The shift of population that has taken place between that time and the end of February this year has been incredible. In Canning there has already been a movement of 1 per cent so that today Canning is 6.76 per cent below its quota. In Curtin there has been a shift of nearly 2 per cent and the number of electors is now 10.59 per cent above the quota. In Forrest it is 6.77 per cent below, which is a shift 1 per cent. In Fremantle there has been a shift of 4 per cent and remember that I am talking about what has happened in a matter of 4 months.
In the electorate of Moore, which is changing its population character considerably at the time when the boundaries were redrawn the number of electors was 6.3 per cent below the quota. The number today is 0.92 per cent below the quota, which shows that the population has climbed rapidly since the redistribution. I think the electorate of Moore represented by Mr Maisey is indicative of the necessity that there be at least a 20 per cent tolerance above or below a quota for any division within a State, particularly within those States with vast and rapidly moving populations and with population shifts on the outer fringes of cities. Surely the trend of population becomes an important factor in trying to arrive at a mean or average for each electorate throughout Australia of within each State border. There is no way in the world that the elusive concept of one vote one value can be achieved unless there is a redistribution the day after a census and an election the next day or very closely to it. That is physically impossible. So those who advocate a policy of redistribution - whether it be car- ried out on the basis of number of population or on number of electors - based on anything less than 20 per cent above or below a quota are really not fully aware of the tremendous distribution changes of population that are taking place.
– Why does it always favour the country seats?
– It does not necessarily favour the country seats. It depends on the trend. If the Commissioners were to take into account the trend of population they would find that it could favour seats on the outer fringes of the city areas.
– But it never does.
– The Commissioners have a responsibility to read the terms and conditions under which a redistribution shall be carried out. It is then up to this Parliament to debate the issue and determine whether it accepts the Commissioners’ recommendations. In most cases - I am sure that in all cases - no one in this place would be prepared to say that the Commissioners were biased or that they would take a biased view. The Commissioners have taken into consideration a range of criteria such as geographical features, the size of electorates, the difficulties that representatives have in trying to represent vast areas as against small areas, and of course the new element which is the trend of population particularly in our outer fringe city electorates.
In the electorate of Moore one can see that in a period of 4 months there has already been a 6 per cent variation. At that rate the variation could he up to 20 per cent in 3 to 4 years. But who is to say that the population of Moore will increase continuously at that rate? That is a matter which the Commissioners have to assess in order to arrive at a figure of tolerance for each of the electorates. These figures prove to me beyond any doubt that there is a need to continue to take into account the various criteria that were spelt out in the Electoral Act of 1965. Let me read them out. The factors to be considered are community of interests within the Division, including economic, social and regional interests; means of communication and travel within the Division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance; the trend of population changes within the State; the density or sparsity of population of the Division; the area of the Division; the physical features of the Division; and existing boundaries of Divisions and subdivisions.
Although the redistribution will probably change the character of a great number of electorates on the outskirts of Perth, I believe that the Commissioners have taken these factors into account in trying to arrive at the various possible redistributions of electoral boundaries in Western Australia. I share the view that was expressed by other speakers, that the Minister has made a wise decision in choosing to name the new seat Tangney, because it will honour the first women’s representative in this Parliament.
– I want to thank the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) for a contribution to the debate and for making a speech with which I do not agree but which I must respect because of the courtesy and the kind of arguments he advanced. I do not say the same thing for the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner), who is rapidly becoming one of the members in this place who follow a very simple technique towards people who honestly disagree with them - identify and defame in order to destroy. The speech of. the honourable member for Stirling was nothing more or less than defamation.
I want to take up the points made by the honourable member for Gwydir. I must agree with him that no one will ever achieve mathematically equal electorates. The point is: Do we have an Electoral Act in which that is the objective? In the Upper House in Western Australia, for instance, there are Legislative Council seats with 87,000 people on the roll and there are Legislative Council seats with 6,000 people on the roll. The distinguished gentleman at the table, the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland), and I were engaged in electoral commentary on television, with a State member also assisting us that night, and he swung to me and said: ‘Do you cast reflections on the Electoral Commissioners?’ Of course I do not cast reflections on the Electoral Commissioners in Western Australia but I cast reflections on an Electoral Act which enables State seats to vary from 2,000 to 22,000 in the Lower House and from 6,000 to 87,000 in the Upper House.
I do not want to enter into those arguments because they do not apply here, but I remind the honourable gentleman that the 20 per cent variation which he feels is essential and which he implied guarantees against these movements of population does no such thing. I remind him that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) not so many years ago was representing the seat of Bruce when there were 129,000 electors on the roll, and I think the late Arthur Calwell was representing Melbourne which had only 39,000 electors on the roll. It was a very nice situation from the Australian Labor Party’s point of view. In those 2 seats for a brief period of time we enjoyed the advantage that the Australian Country Party normally has before there was a redistribution that saw to it that that was eliminated.
The point ‘I am making is that the Electoral Act allows variations but the variation of 20 per cent does not guarantee that the changes inside that tolerance will be in the direction of equality. They may move further in the direction of inequality, and they have persistently done so. I agree with the honourable gentleman that one of the most baffling problems is to follow the movements of population. For instance, as Minister for Education in Canberra I have noted that there are 2 Catholic schools, built not so very long ago, that now have no children in them. One is attached to the Technical College and I think that the other one has become the school without walls, rented out to other people. The movement of population even within Canberra is quite astonishing and the movement of population in and around Perth is equally astonishing.
All I say is that the Electoral Act should aim at equality of citizenship. I realise that this is a fundamental disagreement between my party and the Country Party, but it is disturbing to be told that if one believes in equal enrolments in electorates one believes in a gerrymander. I wish to heavens we would start using the proper terminology for a change. A gerrymander is fiddling the boundaries of an electorate. If the Labor Party liked to complain - I am not making this complaint - it could say that when the electorate of Kambalda, which had a Labor majority, was put into Boulder-Dundas, which already had a large Labor majority, to make an inflated majority wasting Labor votes, the altering of the boundary could be called a gerrymander. The difference in the enrolment sizes of electorates has nothing to do with boundaries; it is malapportionment, which is an entirely different issue. During a debate in South Australia in the days when the Liberal and Country League was the Government on 35.5 per cent of the vote and the Australian Labor Party was the Opposition on 53 per cent of the vote a letter appeared in the newspapers asking why a metropolitan drink waiter should have a vote of the same value as a pioneer settler in the country, une could equally ask why a country drink waiter m Western Australia should have a vote that is 14.5 tunes the value 01 the vote of a city drink waiter or why a country drink waiter should have a vote that is 14.5 times the value of a city brain surgeon. 1 am not evaluating those occupations, the only point 1 am making is that we ought to aim at equality of citizenship.
Let us come to the facts. On 8 June 1973 the Minister for Services and Property appointed the Distribution Commissioners. 1 am sure that the honourable member for Gwydir would recognise that with an election in December 1972 and no sittings of the House until 1973 the appointment of Distribution ‘ Commissioners in June 1973 was not an undue delay. We were not ali possessed of the prescience that there would be an election within less than 12 months: The normal assumption of one who is elected for 3 years is that he will carry on for 3 years. One does not normally live on the assumption that there will be a collision between the Houses of the Parliament on Supply. To turn the whole thing into a conspiracy, as was sought to be done in the extremely slanderous speech of the honourable member for Stirling, is very foolish.
On 18 October 1973 the Commissioners brought down their report. Then there had to be a 30-day delay for people to lodge their objections. Unexpectedly there was on top of that the referendums of December 1973. Then Christmas intervened. The Minister for Services and Property tabled the report in the Parliament on the fifth sitting day of this year. I do not think any person who has exercised responsibility in this matter would say that there was any undue delay. When he was the responsible Minister, Gordon Freeth did not table a report he received within 5 sitting days; he waited 6 weeks. I am not arguing as to whether he was right or wrong in doing so, but I think it is malice to accuse the present Minister of an undue delay when he brought the report in within 5 sitting days.
I can say one thing: The most mispronounced seat name in Australia is going to be the seat of Tangney. I do not know why it is impossible for some people to pronounce the letters ‘n’ ‘g’ and ‘n’. Dame Dorothy used to lament to me how she was always called Tagney. There is a ‘tang’ about her name, her name is Tangney. I hope all the commentators - television, radio and others - will call this seat by its proper name, which is Tangney, when they are commenting about it It is a seat which will have 54,526 on the roll. The one which will have the largest enrolment will be the seat of Swan with 65,506 electors. lt will be followed by Curtin and then Fremantle.
The tendency is for the enrolments of the non-metropolitan seats to be smaller, but by a curious paradox the most populous seat in the State is that of Kalgoorlie. That is probably because there are many Aborigines in the electorate who have not bothered to enrol. It may be because there are many ethnic minorities in the electorate who have never bothered to become naturalised or it may be that it is a seat with a young population. 1 do not know why the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) represents more people than anyone else in Western Australia but fewer electors. He has probably the largest electorate in the world in area. In a way, if a disparity in enrolments is to be granted, 1 do not begrudge his having the smallest enrolment. 1 wish to answer one or two of the points made by the honourable member for Stirling. The honourable member spoke about the lack of confidence in Western Australia in the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). I remind the honourable member that the Australian Labor Party received 53 per cent of the vote in the metropolitan area and that the Liberal Party of Australia was battling to. get 40 per cent of the vote. So if he is going to talk about confidence in the Prime Minister in Perth he had better revise his thinking. If 48.8 per cent of the vote in the State election in Western Australia is a sign of no confidence in Labor, may I ask what 10 per cent of the vote for the National Alliance is? Is that a sign of confidence? Of course the National Alliance received a line up of very small seats with its 10 per cent of the vote. If we are going to start talking in terms of public confidence we should come back to the realities of the situation. I would be very happy to see reproduced in Western Australia in the election for both the Senate and the House of Representatives the vote that took place at the recent State election. However, 1 did not come down in the last political shower and I know that people do not necessarily vote the same way in State and Federal elections.
– Or between them.
– Or between them. The interpretations that are placed on these things, while they may suit propaganda, are I think rarely valid. I think that an honest, intelligent redistribution has taken place within the framework of the Electoral Act. I do not care what result is derived from an election as long as it is indicative of the way the people voted. What does disturb me are the situations that one can get where one has an ultraweighting of votes so that the electoral result is not in truth the way in which the people voted. I ask: What is an election about if it is not ascertaining the peoples’ will? No one can answer that question. That is why it is a perfectly respectable argument to advance that there should be a policy of one man one vote, one vote one value. That is not the existing electoral law. Within the framework of the existing electoral law Western Australia has been validly given its constitutional right to a tenth seat. We have reached the point where it cannot be. denied that constitutional right; it must have the tenth seat. Ti the honourable member for Stirling had spent some of the time that he spent on defaming us on assuring us that this proposal will receive the support of the Senate I would have been very much happier.
– in reply - I shall be very brief in my remarks. I think that this debate has been a very placid but constructive one for a debate of this nature. With one exception I very much thank those honourable members who have participated in it. The honourable member for Gwyder (Mr Hunt), who acquired wide knowledge of this subject during the time in which it came under his ministerial responsibility, will no doubt be in agreement with what has been said by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley). The formalities involved in a redistribution, even in the Australian Capital Territory, take roughly 28 to 32 weeks to complete. There are certain provisions laid down which make it difficult to speed up the process.
Let us not argue now about why the report of the Distribution Commissioners was not tabled in the Parliament earlier. I know the problems involved in relation to the returns of the Commonwealth Statistician. The fact of the matter is that there has been no undue delay on the part of the Government, The report was presented to this Parliament within 5 sitting days of when I received it. The matter was referred back to the Commissioners last October for reconsideration. Because of the referendums in the intervening period and the holiday period the report was not presented by me until 5 days after the Parliament assembled. As the Minister for Education said, we did not know of the events that were to come and naturally we did not have to rush this matter. I notice that he said that when Mr Freeth was the Minister in charge of electoral matters in 1 962 he took from 4 October to 29 November to bring such a matter on for debate. I am . not being critical in that respect because the matter had to take its place in the line, honourable members had to consider it and maps had to be printed. I therefore feel it is very unfair of the honourable member for Stirling to make such accusations because, in all faith, the Government is entitled to consider the report.
It is as well to have some constructive criticism from both sides of the Parliament, be it at ministerial level or otherwise, and there should be opportunities to express agreement or disagreement with the Commissioners. In that respect, I am in agreement with the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) who said that these reports might well be more informative. I believe that in that respect, adequate staff and research staff should be provided for the Electoral Commissioners because in this day and age redistributing boundaries and forecasting population trends are not things that unskilled men can carry out. Many times, the Commissioners are too involved in the actual work of redistribution and in their other activities to do these things. Consequently, I am giving consideration to those matters. But I think it is most unfair and unjust of the honourable member for Stirling to reflect on Mr Ley and his officers and the Commissioner in saying that there was administrative laxity in respect of their activities, because whether we agree or disagree with the Commissioners - none of us as politicians will agree with all their actions - undoubtedly they do maintain a high degree of integrity and application. If there are any shortcomings in the work of the Commissioners, they are probably due to lack of facilities more than anything implied by the honourable member for Stirling.
I should like to refer to one other matter in regard tothe question of statistical returns of population,I am one who believes that by some method or other, Australia must speed up its method of ascertaining its population. When I was in Canada last year,I was informed that they are in a position to provide the population of various areas almost from week to week. If one asked for the population of electorates in Australia and if one wanted accurate figures, one would probably be given the position as at the 1971 census. That is just too far to go back. We should be able to speed up the process because all these things are entwined with what we are discussing here today. In any case,I assure honourable members that there was no delay in presenting the documents. It was difficult to get them printed. It is not always possible to give everyone a copy. I thank honourable members for what has been a constructive approach to this debate.I understand that there is, naturally, disagreement on this matter.
I also thank the House for its compliments on the name chosen for the new electorate in Western Australia, Tangney.I served in this Parliament with Dame Dorothy Tangney. I entered Parliament on the same day as Senator Tangney in 1943. She is a notable Australian and a notable Western Australian. With others, I regret that such names as O’Connor and others could not have been chosen at this stage, but as time goes on no doubt we will be given an opportunity to honour such people in a manner similar to that in which we have honoured Senator Dorothy Tangney. On a lighter note, I suppose that the member for the new electorate will become known as the honourable member for DDT - Dame Dorothy Tangney. So, it will not be easy to forget who is the member for that electorate, whoever he may be in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Daly, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill now before the House is an interim measure to provide for 2 members for the
Australian Capital Territory in the event of a general election for this House before the Distribution Committeefor the Australian Capital Territory has completed its task. This Parliament has already enacted legislation supported by the Opposition to give the Australian Capital territory 2 membersfrom the next House of Representatives election. The appropriate procedures for the Division of the Australian Capital Territory into 2 areas have been in train for some time but, because of the unprecedented threat made by the Opposition to deny Supply to a popularly elected Government, it may be necessary to hold a general election for this House before the Committee has completed its task. If a general election for this House is held without the passage of the interim measure proposed by this Bill, the people of the nation’s capital will be denied any form of democratic representation.
The Australian Capital Territory is one or the fastest growing centres of population in the country but it has traditionally been one of the most under-represented areas in our polity. By definition, the people of the Territory have no State parliament and, by the refusal of previous Liberal-Country Party governments, the people have no effective local government either. The Government has sought to provide representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in the Senate but these just measures have twice been rejected by the Opposition in the Senate. It is the intention of this Government to ensure that the people of the Australian Capital Territory are not also denied their rightful representation in this House.
In 1948, the Chifley Labor Government first provided for the people of the Australian Capital Territory to be represented in this House. Since the population of the Territory was then small, the member so chosen was not granted full voting rights at that time. However, the rapid growth of the city of Canberra has led to the Australian Capital Territory electorate having a larger enrolment than any other Federal division. For most of the period since 1948, the people of Canberra were very ably represented by the late Jim Fraser and, as a result of his agitation, the member for the Australian Capital Territory was given full voting rights in this House as from 1967.
Last year, the present Government sought to provide for the return of 2 members from the Australian Capital Territory. The current enrolment in the Territory is of the order of 100,000 electors and Parliament recognised that the time had come to adjust the number of members accordingly. It is only right that the people of the nation’s capital should be represented as adequately as are people in the various States. The Distribution Committee appointed by the Governor-General on 18 December 1973 has released its proposed division of the Territory but must wait for a statutory period of 30 days to elapse for the receipt of suggestions or objections. This period concludes on 18 April 1974 and the Committee can proceed no further until that date. The Government therefore proposes, as an interim measure, to adopt the Committee’s original proposals for the division of the Territory. It is worthy of note that no objections to these proposals have been received by the Committee, according to the Chairman, Mr Ley.
The Committee has proposed a remarkably simple and logical basis for the division, namely, that the Territory should be split in two by the path of the Molonglo River and by Lake Burley Griffin. This is an agreement with the suggestions put forward by all of the major political parties. What a remarkable achievement to have the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Labor Party in complete agreement on redistribution! Is this another first in the history of this Parliament? This yields 2 divisions which differ in enrolment by fewer than 1,000 electors. Further, population projections by the National Capital Development Commission show that the 2 electorates will remain almost equal in population until 1980 and beyond. Thus, we will have achieved a most equitable distribution.
The proposed boundary is the most natural geographical basis for the division and will produce almost no confusion on the part of the people of Canberra as to which division they belong in. Rather than deprive the people of the Territory of any democratic representation whatsoever in the next Parliament, the Government is by this Bill seeking to adopt the Committee’s original proposals as the basis for returning 2 members for the Territory, should this be necessary. As I stressed earlier, the present Bill is purely an interim measure without which the people of the Australian Capital Territory would be denied any representation in the next Parliament. I believe that no member of this House could, in all con science, vote against such a fair and reasonable proposal. I commend the Bill to the House.
Leave granted for debate to continue forthwith.
– The Opposition has no objection to this Bill. It seems to us that the proposed division between the 2 electorates is well and properly drawn. I would have stopped speaking there, Mr Speaker, but I think it is a pity that the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has put into his second reading speech on this Bill some of the objectionable parts of it. The Minister said: . . because of the unprecedented threat made by the Opposition to deny supply … it may be necessary to hold a general election for this House.
It may, or it may not be, but it seems to me a pity that those words should have been used.
MrDaly- That is the only reason for this Bill.
– If it is unprecedented, it is not without good reason.
– That is your point of view.
– Yes, but a point of view is expresed in the Minister’s speech. The Minister also said: the people of the Territory have no State Parliament and, by the refusal of previous LiberalCountry Party Governments, the people have no effective local government either.
Perhaps the people do not want effective local government. I can say only I hope there is never introduced to this Territory any system of local government without a referendum first being held to decide whether the people want it. Thirdly, the Minister’s reference to the question of senators was entirely out of order in his introduction of this Bill. The Opposition does not object to the Bill. We think that the people of the Capital Territory can be relied upon to return one Liberal and one Labor member. I think they would be sensible to do this and to work this way. The Opposition supports the Bill.
– As the local member for the Australian Capital Territory I rise to welcome this Bill. It is of some interest - I should not think it constitutes anything in the nature of contempt or breach of privilege - to note that the Canberra afternoon newspaper has today as its headline: ‘The Members for The A.C.T. - Representation Bill Passed’. Yet here we are now talking about this Bill. Perhaps the intelligence of the reporters is better than the intelligence of those of us who sit here at this stage.
The matter on which I want to comment has already been touched on by previous speakers. The Australian Capital Territory is notoriously the most under represented area in Australia. There are certain historical reasons for this fact. The best way to describe the situation is to compare the Australian Capital Territory with Tasmania. Canberra has about 200,000 people and, as the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) mentioned a moment ago, that gives the Australian Capital Territory about 100,000 electors. Tasmania has a population of slightly below 400,000. Whereas the Australian Capital Territory has one full time politician representing 200,000 people Tasmania, with twice that number, has 10 senators, 5 members of the House of Representatives, 35 members of a lower State House, 19 members of an upper State House and, although I do not know the precise number, more than 500 aldermen. These facts come easily to my lips because I have quoted the figures so often to draw attention to the disparity in representation between one group of Australians and another. In these days when people talk about one man one vote, one sees how that ideal is certainly not achieved in a comparison of this sort.
The Australian Capital Territory is a particularly articulate electorate. It is particularly well informed. Again, it is an electorate where there are social and historical reasons for this situation. Figures show that the Australian Capital Territory has about 5 times the national average of tertiary qualified people. The same goes for people possessing matriculation qualifications. In my view there is a strong feeling in the Australian Capital Territory electorate that it has been under represented. I say, although the previous speaker from the Opposition mentioned the question of Senate representation, that there was a strong feeling of grievance and of offence present among people in Canberra when last year the Senate denied, refused and rebutted the Government’s initiative to try to give two Senate seats to the Australian Capital Territory.
Reference has also been made to some form of local government for the Australian Capital Territory. I appreciate that this is a point of view upon which people differ. My own view, and the strong view of the local Australian Capital Territory branch of the Labor Party, is that local government with all its faults is something that people cannot be denied. We have taken an initiative to try to bring about local government. Whether it is called local government or territorial government is another matter. It need not follow the traditional form at all. Thus, while I was Minister for the Capital Territory, the Government took the first step towards bringing it about. It gave to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory a reference encompassing an inquiry into some form of territorial government. The Committee is now well advanced in its deliberations. I hope that in the not too distant future a report will be received from the Committee and that it will be given effect to by the Government. I have a strong feeling on the subject for a variety of reasons, most of which are obvious. I recall, with some pleasure, that my first speech in this House was directed to this very subject. I spoke then of the need for Senate representation for the Australian Capital Territory. This is something which the Government has tried to provide but which our opponents in the Senate have denied. The efforts have continued and from the passage of this Bill, with the support of the Opposition Parties in this House - if the afternoon paper is correct in quoting Senator Withers, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, it will not be opposed in the Senate either, although one cannot always be sure that what is done here will be done there - I, the Government and the people of the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay, which is part of this single electorate, will take great satisfaction.
– I support this Bill. When I was Minister for the Interior in the previous Government I came under some criticism for not having moved to create an additional seat in the Australian Capital Territory. It was not that I was opposed to the idea philosophically or for any real reason, but that I foresaw ultimately a redistribution, perhaps in the life of the next Parliament, would ensure that the Australian Capital Territory should get its additional seat. Events have overtaken the situation. The House is agreeing to what >is a quite unusual step in that the distribution commissioners’ reports have not been presented or tabled. To cope with the urgency of the possibility of an election on 18 May this Bill has been introduced to ensure the creation of a new seat in the Australian Capital Territory. The Bill takes into account the enormous population increase that has occurred in the Australian Capital Territory during the 23 years of Liberal-Country Party governments.
– You are not going to take credit for people coming to Canberra?
– I know that the Minister does not like that comment, but we take some credit for the development of what is a beautiful national capital and for a population increase to almost 200,000. The people of the Australian Capital Territory deserve an additional seat in the House of Representatives. I was impressed with an observation of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). It was a shrewd observation. He knows the people of Canberra extremely well. He said that when there is a second seat the people will elect a Labor member and a non-Labor member. If they are shrewd they will probably play one against the other to achieve an even better deal for the Australian Capital Territory. Some people think that because a new seat is to be created in Canberra it will be a seat for the Labor Party. I should like to dispel that idea. Ultimately the results may prove me wrong, but I think that in the final wash we will see one seat in the Australian Capital Territory held by the Labor Party and the other seat held by a non-Labor Party member or an independent. Whatever the outcome, the people of the Australian Capital Territory deserve and have the right to a second member for the Australian Capital Territory. I do not know which one the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) will contest.
– There is no secret, the south side.
– The hardest side.
– The one in which I live.
– He says that he will be very courageous in contesting that seat. He thinks it will be the toughest one. Anyway, the decision will be up to the people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Daly) read a third time.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent-
A Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973 being presented at this sitting and being passed through all stages without delay.
An Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 and a National Investment Fund Bill 1973
being presented at this sitting and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of the Bills together, and
being considered in one Committee of the Whole.
The Leader of the House making one declaration of urgency and moving one motion for the allotment of time in respect of a Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973, an Australian Industry Development’ Corporation Bill 1973 and a National Investment Fund Bill 1973.
These are most important measures, and as such the Government believes they should be tested in the Parliament to see whether on this second occasion they will be endorsed by the people in another place. They have already been passed in this House. There has been extensive debate on them. They are such that we believe that in presenting them again today it will give not only this Parliament but also the Australian people the opportunity to know precisely where members on all sides of the Parliament stand on these important issues. The first measure, the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973, is most important. It is closely connected with our national assets and is one in regard to which there is tremendous public interest. The Government believes that it should be debated today because it is designed amongst other things to protect in every way Australia’s assets and to protect the rights of the people. It is a Bill which we believe is fundamental to the safeguarding of the rights of the Australian people. In another place this
Bill has received scant consideration. In view of the fact that the Senate seeks to stop the supply of money to the Australian Government it is only right that these and other issues should be fully presented to the people in order that they in turn will pass their judgment.
The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 and the National Investment Fund Bill 1973 are also most important measures and as such are deserving of further consideration. They have been endorsed in this House but people in another place, elected as long ago as 1967 in some cases, have seen fit to reject them despite the fact that the Australian Government, in Her Majesty’s own words, ‘has a mandate’ for this legislation. Consequently, it is for those reasons today that I am asking that Standing Orders be suspended in order that full opportunity will be given to this House, and also to those in another place, to discuss these important measures again. I know that some will say ultimately that the time allowed is possibly not enough, but that will be debated at a later stage in the consideration of this motion. At this stage I submit the motion to the House and hope that the House will carry it. It is important because of the importance of the legislation involved, and the future events to be decided in the next couple of weeks may well hinge on the attitude of those opposite in connection with this legislation. In those circumstances I can see no reason why this motion should not be supported and opportunity given to the Senate to debate it once again, for this House to pass it once again and ultimately for the Australian people to pass judgment on it.
– The Opposition opposes the suspension of Standing Orders for this purpose. The peremptory way in which the Government has acted in a series of circumstances is only too well known to those of us in this Parliament. Regrettably, to the many people in Australia who now this week and towards the end of last week became increasingly aware of the nature of Government it will be something of a surprise to learn that major pieces of legislation such as the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 and the National Investment Fund Bill 1973 can be introduced into this Parliament after the upper House has seen fit to reject them, not for serious consideration and debate m this chamber but for an accele rated debate so that the measures can be pushed forward into the other chamber and can then be considered again.
