29th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 2. 1 5 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr Speaker, I move:
That this House expresses its profound sorrow at the death on 9 September 1974 of Her Excellency Lady Kerr, wife of the Governor-General, and places on record its appreciation of her meritorious public service and conveys its deepest sympathy to the members of her family.
Lady Kerr, for all her eminence as wife of the Governor-General and for all the lustre she brought to the role of consort, was a woman of distinction in her own right- a woman of rare qualities and remarkable gifts. She worked for much of her life in community causes. She was an active social worker, hospital almoner and marriage counsellor. She was the devoted and capable mother of a talented family. She was the close companion of her husband throughout his splendid career. She will be missed, above all, for herself.
It is a cruel blow that she was taken from us so soon and that Australia has lost the services of a woman richly equipped to support her husband in the high and difficult office he has undertaken for Australia and her people. Honourable members will recall that she was among us here on only one occasion- on the day her husband was sworn to the highest office an Australian can hold in his own country. Our thoughts at this time go out to Sir John Kerr. I am confident that the memory and example of his wife, the qualities of her mind and heart, will sustain him in his time of sorrow and strengthen him in the years ahead.
Last Thursday you, Mr Speaker, and I were among those who attended a memorial service for Lady Kerr at St James Church, King Street, Sydney. Some of us had known and admired her for a third of a century. In that historic church at the head of Phillip Street, next to Greenway’s Supreme Court building, where 36 years before she was married and where in the years between she had been a communicant member, we were bidden to give thanks for her life of affection and generosity, of personal concern and community service, for her high ideals and steadfast courage. I know that all honourable members will share those sentiments.
– All Australians regret the tragedy that has befallen the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, and his family. Lady Kerr’s death was a quite crippling blow to him, coining so soon after he had accepted Australia’s highest office. He has reached the pinnacle of a distinguished public career and in such he should have had, we would have hoped, the support of Lady Kerr in the discharge of his duties. The fact that she will not be there with him brings an understanding on our part of the difficulties that he will have.
Lady Ken’s death was all the more tragic because Australia has lost a woman who had a fine personal quality and who gave dedicated community service over a long period. It is a loss that will be felt widely among many community organisations with which she worked, such as the Marriage Guidance Council of New South Wales. Lady Kerr was a trained social worker. She was committed to the need to provide counselling and support to married couples facing stress. She was an executive member of the Marriage Guidance Council. In addition, Lady Kerr was a volunteer counsellor with the Life Line organisation and served on its adoption committee.
Lady Kerr continued to give this service to the community despite personal hardships that afflicted her. Her courage in overcoming those hardships was the finest example any person could have given of an individual’s self determination to make a positive contribution, despite personal needs, to the service of the community and the nation. Her life exemplified a spirit of thought for others before herself. All Australians will recognise the difficulties Sir John, the Governor-General, must now inevitably face and the sorrow his loss must cause him. Australians will extend personal sympathy to him and his family. The task ahead of Sir John will not be easy but in facing it he can know that he has the full support and understanding of his fellow Australians. On behalf of all members of the Liberal Party I extend sympathy to Sir John and his family in the loss of a distinguished woman.
– I should like to associate the Australian Country Party with the expressions of condolence of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to Sir John Kerr, our Governor-General, and to express our sorrow at the sad loss of his wife. He was appointed as Governor-General during a period of her illness but she showed enormous courage in not weakening for one moment during his promotion to that very high office. She was a lady who devoted her life to helping other people. She had enormous ideals and was a great example to the nation. In particular, she was very concerned with the preservation and the strengthening of the family as the foundation of our society. The circumstances are particularly sad in that Sir John lost his wife so soon after assuming his important position. The office of GovernorGeneral is indeed a lonely one but is now made ever so much more lonely for Sir John in not having his partner. Our sympathy goes to Sir John with our understanding of the very sad position that he is in at the moment.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.
– I thank honourable members.
That the House records its sincere regret at the death on 3 1 August 1974 of the Right Honourable Norman Kirk, Prime Minister of New Zealand from December 1972, and expresses to the people of New Zealand profound regret and to his family tender sympathy in their bereavement.
Norman Kirk’s death was a deeply tragic loss for New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific region. New Zealand has lost a great leader. Australia has lost a firm friend. The Pacific and South East Asian region has lost a forceful and creative spokesman. The cause of democratic socialism throughout the world has lost one of its pillars of strength and sources of inspiration.
My own sense of loss is acute and personal. Both of us came to the leadership of our Parties after the elections of 1966 and to office as Prime Ministers within a week of each other in the elections in 1972. We shared a common ground of political experience in good times and bad and an identity of basic beliefs which gave a closeness and value to our personal relationship quite beyond the ordinary. He was a man I knew well, a man I admired, a man whose personal qualities of integrity, compassion and sturdy common sense earned him the confidence and affection of all who had the privilege of working with him.
In no country save his own has his death been felt more keenly than here in Australia. Under his Prime Ministership relations between New Zealand and Australia reached a degree of cooperation and understanding of unprecedented intimacy and trust. We co-operated particularly closely in our opposition to nuclear tests in the Pacific. His opposition to those tests was an example to the world and an inspiration to all who supported him. It made him the natural and respected spokesman of the emerging community of Pacific potions- a community whose needs and aspirations, he understood better than any other leader in the world.