Of course this action has already been notified to us through the newspapers. If we looked at the newspapers this morning we would have seen that yesterday the Cabinet decided that it would bring before the House of Representatives those pieces of legislation which the Senate had failed at this stage to pass. In his motion for the suspension of Standing Orders, it is my opinion that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) again demonstrated an attitude which is too frequently being expressed by Labor Government supporters, namely, that there is no role within the function of a democracy for people to oppose a point of view expressed by them. That is utter nonsense. The members of the Senate are elected by the people of Australia. They enjoy the same opportunities, rights and privileges as does any member of this House, but with one difference. The difference is that their debates are not curtailed. They have not had the frequency of application of the gag or the suspension of Standing Orders or the intervention of non-normal parliamentary forms to inhibit debate.
It is a tragedy that the Leader of the House will deny this Parliament, the lower House, the House within which there should be an adequate opportunity for debate, a right and proper time within which to consider matters as serious as these 3 Bills. The Opposition does not believe that there is any cause whatsoever for these matters being pushed through this Parliament other than that the Government is now recognising that the people of Australia are fed up with the peremptory and highhanded fashion in which the Government carries on the affairs of this nation. It is tragic that for the first time in the constitutional history of Australia there should be a necessity for the very severe action to be taken by us, in opposition here, and with our colleagues in the other place, to oppose an Appropriation Bill. We are doing it because we do not believe that the bungling and ineptitude and dirty tricks which come as a succession of motives and moves by the Labor Government can be permitted to continue without the people of Australia being allowed an opportunity to consider them and to cast their verdict on whether they are prepared to condone the irresponsible actions which this Government continues to perpetrate.
These 3 Bills are important Bills. They are not Bills which should be introduced into this Parliament and then just hastily put through. The first one, the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill, will act in itself to destroy completely much of the present prerogatives of State governments in the field of mining legislation. Yet we have heard on rare occasions Government supporters saying that they wish to preserve some type of decentralised activity. The suspension of Standing Orders is designed to deny us on this side of the Parliament an opportunity even to identify the way by which this Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill will destroy the rights of the States and will destroy the rights of the individual. Similarly, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill is a very important piece of legislation which goes to the very roots of the financial operation of Australia. The Australian Industry Develop-, ment Corporation is a body which has come to be respected thanks to the restraints which were placed on it in the legislation in the form in which it was passed originally by this Government. The present Government wishes to alter the form of operation of the Corporation, and the upper House in our Parliament is not prepared to accept the Government’s modifications, nor indeed are we on this side of this House. We believe that, if this piece of legislation is to be brought before the Parliament, there should be an adequate opportunity to debate it. Similarly the National Investment Fund Bill is a piece of legislation that strikes very much at the roots of the financial operations of financiers and financial organisations and institutions in Australia. If there is to be a compulsory diversion of savings at the direction of this Government, the enabling legislation is not something that can just be hastily put through this Parliament. Yet, the substance of the motion before the House is that Standing Orders should be suspended so that proper examination and debate of the implications to the Australian community, to the State governments, to the Australian public and to the financial community can be hastily debated in a minimal way in this chamber and then referred to the Senate, for a proper examination and debate.
It is now, of course, quite apparent that the Government is standing back from the early consideration of the Appropriation Bills, upon which so much of the future of this Government and this country hinges. It is quite ridiculous for the Leader of the House to come into this chamber today and to suggest that these 3 pieces of legislation have any greater urgency than they did a week ago. Why, last week 2 Health Bills were suddenly introduced. That legislation in its form had a 1973 date upon it. The whole nature of the debate last Thursday on the Health Bills was surely cast in the mould of a Government which was well and truly afraid of the implications of going to the people. All that the Government is doing is postponing the day when this Parliament can consider the Appropriation Bills, upon which so much of the future and so much of the rights of the Australian people must hinge.
These 3 Bills are being intruded on the parliamentary proceedings in an unexpected fashion, in exactly the same way as the Health Bills last week intruded on the proceedings of the House. These Bills are being intruded because the Government is afraid to consider the implications of the rejection in the other chamber of the Appropriation Bills. We have considered very carefully the functions and performance of this Government. It is not in a lighthearted fashion that we believe the Appropriation Bills should now be debated and that this motion for the suspension of Standing Orders should be refused. The Opposition sees it as being quite critical that early consideration should be given to those pieces of legislation on which we can best express and indeed can only express our very real concern at the manner of this Government’s administration, at the culpable way in which individual Ministers are diverting, the responsibility that they should exercise, and are acting against the best interests of the Australian people.
It is important that, at the very earliest possible time, the debate on the Appropriation Bills, which has already commenced in this chamber, should be continued. To suspend Standing Orders now so that the debate on the Appropriation Bills can be postponed has not been justified by the statement made by the Leader of the House. It can only be justified by the fear that the Labor Government has of going to the Australian people in the light of the actions of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) last week in trying to deny the manner of appointment of a former senator as the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, and the fear of the Prime Minister of going to the people to justify the actions of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in relation to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation exercise.
-Order! I think I have allowed the honourable gentleman quite a bit of latitude. But this debate concerns the suspension of Standing Orders.
– This motion seeks the suspension of Standing Orders to deny the Opposition the opportunity to discuss these vital matters. The Opposition is concerned that the debate on the Appropriation Bills should take place as soon as possible. Therefore we completely oppose the motion proposed by the Leader of the House to suspend Standing Orders.
– The Opposition is seeking to deny the Australian people an opportunity which is their entitlement - an opportunity for their elected Government to give effect to the legislative obligations which it has, following a sweeping victory in a general election. The facts of the matter are that my colleague the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) is now giving this House and the other place the opportunity to determine whether the Opposition Parties are again prepared to defy the will of the people. So, we have moved a motion seeking the suspension of Standing Orders to bring on for debate the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill.
These matters represent a vital component of the objectives which this Government had when it went before the people in the 1972 elections. We take an attitude which is the direct antithesis of the one that prevailed for 23 years in this country. That attitude is typified by the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill. Honourable members opposite stand for authority being exercised over these matters by the multi-national corporations. They want to take away the right of the Australian people to have a say in respect of these matters. These issues relate to the question of who owns Australia. For 23 years honourable members who sit opposite did not care about that question. We believe that since there is now this intimidatory attitude on the part of the Opposition it is important to suspend Standing Orders to give the Opposition yet another opportunity to defy the will of the people. Let me give- (Opposition me inters interjecting.)
-Order! There is to be no more mirth in the House.
- Mr Speaker, honourable gentlemen opposite are interjecting as I contend that there has been obstruction in the other place and as I contend that the standard bearers elected back in 1967 are still trying to rule the roost. These people who represent an outmoded philosophy believe they can get on top of the Government of the day.
I do not know whether it is generally realised that in the upper House since 28 February, in no more than 13 sitting days, there have been 35 divisions. How many of those divisions would honourable members expect the Government of the day to win if the Opposition in another place was not frustrating the will of the people? The facts of the matter are that the Government has won but one division out of 35 divisions conducted since 28 February, in 13 sitting days. If that does not represent frustration of a dimension unprecedented not only in Australia but in the entire system of Westminster government, I would like to know where a better precedent is. The Government says to the Opposition that the Opposition is calling the tune and it is frustrating the will of the people by threatening to withhold Supply from the Government by rejecting the Appropriation Bills. We give the Opposition the opportunity to try to hold back yet again these important pieces of legislation.
The legislation to which I have referred does not stand alone as hallmarks of the Government’s attitude and contentions which have been defined by those honourable members who sit opposite. Many other Bills have been defeated by the Opposition. I have a list here - I am not sure how up to date it is - of legislation which has been rejected by the Opposition. Twenty-one major pieces of legislation have been rejected by our opponents in another place. That legislation includes such important Bills as the Commonwealth Electoral Bill and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which is the means by which the Government wants to provide industrial peace in Australia. The Opposition will not allow the Government to get on with that job in the way in which we want to. Other Bills rejected by the
Opposition which have a vital bearing on the well-being of the Australian people are the Health Bills, the Trade Practices Bill and the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill. In addition there is a great list, columns long, of Bills which have been amended by the Senate. We say to members of the Opposition that they have already had their opportunity to debate these Bills which are put before them now. Opposition members have already had a democratic chance to weigh up the pros and cons of the legislation, debate them in the Parliament and put them to the people. It has not been the quality of debate or the merit of argument that has counted. The Opposition has used its numbers in another place in cahoots with another rump Party. The Government is not prepared to stand any longer for this kind of obstruction. As the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said: There is not going to be any lame duck government’. The Government has moved the motion to seek the suspension of Standing Orders to see whether the Opposition is prepared to take the same kind of stand.
– Order! the honourable member’s time has expired.
– This deceitful, incompetent Government, now in total disarray, has reduced the proceedings of this Parliament to a quite ludicrous stage. The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) wants to introduce for debate all these important Bills. I agree that the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill are important Bills. We do not deny that they are important. But we object to the opportunity that the Government is now giving - this ludicrously short time - to enable a proper consideration to be given to the Bills.
It is interesting to note that one of the pieces of legislation which the Government has chosen to introduce in this way is the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill, because in many ways this piece of legislation exemplifies the authoritarian attitude of this Government. Let us have a look at the possible consequences of the passing of this Bill. As far as I can remember - and I will be interested to hear whether the Minister contradicts what I have to say - if this Bill were passed there would be a right of entry signed by a Justice of the Peace - not even from the dis trict concerned - where right of entry was desired. An instrument signed by a Justice of the Peace would give the Commonwealth Government power of entry into any property, whether it be of a company or an individual’ Having got the right of entry the Bill would then give the Commonwealth Government power to remove practically everything - not just nominated minerals such as iron ore and bauxite. That piece of legislation gives the Commonwealth Government power to remove sand, gravel, soil, clay, rock and I think it refers to timber. In case the Government has forgotten anything at all, the legislation refers to any other material.
That is the sort of legislation which this Government brings in again and which it asks this House to pass in approximately an hour - quite apart from consideration of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill. The Minister referred to obstruction in another place. By heavens, if that is not the right role of the Senate, I have never seen anything mat is. This is a Bill which takes away the right of practically every landholder in Australia over his freehold title and which superimposes itself and takes precedence over all State legislation and all local government by-laws. Of course it is the duty of the House of review to put obstacles in the way of such an irresponsible piece of legislation passing through this Parliament.
Then we have the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill. I wonder how many people realise that this piece of legislation will affect the financial prosperity of a very large number of Australian people. It will affect the prosperity of everybody who holds any life insurance policies. It will reduce the value of those policies and also the value of the annual bonuses that the policies attract. This piece of legislation which the Government now reintroduces into this House - and I think, from memory, that the Government has given us approximately an hour to debate the legislation - will affect the pockets of practically every Australian. That is not apparent from the Bill itself - all sorts of high-minded principles are put into the Bill - but the effect will be to take money out of the pockets of every life insurance holder in Australia, in the capital value of their policies and in the annual bonuses which are paid on those policies.
As I have said, this Government by its action this afternoon in introducing 3 Bills of fundamental national importance which affect the rights of the individual and the financial prosperity of every life insurance policy holder in Australia, and in allowing the time which it has allowed for debate has reduced government in this country to a farce, and the sooner the Government grasps the nettle that we have put in front of it and sends this Parliament to the people, the better it will be. The Government’s actions this afternoon have demonstrated that it is not game to take the steps which will send this Parliament to the people. We have given an opportunity to the Government to do this, but all it does is to put up a quite ludicrous timetable for three very important pieces of legislation.
– In the declining minute or two of this debate I will say a few words in support of the Government’s motion. The Bills that we are considering have been the subject of detailed discussion for some time. It is well known that, as the honourable member for Corangamite(Mr Street) knows, these discussions have taken place in Committee debates in the consideration of amendments and in debates in another place. What we are now saying is that here is an opportunity for the Australian people to have a look at the legislation which was brought forward and which has been rejected by another place. That other place has no real mandate for what is now being put forward as a policy for which we had a mandate.
This matter is urgent in view of the fact that we are about to have Supply removed, and there is no legal basis at all for doing that. This is the first time in the history of Australia that a government is about to have Supply removed, and honourable members opposite say that that is proper action and that what we are proposing to do. is an improper action. The real facts of the situation are that we had a mandate to introduce legislation which is of vital importance.
– All of it?
– Yes, all of it. If one is dealing with the ownership of Australia, as one must be when one is dealing with the Petroleum and Minerals Authority, one must be dealing with assets that belong to
Australians and not to foreign investors. That is a very important principle. We stood on that and had a mandate for it, but the Opposition is trying to reject it. Turning to the National Investment Fund, fancy objecting to the fact that we want Australians to invest in their own country, but that is what the Opposition has done. It is recognised that the Opposition perhaps is beholden to some private enterprise or some banking corporation that feels there is a threat of socialism. But the real issue is that the legislation provides an opportunity for Australians to invest in their own country, and the legislation is urgent because of that. It is utterly ridiculous for honourable members opposite to come into the chamber now and say that they have been caught by surprise. This legislation has been the subject of debate-
– Order! The time allowed for the debate has expired.
That the motion (Mr Daly’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 14
Order! There being 64 ayes and 50 noes the question is therefore resolved in the affirmative by an absolute majority.
Declaration of Urgency
– I declare that the following Bills are urgent Bills:
Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973 Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973
National Investment Fund Bill 1973.
-The question is that the Bills be considered urgent Bills.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Allotment of Time
– I move:
That the time allotted in connection with the Bills be as follows:
Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973 -
For the second reading, until 5.45 p.m. this day.
For the committee stage, until 6 p.m. this day.
For the remaining stages, until 6.15 p.m. this day.
Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973, and National Investment Fund Bill 1973 -
For the second readings of the Bills, until 8.45 p.m. this day.
For the committee stage of the Bills, until 9 p.m. this day.
For the remaining stages of the Bills, until 9.15 p.m. this day.
It was said in the debate on the earlier motion for the suspension of Standing Orders that adequate time for discussion was given on these Bills when they were previously before this Parliament. Irrespective of what might be said by those opposite, knowing full well the long discussion that took place in respect of these matters previously, which was not very long ago, there can be no purpose in extending to great length the time permitted for debate on the Bills. The Bills went to another place subsequently and time was available there to debate them if it was thought fit to do so. But I can think of nothing that might be said on these measures from the other side of the Parliament that was not said on a previous occasion. Consequently we think that the time allotted in respect of these matters will prove to be adequate.
Let me take as an example the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973. This Bill, of course, is an important measure but does the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) really think he has anything new to say on it after the discussion that took place on a previous occasion? Would any member on that side of the Parliament not agree that there is nothing new they can say about it, so recent has been the discussion in this place? Irrespective of what might be said about the time that is being allocated, if honourable members opposite had not this morning wasted the time of this Parliament with a supercilious motion against you, Mr Speaker, raked up for political purposes, another hour at least could have been spent on this legislation. If the time is limited - we believe it to be adequate at this stage - we believe that this is due to the time wasting of members opposite.
We have no desire to delay the progress of this House. We seek to get on with the Appropriation Bills as urgently as possible. But had we not brought down a restriction of time on these measures before the Parliament, undoubtedly there would have been stonewalling and filibustering by those opposite to stop us from debating the Appropriation Bills because as yet they do not have the numbers to defeat them in another place. Everything done by those opposite at this stage is designed to curtail or to put off the debate on the Appropriation Bills. This is because all over this country today Liberal and Country Party organisers - the bigwigs of business and industry - are standing over members of the Country Party and the Liberal side in another place seeking to get their vote to stop supply and to defeat this duly elected Government. We know of all their tricks. This morning the Opposition put on a stunt for an hour to try to delay the evil day when it will have to front up in another place in respect of these matters. Far from the Labor Party delaying a debate on the Appropriation Bills, honourable members opposite will find that we seek the passage of that legislation as urgently as possible. If honourable members expedited their discussion on this and other matters we could get on with that business. But I am a generous hearted soul. I do not see why those who are trying to influence Liberals to vote against their consciences should be speeded up in their activities. Why should they not have adequate time to see what kind of conscience the Liberal Party has? Personally, I have never met a Liberal with a conscience, but they reckon there are a few in the Senate. So let these manipulators of the’ Party machine see what they can do.
The Deputy Leader of the Country Party, who is seeking to interject, gets stirred up like a volcano every time that petrol is mentioned. He and his Party are committed to increase the price of petrol as soon as they are elected to office. What does one think that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the oil companies are putting money into their funds for? The Country Party has to oppose anything that comes forward on this side of the Parliament regarding a petroleum and minerals authority or anything of that nature because it is committed to protect those companies. All the time, while crying out about the curtailment of the debate, all they want is this legislation to go through rapidly in order that they and their benefactors might get their adequate return as quickly as possible by important legislation like this being defeated. I ask those opposite not to debate this motion further. Let us get on with the business of the Parliament. Let us give the people a chance to re-elect overwhelmingly the Government on this side.
As much as I like some of those opposite, I think that a few of them will not be looking at me for much longer, sad as that might be. So let us get into the Senate and see what will be done. Let us see that we relieve those conscience stricken senators of their worry and strife and give them the opportunity to vote on other issues. That is why I say that this legislation should be debated with a minimum of delay at this time. We should get on with the business before the Parliament.
– It is of interest that on the last occasion also when these 3 Bills which are the subject of this guillotine came before the House they were guillotined. Then, as now, the Government was not prepared to allow any debate, let alone adequate debate, on matters that are of very real substance to the community. This guillotine intends to provide only one hour, subject to the time taken now for the consideration of this procedural motion, for the debate on the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill. It intends to allow something like three-quarters of an hour for debate on the other 2 matters of considerable substance - the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill. That is a complete parody on justice. The last time that the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill came before the House we were allowed a whole 15 minutes to debate it in the second reading stage, and we were allowed something like 5 minutes for the second reading debate on the National Investment Fund Bill. This is the basis on which the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) asserts that we are to be given a chance to debate the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill this time.
This Government has pursued a course which elevates the Senate to be the significant chamber for debate on matters of public importance in the Australian arena - this from a Party which supposedly will eliminate the Senate. One hates to think what opportunity there would be for any debate if there were no Senate in the Australian parliamentary system. For the period of 16 months in which this Government has been in office there has been no opportunity for significant debate in the Parliament on any matters of substance. For the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill there was a 20 minutes second reading debate the first time that it came before the House of Representatives, and only 10 minutes in Committee. What utter nonsense for the Leader of the House to suggest that democracy is being served by the manner in which he controls this House.
It is also most unfortunate that if one wants to know what is going on in Parliament, instead of looking at the notice paper or even the blue sheet which sets out the daily program, it is necessary for one to turn to the newspapers. In tonight’s newspaper there is set down for all to read that it is the intention of the Government to rush through such legislation as the off-shore minerals legislation and industrial legislation. The Government, in pushing through such legislation, will not give the House its right to consider and adequately debate whether it will approve that legislation. When these measures have been pushed through the House of Representatives they will be sent to the Senate. Once the Senate has rejected them again, the Government will allow the Appropriation Bills to pass through the House of Representatives.
The Leader of the House says that he is anxious to go to the people. By all means, let us go now. Let us not muck around. Let us bring the Appropriation Bills on for debate. The Opposition is ready. We are prepared to debate the Appropriation Bills. Indeed, we are prepared, given a new Parliament and given the right of the people to express their judgment on this Government, to give adequate time for consideration of proper pieces of legislation. The policy that this Government pursues of a circumscribed debate in this House is as ludicrous as some of the other statements by the Leader of the House as to the way in which justice and democracy are served here. It is true that we on this side of the House intend to oppose each one of the measures that are put before us. But in case those who are listening or those who attend parliamentary proceedings wonder why we are not dividing, let me explain. If we divide, it subtracts time from those speakers on our side - those too few speakers - who will be allowed any opportunity to express a point of view on matters of very considerable public moment. The 3 pieces of legislation that are involved in this guillotine motion are matters of tremendous importance to the Australian taxpayer, the Australian people and the Australian elector. It is tragic that the only way in which we can give any time to Opposition speakers on these Bills is to ensure that we do not in fact exercise our democratic right to divide this chamber. So in not dividing, other than on the third reading of each of the Bills that come before us, we are doing so not because we do not oppose the Bills but because it is the only way in which we are able to provide any time for members on the Opposition side of this Parliament to express a point of view. These guillotined Bills deny the Opposition any opportunity to speak on matters of major public moment. We deplore the manner in which the affairs of the House are conducted by the Leader of the House. We believe that democracy is ill-served by this Government, and the sooner the Government goes to the people,, the better.
– Let us cut out the cant and all the nonsense we have heard about not having time. The plain facts of the matter are that these Bills all have been fully debated before in this chamber. They have been fully debated in the Senate, and Opposition members have nothing further to add to the very poor contributions that they made in the first round of the proceedings. What the Opposition is terrified of is that if these Bills are gone on with quickly, we might reach the Appropriation Bills or the money Bills before the Opposition has been able to persuade Liberal senators to change their mind about stopping the supply of money. There is nothing that the Liberal Party and the Country Party in this place would hope for more than to get their colleagues in the Senate to change their mind. I put it to the House that the Senate cannot back down over the money Bills without making a complete and utter laughing stock of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) in this place, because if the Liberal senators back down on the supply of money-
– Which they will not.
– Which they will not. That is what the honourable gentleman now confidently predicts, but he is hoping that they will. I am saying to him that the Opposition is hoping that if proceedings in this House are delayed long enough some of the Liberal Party senators might get the wind up and decide to change their mind. Acting under the guise of voting according to conscience, they will then let the money supply come through. Why is it that the Australian Country Party, in particular, and the Liberal Party are so terrified of an election? The reason is that they know that the people of Australia do not relish the propect of having to pay an enormous increase in the price of petrol. They will certainly have to pay an enormous increase in the price of petrol because the Leader of the Australian Country Party is totally committed to the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd to increase the price of fuel oil. They know that the people of Australia will not relish the prospect of massive unemployment, which happened to be the only cure that the Liberal-Country Party Government of 1972 could advance in dealing with inflation. They know that the Australian people will not like that.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Are you satisfied that this debate bears on the suspension of Standing Orders?
-Order! The House is not debating a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. The honourable gentleman should know that that was passed a moment ago.
– I am sorry, Mr Speaker.
– They know very well that they do not relish the prospect of having to explain what particular items of Government expenditure they propose to cut. They have been talking about too much Government expenditure now, but they do not like the prospect of having to stand up on the public stage and answer questions from the ordinary people on what particular item of existing Government expenditure they intend to cut out. Moreover, they do not relish the prospect of having to go to the country and justify the selling out of Australia’s natural resources and Australia’s industry to foreignowned enterprises. They know perfectly well that today’s unemployment figures reveal that we are living in a state of unparalleled prosperity. Today there are 5,000 more jobs than there are people jobless compared with the reverse situation 2 years ago this month before they left office. At that time there were 68,000 fewer pobs than there were people who were unemployed. The situation is clear enough. They are trying to kill time in the hope that the senators who represent their parties in the
Senate will change their mind because nothing terrifies them more than the prospect of having to face a double dissolution. There was a lot of talk about it until the hour of truth arrived. The hour of truth has now arrived for all honourable members opposite to stand up and be counted, to say where they stand and to answer to the .people of Australia.
– The Government has completely abandoned all parliamentary practice by its actions this afternoon. It did not see fit to communicate to the Opposition or to the Parliament what it intended to do about these Bills that the Government is guillotining through, but it is quite apparent from what my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) quoted that the Government communicated its intentions to the Press. I think that that must come very close to contempt of Parliament because if it is fair enough for the Press of this nation to know the timetable of the Government in the Parliament surely to goodness it is fair enough for the members and the Parliament itself to know what the Government intends to do.
Honourable members opposite should not talk about standover tactics. They are the very people who are standing over the Opposition and the Parliament itself. One of the speakers on the Government side said that nothing new could be said about these Bills. Nothing good can be said about them, either, not that we have a great deal of time in which to say it. The Government said that these Bills were fully debated. Let us have a look at what time was available. On the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill the time for debate on the second reading was 20 minutes and for the Committee stage, 10 minutes. On the National Investment Fund Bill 5 minutes was allowed for the second reading debate and 12 minutes for the Committee stage. On the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 15 minutes was allowed for the second reading debate and 12 minutes for the Committee stage. II that is what the Government considers full debate on matters of national importance it has very different definitions of national importance from those of us on this side of the House.
Perhaps it is just as well for the Government’s sake that it is limiting debate on these Bills. I have no doubt that that is exactly why the Government is putting such a ludicrous timetable on them. As I said a moment ago, while nothing good can be said about them, nothing can illustrate more clearly two of the most unpleasant aspects of this Government. The first aspect is its authoritarian approach not only to Parliament, as has been illustrated by its action this afternoon, but also to the citizens of this country. When I spoke a moment ago I used the illustration of the powers that the Government hoped to obtain had the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill been passed. It was entirely proper for the House of review, the Senate, to put a stop to that. Thank goodness it did.
The second aspect which the Government does not want brought out in full and open debate - as illustrated by the time allowed for these measures when they were before this House originally and illustrated again by the time allowed today - is that the Australian Industry Development Corporation and the National Investment Fund show the Government’s determination to socialise this country and its industry by the back door. It is no longer acceptable to talk about socialisation of industry by the front door; the Government accepts that. The Government realises that the Australian people will not have a bar of it. So what it tries to do is to introduce legislation which will enable the Government to do it, it hopes, by the back door. So that people will not be fully aware of what they are in for, the Government tries to stifle debate on these measures. A moment ago the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) mentioned that we are in a time of unparalleled prosperity.
-Order! The time allowed for the debate has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Connor, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
By this Bill Parliament is again being asked to create the Petroleum and Minerals Authority. The functions of the Petroleum and Minerals Authority will be to explore for and develop our petroleum and mineral resources and to assist in implementing the Government’s policy of promoting Australian owner ship and control of our natural resources and resource industries.