A week ago at the memorial service in St Andrew’s Church’ in Canberra I quoted the words he used tb describe his approach to foreign policy soon after his Government was elected. They were: ‘
We believe in the individual human worth and dignity of every man, woman” ‘and child, regardless of race or colour . . . Every action a people takes in international affairs is an announcement of the kind of people they really are. We know -that in-.their daily lives New Zealanders are decent, humane. people. My aim will be to ensure that New Zealand’s actions abroad are in character.
We met on. 5 occasions during his term of office- in Wellington, in Christchurch, in Apia, in Ottawa and. in ‘Canberra. He last visited this country in Npovember to open the chancery of the New Zealand’ High Commission. On each occasion I sensed a deepening and strengthening of the relations between our countries. It meant much to us that Labor Governments in both countries had, signed the Australia-New Zealand Agreement- the A.N.Z.A.C Pact- in 1944. Norman Kirk worked tirelessly to uphold the spirit of that agreement.
From -the beginning of his Prime Ministership the co-operation between us was demonstrated in many; small but significant ways. One of the first decisions of his Government was to provide places for up to 100 Australian students to train in New Zealand as dental therapists. Again, he and his Government agreed readily in January last year’ to make available the services of Mr Justice Woodhouse as head of the Australian Government’s committee of inquiry into a national, compensation and rehabilitation scheme.. .There were frequent and cordial discussions between his ministers and mine.
His early background was one of personal hardship and deprivation. He left school at the age of twelve. He joined the New Zealand Labor Party at the age of twenty and entered Parliament in 1957. From then on his rise was spectacular and confident. He was elected VicePresident of the Labor Party in 1963 and went on to become the youngest elected leader of the party in its history. He won a record majority in his own seat of Sydenham in the elections in 1969. , In 1970 he was elected Chairman of the Asian Bureau of the Socialist International. In 1972 he became Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs at the age of 49. During all this time. he worked to revitalise and modernise the workings of his party.
He worked tirelessly to improve and develop New Zealand’s welfare state, already one of the most advanced and humane in the world and largely a memorial to his country’s first Labour Government. He was an ardent supporter of peace, an architect of Pacific economic and political co-operation, and a staunch opponent of racialism in any form. All of us who attended the funeral service for him in Wellington were impressed by the manifest grief of the Maori community whom he served and loved. The Maori people, and countless representatives of the South Pacific nations, were present in great numbers in the cathedral and in the streets outside. None of us who heard the. Maori lament at the culmination of the cathedral service will ever forget its haunting beauty and heartfelt intensity.
It is a tribute to the esteem and affection in which he was held by Australians that so many of this country’s leaders attended the funeral service. I was accompanied by the Minister for the Media and the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation and our wives, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief of the Air. Staff, the President of the Australian Labor Party, in our midst was Dame Annabelle Rankin, who has now come home after her term as High Commissionera term in which she had become a most effective spokesman for Australia, a well-loved figure among the New Zealand public .and a personal confidante of the late Prime Minister.
I have no doubt that Norman Kirk ‘s relentless capacity for work helped shorten his life. He died in the service of his people. He has left the country richer and prouder because of bis leadership. He was a man who believed deeply in the essential goodness of the ordinary man. He was a man whose own goodness and decency were reflected in the quality of his public life, in the greatness of his leadership and in the dedication he showed in all his words and deeds to the welfare of his country and its people.
– Norman Kirk, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand, recently died; hence we have this motion today. It is appropriate that we should move a motion in an understanding of the true depth of the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. I can think of no other 2 countries whose interests are so identified and whose people are so similar. In fact there are many New Zealanders walking about Australian cities and Australians walking about .New Zealand cities who would never be identified as coming from one or other of the countries but who would be identified as coming from either of the countries. There is no capacity to distinguish from any of their characteristics or their way of speaking. Because of that closeness the death of Norman Kirk naturally had an impact on Australians.
Norman Kirk, in a short period, had received a tremendous amount of notoriety for his achievements in New Zealand. He also, of course, became very closely identified with the South Pacific and with South East Asia. He was almost the same physical size as the largest of the South Pacific islanders. He had that strong build which I think made him able to communicate with the islanders as readily as they could with him. They recognised that he did not see a leadership role for New Zealand or for any other country in the South Pacific region; what he saw was a spirit of co-operation between all and that there was no single leader, whether it be a country or person- just a need for co-operation.
He carried that spirit into South East Asia. In South East Asia he was very well respected. He was seen as a leader of a country which wanted to make whatever friendly contribution could be made in co-operation and in no sense intended to intrude New Zealand or its interests into those of the countries of South East Asia with which he was dealing. The same was true, I think, of his relationships with Australia. He recognised them for their intrinsic worth and for their inviolability, and he wanted to make his contribution. He did make a contribution. I hope the contribution he made in all these fields will be well remembered and will never in any way be detracted from.
One particular matter in respect of which a great deal of publicity was given to the efforts of Norman Kirk related to nuclear testing in the Pacific by France. I think it is probably true to say that Norman Kirk was the first who brought this to international prominence, and certainly to prominence in New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific and South East Asia. In many ways he led the protest which was registered with France. I know he would be disappointed, were he still alive, to realise that there were nuclear tests so soon after his death. Fortunately it appears as though that program has now come to an end, and what a relief for the people in this region that it will end. Let us hope that it will never happen again. If it does not happen again, as it ought not to, a very great deal of credit for that must go to the late Norman Kirk.