The Bill was first introduced into the House of Representatives on 4 December 1973 and into the Senate on 13 December 1973. The Senate refused to read the Bill a second time on 2 April 1974. This is a measure to which the Government attaches the greatest importance. The Government’s policy in relation to this matter was completely vindicated by the events last year prior to the introduction of the Bill into the House of Representatives on 4 December 1973. Events since that announcement have strengthened the arguments for the creation of a Petroleum and Minerals Authority. There is additional evidence too in the proposed actions of other Governments. Since the preparation of our legislation the United Kingdom Government has announced proposals for the establishment of a Government authority and Mr Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, is planning to introduce legislation shortly to create a national petroleum corporation whose objectives are remarkably similar to those in relation to petroleum proposed for the Petroleum and Minerals Authority.
It is through the Petroleum and Minerals Authority that the Government plans to recycle the savings from the withdrawal of the section 77 and section 78 taxation concessions and the cessation of the petroleum search subsidy scheme. We plan to use these funds initially to promote the search for petroleum under arrangements to be determined. In addition, and of no less importance, they will be available to further our policy of ensuring that future on-shore mining development is at least predominantly Australian owned and controlled. We will consider assistance to the many small companies and syndicates which have used up their capital on exploration and have discovered worthwhile mineralisations so attractive that, in default of obtaining internal Australian capital, they fall into the hands of foreign companies before they have a chance of getting off the ground as Australian concerns. The Government’s action in introducing this Bill today is evidence of the great urgency which it attaches to this proposal and to the tasks for which the Petroleum and Minerals Authority is being created. The Government intends that the measure should be dealt with by the House immediately and that it should be sent forthwith to the Senate for its approval.
The Federal Liberal Party’s proposed new policy statement, as published in today’s Press, after emphasising that Australian ownership is preferable’ states that ‘where this is not possible, carefully monitored participation by overseas interests or by Government is acceptable in the nation’s best interest’. Equal Government participation is precisely the objective of this measure. In the case of off-shore petroleum exploration it will be in partnership with competent and experienced petroleum search companies, which will be providing the major risk capital and equipment. In respect of on-shore exploration, Government participation will take the form of either equity acquisition, loan, partnership or guarantee. All these projects will be financed by the recycling of the $50m to $60m hitherto paid to undeserving companies without in most cases an effective return and certainly without any interest accruing to the Australian people. The Government has a mandate for this proposal, the nation has a need for it, and the measure of our sincerity is the existence in this country today of Government corporations co-operating with and competing effectively with private enterprise.
Earlier in my speech I referred to the policy as drawn up and circulated to its State branches by the Liberal Party of Australia. It is a most interesting document. I think I should refer briefly to it. It is worth quoting, for example, from the section headed ‘General Principles’. Immitation is, of course, the sincerest form of flattery. It has been characteristic of the whole history of Australian politics in national development that Labor has always blazed the trail and advanced the principles. It has been blackguarded by the Conservatives” or the Liberals, by whatever name they might be called, but ultimately they have stolen about half of it and incorporated it in their own policy. I repeat that it is quite remarkable to see the change in policy emphasis between this document and the concepts which dominated the thinking of the Liberal Party prior to the last Federation election. Item 5 of the section headed ‘General Principles’ states:
The Liberal Party will seek the maximum attainable Australian ownership and participation in management by Australians in the mineral and energy resource industries and to this end give priority to enterprises with maximum Australian equity participation.
That is precisely what we intend to do and what we are in the process of doing. I repeat that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Item 7 states:
The Liberal Party will encourage the bona ride small Australian prospector, -company and minerals and energy service organisations to continue as a means of increasing Australia’s expertise and equity in its resources.
That also is what we are in the process of doing. The former Government introduced the Companies (Foreign Take-overs) Act. The committee under the terms of that legislation, applying the 15 per cent equity rule, has held up some 45 similar cases. They can only be helped, they can only be released, by the enactment of this legislation. In those cases small exploration companies have found uranium, gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc. You name the mineral; they have found it. They have been undercapitalised. They have found something that is worthwhile. We have had the economic viability of these companies checked by the Bureau of Minerals Resources and other competent authorities and they are ready to get moving, but the only finance that they can get short of assistance from the proposed Petroleum and Minerals Authority is by taking into partnership or selling equity shares to overseas companies. Hard nosed, shrewd, hard fisted overseas companies want to come in but we will not let them. Instead of that we intend to recycle the money that has hitherto gone to the racketeers in the market place - on the stock exchanges.
One of the characteristics of the minerals boom and the share market mining boom that finished with Minsec and Tasminex was the number of mushroom companies which sprang up, which claimed every possible concession under the terms of over-generous company taxation legislation, which successfully gulled the public into investing in their shares and which never even sunk a drill into their holdings. Of course the directors had a very fine time while the money lasted, and it was used for many purposes other than those for which their memorandums and articles of association were designed. But in the upshot we - by ‘we’ I mean the taxpayers - were being mulcted for nearly $50m a year. That will end next June. For the last 16 months I have had the disagreeable task of having to sign approvals for applications under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act by major oil companies. Some of the largest of them - from Hematite downwards; Shell, Esso, one can go through the whole range of them - have lined up for assistance to drill in Australia. To date not one share, not one skerrick of equity, has been placed in the possession of the Australian Government as a result of the dispersal of all this money - and Si Om per annum has ‘been set aside for that purpose. We have heard wails, we have heard moans, we have heard jeremiads from the Opposition as to the need for exploration, particularly in respect of petroleum but also in respect of the other minerals. There will be anything up to $60m a year available for that purpose. The Opposition, which in one situation wants to attack the Government, has completely changed its attitude and refused to allow the legislation through because of the pathetic, paltry pretence that it is socialism. It is nothing more than common, ordinary state capitalism and enterprise.
Let us take the matter a stage further. Item 10 of the ‘General Principles’ states:
Ensure a reasonable return to the Australian people from the development of mineral and energy resources, both through the domestic commodity price and by either the payment of royalties and taxes or production sharing.
We will certainly see that there is a reasonable return to the Australian people from the development of minerals and energy resources. Of course we will. At the present time Australian crude happens to be the cheapest in the world. It also happens to be a very profitable form of activity not only to the companies which are. holding the production leases in Bass Strait but also to the various major oil companies which are refining the products from it and selling them at net prices which are comparable to those in the advanced industrial countries of the world. There is very cheap oil on the one hand and top retail prices on the other. To give an instance of what the setup is today, in certain cases Government contract prices are 17c a gallon for motor spirit. To that one should add the 22.3c a gallon in excise duty. That makes it 39.3c. In this city the retail price, I understand, is 56c or 58c a gallon. There is a further margin - of course there is the initial margin of 17c - of about another 17c a gallon on top of the 40.2c in the resale price through the petrol pump.
Is it any wonder that we would establish a royal commission to probe, precisely these rackets? Is it any wonder that half the profits at the present time of the Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd are coming from oil production? fs it any wonder that we find the members of the Australian Country Party, of all people, boodling and wanting a handout? They are paying lip service to the needs of the farmer and at the same time are wanting to get as close as they can to the major oil producers so that they can get money for electoral handouts. They talk in terms that there ought to be parity with the prices being paid for oil from overseas. The Australian price is $2.06 a barrel. I understand that the major oil companies are being invoiced at $8.40 a barrel. There is a differential in round figures of $6 a barrel. The production, of oil in Australia per annum is 161 million barrels. An increase of even $1 a barrel would be a bonus of $161m to people who do not need it. The specious pretext that is being advanced is that it will help oil production. It will do nothing of the sort. We will see that the profits from oil are used properly. They will be used for the development of Australia. They will be used for the development of a proper Australian oil industry. For too long, the wealth of Australia has been ripped and raped by foreign companies. I quote again from the draft policy of the Liberal Party under the heading ‘Specific Objectives of Energy Policy’. It states:
These objectives will be advanced through:
The recognition that Australian free enterprise ownership and development of energy sources is always preferable but where the capital, expertise or initiative are unavailable within Australia, carefully monitored participation by overseas interests or by government is acceptable in the nation’s best interests.
We will be doing precisely that through the Petroleum and Minerals Authority. There have been endless hours of misrepresentation and many lies told about how we are somehow going to buy a dozen drilling ships and rush into the oil exploration business on our own account. We will be doing nothing of the sort. But we will be doing what is done by every other state in the world which has a littoral beneath which off-shore oil may be found. We will be seeking and obtaining the co-operation of the major companies which are experienced in this work. For the first time, we will ensure that the production leases are in the joint names of the Commonwealth of Australia and these companies so that we will get what every other country gets, namely, 50 per cent of the total profit. We will get it and we are entitled to it. It is the Opposition which wants to deny it to us.
For some time it has been necessary to hold up farm-outs or farm-ins, whatever one chooses to call them - and for the best of reasons. One company is holding 142,000 square miles of off-shore territory under the terms of an exploration permit. Neither this company nor any other company in the world today, npt even Exxon, could adequately drill and test that area. That company has sought to farm this area out to others on the basis that it would cost it nothing by way of risk capital, that another partner would come in with the necessary equipment, and that if anything was found the company farming-out the ‘lease would receive half of it. We have said, and our attitude has been correct: If you cannot drill, explore and exploit it yourself, hand it back to the people of Australia who will then, through their Government, cany out the necessary operation and ensure that half of the proceeds will go to the people of Australia.
Apart from that, new drilling techniques are available for drilling off-shore, well beyond the continental shelf and out into depths of 3,000 and 4,000 feet. Major oil companies are lined up wanting to enter into partnership with the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of drilling and exploiting these areas. That is where the greatest oil wealth ‘lies. My information is that the major resource on the continental shelf is natural gas. Associated with that are the liquids which we will be transmuting into motor spirit. But beyond that and in the remotest depths of the continental plateau - not the shelf - is where the major reserves of crude oil are. We know exactly what we want to do. We also know the motives of the Opposition. Members opposite are dyed in the wool advocates of private enterprise. They are in the pockets of the oil companies. They will stop at nothing and they will stoop to anything to achieve their objectives. It is for that reason that we are seeking that this legislation should go across to the Senate. We know that the Senate will reject it and we will fight them on this matter when the double dissolution is called.
– The House this afternoon has been absolutely chaotic. It has been turned into a complete farce and a shambles. Suddenly, without any warning or notice, these Bills have been brought on. It is quite certain there will only be a very short time available to discuss the measures. We will not be able to go over the great number of points which the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) raised in his second reading speech, during which he rambled in the usual way. Some 15 or 20 points were raised and, of course, one cannot possibly deal with them in the time allowed.
After all, the guillotine allows us only some 25 minutes of debate on the second reading stage. Yet here we have a Minister who has come forward with all these shibboleths and the Government is not prepared to allow a fair and reasonable debate. The Government is not interested in the ‘legislation. In fact, if it were not for the Senate, we would have virtually no debate on any of these measures. So, I say firstly that the Government has turned the House into a complete farce. This is the swan song of one of the most incompetent and hopeless Ministers ever to appear in this chamber.
– Are you going out?
– The Minister for Minerals and Energy is the one who is going out. He is the person who has done enormous damage to the mining industry, whether it be mining for minerals or petroleum and whether it be on-shore or off-shore. All of us know what the situation is. We know that since this Government has come into office, mining companies have left Australia. One company after another has gone overseas or has closed down. The amount of drilling that is going ahead is getting less and less. The Minister put out a great splurge which he gave to the Canberra Times’ and on the front page of that newspaper appeared the headline ‘Drilling Boom Off-shore’. The article pointed out that 54 wells were going to be drilled this year. The information which came from the Minister’s office and which was put in this article by David Solomon said that only 40 wells had been drilled in the previous 10 years. We know that that statement was completely inaccurate, yet the information came from the Minister’s office.
– It was information that came from the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, my friend.
– The information claiming that 40 wells had been drilled in the last 10 years did not come from the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association. If the Minister likes to read what the Canberra Times’ said, he will see that it was given this information from the Minister’s office. When representatives of the newspaper asked whether the Minister’s staff could check this information again - because they realised it was completely inaccurate - they were told that the Minister’s office could not supply its own details. Is not this absolute incompetence? We know that during this period 189 wells were drilled off-shore by mobile platforms and another 100 wells drilled off-shore from fixed platforms, so that by this time more than 300 wells have been drilled off-shore. Yet the Minister in this great splurge of a hand-out to David Solomon said that only 40 wells had been drilled in the last 10 years. This shows the complete incompetence of the Minister. Of course, we all know that under this Minister everything has gone backwards, everything has gone to pieces, whether it is in the field of mining for minerals or in the search for petroleum. We find that only a little over half as much drilling took place in 1973 as occurred in 1972. Drilling in 1972 amounted to almost one million feet, but in 1973 the figure was only about 550,000 feet. Only 72 wells reached total depth in 1973 as against 134 wells in 1972. Everything that the Minister for Minerals and Energy has touched has gone sour because of this extraordinary attitude of the Minister that it is better to keep anything in the ground rather than let anyone make a pound out of it.
– Tell us about iron ore and coal.
– I will tell you about overseas ownership. The Minister is trying to make a great song and dance out of his claim that 62 per cent of mining in Australia was overseas owned or controlled. Well, he brought in the controls. His Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) did not even bring in the controls. He did not understand this, and he said that 62 per cent of Australian mining was overseas owned. However, of course, he was corrected on that. Only in the last week we have seen this proved completely wrong. The Minister’s statement gives a completely wrong impression. It is a manufactured figure, created to try to put the fear of God into Australians to make them think they are losing control of their own resources. Of course, we know that even the Minister’s own Department could not put up with this and, as a result, a top-level man from the Bureau of Mineral Resources produced figures showing that only 35 per cent of Australian mineral production was in the hands of overseas companies. Of course that is not the point. The point is that the Minister has complete control. He can prevent any exports. What he is saying is that he is too incompetent or too inactive to see that this control is exercised. The Australian Mining Industry Council came out with an almost identical figure. It said that 39.5 per cent of Australia’s mineral resources or mining companies were in overseas hands, and the percentage is falling.
The Minister said that small companies were under-capitalised. Of course they are undercapitalised. Before he came to office they were able to undertake a quite large program. Mining has decreased. Drilling for oil offshore has decreased. It is absolutely hopeless to .drill for oil on-shore. With some 22 or 23 rigs available in Australia, at one stage only one was active. The Minister is responsible for this situation because of the terms and conditions he has imposed. Everyone has lost confidence in the completely unacceptable situation in Australia. Small companies are undercapitalised because they cannot get finance. The Minister says: ‘Only let this Bill through and we will be able to help everyone’.. He mentioned a figure of $50m to $60m. That is not mentioned in the Bill, of course. It is only his idea of what finance might be available. Even if that amount were made available, how far would it go? In Australia we require an average, annual expenditure in oil search of $200m if we are to get self-sufficiency and to retain self-sufficiency - that is, given a normal sort of expectancy of discoveries. It is interesting to note that there has not been one major new discovery of any sort made under the present Government.
How far would $50m or $60m go? Firstly, it would have to be divided between mining and petroleum, so amounts of $25m to $30m would be available for each. That is a drop in the bucket. By withdrawing all taxation concessions, subsidies, and other forms of encouragement the Government has dried up or reduced enormously the funds available from private enterprise. It says: ‘We will jump in and fill that area’. Of course we know it cannot fill it and could not possibly fill it with that amount of money. All that is happening is that at a time when overseas countries are doing everything they can to attract people to do more drilling, Australia is seeing rigs going overseas. Even Australian companies are going overseas and having success there. One is glad to note that they are having success, but these companies should be drilling in Australia. People say to me: ‘Why would I be bothered drilling in a banana republic like Australia? Surely we are better off if we go to Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore’. We all know that foreign capital is welcomed in Singapore; not like in Australia where it is shunned. They can drill in South Vietnamese waters, Korean waters or in the Philippines. Some Australian firms are going as far afield as Turkey. But they will not drill in Australia, or they are drilling less in Australia.
The Minister has gone out of his way to see that even the small amount of drilling that is proceeding in Australia is reduced. Recently we had an instance where there were 6 applications for farm-ins. Everyone knows that this is a situation where if a company is unable to drill all its area it comes to an arrangement with another company which undertakes the farm-in.
– They can hand it back to Australia.
– They do not have to hand it back now. We want more drilling. What happened in the case of Abrolhos Oil NL? We know that Esso had a floating rig and it was going to drill for Abrolhos. The Minister does not want drilling; he wants to prevent it. The result was that the Esso rig left Australian waters and has gone to South-East Asia. It will never return. For all we know a number of holes that would have been drilled might have resulted in the discovery of oil which we so desperately need. What happened on the North West Shelf? Exactly the same thing happened. A number of applications for farm-ins were rejected by the Minister. One of them involved the very great company Mount Isa Mines Ltd, a company which is largely Australian owned. Of course it has a large amount of overseas capital because at the time when Mount Isa mines were first discovered it was impossible to get anyone to put up the necessary funds. The area was an enormous distance from population centres. Australians tried to start to develop the area but could not do so. A British company took it over and it was not able to do the work. Eventually a strong American company took over the area and worked it to the great benefit of Australia. That company has complete Australian management. I do not think one overseas person would be found at top management level in that firm. Yet this was a firm which wanted to undertake oil search and the Minister prevented it doing so. This is an extraordinary situation, He says that companies cannot prospect all the areas they have. He mentioned the Woodside-Burmah company in particular. If such companies cannot prospect, surely the thing to do is to let some other company assist with the prospecting. This Minister apparently wants to make certain-
– That people in Australia have a half share.
– The people of Australia have more than a half share because, as the Minister well knows, anything from between 54 per cent to 60 per cent of the profits of a successful company come to the Government by way of royalties and company taxation. If the money is repatriated overseas there is the withholding tax. There are many ways by which Australia benefits and the people do not have to pay out money as risk capital. A LiberalCountry Party government would never spend taxpayers’ money as risk capital looking for something which it is extremely unlikely would be found. We believe that this is an area in which private enterprise should engage with assistance from government and with close co-operation with government.
The Minister quoted from a policy speech. I am glad he did. It has not yet become policy of course but that would not worry the Minister. He said that members of the Opposition were died in the wool private enterprise supporters. We certainly are. We always have been. We believe that in the main private enterprise is more successful than government enterprise. It is true, as the Minister says, that there are many overseas countries which have their own mining and oil drilling companies. We know this, but in most cases they are not as efficient as private enterprise. What is required is a tremendous amount of technology which it is difficult for State companies to acquire. Many government owned and State owned companies have not proved to be particularly effective. We believe that private enterprise with government encouragement should carry out the search for oil and minerals. Most of the profits would come to the government in taxation.
The Minister said that oil is particularly profitable. Of course he looks at the WoodsideBurmah company. It has not yet taken a penny out of the ground but it has spent an enormous sum. It has had some good gas discoveries but it does not have any commercial discoveries yet. In time that company will start to make profits. The Minister also looks at the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd - an extremely lucky company which, in conjunction with Esso, has discovered and has been able to produce oil and gas from the Gippsland area. But we never hear from the Minister anything about all the other 45 to 50 companies, some of which have invested vast sums of money and have been completely discouraged because overall Australia is not highly successful from the viewpoint of oil search. Its rating is well below the world rating.
Australia has had large gas discoveries. This is encouraging because undoubtedly that gas will be used, but at present Australia is short of oil. We want to do everything possible to see that the search for oil is stepped up, but it is certain that while we have the dead hand of a Minister who believes in government control and in preventing and discouraging anyone else from engaging in oil search, there will be no acceleration of the search for oil. This year again the figures show that the number of wells programmed to be drilled is very slightly ahead of the number actually drilled last year. But as all the wells that are programmed are not drilled the number actually drilled probably will finish up about the same as the number for 1973 which, as I have said already, is well below the number that we need. We ought to be aiming not at the 1972 figure but at a figure a good deal higher than that. It is all very well to say that oil is profitable. One can say that about one company in Australia which has been extremely successful.
The Minister for Minerals and Energy tried to misrepresent the position of our colleagues in the Australian Country Party. He said that they believe that there should be an increase in the price of oil. They did not say that the price should be stepped up, as I pointed out previously, but of course the Minister has learned nothing and forgotten nothing, and therefore he continues irrespective of the fact that we had a debate here in which it was pointed out to him that he does not have a receptive mind so he could not receive this. In the debate it was clearly stated that there should be a review of the price of crude oil. As I pointed out, such a review could come up with a number of alternatives. Of course it might say that the general price of Australian crude should go up. Even if it did say that, there is no reason why the Government would have to accept that view. Nevertheless that is something which the Government will have available to it when it makes its decision, which it must make in September of next year. The review might say that there should be a 2-tier system of pricing crude oil in Australia. Under that system the big profitable wells would continue to be paid for their oil at the present price or at a price of that order. The smaller wells - we know that there are fields in Australia today which cannot be developed commercially at the present price - could receive a higher price. After all, we have Tirrawarra in north east South Australia and Mer.rinie in the Palm Valley area near Alice Springs. These are two relatively small fields which cannot become commercial at present prices of oil. Yet the Government is agreeing to buy crude oil from overseas at far above the Australian price. It does not mind paying an Arab or an Indonesian far more than it will pay an Australian company.
– They are exorbitant prices.
– They are. We want local production and we want a price at which local producers can produce. Of course another thing that will happen in the quite near future is that two of the small fields in Queensland will cease production because they are not economic at the current prices. When they cease production they will leave the oil in the ground for ever because it will not be profitable to re-open the field. They will leave at least one million barrels. I am informed that one company, if it gets successful secondary recovery production, could well get an additional 4 million to 5 million barrels. But that will not come about at today’s prices because this is a very small marginal field. Surely these are the sorts of things that ought to be looked at in a review. But let the Government not try to tell us that it is the policy of the Australian Country Party or of any other Party that there should be a massive increase in the price-
– It is.
– Just read the document. I know that the honourable member might find some difficulty with this. But if he looks at the document he will see that it says that there should be a review. I have said what an awful mess the present Government is making of its minerals, energy and petroleum policy. Thank God, this is the swan song of a Minister who, as I have already said, is probably one of the most incompetent we have seen but who has done an enormous amount of damage to the Australian mining industry, damage which will not be overcome the moment there is a change of government. It takes a long time before some of these things are forgotten and forgiven, and it will take a long time before we get the petroleum search industry and the mining industry back into full production again. This we are determined to do.
There is an extremely short time for us to debate this highly important Bill. This Bill is one of the most incredible pieces of legislation that I have ever seen. As a result, it is totally unacceptable to the Opposition. Someone said that there was no need to debate this Bill again because nothing new had happened since we debated it last time. I say that quite a lot of new matters have come to light since this Bill was first debated. Firstly, of course, the State mines Ministers have asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy repeatedly to call them together so that they can discuss this legislation. It has a vital bearing on the States because it would tend to undermine completely the State authority in this field. The Commonwealth Government would have power to come in anywhere, irrespective of title - it would not matter if a person were mining or drilling or producing oil - and set down its rig and start to produce from the same field that a person has established and from which he is producing. It could mine virtually anything. The Authority’s functions are set out in the Bill and they show the complete powers it has.
As I have said, the State mines Ministers wanted the Minister for Minerals and Energy to call together the Australian Mining Council, which in the past did good work but which this Minister has refused to meet at all because he is undoubtedly afraid. He knows perfectly well that he would have no answer to the Ministers. Until he does have that answer, this Bill will not go through in another place. The State mines Ministers will meet anyway. The Minister for Minerals and Energy ought to attend that meeting but he is afraid and he will not. We know this will be a meeting of only State mines Ministers. Of course they are not all Liberal by any means.
Another thing which has happened since this legislation first went through this Mouse is that there has been time for a deep study of the matter by very many people. Anyone who has been interested in this subject will have read a number of assessments of it, particularly by those people who. will be so vitally affected by it, and also by the States. In the short time available to me I should like to read a paper which the Victorian Premier has sent on the
Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973. He states:
A quick reading of this Bill has shown that it raises many grave questions in the constitution field, in the area of State rights, and even of its own validity as a viable piece of legislation.
I have therefore obtained an opinion of the Bill from my Solicitor-General, and I set out below, for your information, the main points of his submission to me.
At the outset, I should say that the Bill appears to be an attempt by the Australian Government to go as far as it conceivably can into the mining field and into the field of commerce associated with mining. We doubt whether the Government’s legal advisers are confident that it would survive challenge, and it may be that the idea is to see, from the litigation which will undoubtedly follow the passage of the Bill, what the outer limits of power appear to be.
The Bill sets up a statutory authority and purports to confer upon it extremely wide powers, not only in respect of the exploration for and the mining of petroleum and minerals, but also the participation by the authority with other persons in such activities.
In effect, it seeks to set up a national mining venture and purports to empower the authority to carry on its operations not only in Australia but in any other place.
It can be argued that Clause 9 of the Bill limits the performance of the authority’s functions to various specified places and matters, e.g., in a territory; in relation to the natural resources of the submarine areas of the Australian land mass; for purposes facilitating territorial, interstate and overseas trade; for the purposes of defence; and finally, any associated areas.
I am afraid that I will not have time to finish my remarks on this aspect. He concludes by saying that there is no doubt that it is unconstitutional.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order! The time allotted for the second reading of the Bill has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– The legal effects that the provisions of this Bill can have are highly objectionable. I turn quickly to some of those provisions to try to explain, in the very short time that is given to the Opposition to expose this Bill, just what the legal effects of its provisions are. For example, there is nothing further from the truth than to say, in justification of the Bill, that it provides a means for the Government, through the Authority, to provide financial assistance for the bona fide small Australian prospector or company which the Liberal Party seeks to support. The Government, led by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) who has been so accurately described in the past as incompetent - and this has been demonstrated by the numerous inaccuracies in information which he has given to this House - states that the Bill does enable the Authority to provide that assistance. Clause 8 of the Bill needs only be examined to see how wrong that statement is. Clause 8 states that the Authority has the following functions:
That means that this Authority simply cannot provide, nor is it intended to provide, financial assistance to any bona fide small Australian prospector or company.
It is true that through the provisions of this . Bill the Government intends to give the Authority complete and untrammelled powers , of expropriation of all discovered or discoverable minerals or petroleum throughout Australia, both on the continental land mass and beyond to the continental shelf and the continental plateau. The objectionable clauses contained in this Bill are clause 43, operating in conjunction with clause 50, by which the Authority can obtain effective control of any known or prospective mineralised area by the issue of a notice in the Australian ‘Gazette’ declaring an area to be an exploration area. If the owner or occupier of that particular area does not agree to the Authority entering upon the property, the Authority may simply, as I have said before, walk down a corridor, find a justice of the peace, have a warrant signed and the Authority can enter that property. That property can be, for example^ the Bass Strait oilfields from which production is already being derived, or any known oilfield in Bass Strait which is not yet being developed. That area being declared an exploration area, and a right to enter being thereby given to the Authority, the Authority can move in, put down its own wells and draw from the same field that Esso-BHP is drawing from at the moment.
The Authority can go to the north-west shelf in my own State and put down production wells on all those natural gas fields which have been discovered by Woodside-Burmah. It can do that without any compensation being paid to the discovering company, because compensation is only payable to anyone who owns the mineral or the petroleum. Simply discovering the mineral or petroleum without extracting it from the earth does not give ownership to the discoverer. I have given examples in Victoria and Western Australia. Another example is to be found in Queensland. I refer to the phenomenonally important rock phosphate deposits which can suffer exactly the same fate. They are deposits which undoubtedly Australia will be dependent upon for its supplies of fertiliser for generations. It is a field on which vast amounts of money have been spent by the company proposing to develop it, and which could all be put to naught without any right of compensation for money expended simply by this Authority declaring that area to be an exploration area. The Authority thereby is given the right to move in and to develop that discovery.
Not only that is objectionable; once the Authority has taken that action and has moved into an area already fully explored but which, for one reason or another has not yet been developed, the small prospector or company would not have any right to compensation. The area may not be developed because feasibility studies are being undertaken. It may be that finance is still being lined up on a world basis, as must be done when involving large deposits. International finance of vast quantities is needed, as we experienced in Western Australia for the development of the iron ore fields. It may be that the international markets necessary to support these fields - for example, the development of the vast nickel sulphide deposits at Perseverance by Selcast Exploration Ltd - are waiting upon a change in world market conditions to find the sales outlets which will underwrite the massive finance required.
Just briefly and quickly they are some of the ‘ examples that this legislation can impinge upon without giving the people concerned, be they individals or companies, be they Australian - I emphasise this - or overseas companies, any right to compensation. But any of those people or any of those companies put in that position by the authority which would be given under this Bill can be liable to a fine or imprisonment by reason of clause 51 of this Bill. Clause 51 of the Bill, states: a person shall not carry out any work whereby any works, or proposed works, of the Authority, or the use, or the proposed use, of the works of the Authority, is or may be adversely affected or interfered with.
If, for example, any of those companies that I have mentioned presently developing the rock phosphate deposits in Queensland, presently developing the north-west shelf gas finds, presently developing nickel fields in Western Australia, sought to move into their own areas for which they have been granted title and exploration rights under State law, to carry on the work that they have been doing for years, they could be liable, pursuant to clause 51 of this Bill, to a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment for 2 years.
It is no wonder that this Bill has been described, far and wide outside this House, as a piece of diabolical legislation. It is not an accurate description of the Bill to describe it as a vehicle for State capitalism. It is, in fact, a vehicle by which this Government in Canberra can obtain and achieve total control over every known or unknown mineral resource in Australia, either on the continental land mass or off-shore. When one analyses this Bill even only quickly, once the constitutional implications are fully understood, one realises that it has been aptly described as a piece of diabolical legislation. It is no wonder that the Minister for Minerals and Energy has never attempted to counter any of the arguments of the kind that I have just put forward or any of the arguments that have been put forward by other people, more expert than I in the field of mineral exploration and development, and more expert than I in constitutional matters.
It is no wonder that the Minister has not at any time either inside or outside this chamber attempted to answer the analysis of the Bill and the legal implications of it as I have set them out. The second reading speech which was presented when the Bill was before the House previously did not attempt to outline the true implications of the Bill. The second reading speech which was presented to the House today made no attempt to analyse the implications of the Bill. Yet one would have thought that with, the debate that has gone on both inside and outside this chamber since the Bill was first presented in December 1973 the Minister would at least have given the courtesy to the House of trying to outline what he sees as the full effect of the Bill and how he would put into operation the provisions of the Bill as I have outlined them. It is no wonder then that the Opposition cannot find any provision of this Bill which is acceptable, and when the Minister quotes from a policy document of the Liberal Party he-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I will canvass a couple of issues in the 4 minutes remaining in this debate. The Opposition cavils at the concept of the Bill, but in fact the concept of it was approved by the people at the 1972 election, because the content of the Bill was announced by the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), when he was then Leader of the Opposition, in his policy speech in Blacktown in 1972. So while honourable members opposite can raise a technical point about some narrow legalistic interpretation of the extent of the legislation, the intent of the legislation is to maximise Australian equity. As the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has said, the main purpose of the Bill is to explore for and develop our petroleum and mineral resources and to assist in implementing the Government’s policy of promoting Australian ownership and control of our natural resources and resource industries. Earlier in the second reading debate the Minister informed the House that the Canadian Government now is establishing a national petroleum corporation to do precisely the same things as the proposed Petroleum and Minerals Authority will do.
– And in Norway.
– As the honourable member for Hawker has just said, Indonesia is in the same position, as also is Norway which has a similar authority to the proposed Petroleum and Minerals Authority. This is a Bill for an Act which was approved of by the people, for which this Government had a clear mandate and for which the Opposition, for reasons best known to its selfish self, has decided to oppose in the Senate. There is the prospect of a double dissolution, and the passage of this Bill through the House of Representatives, if the Bill is again rejected by the Senate, will qualify it for a pass in the event of a joint sitting of the 2 Houses of the Parliament, should the Labor Party be returned after the election in the same position as it is in now. Of course, I am confident that we will control not only the House of Representatives but also the Senate, and that a joint sitting will not be required. But in the event that the parties are returned in much the same position as they are in today, at least under those circumstances the passage of this legislation through the House this evening will enable us to enact this Bill as an Act, and Australia will not be left behind as the Liberal and Country Parties would like to see happen. In fact, we will have a Petroleum and Minerals Authority which can maximise our own resources.
The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) speaks as if the concept of this Bill is an anathema to him and, of course, it has no equal anywhere in the world. But he never mentions the fact that a lot of the explorers in Australia, representing a lot of the multi-national companies like Exxon which is represented here by Esso and the other companies, go to Indonesia on the basis that they are allowed to explore for oil and find what they can. But then they are scrutinised by the Indonesian Government and if it so chooses it can pay them 40 per cent of their exploration costs and demand a 50 per cent equity in the companies. Then not only does the Indonesian Government get a 50 per cent equity in the companies, but it also gets taxation on the other 50 per cent of the equity which is owned by the exploring companies. The companies are happy to go there.
What we are saying is that we are not able to get into the big league and develop our own resources while we have a position where we are hamstrung because of the fact that in Australia only multi-national companies have explored these leases of enormous area that have been given to them. I think that in the case of Woodside-Burmah the leases contained an area of 142,000 square miles, and something like 40 holes were drilled in that area of 142,000 square miles. That is infinitesimal and puny drilling in an exploration program. How can we possibly develop our resources with this sort of behaviour? So we need Australian–
– Order ! The time for the debate has expired.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Connor) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
MrO’KEEFE (Paterson) (6.1)- I wish to draw attention to clause 13 of the Bill which has given considerable concern to many people throughout Australia - to landholders and others. The clause fails clearly to protect in a number of specific instances the rights of individuals and of the community in general. When one looks at sub-clauses (1) to (5) of clause 13 one sees that this is so. There is no provision to require the Petroleum and
Minerals Authority to notify land owners, whether private or otherwise, in respect of entry for prospecting or mining. The Authority is merely obliged to seek the permission of the occupier which, if not forthcoming, entitles the Authority or an authorised officer to obtain a warrant on application to a justice of the peace to permit the Authority to carry out its functions.
Many occupiers are not land owners and if, for example, an occupier refuses entry on the grounds that he is not the owner, as any prudent man would do under the circumstances, the proposed legislation imposes no further responsibility on the Authority than to seek a warrant before a justice of the peace, all of which could be done from within the office of the Authority. These sub-clauses in clause 13 give no right of objection to a land owner, so that even if an occupier is a land owner and is opposed to the Authority’s intentions, he has no formal right of objection. Surely this is a basic principle of mining and petroleum legislation. These sub-clauses make no mention of specific protection for agricultural land. The inconvenience and hardship occasioned to primary producers by this type of action is very considerable right across the board. The subclauses make no provision for the attachment of conditions by the Authority or its agents. There is no condition requiring restoration, no specific environmental protection and no requirement to undertake an environmental impact study. These are very important matters which should be specifically mentioned in the Bill in order to protect land owners and other people interested in this field.
The lack of adequate legislative provisions regarding the restoration of workings has been the source of great concern to land owners in New South Wales and in other parts of Australia. Large open-cut areas and deep mining shafts presenting considerable hazards have merely been left after mining companies have finished their work. The new legislation in New South Wales, for instance, imposes stringent conditions in this regard on future prospecting and mining operations. The right of the proposed Authority to apply such conditions is simply non-existent. If we look further at clause 13 we find that it places no obligation on the Authority to obtain State or local government approval in respect of prospecting or mining. For example, there is no right of objection by local government should the Authority approve an application to prospect or mine in contravention of a council’s town planning scheme. Both State and local authorities have no right of objection in defence of the local environment against the intentions of the Authority. The legislation makes no provision whatsoever in sub-clauses (1) to (5) of clause 13 for an independent appeals tribunal to determine objections against actions of the Authority. It fails to cover, for example, the rights of property owners affected by conflicting approvals to enter, search or mine in respect of State or Federal legislation.
Another very important aspect of the legislation is that it does not require the Authority to assess compensation in respect of damage caused by entry of private land or in regard to damage caused by entry on private land or in regard to land use or disturbance. I have already pointed out that there are no conditions for compensation to be payable in regard to exploration. We believe that this Bill does not provide for any of these very important facets. We believe that the Bill gives too much power and that it is not specific enough. For these reasons which I have enumerated I am going to oppose the legislation. I feel that these conditions should have been covered in sub-clauses (1) to (5) of clause 13.
– I am delighted not to he gagged for the fifth time, having been gagged on 4 other occasions in regard to matters related to this legislation. Very briefly I want to put forward a case, lest the Govern ment does not realise what it is doing, on behalf of the Cooper Basin companies in particular. The Government’s policy as it affects these companies is not only tragic and irresponsible but from their point of view the situation is riddled with uncertainties. I do not know whether the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has had the benefit of reading, for instance, the report of the Santos directors which was issued recently. I think that what was contained in the report sums up the situation completely. At the present time the No. 1 problem that these companies have and which affects them so terribly is Government inspired - that is inflation. The companies have fixed contracts. The end price is being controlled, particularly in the case of the supply of gas to South Australia and renegotiations have obviously to be held.
– They are being held.
– They would need to be, too. It is not -before time. The capital structure of these companies, which are Australian-owned as far as Santos is concerned, is being seriously eroded by Government action, and let us not run away from that point. These companies cannot raise further capital. The Minister for Minerals and Energy so frequently seems to me to miss the point that without further capital available none of these companies can continue drilling and search and this in itself must be a very serious matter when one. considers the gas supplies that are meant to come from the Cooper Basin into the Sydney area. Funds must be made available. It is hardly reasonable to suppose that these smaller companies, many of which are Australiancontrolled, can raise further capital. What has happened is that the capital structure already is limited in nature. In the case of Santos no funds have been paid out yet to the directors and this has militated against Australia’s interests.
There is no sense that I can see or that these companies can see in not encouraging Australian resources to be produced by Australian-controlled companies for the use of Australian people. It is surely past belief that anyone could seriously adopt policies that make it apparent that the taxpayers of this country have to’ pay exorbitant prices for supplies of petroleum which come in from overseas when there are unquestionably available in the ground today resources that any responsible Australian government must try to develop for the use of the Australian people of tomorrow. The amount of fuel that we are using today rightly or wrongly - one can argue this on conservation grounds I suppose - is such that it is vitally necessary now for funds to be made available for exploration and further drilling. The Government record so far as it affects companies in the Cooper Basin area - and I have pointed out that many of them are Australian-controlled companies - has been little short of tragic.
The last thing I want to say is this, because I hope that the Minister appreciates the position when he gets time to think on these matters: It is of no earthly use, for instance, not already having arranged negotiations for gas to be supplied to the Sydney market. I am informed that it takes a year and a half to 2 years for carbon dioxide trains to be constructed. One does not idly construct a pipeline or a carbon dioxide train to remove carbon dioxide and other impurities for the safety of users from, for example, the Sydney area. One does not idly continue unilaterally with one of these functions. These functions have to be established together. The problem as it will affect the people of Sydney, unless something is finally initiated very shortly, is that no company can bring on train both the line with one authority and the carbon dioxide trains with the company concerned unless some logical guidance is given by the Government to remove uncertainty and restrictions, both financial and incentive, to try to make sure that people actively try to promote a very important energy product cheaply, for the use of the Australian people.
This is a very serious matter. I welcome the opportunity to say those few words. As the debate is to be concluded in a few minutes, I would again like to beseech the Government, if it has any intention of staying in office - and judging by its panicky performance today this will not be so - to have a look at this problem so that Australian investment in Australian-controlled companies can usefully provide something for the sake of the future development of this nation. So far there has been no lead or example set, and uncertainty to these companies has been the order of the day.
– The whole purpose and intent of this Bill is to give to the Commonwealth Government powers of total acquisition of all mineral and petroleum resources in Australia, to provide for the development of those resources by government and as the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) has so often said, to provide for Australian ownership. The Minister referred earlier in the debate on this Bill to a Liberal Party policy document part of which he quoted. It is interesting to refer to the part quoted by him. The Minister referred to the Federal Liberal Party’s proposed new policy statement as published in today’s Press. After emphasising that - and I stress these following words - Australian ownership is preferable, he went on to refer to the policy in the following terms:
Where this is not possible carefully monitored participation by overseas interests or by government is acceptable in the nation’s best interests.
However, . the total paragraph and all words used by the Liberal Party in its policy document are as follows:
The recognition that Australian free enterprise ownership and development of energy sources is always preferable but where the capital, expertise or initiative are unavailable within Australia, carefully monitored participation by overseas interests or by government is acceptable in the nation’s best interests.
By no stretch of the imagination can that be referred to by the Minister or the credit claimed by him as being a passing off or a takeover of the policy of the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party policy is totally different in intent and in purpose because it is to foster Australian free enterprise ownership either by individuals or by companies. This Government’s policy, enunciated in its policy documents and as sought to be implemented by this Bill, is to provide for government ownership. To this Government, government ownership means ownership by the people. To a Liberal Party government, Australian ownership means ownership by Australians directly through ownership of the minerals or the petroleum as individuals if that were possible, and there are cases in Australian mining where that occurs, or by companies in which Australians have an equity interest through shareholding or by debentures.
-Order! The time allotted for the remaining stages of the Bill has expired.
That the Bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.22 to 8 p.m.
Bills presented by Dr J. F. Cairns, and together read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
These 2 Bills are being reintroduced now so that, in the event of the Senate refusing Supply, they will become an issue - an essential part of the action - in any double dissolution election which would follow. The Australian people would expect the Australian Industry Development Corporation to be a central part of that election. The belief that Australia was being sold out has by now become a conviction. In August I introduced Bills to set up the National Investment Fund and to expand the Australian Industry Development Corporation. Few Bills have been more widely discussed. Everyone in Parliament knows what is in them. There is no need for the Opposition to pretend that it needs time to discuss these Bills. Rarely in recent times have 2 pieces of legislation been better known and more widely discussed than these. The
Opposition has had months to get to know the Bills and to criticise them. More than that, the Opposition has had time to obstruct, distort and fail to pass the Bills in the Senate. The Opposition wants to get back into office. (Quorum formed.)
Of course, the exhibition of eagerness - one might say greed - that has been shown by some members of the Opposition in recent times means that they would deny Labor any chance to show what can be done. They want office again. But I think that many people who did not feel strongly about the last election will feel strongly about this one. They will feel angry about the posturing of the Liberal and Country Party leaders, whose greed for office drives them to false indignation. The Australian Industry Development Corporation was something for which the Australian Labor Party had a mandate, but the Government has been obstructed and hindered. It has been prevented from showing what can be done by AIDC. The Corporation was first established with one hand tied behind its back and with restrictions upon its independent action. It could do few of the things which could be done by massive foreign competitors or even by its Australian competitors for funds. So true is this that the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control concluded in October 1973:
The Committee is of the opinion that the Australian Resources Development Bank and the Australian Industry Development Corporation are both performing important tasks. However, at this stage of their development, due to causes beyond their control, their role is far too insignificant to be considered a major force in the capital market. The Committee recommends that the activities of both these 2 bodies be expanded further.
It seemed beyond doubt that on 30 October 1973 when the Australian Labor Party Government introduced Bills to expand the activities of AIDC the Opposition in the House and in the Senate would give them serious consideration. I left plenty of time for that to be done. The Bills introduced on 30 August were not called on for debate until 16 October - 47 days later. So do not let me hear any talk tonight about not having had time to study these Bills or to get to know what was in them.
Let us look at the attitude of the Opposition. The official spokesman, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), said, as recorded at page 2166 of Hansard:
I have outlined the general basis on which the Opposition rejects both Bills.
Finally, at the end of his speech, at page 2168 he said:
The Opposition rejects both Bills.
In order to show how completely the Opposition rejected the move to expand AIDC and in case anyone has any doubt about as to who leads the Opposition, let me remind honourable members that the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) said at page 2173 of Hansard:
I oppose this Bill in its entirety for reasons I will explain.
It was not only opposition to some part of the 2 Bills; it was also rejection of them - rejection in entirety. The Opposition was not only unconcerned that its own Senate Select Committee had concluded after inquiry that AIDC and the Australian Resources Development Bank were far too insignificant to be considered a major force in the capital market and recommended that the activities of both these bodies be expanded; it was also unconcerned that the majority of the Australian people were appalled at the sell out of Australia and wanted something to be done.
Both the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill passed the House of Representatives on 17 and 18 October respectively and were so certified by the Clerk as ready for presentation to the Senate. On 23 October both Bills were presented to the Senate. It was then that tactics which now appear to be little more than delaying or obstructing began. It was not until 28 November - nearly 5 weeks later - that the Senate found itself able to make a decision about the 2 Bills. A year earlier its Select Committee had found that AIDC and the Australian Resources Development Bank were too insignificant to perform a major task and should be expanded, yet the Senate took 5 weeks even to begin to consider Bills which had that purpose. Having found time to consider the Bills the Senate decided not to pass them, wholly or in part, but referred them to the same Select Committee for inquiry and report, not at some definite future date but as soon as possible’ and not later than 12 March. But ‘as soon as possible’ did not mean much and 12 March has come and gone. It is already 25 days since 12 March - the date fixed by the Senate itself as the date beyond which the Committee should not go - and there has been no report from the Committee and no action by the Senate. There te no doubt about who controls the Senate. That is the pride and glory of the Opposition. I think only one or two divisions in favour of the Government have been carried in the Senate out of the last 30. The Opposition dominates the Senate and has used that domination to obstruct and hinder every action that has been taken in respect of these 2 Bills.
On 7 March 1974 the House of Representatives adopted a resolution requesting the Senate to resume consideration of the 2 Bills, but there has been no response from the Senate. It seems now to be clear beyond doubt that the Opposition has rejected the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill and that the Senate has obstructed and hindered their passage until it has now become equally clear that the Senate has failed to pass the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill. The Opposition in this House has already stated its position clearly and perhaps arrogantly. It rejects the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill in their entirety. I submit that it is beyond reason to expect that the Opposition needs much more time to reject, perhaps arrogantly, these 2 Bills. There is therefore no particular reason why we should waste time on the matter here. These Bills are being submitted to the House now so that they may be sent to the Senate without humbug or delay. The Government wants to know where the Senate stands. Does it want to stand against the Government and against the will of the Australian people as was clearly expressed in December 1972, or will it consent to give effect to the will of the people?
There are few matters upon which the will of the people is more clear than it is about the strengthening of the AIDC. The Australian people want something to be done to stop the sell-out of Australia. They want the AIDC to be strengthened to become a significant force in the capital market to help retain Australian ownership and control. Strategic sectors of Australia’s economy are no longer in Australia’s hands. Much of the farm has been sold off, as Sir John McEwen put it. More will fall to overseas based corporations unless the community recognises, with the Government, that our economic system requires a new element of organisation and direction to equal the challenge for abroad. Australia’s economy is part of the world economy. It is subject to penetration by the giant corporations that dominate the world economy. Our companies will survive only if they have the backing of finance, technology and management to meet the overseas challenge. The Australian companies will not survive in a climate which assumes that the myths of nineteenth century laissez-faire capitalism are the realities of the twentieth century economic organisations.
Much more of Australia would be in Australian hands today if there had been a concerted effort of this kind to organise and co-ordinate available financial resources into Australian enterprises. The AIDC will marshal and increase Australian funds for investment in Australian development. It will co-ordinate private investment in large projects of the kind seen in the Redcliffs petro-chemical plant in South Australia and the Alwest alumina plant in Western Australia. It will be able to expedite technological advance and managerial success by assisting individuals and firms with new ideas and techniques. It will thereby enable Australians to prosper from their own creativity instead of being forced to pawn their technology to overseas companies. The AIDC will be concerned also with national interest activities. We have no intention of leaving the exploitation of Australia’s rich natural resources and energy alone to a handful of giant private corporations.
– You want just one.
– Only the blindest of the exponents of private property profit, like the honourable member for Cowper who is harping like a cockatoo on a tree in the honourable member’s electorate, will deny a public corporation like the AIDC the right to share in Bass Strait oil, Northern Territory uranium or North West Shelf natural gas. The Australian people want a corporation like the AIDC that is public property to have a share in those rich resources instead of seeing them being handed out by the Bjelke-Petersens and the Opposition in this House to one overseas corporation after another, in some cases for the receipt in exchange of a wide range of shares, such as has been issued to the members of the Government in Queensland. Indeed the AIDC will be used to strengthen small private enterprise against hig enterprises. There are many farmers who would like to establish co-operatives. Many co-operatives already have been established as successful, viable enterprises, but they need the funds which private banks and other lenders may not advance because they are not top drawer business prospects or because private lenders may be too closely associated with large competitors of the co-operatives. The AIDC can play an important part in encouraging the development of sound enterprises like co-operatives in rural areas. The farmers need strengthening in these activities. They need more than political talk in order to get a better price for their products without also increasing the cost to the consumers in the cities upon whom they so much depend.
– You hypocrite.
-Order! The honourable member for Cowper will withdraw those words.
– I withdraw the word hypocrite’.
– The AIDC will become a co-ordinator of enterprise in the ownership and development of Australia by Australians within the normal free enterprise system and it will receive the ready co-operation of Australian business enterprise. That has happened already in relation to such projects as the Alwest one. Considerable progress is being made towards the achievement of a very high level of Australian participation in an enterprise of that kind which, under previous governments, never would even have been attempted.
Much of the time has been taken up in this Parliament and outside of it in misrepresenting the Government’s plan for the AIDC and the NIF. The AIDC and the NIF are to perform a positive constructive role in the Australian business economy, not as an alternative to it. Up to now, Australian resources have often been sold out at low prices to suit the multi-national corporations which make their profits elsewhere. Up to now, investment in Australian resources has often been limited to those who will invest and at the same time acquire and dispose of a share of the output and will be allowed to invest only if they do so. This take and pay principle excludes investors who seek to invest for normal profit return. In this system investment may not take place at all unless the investor contracts to take a share of the output. This is not a free enterprise system of investment, and there can be no wonder that we are unable to get enough money to remove the under-capacity which leaves Australia today so short of many basic resources. There can be no wonder that we are short of capital to increase capacity and short of Australian capital to ensure the operation remains Australian. It is therefore in the promotion and co-ordination of investment of a free enterprise kind that the AIDC will find most of its work and its service to the Australian people in the future.
Equally the role of the NIF will be a free enterprise role. No more than 15 per cent of all wage and salary earners now invest in shares and between them hold no more than 3 per cent of the value of all shares. The purpose of the NIF is to provide for the ordinary Australian a readily available chance to invest his savings into the ownership and development of Australia. The average Australian will respond to this chance and by doing so there will follow an increase in the total amount of savings invested in Australia. In this respect the AIDC will have a unique role to play. It will enable the ordinary Australian to become a shareholder in the prosperity of his own country. That is a democratic ideal. The aim is to distribute wealth and power more widely among the Australian community.
There is a great deal of concentration of economic power in Australia. A total of 3.5 per cent of the 60,000 factories in this country employ 55 per cent of all employees in factories and produce 60 per cent of the total output. There are 140,000 companies in Australia. Less than 1 per cent of them have a combined income of $2,000m or about 56 per cent of all company income. What the Government is trying to do with the National Investment Fund and the Australian Industry Development Corporation is to offset a little of this enormous concentration of economic power that exists in Australia and to give the ordinary citizens, through the National Investment Fund and through the operations of the Australian Industry Development Corporation some chance to have a share in the ownership of their own country.
Of course, the AIDC is no colossus and cannot become one. In the 3 years it has been in operation it has invested only SI 00m. while big private corporations have invested around $ 10,000m. It is significant that most of the critics of the AIDC, apart from the members of this Parliament, are “spokesmen for those massive private organisations. It will take time, of course, for the AIDC to expand but it will progressively attract the financial backing it needs to fulfil its national role. This role will have the overwhelming support of the Australian people. Not only the House of Representatives and the Government of Australia but also the people of Australia want the AIDC and the National Investment Fund to become the law of this land. These 2 Bills will show where the Senate stands. The Government does not want any delay or equivocation here to protect the Senate from facing that responsibility. It wants these 2 Bills to pass here without delay or obstruction so that the Senate can stand up and be counted, not only on these 2 Bills but also upon the question of what it considers should be the Government of Australia. I commend these 2 Bills to the House for these purposes, and for their value to every Australian citizen who desires to be able to determine his own affairs and those of his children in the future
– The unforeshadowed introduction of these 2 Bills is but a further reflection of the salutary observation that this Government is prepared to break every rule in the parliamentary book. These Bills were debated by this House and by the Senate during the Budget session pf the last Parliament. The Bills are now subject to detailed consideration by the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. The reintroduction of the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill prior to the detailed recommendations of the Senate Committee is a travesty of this Parliament and of the committee system. It is a gross abuse of all established practices and precedents of the Australian Parliament. It is in particular a personal insult to the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Cant. He must now feel very aggrieved that the good work of the Foreign Ownership and Control Committee has apparently now gone by default.