I met him but a few times. I found him easy to talk to. I found that he was interested not in making political points but in understanding what was in my mind about certain issues. He would express bis view to me quite clearly without any idea of scoring any political points. He was, I think, in every sense of the word, a fine man. He had a fine career. People at my age, or perhaps even older, realise just what a young age it is for a man to die.
It was a personal tragedy for him and a tragedy to the people of New Zealand that not only did he die at a young age but also that he died so soon after coming to office. He was in the full flight of office, so to speak. For his Party leaders who were left, I regret that this should have happened. But, as these things must happen, another man has been elected to lead the Labour Party in New Zealand. Government must go on. I have met but once Mr Rowling, the successor to Mr Kirk. I wish him and his Party good fortune under his leadership.
I wish to express the sympathy of the Liberal Party to the family of Mr Kirk in the loss of their kinsman who had reached such stature, of whom they must have been proud and with whom they hoped for a long association in the years to come.
- Mr Speaker, Australians feel a very close kinship with the New Zealand people. On this occasion we too feel the effect of the tragic loss of New Zealand’s relatively new Prime Minister who had made a very great impact in his own country and, indeed, in Australia. He was a man who won this respect by bis sincerity and through the confidence that he was able to engender in people. I had the opportunity to meet him briefly on a number of occasions and I must say that I was impressed by the stature of the man. He was quiet. He was dignified. But he had an enormous grasp of a wide range of subjects. Whilst his educational opportunities might have been rather limited, he did have an intellectual capacity that could match that of the best of educated people.
I think it is very sad when a nation is robbed of a leader particularly if that leader is in the prime of his life and at the point of his political career when he can do so much. Australia and New Zealand are two countries which do need to enjoy close relations and to understand each other. The Right Honourable Norman Kirk did add to this understanding and did help to strengthen the bond and relationship between New Zealand and Australia which I am sure will continue to grow under the new administration. The sympathy of the Country Party is extended to the New Zealand nation and to the Kirk family.
-Just a year ago I visited New Zealand as a guest of its Government to take part in . the seminar on AustralianNew Zealand relations which was held at the university in Wellington. Not only did I meet Mr Kirk on that occasion at that seminar but I also had the privilege of spending an hour with him on a later occasion in his office. My meeting with the late Prime Minister of New Zealand was an inspiring and stimulating occasion for me. Most vivid in my memory is his outline of his vision for his country. As. has already been said by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Kirk had a special affection for the people of the Pacific Islands. He also had a special feeling for young people, for less privileged people and for the real quality of life of people, excluding things material. I repeat: It was a privilege.for me to meet him. I am glad to have this opportunity to associate myself with this motion of condolence.
-I wish to speak briefly on this motion. In 1971 my wife and I went to New Zealand. Typical of the late Norman Kirk,-the New Zealand Prime Minister took a Sunday off to entertain us. Even though I was purely a backbencher, he showed us around his home city of Christchurch. I have never been more impressed in my life by an individual. He was a man who was highly cultured and yet, as the Prime Minister has mentioned, he had very little formal education, leaving school at the age of twelve, By occupation he was a train driver like the late Ben Chifley. Yet, he rose to the highest position in government to which his country could elect any of its citizens.
He was a man, as the Prime Minister also mentioned, who had great concern for people of all races, irrespective of colour, right throughout Asia. His wife- I mention this fact because our condolences go to Mrs Kirk- is a very lovely woman, who was completely dedicated to the work of her husband. She is a person of great humility. I am quite sure she was of very great assistance indeed to her husband in his work. I should like to express very sincere sympathy to her, to the nation of New Zealand, which has lost a very great leader, and, for that matter, to the whole of Asia, for this man understood the great problems of the region and was working towards overcoming, and was doing a great deal to overcome, those problems.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.
– I thank honourable members.
DEATH OF MR ft.’ A/ LESLIE
– I inform,’ the. House of the death on 2 September 197,4; of Mr Hugh Alan Leslie, who was a member of this House for the Division of Moore from 1949 to’ 1958 and from 1961 to 1963. On behalf of the House a message of sympathy will be forwarded, to .the relatives of the deceased. As a mark of respect, to the memory of the late honourable,’ gentleman, I ask honourable members to rise in their places. (Honourable members having risen in thenplaces.) ‘’
– I than* ‘honourable members.
– I inform the. -House of the death on 12 September 1 974’. of Mr Frank Clifton Green, C.B.E., M.C., who was Clerk of the House of Representatives from JL.937 to 1955. On behalf of the House a message, of sympathy was forwarded to Mrs Green.
Mr WHITLAM(WerriwaPrime Minister) Mr Speaker, there are very few of us still in the House who served in it at the time Mr Green was Clerk. He became Clerk at a young age and served for what may have been a ‘record term. I had had the good fortune to have ar< family association with him from 1928. He was one of the most vital, colourful people in Canberra in those early days. I am enduringly in his debt.-‘ I went to school with his son; the first words I spoke in this House related to that son’s untimely death. I have maintained contact with Mr and Mrs Green throughout the years of their retirement in Tasmania. He was acknowledged in Tasmania as one of that State’s outstanding citizens in this generation, one of its most effective interpreters of its past. In his service as Clerk, when he had to be anonymous, and in his long, years of retirement, when he was free to write, he was a great protagonist of the privileges of the Parliament and of the duties of parliamentarians, a very great servant of the Parliament and through it of the Australian people. All of us who were members of the House in his time will always remember him.