On 16 October I outlined the Opposition’s views on this area of fundamental government legislation. I said on that occasion:
The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill propose immense new powers designed to achieve the socialist purposes clearly outlined by the Prime Minister. The purposes are to be achieved by a form of statecontrolled ‘corporate socialism’. The Opposition Parties reject both Bills. 1 said further that the proposals were typical of a socialist government’s liking for grandiose state symbols, for inefficient steam hammers rather than efficient nutcrackers and that if adopted, the proposals would sacrifice the economic and social development of the entire Australian community to the misguided socialism and vanity of the 2 Ministers concerned. We said at that stage that we rejected both Bills and we repeat that proposition now.
Our views on that legislation in fact have not changed. But as a responsible Opposition we intend as a matter of course to examine in detail the conclusions of the Senate Committee. We intend to conduct that examination with an open and constructive attitude. We believe that the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) has shown by reintroducing this legislation a manifest contempt for the Committee and for his Australian Labor Party colleagues who sit on that Committee. The Minister has deliberately and cynically preempted informed public debate on these Bills. In spite of his public assurances that he would carefully consider constructive amendments to the legislation he has chosen to introduce these Bills which are identical in every respect to those introduced last year. Consequently, the Opposition Parties will be forced to vote against both Bills, as in fact we did last year.
The Opposition’s reservations about this legislation are widely shared by the Australian business community. I quote from a summary of the evidence to the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control given by the Life Offices Association of Australia:
The matters referred to generally in this submission which are considered to ‘require further consideration are summarised hereunder:
The Bills are wider than the stated objectives of the Government and would enable AIDC to engage or participate in any enterprise whatsoever to the detriment of private enterprise if the Government of the day so desired.
The present requirement for AIDC, in accordance with the s.8 of the 1970 Act, to sell investments when they are no longer required to be held to achieve its objectives should be retained.
Any additional compulsory direction of funds will further reduce the effectiveness of the capital market in Australia.
The provisions of the Bills and the intentions expressed in the second reading speech which allow unfair advantages to AIDC in competing for funds on the capital market and in other investment operations are undesirable.
These Bills should not be the medium whereby the Australian Government is permitted to undertake such business, it should be subject to the provisions of the Life Insurance Act and of the
Income Tax and Social Services Assessment Act to the extent that they affect life insurance companies.
There is lack of definition in regard to the operation of the Divisions of the NIF.
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia drew the following conclusions to the attention of the Committee:
The Australian Bankers’ Association clearly rejects the Bill in its present form and I quote from its submission to the Senate Committee: 7.1 The Australian Bankers’ Association submits that the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill and the National Investment Fund Bill should be rejected in their present form. The Association believes that any legislation to broaden the operations of Australian Industry Development Corporation should:
The New South Wales Institute of Public Affairs drew the following conclusion:
Taken as a whole the two Bills now introduced and the proposed complementary legislation, have implications far beyond those outlined by the Minister in his second reading speech. The iniquities arising from the special privileges to be accorded to the Corporation, the scope for nationalisation by stealth through both the national interest provisions and the normal operations of the National Investment Fund, and the structural and institutional changes in the economy likely to result from the Corporation’s expanded role are matters of public concern which demand full discussion and consideration both in Parliament and in the community at large.
In addition to the groups which I have quoted, strong criticisms of the legislation have been made by the Associated Chamber of Manufactures, the Institute of Directors in Australia, the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce and the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges. In short, every major business group has put forward substantial and well argued objections to this legislation. By seeking to force the legislation through in this disgraceful manner the Minister is treating the business community, the Parliament and the nation with contempt. The reintroduction of this particular legislation has the specific objective of trying to represent the Opposition as being against the Australian control and ownership of our industries and resources. This is part of the Government’s dirty tricks’ campaign and the tissue of fabrications on which it intends to base its election campaign.
The Opposition parties, unlike the Government, have positive and comprehensive policies in this area. They were spelt out in a speech I made to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sydney on 29 March 1974. By agreement with the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard this material so that I need not weary the House with a repetition of it at this stage.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
I welcome the opportunity to address the American Chamber of Commerce today. I do so because my Party believes in the importance of a continuing dialogue with the business community and because this is an appropriate occasion to outline my views on overseas investment.
My Party welcomes overseas investment. Overseas capital has, historically, been a vital determinant of Australia’s economic and social development. The Liberal Party looks to a continuing high level of overseas investment since we believe it is necessary in the achievement of our national goals. But this should not be understood as an uncritical acceptance of overseas investment - clearly there are costs as well as benefits involved. The costs can range from a diminution of Australian control over our economic development to a source of anxiety within a community where both individual and national aspirations are rapidly growing.
Thus any debate on overseas investment raises important economic as well as non-economic issues and its controversial nature has often tended to obscure the real issues at stake.
An effective policy must strike a balance between national ideals and economic reality. In this regard it is clearly the responsibility of the Federal Government to create a legislative and fiscal framework within which overseas investment may operate to the mutual advantage of the Australian community and the overseas investor. Investment in Australia’s development will not continue to flow in the face of Government hostility or in the absence of rewards for risk-taking. This is the lesson from the period of the present Labor administration.
The Liberal Party seeks maximum control and ownership of our national resources and industries. Nevertheless, our policies will ensure the continuation of that level of investment, both from domestic and overseas sources, which is required to achieve our economic and social potential.
As a Party we believe that there are important differences in principle between overseas ownership and overseas control, even though, in practice, the two are often closely linked. In the first instance, we consider that it is a primary governmental function to ensure that sufficient control is exercised over overseas companies to ensure that their operations are consistent with the overall national interest Clearly, such companies are already subject to controls. Laws enacted by Australian parliaments and enforced by Australian courts regulate their con.tractural arrangements; their rates and taxes; and a significant number of other matters vital to their operations. However, we are not satisfied with the existing fragmented policy options available to the Government. We believe that a consistent and coherent policy, within the framework of an overall industrial policy, needs to be adopted towards overseas interests in ‘ Australia. Accordingly, I believe it will be necessary to establish a framework of guidelines within which overseas companies will be obliged to operate. This approach would ensure that Australians comprise a majority of their senior management and board of directors; that information similar to that required from public companies by Australian stock exchanges is provided on a regular basis; that the national interest is not contravened by restrictive export franchises, royalty licensing or patent arrangements, and local operating policies in general. The guidelines should be implemented following extensive dialogue with those companies affected and we would expect to administer this policy on the basis of continuing dialogue and co-operation. Recourse to legislation would, of course be an available option. As I said at the outset, the Government’s role must be to establish a framework within which overseas investment can operate to the mutual advantage of the nation and the overseas interests. Therefore a guidelines policy implies no more and no less than a protection of Australia’s interests. Requirements such as these are no less than a guest in our country ought to observe as a matter of propriety. I believe that overseas-owned companies, for their part, would neither object to nor resist these measures.
An important area for control is that of taxation policy. Overseas investment in Australia has been subjected to criticism that overseas subsidiaries are able, and may seek, through various profit-shifting devices, to avoid taxes otherwise payable in Australia. I would advocate a review of the Income Tax Assessment Act and associated legislation to ensure as far as possible that the repatriation of funds, in all its forms, does not constitute an avoidance of revenue to which Australia is justly entitled. However as has been pointed out, the main problem in applying the relevant provisions of the taxation law is the practical difficulty of obtaining all the relevant information for the proper allocation of profits between related firms. This is not a problem confined to taxation administration in Australia alone. I believe, therefore, that we should seek to promote multilateral investigations through the established intergovernmental groups such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Equally, we should seek to obtain information on a bi-lateral basis where such information would have a mutual benefit in taxation administration. In general, I believe that taxation surveillance, both on j domestic and an international basis, must become an important area for governmental attention.
In addition to policies designed to maximise Australian control over overseas investment the Liberal Party believes that, insofar as possible, our resources and industries should be owned by Australians. Australians in general share a legitimate feeling that ownership is an important national aspiration. I believe that a cohesive and healthy society implies the development of national esteem and pride. No government can rightfully disregard such develop ments. Notwithstanding this, there must be a balance in policy formulation between community aspirations and economic reality. In the first place I consider that requirements should be established for the maintenance of Australian ownership in certain ‘key areas’ of our economy. New overseas funds should be strictly limited in these areas. In general these ‘key areas’ should be delineated on the basis of the following criteria. First, where public ownership now exists. Second, where cultural and political autonomy is important. Third, where national strategic interests are involved. Finally, where the effectiveness of economic management may be at risk. These criteria naturally imply the coverage of such areas as banking, radio and television broadcasting, defence production, airlines, and uranium mining.
A frequent criticism of overseas investment in Australia has been that overseas-controlled enterprises are not prepared to offer sufficient equity participation to Australians. As an article of firm principle we would take measures to encourage a greater degree of local participation.
Although we believe in increased equity for new ventures, we reject Labor’s AIDC ‘buy-back’ concept. The only method of increasing our capital resources is through a lift in the rates of domestic savings or by attracting it from overseas. Because domestic savings are already at a uniquely high level, it is difficult to envisage that they can be greatly expanded. Therefore, access to overseas capital resources is vital. The implicit forced transfer of funds in Labor’s AIDC type proposals in no way contributes to our capital resources - it would place a nett economic burden on the public. The overall proportion of Australian assets will only increase if the ‘buy-back’ operation causes displaced overseas capital to move out of Australia. This would reduce our aggregate capital resources and therefore our real rate of economic growth. Any increase in Australian ownership in the ‘buy-back’ areas would be directly offset by reduced Australian investment in other areas.
The ‘buy-back’ concept implies taking the consumer good of nationalism to extremes. I would therefore not generally favour listing arrangements which demand a minimum Australian equity share. Australia has a limited capital market. Any gains in effective Australian control obtained from requiring overseas companies to publicly list must be judged against the loss in Australian control arising from the diversion of funds away from other uses. A ‘buyback’ campaign that results in a thin spreading of Australian equity over a large number of foreignowned companies runs the risk of reducing effective Australian control over our domestic assets. Firms in which Australian equity is increasing would still he essentially under overseas control. Moreover, the diversion of domestic capital inherent in such a scheme would limit the access of Australian companies to funds for development and expansion. In general, I believe that the encouragement of investment in Australian-owned companies is the most effective means of increasing Australian control.
In this regard it would be desirable to maintain a close watch on local capital issues by overseas owned companies. No major company, now listed on Australian exchanges, should substantially raise its level of share capital without at first holding consultations with the Government. It would be difficult to favour a substantial recourse to domestic capital raisings by such companies except where there is a long-term plan to move towards a situation of Australian control or majority Australian ownership. As in the case of the guidelines governing the general behaviour of overseas owned companies, I believe that the companies involved would note and respond to the Government’s wishes.
Capita] for Australian Enterprises
A Liberal Government would strengthen and increase the ability of and the opportunities for Australian Corporations to initiate and undertake an increasing proportion of major developmental activities. This would be achieved through the existing structure of commercial and merchant banks, privately owned financial institutions and other appropriate organisations, to ensure access for those corporations to the necessary finance, and where required, research and management skills. Through those institutions we would promote an increasing pool of savings, supplemented with borrowings from overseas, to achieve an Australian capital market of a size sufficient to allow Australians an equity participation and thereby a say in companies embracing the whole range of industrial and resource development.
The significance of an increase in overseas loan funds to Australian companies, as opposed to portfolio and direct investment, is that it does not of itself lead to a diminution in the degree of Australian ownership in the companies borrowing the funds. The greater use of overseas loan funds as against overseas equity funds for the expansion of existing Australian companies is an important means of reconciling overseas capital with Australian ownership and control. While there aire limitations on this policy which arise from the need for companies to maintain appropriate gearing policies and for the Government to achieve balance of payments and monetary objectives we see this as an important area. In this regard it should be noted that it is Liberal policy to remove the variable deposit requirement on long term overseas borrowings. This is a requirement which disadvantages Australian companies rather than overseas owned companies. The latter still have access to overseas capital markets because of their relationship with parent companies - Australian companies do not have this advantage.
In seeking to promote the Australian capital market for Australian companies we would pay particular attention to public sector policies. The substantial extent to which all Governments in Australia depend on domestic capital raising necessarily restricts capital for private sector financing. A greater dependence on overseas borrowings by Governments in Australia must be considered. Equally, the increasing degree of taxation on persons who would normally be significant savers in” the community is an important influence inhibiting the level of capital funds flowing to the private sector. The tax burden imposed by a Liberal Government to finance public expenditure would be substantially less than that of a Labor administration. We will not use taxpayers funds as risk capital for natural resource development. Our policies are a stark contrast to those of the present Government which is intent on increasing the role of the public sector relative to that of the private sector.
It is important, in any consideration of overseas investment, to draw a clear distinction between the significance of equity and loan participation. The latter, in nearly every instance, does not involve any possible loss of control to overseas interests.
In the case of direct equity investment in Australia, the Liberal Party sees a clear need for Australian companies to be able to enter into a partnership or joint-venture arrangements. In general, I do not consider that new fully overseas-owned ventures, of major national significance, should be encouraged. But, rather than seeking to hold up overseas owned ventures of major significance because no Australian company has at that time a capacity for participation, attention should be given to possible future co-operative arrangements for Australian private industry. Australia would not, therefore, forego the advantages which may be derived from direct overseas equity investment simply because a suitable joint arrangement cannot be agreed. Notwithstanding this view, an overseas-owned venture should not be allowed to proceed without consultation and without full assurance that the venture satisfied the important national requirements inherent in environmental, regional and resource development policies. The application of existing laws and the guidelines policy which I have outlined would ensure that new overseas-owned ventures operated in the national interest and were subject to adequate control.
As I have already said, my Party sees a need for Australian companies to be able to enter into jointventure arrangments and, ideally, to undertake major developmental projects in their own right. Sir Alan Westernam, Chairman of the Australian Industries Development Commission, referred to this in the following terms: the need is for Australian entrepreneurial companies of sufficient size, and capability, and internal financial and management strength, to be able tn take a consolidated “direct investment” in development enterprises and participate in their operation’.
This is a view strongly endorsed by the Liberal Party. Unfortunately the present government sees the AIDC as such a company because it forms part of the pattern of public sector activity. We reject this. Under a Liberal Government the AIDC would be confined to assisting Australian companies and private enterprises. We believe that entrepreneurial talents should be concentrated in the private sector.
Assistance for Australian Enterprises
In addition to capital market policies designed to increase the availability of capital for Australian companies we will pursue other forms of assistance. We will re-design the industries Research and Development Grants Scheme to encourage technological advancement and to reduce our reliance on overseas skills - especially in the area of natural resource development. We will investigate the establishment of a National Institute of Energy Research to assist the Government in formulating a national energy policy and to provide assistance to private enterprise. We will investigate the establishment of an independent Australian Business Administration College and implement a major program of overseas study grants. We will attract Australian companies into the areas of major industrial and resources development by the flexible use of fiscal policies - both taxation incentives and subsidies.
There has undoubtedly been a significant misallocation of Australia’s capital resources in recent years. An example of this phenmenon has been the large-scale investment in urban property development and land speculation. Many of Australia’s largest users of domestic capital have directed their capital resources towards these areas. We do not believe in punitive measures to change this pattern of investment such as the forced re-direction of funds towards the AIDC. However, we will use incentives to promote a financial climate in which those companies will seek to change their investment policies.
Two way investment
A further aim of our policy will be to encourage Australian companies to establish and extend overseas operations. This, we believe, would promote domestic scale efficiencies and increase the availability of Australian technical, managerial and capital resources for the economic development of other countries - especially our regional neighbours. Such a policy will provide distinct benefits for the community in general and afford to Australian businessman a broader perspective in world business and a stronger base in research and development.’ With the increasingly international character of business there is no reason for insularity within Australia.
Additionally, we support the concept of genuine portfolio investment and would allow investors, regardless of nationality, to buy and sell shares freely through Australian stock exchanges. We would also guarantee the right of all Australians to obtain funds from the most attractive sources, having regard to interest costs and repayment schedules, and to associated technological marketing and other benefits. In the same way, we would accept Australian portfolio investment overseas.
A Flexible Exchange Rate Policy
Our overseas investment policies are predicated on the adoption of a flexible exchange rate. There is clearly no justification for continuing to maintain a fixed parity with the American dollar. Movements in the Australian exchange rate should not be based on the monetary policies and balance of payments developments in the United States. As a first step, the value of the Australian dollar should be determined on a trade-weighted basis. The exchange rate would be calculated as a weighted average of the currencies of our major trading partners. The Reserve Bank could then set the exchange rate on a daily basis by announcing rates of exchange against other currencies which kept the trade-weighted exchange rate at the desired level. Movements in the exchange rate would be determined in consultation with the Government, but would respond to market forces. The Government, of course, would have ultimate control over any decisions made. Excessive fluctuations could be avoided by setting limits within which the rate could move in a specified time period. The precise limits should be announced after consultation with the Treasury and the Reserve Bank. The limitation of fluctuations to a band between 3$ to 5 per cent on either side of the initial rate within a three month period would be a suitable constraint. This would be wide enough to permit adequate flexibility but narrow enough to prevent destabilising movements. A new three-month period would begin each day when the new daily rate is set. The aim of such a limitation is to minimise short-term fluctuations, not to impede longer-term adjustments in response to market pressures.
The determination of a daily rate by the authorities would eliminate destabilising speculation which can occur when a central rate is set, around which fluctuations can occur within defined limits. In these circumstances, speculation can force changes when the rate moves to the outer limits of the band.
The adoption of these arrangements would eliminate the uncertainty which now exists. While uncertainty would be minimised with a truly fixed exchange rate system in the world, in present circumstances this seems unlikely to be achieved until international monetary policies are more integrated. The adoption of an independent rate for the Australian dollar would allow Australia to avoid inflationary influences by setting an appropriate exchange rate in trade-weighted terms. There is no need to maintain the United States dollar link to- achieve this. It would not, however, be a panacea for our inflationary problems. The responsible domestic policies that the Labor Party has so far refused to implement are still needed.
A Foreign Exchange Market
The Liberal Party also believes that the advantages of a more fully developed foreign exchange market should be considered. The adoption of an independent rate for the Australian dollar would be a first step towards establishing a foreign exchange market. We see substantial advantages in developing such a market. It reduces the need for government administration of exchange rate policy, and allows market forces to obtain some influence. It would necessitate and facilitate the development of a more adequate forward exchange market: this is most important in a world of floating currencies. Finally, the Australian dollar would tend to be used to a greater extent than at present as a trading or vehicle currency, and would encourage foreigners to use Australian insurance, discounting and other banking facilities. It should be noted that the development of a foreign exchange market does not necessarily mean a free float of the Australian dollar. It does, however, enable market forces to influence the rate of the Australian dollar. In any event, the Reserve Bank would still intervene to place limits on the short-term fluctuations of the Australian dollar.
The final area of policy to which I wish to refer is that arising from foreign takeovers of Australian businesses and the administrative machinery which we envisage will be necessary to cover this question and the other policies which I have outlined. We will review the operations of the Companies (Foreign Takeovers) Act to cover takeover situations, including transfers of ownership, not presently covered. No takeover proposal will be permitted to proceed which is considered to be contrary to the national interest as defined by our overseas investment policies and guidelines. The administration of the Act will be undertaken by an independent authority responsible to the Treasurer. However, any restraints on foreign takeovers must be undertaken within the context of an overall take-overs and mergers policy. These are, of. course, basic policies designed to achieve the full potential of the free enterprise system by ensuring an optimal industrial structure.
In seeking to implement an integrated and consistent overseas investment policy we would pay careful attention to the functional distribution of existing Government departments. We believe that there is a need to bring together existing skills and areas of responsibility. To this end we would consider expanding the proposed authority responsible for the administration of the Companies (Foreign Takeovers). Act and authorise it to advise the Government on overseas investment policies in general. Clearly, there is a need for a co-ordinated takeovers and mergers policy with foreign takeovers as a special aspect. Therefore the expanded authority would, to this extent, operate within the ambit of - or closely associated with - the machinery responsible for advising the Government on overall structural policies for Australian industry. Notwithstanding the need for administrative coordination, we recognise the important functions which the Reserve Bank, the Treasury and the Taxation Commissioner would continue to hold.
The Liberal Party’s overseas investment policy is designed to encourage overseas investors and Australian companies. It is designed also to assure the Australian community that, under a Liberal Government, Australia’s industrial and resource development would be undertaken to provide maximum benefits for the whole community. Our policy seeks to promote Australian initiative and enterprise. It does so without the xenophobia and jingoism which seeks to condemn overseas participation as harmful and unnecessary. My Party stands for a big Australia - we will not permit this country to recede into a backwater because of ideological or socialist dogmas. We look to a mature and self-confident nation which can develop its potential greatness and play a meaningful and active role in the economic development of our region.
– I thank the House for enabling this speech to be incorporated in Hansard. I simply indicate that the Opposition parties to a man oppose both Bills. They certainly will be opposed in the Australian Senate.
– When will the Liberal-Country Party Opposition in this Parliament speak in the national interest - in the interest of the average Australian - rather than in the interest of every interest group that there is? The Liberal and Country Parties have no policy in this field. All we have heard is a tissue of ideas put forward by a superannuation group here, a Bank of New South Wales group there or an association of bankers and so forth. At this early stage I pay tribute to the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), who introduced this Bill again to the Parliament tonight, for the patient way he has dealt with every criticism expressed to this Bill. He has been patient because almost every criticism has been completely spurious. The Opposition has not in any way told the Parliament or the people what it intends to do about harnessing investment funds - harnessing the savings of Australians - in order to make sure that it is Australian savings and Australian investment which, to the greatest extent possible, is responsible for the development of Australia. I repeat, the Opposition has no policy whatever. All it does is to put up aunt sallies which are easily shot down. They have been shot down patiently and carefully time and again when we have debated this question in the House and also when the various interest groups have expressed their opposition and stated their arguments in public since the Bill was passed through this House.
Those who listened to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) heard him say that it was hardly a tribute to the Labor members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control that the Government was re-introducing this Bill. What nonsense! It was not the wish of the Labor Party in the Senate that this measure should be referred to that Committee. We have discussed this measure in the committees of our Party. Many different groups in the community have expressed their views to our Party committees which have listened to all the arguments against this measure. Those arguments have been patiently answered. The concept of the Bill is simple. The Labor Party Government won an election as recently as December 1972 when one of the issues concerned foreign ownership and control of Australian resources. We are not against foreign investment as such. However we say that to the greatest extent possible we should make sure that there is Australian participation in every one of these enterprises. We are particularly interested in foreign investment when it brings into Australia new technology, but in order that there should be Australian participation we must have Australian savings. This Bill is one of the great measures designed to harness those savings in our community. It is uncomplicated. It just happens that every time anything new or anything of a reform or radical nature is proposed there is automatic opposition from the conservative forces in Australia - ‘automatic opposition from so many in the business community - when there is no need for it.
This Bill provides the means for individual citizens to gain a direct interest in very many different enterprises and ventures in Australia. It can be used also for funnelling overseas funds into Australian industry. Of course the Australian Industry Development Corporation can be a vehicle into which overseas investors can deposit money on fixed interest terms. By this means this Australian public enterprise organisation can take out equity investment or indeed fixed interest investment in Australian ventures. I am particularly interested in the fact that the AIDC will be a big investor in the Redcliffs petrochemical project in my own State of South Australia. We cannot hope that the Australian participation in that worthwhile enterprise will be as we would wish it to be unless the funds are in the AIDC to invest in that venture. Therefore, through these changes to the AIDC we must be able to harness those extra savings which we seek in order to invest in that project. The same applies to any great number of worthwhile projects in this developing country of ours.
One of the great attacks of the Opposition has been that this is socialism by stealth. We have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) mouth these meaningless words again tonight. ‘Steamhammer’ was one of his new descriptions of the Government’s actions. But of course he was back to using the word ‘socialism’. We are not at all reluctant to use the word ‘socialism’. The word ‘social’ is good; so is the word ‘socialism’. Indeed, it means that the community itself is involved in these projects. I am suggesting that through the AIDC there will be public participation in a lot of these great worthwhile development ventures. Of course the individual can invest in the AIDC and through it have a stake in these other projects, whether it is Redcliffs or a project in a State other than South Australia.
The Australian Industry Development Corporation takes into account the economic viability of the project, the need to decentralise industry, protection from pollution, balanced employment opportunities throughout Australia and the better use of our resources. If we did not take into account the criteria which I have just stated, the only criterion taken into account by private industry would be the maximisation of return, which means that the highest profit and the highest interest rate are the criteria which are taken into account. The savings of Australians are being invested in high rise development in cities. In an inflationary age when building materials and skilled labour in the building industry are in short supply we have large buildings in Australia which arc completely empty because they have been built as hedges against inflation by people who have not used the criterion of the Australian nat ional interest when making their investment decisions. They have used this criterion when making those decisions: What is the quickest buck we can make?
That is another reason we need as much public investment as we can possibly harness in Australia. The Government cannot invest publicly unless we use taxation funds. There is so much else of a social nature on which we want to use taxation funds, so we want to harness the savings of this country. I repeat that that is another reason the Australian Industry Development Corporation must be increased in size and must be used for this very worthwhile purpose. There will be no compulsion on life funds, superannuation funds or other funds to invest in such an organisation as this, but there will be an opportunity to do so. Perhaps through later legislation we will see an opportunity to invest in such an organisation as the AIDC instead of in Commonwealth loans, municipal loans or other loans in order to get the advantages of the 40/30 rule under the Income Tax Act. Why not allow investment in the AIDC in this way rather than in Commonwealth loans? I repeat, this is a very worthwhile Bill.
– Order! The time allotted for the second readings of the Bills has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time.
Leave granted for third readings to be moved forthwith.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a third time.
I take this opportunity to say that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), the spokesman for the Opposition, has again stated clearly the intention of the Opposition to oppose and to reject this legislation. This confirms the reason behind the Government’s thinking in introducing these 2 Bills unchanged into the House for the second time. It is quite clear that the Opposition completely rejects this legislation. That became clear in the Senate when the Senate decided to refer these Bills to a select committee. We in the Australian Labor Party, not having the numbers in the Senate, could not prevent this happening.