-My association with the late Mr Frank Green does not gb-back for quite so long as does the Prime Minister’s but it extends back to the mid- 1 930s when Mr .Green introduced me, as a very small boy, to the quiet pleasures, the frustrations and the skills of fly fishing in the Molonglo River. I shall always remember him for his many personal kindnesses to me. I express my sorrow and sympathy to his wife and relatives.
-I should like to pay a very short tribute to the late Frank Green. He was a charming and scholarly man and a very distinguished servant of this Parliament, as the Prime Minister has quite rightly pointed out. He was also an outstanding citizen of Tasmania. In addition to all these great qualities he possessed a puckish sense of humour which we all appreciated enormously. I personally am very grateful to him for the many hours of conversation I had with him. His advice to me when I was first elected to this Parliament in 1969 was quite invaluable. He was very closely associated with the village where I now live- Richmond. He understood and, indeed, wrote about its great history and the tremendously important part it played in the development of Tasmania. He lived a very full and active life. He contributed greatly, in my view, to the scholarship of men. On behalf of my wife and myself I extend sincere sympathy to his wonderful widow, Florence.
– I should like to pay a brief tribute to Frank Green. When I was first elected to this Parliament in 1945 he was a very kind and valued adviser to me, as a new member, about how to settle into the Parliament. I agree with the honourable member who spoke of his sense of humour. I remember that sometimes he used to depart from this place saying that he was going to look up His Holiness ‘s telephone number, which meant Vat 69, or was going to pay his respects to the British Royal Family, which meant King George IV. He always had those pleasant touches in his conversations with you. His wit in giving advice on political affairs was one of the ways in which it was made palatable. I very greatly valued his professional work as a Clerk of this House. He was a very distinguished Clerk. He will be remembered for his tremendous knowledge of the past of this House and for his kindness to all people.
-As a mark of respect to the memory of the late gentleman I invite honourable members to stand in their places. (Honourable members stood in their places)
– I thank the House.
– When the House rose on 23 August, the last day on which the House sat, and while I was still in the chair the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), by his continuous shouting, prevented me from formally announcing in the usual manner that the House stood adjourned until the time fixed for its next meeting. The honourable member refused to accede to my request when I called for order. I ask him to apologise for his disorderly conduct and for his disrespect to the Chair.
-Mr Speaker, I thank the House for its indulgence. I regret, as all honourable members must regret, any disorder in this House, or any commotion. Sir, the circumstances were these: The Leader of the House (Mr Daly) had moved-
– Order! The facts of what happened are quite clearly elucidated in the Hansard report of 23 August, if anybody would like to read them. I am asking for an apology.
– There is no record of shouting in Hansard.
– Order! There is. I have the Hansard in front of me. Anybody who was in the chamber at the time would realise that when the House is being adjourned the Speaker has to announce the next day of sitting and the hour of sitting. By his persistent shouting the honourable gentleman prevented me from doing that, despite the fact that on 3 occasions I asked him to resume his seat. I was forced to leave the chair without making that announcement. Without debating the matter any further, I ask the honourable gentleman to apologise to the Chair.
- Mr Speaker, your rulings were wrong, and I am entitled to -
– Order! I ask the honourable gentleman for the final time to apologise. If he does not I will name him.
-Sir I am -
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, With great respect, Sir, I have read page 1 168 of Hansard.
– He has finally read it.
– If the honourable member would not mind allowing me to continue I would thank him very much. I have read the Hansard record and there is no mention of shouting, nor do you draw attention to the pandemonium or say that the honourable member ought to stop shouting. The point I make is that there is no way in the world that anybody reading the Hansard record could assume that the position you put is accurate. Therefore I think the honourable member for Mackellar ought to be given some chance to explain.
– I rise to speak on the point of order. When on 23 August the honourable member for Mackellar rose to his feet after you had said: ‘The question is that the House do now adjourn’ and before that question was put, you were still in command of the House, Mr Speaker, and any disorderly conduct on the part of the honourable member for Mackellar should have been dealt with at that time. The House had not at that point of time adjourned. The House was still in session. The powers of the Speaker were still there to be used. The fact that you failed to use them does not justify your action on this occasion.
– I do not think the honourable gentleman was in the House at the time. Any honourable member who was in the House would know that the honourable member for Mackellar showed a disrespect for the Chair. He even denied me the opportunity of announcing the next day of sitting or the hour at which the House would meet. He was shouting at the top of his voice. I asked him on several occasions- on 3 occasions to be exact- to resume his seat and he would not do so. I call upon him for the final time to apologise. If he does apologise to the Chair the matter will finish there.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. You have made certain accusations against me. I am entitled in all fairness to reply to them, and I will do so very briefly. I say that your conduct in the chair was wrong. You acted in violation of Standing Orders, and I am prepared to prove it
– I name the honourable member for Mackellar.
– As you have given the honourable member for Mackellar many opportunities to apologise, Mr Speaker, it is not much good asking him to do it now. So I formally move:
That the honourable member for Mackellar be suspended from the service of the House.
That the honourable member for Mackellar 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 is therefore suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours.
- Mr Speaker, I have sufficient respect for the Standing Orders to leave, even though other people do not have respect for the Standing Orders. (The honourable member for Mackellar thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– Are there any petitions?
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is based on the fact that in Hansard of 23 August you are reported as stating clearly and specifically:
Order! I have not put the question. The question is that the House do now adjourn. Those of that opinion say ‘aye’, to the contrary ‘no’.I think the ayes have it.
From that I conclude that the adjournment was taken on the voices. It is from that point on that Hansard records that a dispute took place between yourself and the honourable member for Mackellar. I ask: Are you now ruling that you can suspend an honourable member in this session because of a discussion that took place after the previous session of the House had been adjourned?
-Certainly, I am ruling that way.
– You are so ruling?
– Then I move dissent from that ruling.
– I would like to remind the honourable member for Gippsland that the Speaker is in charge of the House until such time as he leaves the chair. Honourable members might recall that my predecessor was very strict about ensuring when the adjournment took place each night that no honourable member left his place until such time as Mr Speaker had left the chair. He was very strict about that and the honourable member would know that. While the Speaker occupies the chair he has full authority in the House. Until such time as I leave the chair I have full authority over the proceedings of the House.
– I formally move:
That the ruling be dissented from.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Opposition members- The new boy.
– Members of the Australian Country Party have just woken up. The honourable member for Gippsland is not taking a point of order; he is moving dissent from your ruling, Mr Speaker.
-I have moved dissent from Mr Speaker’s ruling, so sit down.
-Order! A point of order can be taken at any time. I call the honourable member for Port Adelaide.
– My point of order is that the Standing Orders provide that the objection to your ruling must be taken at once. It was not taken at once, so I suggest that the motion is out of order.
– I wish to speak to the point of order, Sir.
-Order! The ruling has just been given, so it is in order to move a motion of dissent from the ruling.
-I submit that if the House was in session and the Chair was in control at the time, if you had an altercation or disputation with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) it would have been quite proper for you to seek -
– I rise to order. Mr Speaker, the point of order is that the honourable member for Gippsland, I submit, is out of order as you had already called for petitions.
– The honourable member for Gippsland is entitled to move the motion of dissent.
-Mr Speaker, I have moved dissent from your ruling because you have made it plain that the Speaker is in charge of the House right up to the point when he leaves the chair. If you had a dispute or an altercation with the honourable member for Mackellar as you statethere were only 3 exchanges from that point on- you should have taken action at that time. I believe it is quite improper that a member can have hanging over his head a charge that may be laid by a Speaker months and months after the event in question has occurred. The facts show that you put the question for the adjournment of the House and you said: ‘The ayes have it’. You sat in the chair then still calling the honourable member for Mackellar to order. Why did you not at that point of time -
-The honourable member is incorrect I did not sit in the chair; I stood up to make the announcement about the next day of sitting.
– Let us be precise about it. You stood up to make some announcement. In my view, if you were disturbed about the performance of the honourable member for Mackellar you should have named him and called for a division and had him suspended from the service of the House at that time. You did not do so. I do not believe it is proper for you now, five or six weeks later, just because you now have the numbers, to suspend him. The simple truth is that on that day you were not sure you had the numbers because everybody had cleared off.
We all remember the circumstances of that particular sitting. The Minister for Transport had caused a dispute with the airline pilots and they had gone out on strike and refused to carry the Labor politicians. As a result of that, VIP aircraft were called into service, honourable members opposite were busy hurrying and scurrying to get on to the VIP aircraft to get home, and you were not sure that you could suspend the honourable member for Mackellar from the service of this House. I submit that it is quite improper that a charge of this nature can be levied five or six weeks after the event.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
– Why does he not stand up?
-The honourable gentleman is standing up.
- Mr Speaker, the only point that you have ruled on is whether you were in control of the House when you stood up. The matters that the honourable member for Gippsland is now raising relate to a period of time that has elapsed and have nothing to do with any point on which you have ruled. Therefore, he should speak only about the matter from which he dissents. The motion moved by the honourable member for Gippsland relates to dissent from your ruling. You did not rule at all on the points that he is now debating.
– Yes, the point of the motion of dissent is whether I was correct at the time in leaving the chair and in asking for an apology on the day on which the Parliament resumed. I was denied an opportunity to do so on the day on which the event occurred.
-I submit that you had the capacity on that day as the Speaker of this House- indeed it was your proper function and duty on that occasion to do so if you felt so inclined- to suspend the honourable member for Mackellar. I submit on the first count that the charge you lay against him is not worthy when compared with precedents established in relation to disturbances in this House. I recall to your mind the day when the Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) stood in this place and refused to accede to the Speaker’s wish. At that time there was provocation for the Speaker to rule against him.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker.
-Order! The point is quite clear. The matter before the Chair is a motion of dissent from the ruling of the Chair in relation to the honourable member for Mackellar. The matter that the honourable member for Gippsland refers to and which occurred in the past was not condoned or encouraged by me; so he should not regard it as a precedent for a ruling I have given in this case. It is for the Chair to decide what is right and proper. I thought I had done the right thing in letting it go until this time, because the honourable member denied me the opportunity of saying anything at all. If the honourable member had been in the Chair- I leave it to the sense of fairness of any member who was in the House at the time- he would have taken exactly the course that I took.
– Are you suggesting that I was not in the House?
– Well, if you were in the House I think that you would agree.