The members of the Labor Party served on this committee. I said that I was obliged to accept that. I hoped that the Senate would give genuine consideration to the examination of these Bills in the Senate but it seems to me now, as a result of the undue amount of time taken - I point out that the Senate had decided that the committee should report as soon as possible and not later than 12 March, but now 12 March has long since passed - and the continued statements by the spokesman for the Opposition, that the Opposition completely rejects these Bills, indicates to me that very little was genuine in the attitude of the Opposition parties, the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, in the Senate and that it was not their intention to give these Bills serious consideration, but it was merely their intention to delay and to fail to pass the legislation.
It is clear to me now that the Senate has failed to pass the legislation because of the intention of the 2 main Opposition parties. I aave introduced these Bills so that they become in issue and on the agenda. Should the Senate efuse supply it can now see clearly that we intend to proceed with our legislation. We will meet that challenge in full. It is now up to the Opposition to decide whether it will vote against these Bills, as it is up to the Opposition to decide whether it will deny supply. The situation has . now been placed firmly and clearly before the Opposition. I make that clear at this stage on the third reading of these Bills.
–In reply to the points made by the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) let me say that there is no doubt or hesitation by the Opposition that it will certainly vote against these Bills and against the Appropriation Bills, as I am sure the Minister knows full well. I think we have to realise first and foremost that these Bills relating to the Australian Industry Development Corporation have been brought forward into this House under a harsh guillotine measure, I believe for 2 purposes. Firstly, they are to provide legal grounds for the Government to seek from the Governor-General a double dissolution.
– I am glad to have the agreement of my honourable friend on that point. In other words, it is not the principle of the issue in particular. The measures are to be rammed through this House so that the provision of the Constitution which states that if the Parliament twice refuses a Bill, but not within a period of 3 months, a double dissolution can be requested of the GovernorGeneral. But, of course, the Government is not relying just on rejection of one Bill. It has introduced several Bills into the House, including the health legislation, the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill 1973, the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 and the National Investment Fund Bill 1973, so that it will have ample grounds on which to campaign and presumably when it goes to the people it will argue that it has done its best to have that legislation passed.
Let us not have all the cant that the Minister for Overseas Trade, who is sitting at the table, gave us about this matter. The Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973 is before the House at this moment so that the Opposition in the Senate will reject it again. This House will pass that legislation, because the Government has a majority here. But the Parliament will refuse it because the Senate will reject it. The rejection of that Bill will give the Prime Minister the opportunity to go to the Governor-General and to ask for a double dissolution. The Prime Minister will not be disappointed in that respect because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has said many times in recent weeks that he is in favour of going with the Prime Minister, or if necessary to follow him in a taxi to Government House, and to give his support for a double dissolution.
I will recall briefly the events that occurred last Thursday. The Opposition forced a showdown with the Government on the question of an election and a double dissolution. Anyone who was in this House last Thursday saw that when the Prime Minister entered the chamber he was shocked and angry about that showdown. Anyone who saw him on television last Thursday night knows that the Prime Minister does not want an election. Of course, he would have called an election if he wished to have one. But in answer to the question: What would you do if the Appropriation Bills were passed?’ he said: “The election will not go on*.
We are addressing ourselves to the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill, which is a most important Bill and is linked with the National Investment Fund Bill 1973. They are most important measures. The Opposition has strong views on both pieces of legislation. The views of the Opposition have been expressed, ! believe, in a very good speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) who, I believe, and I hope before not too much time passes, will be the Treasurer of Australia. The speech to which I refer was made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on 16 October 1973. It was a fairly long speech and set out fully, and in great detail, the Opposition’s objections to this legislation and what the Opposition will do when it becomes the Government.
Let me make another point in reply to the Minister for Overseas Trade, who is sitting at the table. He spoke about the failure to pass the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill 1973. Let us examine that matter. The truth of the matter is, of course, that nobody knows what those words mean. It is not fully settled constitutional practice. The Minister for Overseas Trade came into this House this evening and not once, but several times, said that this legislation has failed to pass. He does not know that it has failed to pass but he is asserting it. There are a lot of assertions in his speeches on this Bill and on other matters which have been before this House, about which he is not sure. As a matter of fact, there is some reason to believe that, when a Bill is refused passage twice, as were the Electoral bills, the right to call a double dissolution can expire. The Minister for Overseas Trade referred, as did the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) to the tired argument about a mandate from the Australian people. The Minister did not use that word on this occasion. He came very close to it. I see that he is agreeing with me so far as I have gone. The point is that no constitutional authority will give support to such a doctrine as the mandate. In any case, what the Opposition is saying to the Government and, indeed, to the people of Australia is: ‘We have seen so much of the new policies of this Government. Let us have an election; let us have another look at them’.
The Senate has a role to play under the Constitution. It has tried to seek a role in recent years of having committees of examination. The Senate has tried to have a closer look at Bills, at Government questions and at public matters which have not been closely examined in Australia. One of those committees is the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control which is chaired by Senator Cant, a Labor Senator from Western Australia. That Committee is examining at this time the Australian Industry
Development Corporation legislation. Indeed, I believe it proposes to recommend some amendments to that legislation. According to the newspapers - I think they can be regarded as reliable in this area - the Minister for Overseas Trade also has some amendments to make to the legislation which it is hoped will make it more palatable to the Opposition and to the opponents of the proposed legislation who are outside the House.
What did the Government do? It prorogued Parliament at the end of last year, thereby stopping the proceedings of that Committee which was closely examining this legislation. The Government has held up and inhibited - indeed, has put a stop to - the working of that Committee in its examination of this legislation. Where is the sense in the Government taking that action, if it is really genuine, as it says it is - as the Minister for Overseas Trade has just said it is - in wishing to have legislation passed and in believing that the legislation has failed to pass. The important words used by the Minister are ‘failed to pass’. That is a phrase which appears in the Constitution. The Constitution states that, if legislation is refused twice by the Parliament outside a 3 month period - that is, it is voted against or fails to pass - there are grounds for a double dissolution. Now, the Minister is saying so very glibly as I have pointed out that this legislation has failed to pass. There is no proof of that. What is more - and this is very important - a Senate Committee is inquiring into the matter and could well reach a constructive result which would be accepted by all sides of the House. But no, that is not good enough for the Government. The Government is now about to be forced into an election. The Government has to wheel this legislation up so that it can have legal grounds on which to approach the Governor-General and ask for a double dissolution. I do not really object to that in itself. What I do object to is the Minister complaining in this chamber that he is introducing this legislation as a great matter of principle, that the country is in urgent need of it, and so on.
He went on to make a lot of other statements. The Minister is a man who has a considerable grasp of economics, I believe. It is amazing really, to hear the hotchpotch of economics and ideology that he came out with this evening. What we have seen, of course, in this area of investment - overseas investment and internal investment - is a tremendous slowing down of development in the recent past. The truth of the matter is that in all this expenditure which it is undertaking today the Government is only living off the wealth which has been accumulated in recent years and built up by better men.
One of the questions which keeps recurring in respect of this legislation and similar legislation is: ‘How do we, Australians, continue to own our own resources?’ That is the question involved. It has a lot of emotional appeal. How real is it to devise methods by which foreign investment which enables the extraction from the ground, for instance, the resources which we have, is cut off or greatly diminished
This legislation seeks to expand the powers of the Australian Industry Development Corporation so much that a very real danger exists that we will get not only nationalisation and socialisation of industries but also a tremendous draining off of all investment resources to Australia from other regions, a great and vast transfer from the private sector to the public sector. Those resources in the ground to which I referred are really not much use in the ground to anyone, except to one or 2 eco-nuts, as I think they are called, who would not agree with me. Some eco-nuts sit on the Government side but I am pleased to say that most Government supporters do not go so far as that.
I want to discuss also the question of socialism and nationalisation. The previous speaker, the honourable member for Adelaide, said - I think I have his words correctly - that he was not reluctant to be known as a socialist. He went on to say that the AIDC is not socialist in its intent. Well, how much reliance can we place on that claim? I remember very clearly making a speech in this House on 22 August 1972 about some of the comments made by the present Minister for Overseas Trade, who was then a member of the Opposition. On that occasion, if I may make bold to quote myself briefly, I stated:
What they …. that is, the Labor Party- propose is a clear Australian Labor Party socialism in the old style. The honourable member for Lalor never tires of making clear his extreme socialist views and his ideas of revolutionary democracy. It was he who insisted …. in December 1971 in incorporating in the Hansard record an-
extract from the Labor Party’s ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’ on economic planning . . .
It is enough that I quote the first paragraph.
With the object of achieving Labor’s socialist objectives, establish or extend public enterprise, where appropriate by nationalisation, particularly in the fields of banking, consumer finance, insurance, marketing, housing, stevedoring, transport and in areas of antisocial private monopoly.
I submit that as exhibit 1. Exhibit 2 is the transcript of what the Minister said on television a few short weeks before the election in December 1972. When pressed about this question of socialism and nationalisation he said: ‘You know, we are not going to do it immediately, but if something happened like an extended strike in an industry, well, we might have to step in’. I do not have his exact words with me, but they could be easily obtained. That was a pretty strong statement for a country that is now strike bound from one end to the other. Who can doubt that, if the Government wants to find an excuse for introducing socialism, it is very readily at hand.
I now quote as a small exhibit on other matters concerning the Government’s intent and also its dignity, prestige and, above all, attitude, a comment which was made by Mr Mungo McCallum of the Prime Minister last week. He said in one succinct sentence:
The clear-skin, Super Gough image is gone forever: in its place we find the rather shabby figure of one E. Whitlam, failed wheeler-dealer.
I put all that to the House because I think it alerts us to what I believe are the true objectives of this legislation. Several times the Minister has said that he does not seek nationalisation and socialism through the legislation. Can we really believe it in all the circumstances? Can the Government be trusted? Even it this Minister is absolutely sincere, what of his successors? What of the Government? What of the Cabinet’s views? What cf the future Caucus views about the objectives of this legislation? It is tremendously far reaching legislation. It is quite unacceptable to the Opposition because it enlarges the power of the Australian Industry Development Corporation miles beyond anything that was contemplated when the previous Government established the Corporation. Indeed, the previous Government was very careful to ensure that the Corporation was inhibited in the areas which are now to be opened up to it.
I say - and I am quite clear in my mind - that the Bill is intended to take over large segments of Australian industry. This is not the only legislation; there is other legislation. It is part of a pattern. It is part of the belief of many members - perhaps not all - of the Australian Labor Party. The Opposition opposes the legislation. It has opposed all this principal legislation which represents a very small percentage of the number of Bills passed by the Senate. It is quite wrong for the Minister to say that the majority of Bills have been opposed by the Opposition in the Senate. In fact, only a small number of Bills have been opposed, but that small number embraces all the extreme measures which have been put forward, for which the Government has no mandate and for which it will get no agreement from the Opposition.
– The opposition to this Bill has been, predictably, stated in cliches and without any logic or reason. In fact, the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) in an attempt to find some sort of a - (Quorum formed). The honourable member for Curtin is opposed to the legislation, so he would have this House believe, on the ground that it represents socialism and nationalisation - whatever those terms mean. It is very significant that members of the Opposition parties in this Parliament continually talk about this Government’s policies as representing socialism and nationalisation, but they never have the courage to define the terms. What do they mean by socialism and nationalisation? Does it mean that they are opposed to subsidies being paid to industries? Does it mean that they are opposed to tariff protection of Australian industry? Is that socialism? Is that nationalisation? Or is it that they are still in the 19th century in their political philosophy?
Are honourable members opposite opposed to the payment of a pension to old people who are disadvantaged? Are they against the principles of government financed education? Are they against medical and hospital schemes run by the Australian Government? I think that the answer truly is yes, they are, but they do not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say so. Would they, in the name of anti-nationalisation and their implacable opposition to socialism, sell the rail- ways, the Post Office and electricity generation and reticulation undertakings? I believe that there is so much humbug and hypocrisy in their argument that it does not really deserve an answer.
In the short time available to me I propose to ask this House to look at what is involved in this legislation. The real fact of the matter is that foreign investors operating in Australia are calling the tune for those unfortunate honourable members opposite. They are little puppets dancing to the tune of the international financial institutions. They have no minds of their own. They will do as they are told in here, and their colleagues will do as they are told in the Senate later this week. I feel great regret that this House and this Parliament have so many members who are not allowed to speak their own minds. These are the people who are controlled by the outside influences in this nation.
The fact of the matter is that whether the Opposition likes it or not, or whether a majority of people in another place like it or not, Australian citizens - the residents of this great free land - will not become tenants in their own homes. Australian belongs to Australians, and in spite of 23 years of attempt so far, it has not gone beyond repair; so that the whole economy is not yet controlled by international and foreign interests. Australian industry must and will be controlled by Australian interests. The Australian Government will not allow the situation to develop in this country, as it has developed in Latin America and in some parts of Africa-
– And in Canada.
– And particularly in Canada, as I am reminded by the honourable member for Adelaide, where in fact the minimal amount of capital that has been invested for the so-called development of those countries has already been taken out two and three times over. We should learn from the experience of other countries which have fallen for the carrot in front of the donkey’s nose. Of course, in the last 23 years there have been plenty of carrots and plenty of donkeys following along chasing the carrots. Of course, at this stage we do not know what other benefits have been received, but when the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) gets his far sighted legislation through this Parliament, we will know. In the future when there has to be disclosure of funds for the public to see, we will know the reason why every time there is an attack on the multi-national corporations members of the Opposition jump like so many puppets and say: ‘No, no, no’. They say: ‘Do not interfere with development’. What they really mean is: Do not interfere with the profits of foreign investors. The Opposition will not interfere with the right of foreign investors to exploit this country’. The Minister for Overseas Trade pointed out this evening that only 15 per cent - a miserable 15 per cent - of all Australian wage and salary earners own shares in the great industrial and commercial enterprises of this country. That 15 per cent own a miserable 3 per cent of the value of the shareholding, and 97 per cent of the shares and the productive wealth of this country is owned by people who are not employees themselves. I believe that this is a very serious situation. It is a situation which demands correction - those who oppose it do so at their peril because the Australian people, the highest judge in the community, will judge harshly. I have no doubt that the Opposition will be judged by that jury in the near future and that judgment will be harsh. Members of the Opposition will then see the error of their ways as they sit back in their enforced retirement to cogitate about what they have done.
When this legislation is finally adopted by this Parliament, which will probably be after the double dissolution and after this Government is returned with even a greater majority than it has now, the Government will be able to set out to establish in this country productivity consciousness about which for 23 long years the previous Government talked tout did nothing. This legislation is designed to bring to the Australian community a share, a say and an interest in the enterprises of this community. One of the great problems that we have as a national Government, and one that was inherited, is that there is no concern in our community about productivity. Increased productivity is a value that is frequently not seen. Unit style trust investment is not the answer. This form of investment has not been popular and has not been accepted by the Australian community. What this legislation seeks to do is to get community involvement in the great national enterprises of this country.
Those who have read the Bill - and I doubt very much whether those members of the Opposition who have spoken in this debate have read it very carefully, if at all - will see that the Australian Industry Development Corporation is independent of government direction. The purpose of the Corporation is to preserve the national interest. It is an independent body. Such things as farmer co-operatives are possible under this legislation. There is a sudden quietness in cocky corner because members there have sold out the rural interests again. Dictated to by the foreign investor they are prepared to say ‘no’ to this legislation because it suits Esso, it suits the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, or it suits the oil companies and the mining interests. It is against the farmers’ interest. But do they care? Certainly not. They will go along now and try to explain this away in some way or other. But let them explain away that they have taken away or are attempting to take away from the small farmer the method by which he can get Government assistance to invest in co-operatives and to develop co-operative ventures. Let them also explain to the small businessman that this proposal has the prospect of the development of new technology for Australian industry. Let them explain away why they are opposed to that. Let them tell the Australian worker why it is that they are opposed to legislation which will assist in the development of new managerial skills. But what did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) and the honourable member for Curtin quote? They quoted those great democratic institutions - the private banks, the insurance companies–
– I rise to order. Mr Speaker, would I be in order in pointing out that the matter of co-operatives is outside the terms of reference of the AIDC?
– No point of order is involved. The time allotted for the remaining stages of the Bills has expired. The question is:
That the Bills be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. J. F. Cope)
Majority . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a third time.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of up to $66m to assist the State of Queensland in financing the cost of measures designed to alleviate the effects of the disastrous floods which occurred in that State be tween January and March of this year. This figure is based on the latest estimates of costs supplied by the State; it represents a reduction of some $14m on earlier estimates. In terms of hardship and damage, the floods were one of the largest, if not the largest, disasters that has occurred in this country.
Honourable members will recall that, in response to a question on 5 March, I informed the House that the assistance which the Australian Government was providing to assist those who had suffered as a result of the flooding and to restore damage to public assets was on a far more extensive and liberal scale than on any previous occasion. I referred to the praiseworthy work of the defence forces in helping with evacuations, providing emergency supplies and in other ways assisting to minimise or alleviate hardship. I referred also to the special services which were being provided by the Department of Social Security, the offer of temporary accommodation help by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson), the assistance from other departments and the donations totalling $600,000 that the Australian Government had made to public relief funds. I mentioned, in addition, that private donations of $2 or more to these and other public funds are allowable deductions for income tax purposes resulting in a significant part of such donations falling on the Australian Government Budget. However, as I said then, by far the largest call on Government funds will be made by measures which the Queensland Government has implemented with the agreement of the Australian Government, and which the State is administering.
At the onset of the floods, the Australian Government offered to provide financial assistance to the Queensland Government to enable appropriate relief and restoration measures to be undertaken by it. The measures which have been agreed between the governments include grants for immediate relief and emergency house repairs, grants and loans for major repair or rebuilding of private homes, loans to flood-affected primary producers and business firms, and expenditure on the restoration of public assets destroyed or damaged in the floods.
The Bill provides that the conditions of the financial assistance which the Australian Government is providing are to be as the Treasurer determines. The Australian Government’s financial assistance to the State will be provided by way of grants where the expenditure by the State on the agreed relief and rehabilitation measures takes the form of grants, and by way of interest-free loans where the expenditure takes the form of loans. I seek leave of the House to have details of the various categories of assistance, showing estimated expenditures on each, incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Under the agreed arrangements Australian Government assistance will be provided for the following categories of estimated expenditure:
Grants of up to $2,200 for a single person and $3,000 for a family for the relief of personal hardship and distress including emergency repairs to houses to make them habitable and secure; estimated cost $5.25m.
Grants of up to $15,000 for major repairs or rebuilding of owner-occupied dwellings or the purchase of a substitute residence. The grant may include an amount of up to $4,000 for costs of removing a dwelling to a new approved location.
Loans to applicants who qualify for a grant of up to $10,000 from the Queensland Housing Commission plus up to $5,000 towards the net cost of approved substitute land where applicable.
The Queensland Government is providing half the cost of the loan finance from its own resources.
Loans, through the Queensland Agricultural Bank, of up to $40,000 at concessional rates of interest to primary producers for carry-on purposes (purchase of stores, seeds, fertilisers, etc.), restocking and repair and replacement of farm machinery or other improvements (excluding dwellings) damaged or destroyed by the floods.
Estimated cost $4.0m.
Loans of up to $25,000 for business firms (excluding public companies).
Estimated cost $8.25m.
Grants to local and other authorities for the repair and restoration to pre-disaster standards of roads, bridges, buildings and other assets and facilities.
Estimated cost $23.9m.
Grants to cover the cost of repair and restoration of State Government assets to pre-disaster standard.
Estimated cost $ 11.75m.
Grants to cover the cost of repair and restoration of assets of the Queensland University and colleges of advanced education.
Estimated cost $lm.
– Total grants are estimated to amount to $56.9m and loans to $12.75m. The Queensland Government’s share of this expenditure is expected to amount to $3.65m, a very small fraction indeed of the funds required for the measures I have mentioned. The amount that the Australian Government expects to provide. $66m, will dwarf any previous expenditture on assistance provided in the case of any single disaster. Loans by the Australian Government to the State will be interest-free. It has been agreed that the State may charge interest on loans at concessional rates, the interest thus received being available to cover administrative costs and to assist the State in meeting any losses arising from bad debts.
The Bill provides for assistance extending over a period of three financial years, including 1973-74. The measures which the Australian Government is supporting are both wideranging and liberal. In agreeing to these measures, the Government was actuated by the extent of the Queensland disaster, which affected a very large number of people; many of whom were inadequately covered by insurance. The Government welcomed offers from insurance organisations to discuss the inclusion of cover for natural disasters in housing insurance policies. Preliminary discussions for this purpose have already taken place between officers of my Department and representatives of the various insurance organisations concerned. Officers of my Department will take up with representatives of the banks, insurance companies and other financial corporations that provide finance for housing the question of their lending policies and insurance cover in relation to houses constructed in areas affected by natural disasters. An examination will also be made of questions relating to insurance of crops and livestock against natural disasters.
These disastrous floods have focused attention on the need for an adequate approach to the question of flood mitigation and the Government is examining this problem as a matter of urgency.
To sum up, the Government is providing assistance on an unprecedentedly generous scale to those who have suffered loss as a result of the floods. It is urgently examining ways in which protection may be increased against future occurrences of a similar nature. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Bill -by leave - presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As honourable members will be aware, the severe flooding which occurred in the early part of the year affected New South Wales as well as Queensland. The purpose of this Bill is to authorize the payment of up to $5. 5m to assist the State of New South Wales in financing the cost of measures designed to alleviate the effects of the floods. The damage caused by the flooding in New South Wales, although not as widespread or as devastating as in Queensland, nevertheless caused considerable hardship and suffering to those involved and the Australian Government expressed its readiness to assist the New South Wales Government in providing aid to those affected.
The Assistance authorized by this Bill is considerably less than that authorised by the Bill relating to Queensland. This can be ascribed to two factors: Firstly, because of the lesser extent of the disaster, the range of measures for which the New South Wales Government sought financial support from the Australian Government was not as extensive as in the case of Queensland and, secondly, the expenditure on relief measures which the State Government is meeting from its own resources is greater in New South Wales than in Queensland. Particulars of estimated expenditure have been supplied by the New South Wales Government authorities and I ask that they be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There toeing no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Under the agreed arrangements Australian Government assistance will be provided for the following categories of estimated expenditure:
Grants for the relief of personal hardship and distress, including emergency repairs to houses.
Estimated cost $600,000.
Loans, through the Rural Bank of New South Wales, on similar terms to those being provided in Queensland up to $20,000 as a general rule but up to $40,000 in the case of cottongrowers.
Estimated cost $4.65 million.
Grants to local and other authorities for the repair and restoration to pre-disaster standard of roads, bridges and other assets and facilities.
Estimated cost $3.6m.
Grants to cover the cost of repair and restoration of State government assets to pre-disaster standard. Estimated cost $4. 7m.
Rail freight rebates on donated food, fodder, clothing, etc., for distribution to flood victims and rail freight concession on the carriage of fodder purchased for starving stock and the transport of stock from flood-affected properties for agistment in respect of approved districts.
Estimated cost minor.
– Certain other measures are under discussion between the Australian and New South Wales Governments and allowance has been made for costs in this legislation. The overall cost of the measures is estimated at $14. lm. After allowing for expenditure which will be met by the State from its own resources, the estimated cost to the Australian Government is $5. 5m. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 1074), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The House is debating this money Bill. Never in the history of the Australian Parliament extending over 73 years has any Opposition threatened to withhold Supply from a democratically elected Australian Government. Now the Liberal-Country Party coalition has blatantly opted to take this reckless course. With cynical contempt for the will of the people, with total disregard for the traditions of the Westminster parliamentary system, the Opposition has put itself on a collision course with stable government and with all Australians who uphold the democratic parlia- mentary process. With the aid of the universally discredited Australian Democratic Labor Party the Opposition has already set out to mutilate, sabotage and frustrate the Australian Government’s legislative program. Already 13 Bills have been rejected by the Senate, one has been stood aside following amendment, seven have been deferred and 21 Bills have been amended, some almost beyond recognition. Many of these matters are vital to the wellbeing of the community and critical to the economic independence of the nation.
Now the crowning glory is this intimidatory threat to Supply. Now the Opposition is proposing to - withhold Government services which are provided for in these 2 Bills - Appropriation Bill (No. 4) and Appropriation Bill (No. 5)- aggregating $170.842m. To withhold Supply of this amount of money is tantamount to setting out to cripple the country, to cause untold inconvenience, disruption of the Public Service and tremendous devastation in many areas relying on governmental activity. Already in another place we find that the Opposition has been ruthless and so reckless in the utilisation of its brutal majority that in 13 days from 28 February to 4 April it has carried 35 divisions and allowed the elected Government of the day to carry only one division. There have been 36 divisions in the Senate and the Government has been defeated on 35 occasions. The people of this country have some knowledge of the insecure and unstable arrangements that have prevailed in some other parts of the world such as the South American countries -
– And in France.
– And in France. They would be gravely concerned to think that this Opposition could be setting out to send Australia on such a reckless course. Now as a result of today’s proceedings in this House other Bills will undoubtedly be treated in the same contemptuous way. Obviously the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Bill passed today and the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill will get short shrift in the Senate. (Quorum formed.)
The National Investment Fund Bill is likely to be treated in the same way. In fact, it is the Opposition’s intention either to oppose those Bills or to fail to pass them. If that state of affairs continues there is no alternative for the
Government of the day but to go to the people, to go to the jury. We can say without any equivocation that there is a firm determination to undertake such a course.
The Opposition has failed to make any constructive suggestion in respect of any significant problem concerning the nation. It opposed the Government’s revaluation decisions and criticised and undermined’ the efforts it made in regard to the making of 25 per cent across the board tariff cuts - a measure which has greatly benefited the industrial and farming communities of this country. The Opposition has criticised the Government at every turn in respect of its endeavours to regulate the flow of overseas investment in Australia. The Opposition has certainly shown no enthusiasm for putting forward alternative proposals but it has shown plenty of opposition to the Government’s attempts to control prices. It criticised the establishment of the Prices Justification Tribunal and the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices. It undermined the Government’s efforts to provide effective restrictive trade practices legislation. The Opposition opposed the referendum on prices. In many ways it has rendered a very grave disservice to the people of this country.
The Opposition now aspires, by stopping Supply, to resume control of the treasury bench. The actions of the Opposition are clearly understood by the people. They know what would be the order of the day if a Liberal-Country Party coalition were to prevail again on the treasury bench. It would set out to slow down education reform. That has been clearly demonstrated by the tenor of the debate that has taken place. It would continue to block the introduction of a national health scheme. It would stop the automatic ascendancy of pensions to a prescribed rate of the average weekly earnings.
– It would re-introduce conscription.
– The Liberal-Country Party coalition would probably re-introduce conscription. It would prevent the elimination of the means test. It would sell out our resouces to overseas domination. It would jettison Australia’s control of its oil and mineral industries. Indeed it would throw out the tax deduction scheme which is going to provide benefits to the tune of SI 20m a year to well over one million Australian families.
– Do you think it would sever relations with China?
– It is very doubtful whether it could contemporise its attitude even to concede that China exists because that was the way in which it approached that issue for 23 years. A Liberal-Country Party government would prevent the giving of Federal aid to local government, aid for sewerage, aid for growth centres and for so many other matters.
The policy of the Liberal and Country parties on housing has always been negative to the point that it has scarcely existed at all. Let us examine the legacy of recklessness relating to housing that the Labor Government inherited from its Liberal-Country Party predecessors. In the 3 years prior to the Labor Government’s election at the end of 1972 a massive upswing in lending by banks, major life offices and permanent building societies occurred - so much so that the total amount of loans approved by these lenders in 1972, that is $2,28 lm, was 62 per cent higher than in 1971 and 105 per cent higher than in 1970. Loan approvals by all banks and major life offices were 72 per cent greater in amount than in 1970 and there was an even larger increase - 179 per cent - in the lendings by permanent building societies, a group of institutions not subject to control by the Australian Government. The Labor Government has therefore inherited a situation in which the effective demand for housing has been rising extraordinarily as a result of the unprecedented increase in home loans. There would be nothing wrong with pouring such immense amounts of money into housing if the previous Government had taken the proper steps to build up the supply of materials and the labour force necessary to cope with such demands, but it failed to do so. As a result thousands of people are experiencing great difficulty in their bid to secure a home. We have done the best we can. In fact, Labor’s first year saw the completion of more houses in 1973 than were completed in 1972, which was the last year in office of the Liberal-Country Party coalition.
Let us have a look at the number of completions. In Labor’s first year in office - 1973 - 152,000 houses were completed. In the last year of office of the Liberal-Country Party coalition 145,000 houses were completed. Those are the figures presented by the Commonwealth Statistician. Let us look at the loan situation. In 1972 - the present Opposition’s last year in government - 204,000 loans to the value of $2,222m were made by major lending groups. Labor’s first year saw 244,000 loans to the value of $3,093m made. But the great flood of money which was released by the Liberal-Country Party coalition increased the construction time of a house from 24 weeks in March 1972 to 27 weeks in December 1973. That was a part of the price that had to be paid. The average cost of home building, excluding land costs, rose in 1973 by between 15 per cent and 20 per cent for the same reasons.
That inflation and delay affected the strong efforts which the new government was making to assail the deficiency of homes for the low income group. Do honourable members know what the Government has had to do? It has had to ease the liquidity demand on the building industry to slow down the flood of money. I do not know whether any other course of action could have been taken in the short term. It is interesting to know that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), who has been critical about this course of action, said himself on 26 July 1973 that the first way to cut down private spending is by making money scarcer and therefore dearer. That is the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition - the former Treasurer. He is hardly in a position to quibble at the attitude taken by the present Government in its attempt to deal with the product of 23 years of reckless government.
So many things have happened in the short period of a little over a year of the present Administration.’ A new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement that will provide enormous benefits to the States has been reached. Low interest money - 4 per cent - will be provided over 53 years. Indeed the Commonwealth gave the States what they asked for, which was an unprecedented course of action. There have been massive increases in relation to defence service homes. The Government has increased the amount that people can borrow and has extended the range of eligibility. The Government has introduced a new indicative planning process and established a housing research council. There has been a new move to establish national building standards throughout Australia. The Government has already well under way the activities of a task force examination of modern housing techniques. Many other matters are being looked at. A housing advisory service proposal has been under examination by my Department for some months. Co-operative housing is being similarly investigated. New approaches have been made to retirement housing and student housing - terminology which has never been heard of from the Opposition benches. New proposals concerning tailored mortgages are receiving examination. A Federal home construction program is being looked at as well. In addition to this, of course, is the new tax deductibility scheme which provides benefits of tremendous proportions compared with the scheme that it replaces.
I now come to a document which shows quite clearly that the previous Government not only failed to develop a cohesive, ordered housing policy but also did not want to develop a housing policy. In a letter by the then Prime Minister, the late Mr Holt, away back in September 1967 to the then Minister for Housing, Dame Annabelle Rankin, some extraordinary statements were made.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I ask the honourable gentleman to table the document in its entirety.
– Happily, Mr Deputy Speaker. The letter was written by the Prime Minister in relation to a request by Dame Annabelle Rankin, the then Minister for Housing, for the establishment of a policy and research function in the Department. The letter states: we were providing ourselves with a principally administrative unit, even though at the same time signifying our interest as a Commonwealth Government in housing. It is in relation to this somewhat limited second aspect-
That is the extent of their interest- that I see justification for a research and policy function.
Here we have a Prime Minister confirming that a department ostensibly set up to deal with a major area of government concern - under the Labor Government, housing is a major priority - should be ‘principally an administrative unit’. He also saw the Commonwealth’s interest in housing as being a ‘somewhat limited second aspect’. I find it extraordinary that this should have happened. This explains why there was no housing policy under the Liberals. It also explains why this Government was bequeathed a legacy of a chaotic, inefficient and disintegrating building industry, wallowing in oceans of money. I should like to quote again from the late Prime Minister’s letter. He said: . . what we were not doing in setting up our own Department was moving to put ourselves up in superiority to or competition with the States in housing matters by seeking to move responsibility for housing tn the central Government.
What the then Prime Minister, the late Mr Holt, clearly meant was that the Federal Government under the Liberals wanted no part of a national co-ordinated housing policy but was happy to leave the whole thing in the hands of the States. The late Prime Minister’s letter continued:
All this places definite limits in my view on the area of research and policy which the Commonwealth should involve itself in. It should at all points leave to the States what is properly for them.
He went on to say:
In other words the level of its activity in policy and research could have regard to the essentially supplementary and backgrounding nature of the Department’s role in the housing field.
We need not at this stage, at any rate, feel that we must have a continuing program of policy initiatives.
So, this was the situation and it was never changed. Even though there were successive Liberal Prime Ministers, that was the order of the day from 1967. This explains the mess which this Government has inherited and in the face of this situation we have had to take the whole business of a national housing program from the very ground to initiate for the first time in Australia’s history an indicative planning process which will enable us to ensure that no longer will housing be characterised by stop-go policies causing disruption to the building industry and causing people to languish and suffer through lack of housing over long periods of time. I indict our predecessors for creating a mess which has caused tremendous hardship to thousands of people in Australia in regard to housing.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Les Johnson) seems to think that the words ‘indicative planning process’ are a substitute for policy and action and for decisions that might make it easier for the average Australian to buy and own his own home, when in fact this Minister has been responsible for increasing interest rates and for making it much harder through the inflationary process for any Australian to own or buy his own home. This Government has abolished policies initiated by the previous Government which were designed to help and assist the Australian people. With no mandate at all, it abolish the homes savings grants scheme.
The Government did not tell people that it was going to take away this kind of incentive and encouragement to own their own homes. But the figures that the Minister for Housing - the short-lived Minister for Housing - gave this House give the lie to the totality of his speech because he indicated that completions in 1973, the first year of Labor Government, were so much better than in the last year of our Government, in 1972. He tried to claim that as some kind of a victory, but of course all those completions in 1973 would have been commencements under our policies. Quite obviously under our policies, completions were going to increase year by year and therefore if completions were 145,000 in 1972, it was a mark of the beneficial effects of our policies to have completions at 152,000 in 1973. The Minister by his perverted logic seeks to use that as a criticism when in fact it is a mark praise. I thank him for it.
But what the Minister has just done indicates the lengths to which any Minister in this Government and this Minister in particular is prepared to go to try to dredge up something unfavourable about the Liberal Party or the Australian Country Party, the former coalition Government, soon to be a coalition government again. What does he have to do? He has to waste, as every Minister has wasted, hundreds of thousands of hours of the time of Commonwealth public servants, telling them to go back through every letter even written by a Minister and every letter even written to a Minister by a Liberal Prime Minister to see what they can get that might be able to do damage to this Opposition. What does he find after the totality of the thousands of hours of work? He finds a letter dated 20 September 1967 signed by a Prime Minister who died in tragic circumstances, directed to a Minister who has not been in the Parliament for a significant number of years. The Minister tried to make something of that. But the lack of morality of exposing earlier ministerial correspondence is a precedent which we will be able to follow in a very short space of time. We will then be able to see the letters that have been written between the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) and the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) on the arguments about trade training. Why cannot the trade planning proposals of the Minister for Labour come before the Parliament? It is because he is locked in a mortal battle with the Minister for Social Security. And what about? What is the point of contention? It is the allowance that is to be paid to a person made redundant as a result of technological change while he is in training for some other occupation. For months this matter has been held up. A departmental committee had to look at it. The Minister for Labour could not roll Treasury, the Minister for Social Security and the Prime Minister’s Department, so that proposal has been abandoned and there will be another way of looking at it. But still there has been no result or decision and still there is a hard core of people who find it difficult to fit into the over-full employment situation because they lack the skills and the capacity and are waiting for training opportunities which this Government has promised . and ought to deliver. They are going to have to wait until the Opposition gets back into power and we build and expand the training programs we had introduced and which should have been significantly expanded in the last 18 months. The scheme should have been broadened and increased opportunities created, but nothing has been done.
The morality of the Minister for Housing can be equated only with the partisan, atrocious and utterly outrageous statements that he made during a union dispute in New South Wales when he invoked all the sanctions and all the unreasonable penalties in the world against the Master Builders’ Association, even though the Association had taken action which the Commissioner involved with the case had regarded as reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances. This Minister, coming from a government that does not believe in sanctions or penalties of any kind, said that he would examine all Commonwealth contracts to see what penalties could be applied against the contractors. He said that he would see that penalties were built into new Commonwealth contracts and that master builders who had been involved in the Sydney activities did not get future Commonwealth contracts. He was approaching the Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General to see what weight of the law could be brought upon the master builders who were arguing and battling for their survival.
– It was a lock out.
– It was not a lock out. Commissioner Aird made it perfectly plain that it was not a lock out. The Minister for Housing revealed himself as a most partisan, one sided and unreasonable Minister by what he said about this particular matter that we have been discussing. The way he quoted figures revealing the performance of the previous government and the way he quoted a letter of a dead Prime Minister are beneath the contempt of this Parliament. I have the privilege and pleasure of knowing that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, when you are not in the chair would not stoop to such tactics for one moment.
The Minister also tried to make something of the earlier comment that the action proposed by the Senate had not been taken for 73 years. Honourable members need to remember that there is no analogy between the Australian Senate - properly and democratically elected by all the people of Australia - and a hereditary House of Lords. To quote constitutional convention appropriate to the House of Lords - a hereditary House of great honour and distinction but whose powers have been obviously and properly curtailed because it is a hereditary House - and to suggest that it is appropriate to Australia is to deal with a different set of circumstances. Certainly the position is extreme. Certainly there is great reluctance to invoke the power the Senate has to vote against Supply - to vote against an Appropriation Bill. Because of that proper reluctance, which we would all share, this power has not been used in the past. Senator Murphy in the Senate made it plain that when it was in Opposition the Australian Labor Party had acted consistently in accordance with tradition in opposing in the Senate any tax or money Bill or other financial measure wherever necessary to carry out the Australian Labor Party’s principles and policies. Senator Murphy agrees that there is power - there is no doubt of that - and certainly agrees that it is proper to use it in appropriate circumstances. One difference is that Senator Murphy was prepared to use it in any circumstances, as we know he is prepared to do anything in any circumstances to try to get control of a chamber, to raid an organisation or to invade the liberties of individuals, but we would use that power only in extreme circumstances.
Those extreme circumstances were not created by the record of this miserable and mean Government. Those extreme circumstances might have been created by that record in the eyes of many people: They were created when a Prime Minister took an action that was designed to rig a House of Parliament. He was seeking to buy a House of Parliament - to control a House of Parliament. That was an action beneath contempt for any person in this House - beneath contempt for any person in Australia. Any person who regarded this Prime Minister as a man of principle will know how to regard him now because he has written his own epitaph to these particular matters. It was this extreme action placed on top of everything else that caused the Opposition to determine that methods of deceit and Tammany Hall approaches should not be allowed to succeed for one moment in Australia. Because the Prime Minister knew that he could not gain control of the Senate by democratic means - by the popular vote of all the people of Australia - he sought to buy a House of Parliament. The Minister for Housing is looking amused. That is what he thinks of democracy; that is what he thinks of this Parliament; that is the contempt he shows for the elected institutions in Australia which alone stand between the Australian people and a wretched Government which will stand condemned in five or six weeks time unless the Prime Minister turns tail and runs again as he did last year. Whenever he threatened a double dissolution and his threat was accepted, as it was on a number of occasions last year, the Prime Minister turned and ran. He found some excuse for not acting.
Earlier in this debate he came into this House and made a speech. We thought he might have had something to say. He had one point and one point only to make. He may have regarded it as a threat. He said that if the Bills were rejected there would be a double dissolution, that he would be on his way to Yarralumla. We are hoping that this is a promise. We will be most disappointed if he does not deliver that promise. The honourable member for Maribyrnong, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass), who has done more than any man I know to subvert one decent environmental organisation in Australia thinks that this is amusing, but he will not be in this Parliament after the business either.
– I think you are swearing in the wings in the hope of getting under Snedden’s neck like you did with Gorton.
– No. The Minister says this because he is touched and knows that his members are running for cover. He knows quite well that his caucus is not particularly happy. He knows quite well that the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) was having a chat with the Prime Minister a day or two ago and was saying: Prime Minister, I think I can hold the seat’. That is the attitude throughout the Labor Party in this House and the Senate. Throughout the Parliament and its corridors the Labor Party is smelling of fear because its members know that the tide of Australia is running against them. They know that throughout the Australian community they have created fear, uncertainty and concern about a number of matters which touch the daily lives of ordinary people in this country. The business of government is to protect and safeguard the ordinary people of Australia. The business of this Parliament and every member of it is to remember that honourable members are the servants of the people of Australia. One of the great derelictions of this particular Government is that it has forgotten that it was elected to be the servants of the people it presumes to lead. Members of the Government are adopting the attitudes of masters and dominators. This is not the kind of government that the people of Australia will condone, nor is it the kind of government that the people of Australia will support.
In a number of areas policies have been disastrous and have caused fear, uncertainty and concern for the future. They have made it impossible for ordinary men and women to plan their future with any degree of consistency and with any kind of confidence. I will deal briefly with some matters. Inflation, industrial unrest and the future of domestic and foreign affairs are all areas where there is great concern. The Government cannot even make up its mind whether it will allow the Russians to establish in Australia a base which will destroy the purposes of ANZUS, destroy the functions of the Pine Gap and Woomera bases and most probably cause the United States of America to withdraw from or cancel the ANZUS obligation. Of course there are many in this Parliament - the honourable member for Lalor, the Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns), and the Minister for the Environment and Conservation - who would be delighted if they could provoke the United States into that kind of activity. The Minister for the Environment and Conservation is nodding his head in agreement. He wants out from the ANZUS Treaty. He knows quite well that he does not support his Prime Minister’s statements in this particular area. He was nodding his head in agreement when I was making these remarks. He wants out. He wants the destruction of the American relationship.
I come back to matters which affect the average everyday Australian. The Government promised to cure inflation. It has trebled it from 4.5 to 14 per cent. Food prices have increased 5 times. Government expenditure will be up $2,500m. Expenditure policies have run rampant causing this Government to dip deeper and deeper into the pockets of every Austraiian. The wages policies supported by the Minister for Labour have run rings around the Treasurer (Mr Crean) who has futilely tried to oppose them with some degree of responsibility. The correspondence between the 2 Ministers will be another interesting set of correspondence that we will be able to show the people of Australia in five or six weeks time. But I suppose now they will have all the Government servants destroying their mutual correspondence so that that cannot be done. I suspect that if those orders are given there will be copies kept in the archives for us to see. The wages policies arouse unreasonable expectations which cannot be fulfilled. They lead directly, with other Government policies, to a much greater degree of industrial unrest.
Quarterly adjustments are to be added into the present jacking-up process, an additional round every 3 or 4 months in increasing wage levels thus adding to inflation and making it inevitable that inflation will get much worse than it is at the moment. This Government has forced inflation to its highest level in the history of Australia over a consistent period. The Treasury has told the Treasurer that under present policies inflation will inevitably go much higher. The Treasury has said that the Government’s present policies are quite disastrous, that the policies will lead to more inflation and that the policies themselves are highly contradictory. Because the expenditure policies were taken as given, because the wage policies were taken as given, the Government determined that the only way to control inflation was to have high rates of interest. Then Caucus got hold of that and put a ceiling on that policy. But how many members of Caucus know that over the last two to three months the Reserve Bank has been buying tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars of Government securities in an effort to keep the rate of inflation where it is and to stop it rising several per cent higher?
People outside have now come to know that if inflation is running at 14 or more per cent a year, one makes a ‘loss on lending money at 8 or 10 per cent a year.
The natural market forces would drive inflation under this Government to 18 per cent a year. Therefore, the Reserve Bank has been told to ‘begin the completely and exorbitantly inflationary policy of buying bonds in the market. If anyone wants to know the extent of Reserve Bank buying in the market over the last 3 months he has only to ring up bank officers and he will be given the figures. The result is a disgrace because with every purchase there is an addition to liquidity and an addition to inflation. The Treasurer ought to know this. He has been warned by the Treasury in the strongest terms, for the Treasury is responsible. But the Minister is beset by expenditure policies which are inviolate, and by a Minister for Labour who is a good deal more powerful and persistent than the Treasurer is.
The Minister for Labour was persistent until his training program ran foul and now he seems to be unable to persist in that or in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which I understand is not to be debated because the Minister knows that its consequences are opposed by the great body of the union movement throughout Australia. It has been put into the shadows. It will not be debated for that reason.
The poor Treasurer has not a chance with the people about him. As a result, it is not the Treasurer for whom we have sympathy but the great body of people in Australia who will suffer disaster on disaster the longer this Government stays in power. Houses for people seeking to save will move further away, and in spite of increasing wages because of inflation caused by this Government it will become harder to pay weekly wage bills. Mr Deputy Speaker, with the fairness that you have characteristically and always shown in this House I am quite certain that you would recognise that that is so. Inflation is affecting people in many different areas. An extra $ 1,500m, or one-third more than the year before, has been collected from all individuals throughout Australia. This Government is a disaster. What we have to do, and will do, is promise the people of Australia a return to sanity and responsibility in government. That is the only thing which will win respect for any government. This Government has shown no sanity and no responsibility. It has shown on the Sunday platforms, in the Sunday Cabinet meetings, that it believes the people of Australia can be bought. It is a government beneath contempt. It is a government which will be dismissed.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson)Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). In the course of his speech the honourable member made a statement that I had allegedly told the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) that I felt confident of winning my seat at the next election. No such conversation took place. I have been elected on 9 occasions to this Parliament, and if the Senate takes the unprecedented course of rejecting these Bills I will be a candidate and I am confident of being re-elected.
– We all know the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) for his trendy, friendly approach to modern day problems, for his impartiality, for his clear and balanced thought, for his determined approach to seek out the fair unbiased solutions to the needs of the people, for his cool rationality and for his insatiable ambition to lead the Liberal Party. So tonight we excuse the fanatical and inaccurate contribution he has made because clearly he was not himself. But we understand him and we excuse him. However, he does have one claim to glory. He is the honourable member who led the fight against the implementation of the provisions of the Karmel scheme. He is the man who was so united with the Australian Country Party, his colleagues in opposition, that the Country Party members crossed the floor to vote against him. This was only a short 15 weeks ago - I think just 15 weeks this week - that that great bond of unity existed between the honourable member for Wannon leading the Liberal Party and the Country Party. So strong was the bond that they had to vote on opposite sides of the House and record their names in Hansard ashaving done so. We have the great unified, scattered, patched, many named collection of hotch-potch opposition groups. But the Opposition needs more than a new name to convince the people of Australia.
This Government came into office with a clear and resounding mandate to implement the policies it had presented to the people. But as the people are well aware, the relic Opposition majority in the Senate has continually blocked major items of our mandate - our policies on health, education, social welfare, urban living, land acquisition-
– Only the ones that are un-Aus tralian.
– Keep quiet and you will learn something. It has blocked our policies on housing, immigration and many other subjects. Our policies were the most comprehensive, well-argued and well-presented that had ever been put to the Australian people. In government we have acted quickly to implement those policies despite the continued obstruction of a hostile Senate. We will continue to implement the promises we made to the people despite the amalgam of opposition in the Senate because the Australian people are coming to realise that it is the Senate Opposition that has blocked the implementation of the most important reforms that we were commissioned to implement on 2 December 1972.
Over recent weeks I have listened with amusement to the pious remarks of Opposition members expressing a sudden new-found concern for people on fixed incomes and on pensions because of increasing prices they say. We well remember the annual pilgrimage of pensioners to Canberra around Budet time under previous governments to plead for a little more, please, Sir and receive nothing, 50c a week extra or maybe the magnificent sum of an extra $1 a week. Pensioners under a quarter of a century of reactionary government had become a political football. We ended all that. On the second day of the first session of this Parliament a Bill was brought in to increase pensions by $1.50 a week. In spring of the same year pensions were increased by a further $1.50 a week, and last week they were further increased by $2.50 a week for a married pensioner and $3 a week for a single pensioner. The single pension rate is almost 23 per cent of average weekly earnings, the highest level in 24 years. What is more, the pensioners know that this Government will carry out its pledge to raise pensions until they are equal to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. We promised the abolition of the means test on pensions over a 3 year period. We have already introduced the first part of that process with the abolition of the means test for the 75 years of age and over group.
The Opposition parties may bleat about that too but remember their great leader of earlier years, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, over a quarter of a century ago promised to abolish the means test. Yet when his successors were thrown out of office almost a quarter of a century later they had not even formulated a plan for its abolition, let alone commenced it. lt is no wonder that the Opposition Parties were thrown out when in Government. Members of the Opposition still have the effrontery to express concern for the welfare of the pensioner. But the pensioners are not fooled by the Opposition’s charade. I am sure of that. Over the whole range of social welfare services this Government has acted promptly to improve the lot of the less fortunate and the under privileged.
Progressive legislation that this Government has passed has been in the face of deliberate, blatant, frustrating tactics from the Opposition majority in the Senate, who were elected almost 3 years and 5 years before this Government’s policies were endorsed by the Australian people. This relict, this obstructive Opposition majority in the Senate continues to stall, delay, defer and defeat important pieces of legislation which a clear majority of the Australian people firmly said, on 2 December 1972, were needed and ought to be brought into operation. In our first year of office, the Senate Opposition in its deliberate course of frustrating the will of the people rejected 13 Bills that had been initiated by this Government, deferred another 10 Bills and amended 21 Bills. The Opposition in the Senate has added further to that record in this session. It can deny it as it may, but the facts cannot be disproved. In the 13 days of this session 36 divisions took place in the Senate and the Government won one of those divisions. The people of Australia can work out the mathematics of that situation for themselves. Let us pause for a moment to have a look at the composition of the elderly majority in the Senate. In that majority who were elected 3 and 5 years ago - let us examine those in particular who were elected 5 years ago - are a number of senators whose term of office expires in a matter of a few weeks. They are due to retire. These senators are participating in a travesty of parliamentary democracy to thwart the wishes of the Australian people, to turn the country into turmoil, to create an unnecessary double dissolution if they have the courage to go on with it. Their actions will be recorded in the annals of parliamentary history as a prostitution of the Westminster parliamentary system of democracy. It is only a few days ago that the Opposition in the Senate deferred consideration of the Trade Practices Bill. The subject . of trade practices is one of the most important areas where legislative reform is needed to prohibit discriminatory pricing rings, undesirable trading agreements, undesirable business methods, to break down cartels and monopolies and, most of all, to assist in bringing down prices. But no, the Opposition wants the doors left open to the monopolies and to the multi-national corporations, to overseas boards of directors and to their supporters in big business to continue their raids on the public purse of Australia. What hypocrisy it is for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) to enter this chamber and criticise the performance of this Government. He spoke about the incidence of inflation and the difficulties that inflation brought to bear on people, particularly those on fixed inomes. He spoke also about the incidence of personal income tax. The Leader of the Opposition who attempts to present himself as the alternative Prime Minister - and who makes a very poor job of it - is responsible, more than any other honourable member in this Parliament, for the rate of inflation that has developed in Australia since 1972. I am told that recently the Liberal Party Executive of Australia has made a decision that the Leader of the Opposition is not to appear on television by himself. I am not referring to Mutt and Jeff but I understand that he has to appear with the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), but analogies have been drawn to this grouping. It is well known-
– Steptoe and Son.
– I did not say Steptoe and Son; I am sorry. It is well known that the ground work for the 1973 increases in inflation was laid in 1972 when the then Government, of which the Leader of the Opposition was the Treasurer, the minister responsible for financial directives, refused to act. He was a lame-duck Treasurer. He refused to implement the measures that were needed. He sat back and refused to do anything about the huge inflow of foreign capital which resulted in difficult problems of liquidity in 1973. Why did he not act? All honourable members will remember the period when the nation’s financial leaders waited breathlessly day after day, asking: ‘Will the Australian currency be revalued, or will it not? Maybe it will; maybe it will not’. For 3 days they waited but once again the Country Party triumphed and the exchange rate remained unchanged.