– I recall the circumstances very vividly, sir, as I recall all of the proceedings of that afternoon. The simple fact is mat you had an opportunity to discharge your duties as Speaker, and that is when you should have discharged them. There is a precedent -
– I rise on a point of order. I understand that the motion we are now debating is that your ruling that you are in charge of the House until you actually leave the Chair be disagreed with. The only point to which the honourable member for Gippsland -
-That is not the motion at all. Get it right for once. Read tomorrow’s Hansard and catch up.
– A moment ago I asked the Clerk what was the motion and that was the information that I was given and it is the question to which the honourable member for Gippsland must address himself. If he confines himself to that motion, or whatever the motion was, he will be inside the Standing Orders, perhaps. But he is just pursuing a course of constructive sabotage of the proceedings of this House and he ought to be thrown out himself.
– A turtle farmer speaks; that is about how much he knows about it. He does not even know to what point of order he is addressing himself. All he is doing is wasting the time of this House. I believe that we are faced with a precedent. Mr Speaker, I would like to know on what precedent you have based this action because I think that it is important that we have this information. What you are doing today is laying down a ground rule that when any member misbehaves, even though the Speaker may not take action at the time he can on reflection or after a certain amount of publicity has been given to the event, perhaps a few months later proceed to take action against the member concerned. I submit that you were derelict in your duty on 23 August. If you thought that the honourable member for Mackellar should be suspended from the service of the House you should have taken action at that time. It is quite improper that any Speaker should come into this Parliament five or six weeks later, or whatever the period is, and then so move. It is for that reason that I have moved dissent from your ruling, Sir.
I repeat the point that I have made because each member of this Parliament will be affected by it. The ruling which you have given means that any Speaker can ignore something if it so suits him by leaving the chair. He can then come into the House the next day, the next week, the next month or even 6 months later, and at an appropriate time, perhaps when a member is about to speak on a vital and important matter, take action that results in the suspension of that member from the service of the House. I believe that the action you have taken is a dereliction of your duty as Speaker. Whilst I have not always been in your best graces as a member of this House I respect the forms of the House and the Chair for the job which it must do. I will fight and support you, Sir, when you have a job to do. But I will not support a resolution of this nature which gives you the power to remove a member from this House perhaps months after the event has occurred. This is exactly what the precedent lays down. If you wanted to remove the honourable member for Mackellar on 23 August it was your bounden duty to do so at that time and not to come back to this House 5 weeks later and do it then. It is for that reason that I have moved against your ruling.
-Is the motion seconded?
-The Opposition wishes to dissent now from your ruling, Mr
Speaker, because it believes that it is an incorrect one. As you would be aware, Mr Speaker, we have disagreed with your rulings on other matters. We do not believe that we can let this matter go by without making our full protest.
-I take a point of order. I think the House is entitled to know the form of dissent moved in writing, as it is supposed to be, and the ruling that is being dissented from. I think we are being treated to an exercise in obstruction. I do not believe that the seconder of the motion even knows what it is.
-As I see it, the motion of dissent is on the question whether the Speaker has power, after the House has adjourned and when he is forced to leave the Chair without being given the right to make an announcement as to the next day of sitting, to take action on a later day of sitting in regard to disrespect shown to the Chair.
– I take a point of order. My point of order is that this motion was not put in writing and was not seconded before the honourable member for Gippsland debated the question. Therefore it should be ruled out of order.
-It was in writing and it was in the hands of the Clerk.
-The Minister for Education speaks about obstruction. I point out to the House that he did not let me get into the third sentence of my remarks and explain the position as the Opposition sees it. I pointed out to you, Mr Speaker, that what is in dispute here is whether you have the right to demand an apology from a member after the one day sitting that was held in this House on 23 August when certain events took place at the conclusion of the proceedings. Some of those events are set out on pages 1 1 67 and 1168 of Hansard. Other events took place afterwards and are not recorded. You have ruled, Mr Speaker -
– On a point of order -
– The Government cannot take it.
– I cannot take idiots. Mr Speaker, in specific words your ruling was that you were in charge of the House until such time as you left the chair. The matter at present under debate was resolved by a resolution which was carried by this House some half an hour ago. The only question which can be subjected to your ruling is whether you are in fact in charge of this House until you leave the chair. I suggest that honourable members ought to be justifying a dissent motion on the basis that you are not in charge of the House while you are hi the chair, because that is what they are saying.
– I ask the honourable member for Curtin to keep to the motion of dissent.
Mr GARLAND That is exactly what I intend to do, Mr Speaker. I refer to standing order 304 which perhaps the honourable member may care to read. Under the heading ‘Disorder’ standing order 304 states:
If the offence has been committed in the House, the Speaker shall forthwith put the question. . .
That is the whole point at issue. Mr Speaker, you were in charge of the House- of course everybody agrees about that- at the time you were occupying the chair. On the last day of sitting you were in the chair but you did not force the issue, call for an apology and go through the motions that you have gone through this afternoon. You waited all these weeks and you have now brought the matter to a head. Mr Speaker, that is the ruling you have made and that is what happened. What the Opposition is dissenting from is the ruling which you gave and which was incorporated in Hansard in response to the request by the honourable member for Gippsland.
– I take the point of order again. Mr Speaker, you were asked specifically by the honourable member for Gippsland whether you were ruling that you were in charge of the House after the motion for the adjournment of the House had been carried. Your ruling specifically was that you were in charge of the House until you left the chair. The honourable member has just said that he does not question that, but he wishes to dissent on another question.
– If the honourable member cannot follow the debate I am afraid there is nothing further I can do to elucidate it for him. We are protesting about your conduct, Mr Speaker, and I think it is right to refer to the protests that have been made to earlier rulings. I make the point that we are opposing your ruling today because of the context in which it falls in your conduct of the House. I remind the House that the Government, which has undoubted rights and obligations to govern, nevertheless through its election of a Speaker and the conduct of affairs here has the obligation to allow Opposition members to speak and to ensure that rulings are fair and that the House is equitably run. The honourable member for Mackellar did his best all through that day to raise serious matters. You will be aware, Mr Speaker, that the Government has since appointed a royal commission to deal with one of those matters. The honourable member was prevented from speaking, so naturally he became upset towards the end of that day.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that the detail that has been put into the debate by speakers from the Opposition has led to a great deal of confusion in the House. May I suggest that the dissent motion be read to the House so that we know exactly on what we are taking the points of order?
– I should like to make perfectly clear once and for all exactly what happened on that particular occasion. I have done this already and I will emphasise it again. Everybody who was in the House will recognise that what I am saying is factual. I intended to announce the next day of sitting. I stood in my place, as I am doing now, and appealed to the honourable member for Mackellar on 3 occasions.
– Why did you not name him?
-Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting while I am addressing the chamber.
– Answer the question.
-Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting. On 3 occasions I appealed to the honourable member for Mackellar to be seated to enable me to announce the next day of sitting. By shouting and making his own prepared speech to the gallery, as he said he would, he declined to give me the opportunity of announcing the next day of sitting. As a result of that I would have been here for half an hour before I could make the announcement. Instead of that I had to leave the chair. I was forced to leave the chair because he denied me the right -
Opposition members- Oh!
– Anybody who was in the House would know that what I have said is right. Even the honourable gentlemen on the Opposition front bench will agree that what I am saying is quite correct. The honourable member denied me the opportunity to make an announcement. That is why I had to leave the chair at the time. That is quite clear.
– May I speak to the point of order?
– I have only a certain amount of time.
-Order! The honourable member for Curtin has the floor. The honourable member can take a point of order on the speech of the honourable member for Curtin if he wishes.
– I have only a limited time, as honourable members know. These interventions and points of order are very interesting, but I should like to make one or two points. I point out that the matter before the House is your ruling, Mr Speaker, on the request for an apology. I point out too that there were some mitigating circumstances. I refer you to an item on page 1 167 of Hansard. At one stage the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) moved that the question be now put. Sir, you said:
I promised to deal with a personal explanation pertaining to matters outside this House.
You declined to take that motion -
-Order! Let me clear up that matter.
– It is not fair to intervene; let me finish.
-Order! The honourable member will resume bis seat.
-You must be fair, Mr Speaker.
-I am trying to be fair as I was with the honourable member for Mackellar previously. The honourable member had come to see me earlier and said that he would like to make a personal explanation because of something that had been said by an announcer on the radio. I did not tell the Leader of the House that a personal explanation was to be made and he moved the adjournment. In fairness to the honourable member for Mackellar I appealed to the Leader of the House that there was a personal explanation to be made. I intended to call the honourable member for Mackellar to do so before the adjournment of the House was moved.
Mr GARLAND T agree with that and I accept that that was the position exactly. I was in the House and I was aware of that situation. I was saying, Mr Speaker, that this discussion is about whether the procedures of this House are being correctly carried out in relation to the ruling that was made. I am pointing out the mitigating circumstance which applies to the honourable member for Mackellar. Having declined to take that motion, which was the gag, several minutes of debate or cut and thrust took place and then you said:
The question is that the House do now adjourn.
That motion had been declined. The honourable member for Mackellar intervened on other matters, and then later you said:
Order! I have not put the question.
Then, Mr Speaker, you said :
The question is that the House do now adjourn.
The relevance of these extracts is that it shows that the situation was a highly confused one. The honourable member for Mackellar, believing that he had the right and duty to raise the 2 matters to which I have alluded already, did so. You left the chair.
Our major point is that, if you wished to take action against the honourable member for Mackellar in the way in which you have this afternoon, it should have been done on that occasion and at no other time. You have said yourself that you were in charge of the House. You were in the chair. You were responsible for the conduct of the House. That is not in dispute. What is in dispute is your action this afternoon in raising the matter in these confused circumstances. I point out that you asked the honourable member for Mackellar to apologise for what happened when he was endeavouring to raise those matters. Naturally he felt very deeply about them particularly as he had in his hand at the time documents which indicated some corruption in the community. The Government has appointed a royal commission to look into one of those matters. It cannot be said to be a matter of no substance. In those circumstances, for you, in the name of the House, to ask the honourable member, as you did this afternoon, to apologise to you, is we believe incorrect. I suggest to you that it is not right and it is not fair.
I conclude on the point that the essence of democracy is divided power and the essence of parliamentary proceedings in this House is fairness. Democracy includes the opportunity for minorities to have their voices heard. The Opposition has the right to be reasonably heard and to have standing orders upheld. This right is being stifled by your decision this afternoon and by your conduct on previous occasions.