The Opposition now says that it has found positive policies for the control of inflation. But the Leader of the Opposition, when Treasurer, could not and would not act as a responsible Treasurer should have acted. He was paralysed into a posture of inaction by the Country Party. Now he talks about the Opposition’s policies to control inflation. I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition, more than anyone else, by his derelection of duty as Treasurer during 1971-1972, is responsible for the rate of inflation that exists in Australia today. Do not let us forget the period of standstill, lacklustre, meandering administration of the previous Government, of which he was the Treasurer.
Inflation is a world-wide problem and a complex problem that has to be dealt with on many fronts. To suggest that there are simple solutions to inflation, such as cuts in public expenditure, reducing taxes, or reducing the size of the Public Service is patently dishonest and irresponsible. There are a number of sources of our present inflation but, as I said earlier, the base was laid by the previous Government and by the previous Treasurer, now the Leader of the Opposition in 1971-72. If at the time when he was Treasurer the Leader of the Opposition had acted to appreciate the Australian dollar and if he had acted to control capital inflow in 1972, the inflation rate in Australia would be much less.
The world boom in commodity prices outside this nation has been a major contributing factor to our rate of inflation. Largely as a consquence of the boom conditions in world markets for meat and other commodities, food prices rose by 21 per cent in 1973 and were responsible for 47 per cent of the consumer price index increase. What happened when this Government moved to try to control meat prices? I do not have to remind honourable members of the outcry that arose from the Opposition benches.
This Government inherited a legacy of inbuilt inflation from its predecessors. When the present Government came into office the Australian dollar was clearly undervalued. Within weeks of assuming office the Australian dollar was revalued by 7 per cent and a variable deposit requirement scheme in respect of overseas borrowings was introduced. Further measures to revalue the exchange rate and to tighten controls on capital inflow were taken in February 1973 and again in September 1973. No government can expect to come to grips with inflation when the money supply is increasing by 26 per cent per annum, as it was in 1972-73. Tariffs were reduced by the Government by 25 per cent in July 1973. In January 1974 further tariff reductions were made. The aims of these reductions were to lower import prices and to restrain the domestic price increases through increased competition and to help to meet demand pressures through an increased flow of imports.
Unfortunately, the benefits of the reduced tariffs have not been passed on to the Australian consumer in all cases. Yet, when the price control referendum which, if it had been carried, would have given this Government the power to ensure that all benefits were passed on to the Australian consumer, was put to the people, the Opposition strenuously opposed it as it has opposed every measure the Government has introduced to combat inflation. It opposed to a man what would have been a most valuable anti-inflationary weapon. It opposed the referendum proposal to protect the profits of big business, whose interests it represents in this place. Let there be no mistake about that. The Opposition is not very particular about whether big business is Australian big business. It seems to have a preference for overseas big business. But the Opposition protects the interest of big business so long as it has money. The Opposition certainly does not represent the best interests of Australian consumers. Every step this Government has taken to combat inflation has been vigorously opposed by the Opposition because inflation benefits the overseas corporations, big business and the wealthy who sent them here. The Opposition opposed the appointment oi the Joint Committee on Prices. It opposed the establishmnt of the Prices Justification Tribunal, which is functioning successfully. But the Opposition supports and protects the interests of the multi-national corporation. Inflation around the world is a difficult problem and available figures for most countries have not yet registered the impact of the higher oil prices resulting from the energy crisis. Last year’s prices throughout the industrialised world were heightened by exceptionally rapid growth. The combined gross national product of the non-communist industrial countries increased by nearly 7 per cent, faster than at any time since World War II, causing shortages and domestic/ overheating. Inflation has accelerated sharply almost everywhere since the beginning of the 1970s. Thirteen of the 24 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are suffering inflation at double figure levels. Japan is heading the list with a predicted rate of inflation of 16.5 per cent. Inflation in Germany is conservatively estimated to increase by 8.5 per cent. The antiinflation measures taken by the Government in the face of extremely bitter opposition from those on the other side of the House are starting to have effect. But we make this promise to the people of Australia; at no time and under no circumstances will this Government use the tool of creating an unemployment pool to try to combat inflation. This is the tool - the only tool - that the Opposition proposes to use ii: it ever returns to Government.
-Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Yesterday, 7 April 1974, Federal Cabinet met here in Canberra and it had an agenda of some 30 items. At 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon Cabinet had not even discussed the first item on the agenda. Those of us who read this morning’s newspapers were surprised to learn that what Cabinet had done yesterday was to make a last ditch stand to try to buy the voters of Australia. It handed out millions of dollars in one day. I refer specifically to the report that the Government will allocate $3. 7m for an airport terminal in Brisbane. All members of the parliamentary staff, all members of Parliament and all members of Hansard have grown weary at my constant pleas in this House for something to be done for the Brisbane Airport.
Honourable members - Hear, hear!
– I know that hear hear’ indicates agreement that something should have been done. During September last year I spoke on 6 occasions-
– Very well.
– The honourable member for McPherson says that I spoke very well. It brought results. On 6 occasions I spoke in an endeavour to try to focus attention on the way in which the people of Brisbane were being treated to a shabby deal in relation to the Brisbane Airport. The present Government, in a last ditch stand to try to save the seat of Lilley, is to allocate $3. 7m for the airport terminal in Brisbane. If we go back to the Press releases of the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) over the last 15 months or so and add together all the amounts of money which it has been stated are ‘being allocated for the Brisbane Airport, we find that they total more than $70m or $80m. Every time that a frightening situation arises the Labor Government comes out and says that so many million dollars will be allocated for the Brisbane Airport. I do not blame the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) or the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) for this. We all remember those terrible occasions last September when I used to speak about this matter and each of those honourable members used to attack me week in and week out. But the plain truth is that I had found a soft spot in the Australian Labor Party, because soon after I made my barrage of speeches a promise of money for the Brisbane Airport was made.
The honourable member for Lilley who has just entered the chamber has a smile on his face from ear to ear because today the Brisbane ‘Courier Mail’ carried a story about the allocation of $3. 7m for the Brisbane Airport. What a shabby, shoddy deal the people of Brisbane are receiving, because if one refers to the Coombs report which was presented in the middle of last year one sees that this Labor Government appointed committee, under item 41 headed ‘Civil Aviation - Brisbane Airport’ on page 149, stated that $130m had been allocated for the Brisbane Airport. The report shows that for 1973-74 - that is the current financial year - the Liberal Government had allocated Sim for the Brisbane Airport. This Labor Government appointed committee states that in 1974-75 the Liberal Government was to spend Si 3m on the Brisbane Airport, in 1975-76 it was to spend $18m on the Brisbane Airport and, under the heading of ‘later’, it was to spend SI 30m on the Brisbane Airport.
Now the people of Brisbane and of Queensland are expected to be bought off by the allocation of a lousy $3.7m for the Brisbane Airport. The plain truth is that during the recent floods, when the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) left Australia, Queensland was submerged. Eventually he returned to Australia but he was prepared to spend only 35 minutes at the Brisbane Airport. That shows just how bad the situation is. We can refer to further Press releases by the Minister for Transport. The ‘Australian’ of 4 May 1973 carried a story headed *$6.5m To Pay For New Airport Land’. I know that if we go through past Press releases we will find millions of dollars allocated here and there. My friend the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) and I have often sat down and said What are they doing?’ As learned as he may be and experienced as I may be, we still cannot figure out exactly what is going on. Let us recall the remarks of the Minister for Transport of 4 May last year. He said that there would be $6.5m to buy land for the new Brisbane Airport. He said Cabinet had agreed to the amount that week. Now here comes the crunch. He went on to say:
Sufficient money would now be available to buy all of the northern side of Eagle Farm airport.
Mr Jones said that although further development of the airport was rejected by Cabinet . . .
Further development was rejected by Cabinet’ means that although the Labor-appointed Coombs task force ‘had said that this money was being allocated, this Labor Government completely rejected the submissions that the amount should be available when needed. We could go on and on about the Brisbane airport.
I see this allocation for the new terminal as a last ditch stand. General Custer had nothing on Charlies Jones’s last stand and his efforts to save the honourable member for Lilley. The Government must think that the people of Brisbane can be easily bought if it thinks that this most cynical approach to a real problem will be dismissed because of the allocation of this money. I did not even tell the Minister for Transport that I was to speak on this subject because we have had the horrible situation of the Minister walking out of the Parliament when I have raised it on other occasions. He has never answered my speeches and ‘has forced me into the regrettable situation where night after night I have had to come in here and plead for him to come and listen to the report of the plight of the people of Brisbane.
In the time remaining I want to point out that more than 50,000 people in the city of Brisbane are affected by the Labor Government’s refusal to continue with the plans which the previous Government implemented. The Minister for Transport thinks that this new terminal for international tourists or travellers is the answer to Brisbane’s problems. I know that there have been many articles in the Press by Mr Jack Egerton who pointed out that the present terminal is falling down, that it is rotten, that there are white ants in it and that there could be a disastrous accident in which some 700 people could die. The Government is reacting, rightly, to an immediate need. There are people in the electorate of the honourable member for Lilley who have been forgotten. I refer to people in Hamilton and Ascot; to people in other areas such as Doomben and Eagle Farm; to people in my electorate in Bulimba, Balmoral, Hawthorn, Norman Park; and to people in Newstead and Teneriffe. They all are being affected by aircraft noise. This Government is not considering the quality of life.
It is all right for Labor members to jump up after me and say that the previous Government did not do much about it. The fact is that we were in the midst of doing something about it. Government supporters may laugh if they want to. This is stated on page 149 of the Coombs report. The laugh will be taken off their faces at the next election. That is for sure my friends. It will be taken right off. The point is that the quality of life is not being considered. The Labor Party is not promising to redirect those aircraft which in recent years have become noisier and larger and which have intruded more and more into the homes of the 50,000 people in the suburbs I have mentioned. ‘I am quite sure that I can say on behalf of the Opposition that when it is re-elected after the next election on 18 May it will implement immediately the Coombs report, which confirms that the Liberals would spend $13m immediately, $18m the year after, and SI 30 thereafter. We should not be promised a lousy $3 .7m, which is nothing but a small prawn on a hook. But the people of Brisbane must be careful because if they swallow the prawn they are going to get hooked.
– I will not deal with the contents of the swan song made by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). I will speak for only a few minutes so as to give the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) an opportunity to reply to the honourable member, though 1 am pleased that apparently the representations that have been made by Mr Jack Egerton and the honourable member for Lilley have resulted in some benefits for the people of Brisbane. In passing I would like to refer to the speech made earlier by the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who gave us. one of the typical attempts at standover tactics for which he is so well known. The honourable member tried to spill some crododile tears about Mr Holt, the late Prime Minister. As a man who is undoubtedly best known for his great loyalty to Mr Gorton, it was interesting to hear this from the honourable member for Wannon. But no doubt he has his own troubles. I note from a statement made by the Leader of the Country Party in Victoria that the Country Party in that Senate expects to win the seat of Wannon, and good luck to it. I do not usually support the Country Party but if there is one Country Party member who deserves to get into this House it will be the new member” for Wannon, whoever he may be.
– You do not like him?
– No, I do not like the honourable member for Wannon. I think that he typifies the sort of storm trooper mentality of which I disapprove.
– Do you think he is arrogant?
– He is extremely arrogant. But he is not only arrogant with us. The honourable member for Wannon came to my electorate last Friday. He brought with him his own audience, which is important, and then gave a handout to the Press and to the media in which he described himself as the Liberal Party spokesman on defence and foreign policy, which no doubt be would like to be. But of course the Party does not trust him as its spokesman on foreign affairs and defence because of his quite extremist views; so they shut him up. But that does not stop him from giving these sorts of handouts to the Press.
One of the main issues which has been discussed in political circles at the present time is the Senate’s possible decision to refuse Supply or to reject some money Bills. I would like to quote one gentleman who is always revered and whose word is represented as holy writ by members of the Liberal Party and I think even by members of the Australian Country Party. I refer to one Sir Robert Gordon Menzies who in 1968 wrote an article in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ then owned by another great master of the Liberal Party, Sir Frank Packer. The article was headed:
Senate command of government by a party in a minority in the House of Representatives would be absurd, says Sir Robert Menzies.
In the article Sir Robert Menzies discussed the type of Constitution we have and the necessary implications of it. He said:
Under the system Ministers sit in and are responsible to Parliament; the Cabinet may be displaced by a vote of the House of Representatives (not -
The ‘not’ is italicised - the Senate) and therefore holds office at the will of the House of Representatives.
This is what was written by Sir Robert Menzies when he was able to write his own speeches, I take it, or his own articles. He went on to say:
This means that if a government with a clear majority in the House of Representatives presented its Budget to Parliament, and then brought into the House of Representatives financial measures to give effect to that Budget, and had them passed by the House and sent up to the Senate, a hostile Senate could legally reject them.
He went on to say:
This, of course, would create an impossible situation, and would make popular government unworkable.
He then added:
It would be a falsification of democracy if, on any matter of government policy approved by the House of Representatives. … the Senate representing the States and not the people, could reverse the decision.
– Who said this?
– This is Menzies.
– Was he a Liberal?
– He was a saint. Sir Robert Menzies then went on to say:
If these propositions are right -
I am sure he ‘has changed his mind now.
Whoever writes his articles for him now would take a different line - as I am sure they are - then the practical limits of Senate authority become clear. a Senate opposition whose party had just been completely defeated at a general election, would be in command of the government of the nation.
This would be absurd, as a denial of popular democracy.
I challenge members of the Opposition to show us in what way their present proposition in the Senate differs from the sort of proposition that was being attacked by their patron saint.
I was going to deal with some of the brilliant contents of the Liberal Party’s new platform which has just been released. I shall deal with one point only, because, as I have said, I want to give the honourable member for Lilley time in which to speak. I refer to item No. 12 which deals with the role of women. The platform states:
The Liberal Party is firmly committed to the view that women are equal members of society.
– I direct my remarks this evening in like vein to that of the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). I refer to the remarkable handouts which the Labor Cabinet announced in this morning’s newspapers. I suppose that following the usual performance we Will have to wait with baited breath until after the Caucus meeting tomorrow to find out whether the Cabinet announcements are to be Government policy. Judging from the items which J have read in the newspapers, I would imagine that Caucus will be only too happy to agree to the Cabinet’s decision. The money was splashed out yesterday in Canberra with gay abandon. The Government would be more sincere if before the election on 18 May it paid the amounts of money that it has promised. It is very nice to be able to promise people lots of money. In fact this Government is a past master at promising people lots of money. When it comes time to deliver the money, of course, it is a different story. It is interesting to note that in yesterday’s bonanza the airport in Brisbane was allocated another $3.7m. The report in the ‘Courier-Mail’ of today’s date, from which I am reading, states that the airport is in the electorate of Lilley, which was won narrowly by Mr F. Doyle, Labor, in the 1972 elections.
– By how many votes?
– By 35 votes. I know more than 35 people in Lilley who have changed their minds since 1972. I can well understand the nervousness of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Doyle) with the impending double dissolution. He is also nervous because 1 believe most of his how-to-vote signs already have been papered over the signs of the 3-man Senate team from Queensland. I have no doubt he spent a deal of his time over the last couple of week-ends nailing signs on telegraph poles. Unfortunately now he will find that all his work has been to no avail because the signs will have to come down. To try to retrieve his own position in Lilley he will have to paper up a few more signs showing an enlarged Senate ticket. Unfortunately he has gone to much time and trouble to absolutely no avail. I feel sorry that his Easter week-end will be interrupted by his having to paper up new signs. However his performance on the Brisbane Airport issue is such that one might well say that the best he could do would be to put up a few signs, because he certainly has not created much of a record when it comes to the Brisbane Airport. The Brisbane Airport is a matter which was raised last year by the honourable member for Griffith, and it was not a subject to which the honourable member for Lilley had addressed himself until it was raised by my colleague, the honourable member for Griffith.
It is interesting that when the Coombs Task Force reviewed the commitment of the previous Liberal-Country Party Government to upgrade the Brisbane Airport it suggested in its report, which was tabled with the Budget Papers to which the honourable member for Griffith referred, that the program to upgrade the airport ought to be postponed. That in fact was the Government’s decision. A curious announcement was made by the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) that the $6.5m was to be made available for the acquisition of land and also additional land in the vicinity of Caboolture was to be secured for the second airport in Brisbane.
– We have never heard of that one again.
– We certainly have not. I asked the Minister a question on notice in relation to the new proposal for Caboolture because of an interest that I have in that area and the interest that my constituents have because they would possibly be in the flight path of any new airport situated in the Caboolture area. Apart from that announcement nothing more was heard about the Caboolture airport. No money was allocated for it in the Budget. The Minister has said not a word of it since that time despite the fact that I have asked him questions about it. He was extremely vague. No land had been picked and no money had been allocated. Why on earth the Minister mentioned that the airport was to be at Caboolture defies imagination.
– It can be put in my area.
– My friend from McPherson would like one at Beenleigh. That might be a reasonable alternative. The Minister for Transport could well investigate that proposal instead of trying to prop, up a hopeless case for an airport in the electorate of Lilley. Lilley is an irretrievably lost position as far as the Labor Government is concerned.
– You only scrambled in yourself.
– I did a lot better than the honourable member for Lilley. I can assure the honourable member for Chifley that after the elections on 18 May I shall be back here with an increased majority. I am quite confident that I will not be seeing the honourable member for Lilley coming down on the plane on a Monday or Tuesday morning. The duplicity of the Government in this area is incredible. After it was said that the building of the second Brisbane airport was to be postponed, the matter was agitated here in Parliament by the honourable member for Griffith. An altercation occurred between the Minister for Transport and Mr Egerton of the Board of Qantas. Mr Egerton said that if the Minister was not going to upgrade the international terminal in Brisbane Qantas would have to build a new terminal because the present facilities are a disgrace.
This argument seesawed backwards and forwards until at some stage the Minister announced that new international facilities would be built in Brisbane at a cost of $300,000. Nobody asked: ‘Where is the money corning from?’ It was not allocated in the Budget. It is just a figure which is plucked out of the air. The figure of $3.7m which was plucked out of the air by Cabinet yesterday is even more fantastic. According to the Coombs report there are not even preliminary estimates of the cost of this project. The Coombs report says that it will be necessary, once the approval in principle is given, for a preliminary cost estimate to be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. After that has been done the final drawings and costs will be investigated by the Committee.
Out of the blue yesterday, because the Government is,.; threatened with a situation where the honourable member for Lilley is in difficulty, the Government plucked out $3.7m for a terminal which is gloriously described as being temporary. I suggest that $3.7m is a considerable amount of money to spend on a temporary airport.
– That is more than your Party spent on any of them up there, temporary or permanent.
– The Coombs report has indicated the timetable which the previous Government laid down for the development of the airport. The previous Government was committed to a continuing program to spend somewhat more than $200m on the Brisbane airport. The Labor Government has no commitment at all except to pluck a few million dollars out of the hat every time an election is around the corner. The Labor Government is doing this not only in Brisbane but also is doing it elsewhere. Money has been allocated in the marginal seat of Denison to help out. The Government will give a bit of help to the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), who is in a bit of trouble as a result of the Labor Government’s activities in in the last 16 months. So it is proposing to give a ‘without strings attached’ grant as it is referred to in the newspapers, for further irrigation works in the Bundaberg district. That is a nice boost for the honourable member as well. There is also a commitment on nitrogenous fertiliser, which it is thought will help out in the electorate of Dawson and perhaps also in Leichhardt. These are all commitments-
– Nothing will help you in Petrie.
– One does not have to buy the voters in Petrie. They know their minds. I suggest that this last ditch stand of trying to buy votes will not succeed. The Government ought to have more sense really, because it has a few tacticians on its side and I thought that they would have learnt a lesson at the by-election in Parramatta. They tried very hard to bribe the electors of Parramatta to swing across to the Labor Party. That turned out to be a great flop because the people would not take it. I suggest that the people of Queensland and other places in Australia will not be bought off with promises of massive expenditures of money. They know that this Government is so tottery and rotten-
-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– My great regret tonight is that this part of the proceedings of the Parliament is not being broadcast. I was somewhat astounded to hear 2 representatives from Queensland knocking a forward and progressive decision made by the Australian Government to provide $3.7m for expenditure on the Brisbane Airport. After 23 years of Liberal rule, during which time the Minister for Civil Aviation was a Queenslander and so much neglect was apparent in Brisbane, it is astounding to hear these people suddenly take an interest in the welfare of Brisbane and its people. It is no more than so much humbug that has been put forward here this evening in an endeavour to relieve some of the tension which honourable members opposite, particularly the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron), are feeling. I have no doubt that, since he read the Courier Mail’ this morning and discovered that the dynamic Lord Mayor of Brisbane may be opposing him in Griffith, he has taken a packet of Aspros and a couple of bottles of Veganin in an endeavour to steady his nerves.
I do not have much time, but I want to say that I was concerned when listening to the honourable member for Petrie (Mr Cooke) because whenever I hear Liberals talk about Labor Party members and their election signs I recollect vividly that the Labor candidate for Lilley lost a great number of his signs in 1966. Certain events that followed indicated that there could have been some Liberal interest in the Labor Party signs. I certainly hope that that does not happen to the signs in Lilley. The honourable member for Griffith has been in this House for 7 years and, on his own admission, he had not made one speech in respect of the Brisbane Airport until the Labor Government was elected in 1972. It took him almost 12 months after the Labor Government was elected to discover suddenly that we had an airport in Brisbane. He endeavoured to hop on to the bandwagon when he knew that the Labor Government finally was doing something for Brisbane after the years of neglect under a Liberal Party government. He should hang his head in shame because he did not open his mouth. I again offer him the challenge I offered last year, to come into my electorate, to face the people of my electorate and to tell them what he believes I have not done on their behalf.
The honourable member for Petrie has the temerity to talk about how I might fare in my electorate. I am not concerned, because I have served the people I represent. I would compare my record of attendance in this House since I was elected with that of the honourable member for Petrie. I noticed that during the last session he was absent from the House on many occasions. When people want to make comparisons between the representation by the various elected representatives, I will stand before the people of Lilley and tell them that I have been present at every session. I will go into the honourable member’s electorate, if I need to, and tell them that there must have been something more important to him that took him away from the House and away from his responsibilities of representing the people of Petrie, because he was not here on every occasion during the last session.
-Order! It being 1 1 o’clock, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 1 1 a.m. or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
Mouse adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Question No. 1436 of 29 November 1973 was understood to refer to those writers who were still holders of Commonwealth Literary Fund fellowships in July 1973, when the Literature Board processed fresh applications. Mr Buzo’s Commonwealth Literary Fund half-fellowship had expired at the end of June, 1973. At its July meeting, the Literature Board recommended that he be offered additional support for the rest of 1973 and a one-year fellowship for 1974.
(a) and (b) Laurence Thomas: three-year fellowship valued at $9,000 per year jointly sponsored by the Literature and Visual Arts Boards. Robert Drewe: one-year fellowship valued at $9,000. Maxwell Brown: one-year fellowship valued at $6,000.
Robert Drewe: Hundreds of daily columns and articles in ‘The Australian’ of which he was Literary Editor.
Les Murray: ‘The Weatherboard Cathedral (Angus & Robertson); ‘Poems Against Economics’ (Angus & Robertson); ‘Ilex Tree’ (ANU Press).
Donald Stuart: “The Driven’ (Georgian House); Yaralie’ (Georgian House); ‘Yandy’ (Georgian House); ‘Ilbarana’ (Georgian House); ‘Morning Star, Evening Star’ (Georgian House).
Mrs Judith Margaret Brown, of Walkerville, South Australia ($1,000), author of “The Almonds of Walkerville’ and intending biographer of Sir Henry Ayers.
Mrs Alma Margaret de Groen, of Neutral Bay, New South Wales, who was awarded a one-year fellowship valued at $6,000. Mrs De Groen is one of the most highly regarded young playwrights in Australia. Her plays include: ‘The Sweatproof Boy’; The Joss Adams Show’; “The After-Life of Arthur Cravan’; and ‘Perfectly All Right’.
Mrs Nancy Clare Donkin, of Forest Hill, Victoria ($1,400), author of ‘House by the Water’, ‘Johnny Neptune’, ‘A Friend for Petros’ and ‘Margaret Catchpole’.
Mrs Gwen Ewens, of Forrest, Australian Capital Territory ($1,000), author of ‘Murray of Yarralumla’.
Mrs Cherry Grimm of Hornsby Heights, New South Wales ($1,000), author of several published short stories.
Mrs Penelope Harding (‘Zofla Kruk’), of Brighton Victoria ($2,000), author of ‘The Taste of Fear’.
Mrs Margaret Hazzard, of Parkville, Victoria ($500), author of ‘Forgotten Heritage’.
Mrs Joan Mas, of Normanhurst, New South Wales ($2,000), author of two published volumes of verse.
Mrs Wilda Moxham, of Beecroft, New South Wales ($500), author of’The Apprentice’ and ‘The Longshot’.
Mrs Penelope Rowe, of Bondi Junction, New South Wales (Young writer’s half-fellowship valued at $2,500), writer of a number of published articles.
Mrs Barbara Stellmach, of Mt Gravatt, Queensland ($1,500), author of six Australian plays, four of which have been collected in the volume ‘Four Australian Plays’.
Mrs Patricia Veitch, of South Blackburn, Victoria ($500), author of several published short stories.
Mrs Helen Wilson, of Manly, New South Wales, ($1,000), author of “The Golden Age’, ‘Where the Winds Feet Shine’, ‘If Golde Rust’, ‘Gateways to Gold’, Westward Gold’ and ‘A Show of Colours’.
Mrs Barbara Zageris, of Ivanhoe, Victoria ($2,000), author of a number of published poems.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has the Government decided to establish an Australian Plague Locust Commission?
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
No decision has yet been made but a proposal to establish an Australian Plague Locust Commission as recommended at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council is at present under consideration by the Australian Government.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The Prices Justification Tribunal has advised me as follows:
Between the period 1 August 1973 to 19 March 1974 the Tribunal received 2,390 price notifications.
Between the period 1 August 1973 to 19 March 1974 the Tribunal received 1,539 applications for exemption under section 18 (8) of the Act.
(a) Up to 19 March 1974 the Tribunal had finalised 2,058 price notifications as indicated in the table below. This table has been compiled to enable an overview of the Tribunal’s activities between 1 August 1973 and 19 March 1974.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 April 1974, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1974/19740408_reps_28_hor88/>.