- Mr Speaker, in the absence of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly), who has been called away on a matter of personal urgency, I say on behalf of the Government that we oppose the motion. The position is made quite clear by reference to page 1 163 of Hansard where you will see that the motion for the adjournment of the House was carried by 56 votes to 45 votes. You, Mr Speaker, were prevented from announcing the date for the resumption of the Parliament. The matter is as simple as that. The conduct of the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) prevented you fronmaking a formal announcement as to when the, House would next sit. It was that conduct that was irregular and prevented the Speaker from carrying out his normal duties.
Accordingly, I say that today a great deal of time has been wasted on an issue that could have been dealt with outside this Parliament. There are many important issues to be debated here. One would have thought that honourable members opposite would have been considering matters that affect their electorates and may have been anxious to pursue the business of the Parliament and not try to continue to support the sort of conduct that brings this Parliament into disrepute. While ever honourable members opposite seek to associate , themselves with conduct of that type they will lower the dignity of this Parliament. A lot of time has been wasted today. All that was asked for was an apology which any reasonable person would have expected to obtain. That apology was refused again today. We say no more about it. I move:
-Order! The question is that the question be now put.
– There has been a misrepresentation by the Minister who claimed that the question was passed when it was never put or passed.
-Order! There is a motion before the Chair.
– It is in Hansard. It was put.
– Look over a further 3 pages.
-Order! There is a motion before the Chair which cannot be debated.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr Gorton- Mr Speaker -
-Order! I ask the right honourable member to wait until the subsequent question is put.
– I think the matter ought to be raised now.
-Very well. I will hear the right honourable member for Higgins.
– I feel the point that I wish to make should be made now before the Opposition votes on false information.
-Order! Actually the debate is closed as a result of the motion just carried. If the right honourable gentleman waits until after the next division I will give him the indulgence of the Chair to explain the matter.
– You will not give it now?
Original question (Mr Nixon’s motion) put-
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. J. F. Cope)
Question so resolvedin the negative.
-I desire to take this opportunity, it being the first that has presented itself to me, to indicate that the Special Minister of State (Mr Lionel Bowen) made a misstatement to this House and misled it for the purpose of the last division. He said that the motion for the adjournment was put and was carried by so many votes to so many other votes. The Hansard record, a copy of which I have in my hand, shows clearly at page 1 167 that Mr Daly said: ‘I move: “That the question be now put.” ‘ You, Mr Speaker, as I think you said during the course of the debate, said: ‘I promised to deal with a personal explanation pertaining to matters outside this House’. The honourable member for Mackellar then rose, in pursuance of that arrangement with you, and dealt with that matter. There is no question that the statement made in this House by the Special Minister of State was completely and entirely wrong, and since it will appear in Hansard I believe I should make this explanation.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth that:
Child Endowment received by families has declined relative to average earnings so that today it is about 20 per cent of its value in 1949.
The Interim Report of the Australian Government’s Commission into Poverty recommended a substantial increase in Child Endowment as a way of alleviating poverty.
This report pointed out that increased Child Endowment deserved priority and would be advantageous to the community in the long run.
It specifically recommended increasing child endowment from50 cents to $ 1 . 50 for the first child; from $ 1 . 00 to $2.00 for the second child; from $2.00 to $4.00 for the third child; from $2.25 to $7.00 for the fourth child; and to $8.00 for subsequent children.
Your petitioners humbly request that the Government increase Child Endowment in the September Budget.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Crean, Mr Bryant, Mr Anthony, Mr Bourchier, Mr Clayton, Mr Kerin, Mr Lamb, Mr Lloyd, Mr McKenzie, Mr Oldmeadow, Mr Peacock, Mr Riordan, Mr Staley, Mr Street and Mr Willis.
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 up to ten million people are said by the UN Secretary-General, Mr Kurt Waldheim, to face death by starvation in the Sahelian region of Africa and that as a result of this drought, many nomads are being forced to give up their traditional way oflife, and
That the resources of the governments of this region are inadequate to cope with either the immediate or long-term needs of these people.
We your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge that the Australian Government grant both immediate emergency aid to a value of at least ten million dollars and continue to assist in the long-term agricultural and social development of this region.
And that it take a leading part in initiatives to set up a World Food Fund and World Fertilizer Fund at the World Food Conference this November. by Mr Connor, Dr Everingham, Mr Coates, Mr King, Mr Lamb, Mr Peacock and Mr Street.
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. by Mr Armitage, Mr Martin, Mr Mulder and Mr Reynolds.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
We the undersigned citizens of Australia do humbly petition the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia that it might take such steps as may be necessary either to direct the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to preserve and restore The Palace Hotel or itself acquire the said Palace Hotel, St George’s Terrace, Perth, on its present site so as to preserve and restore it in perpetuity.
Further we do humbly petition this honourable Parliament to make such funds as may be necessary available to purchase the entire contents of the said Hotel from the owners thereof.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Bennett, Mr Bungey and Mr Collard.
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 we strongly oppose the easing of restrictions on the importation, production in Australia, sale or distribution of pornographic material whether in films, printed matter or any other format.
That any alterations to the Television Programme Standards of the Austalian Broadcasting Control Board which permits the exploitation of sex or violence is unacceptable to us.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the existing Television Programme standards or to permit easier entry into Australia, or production in Australia, of pornographic material.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bourchier, Mr Hodges and Mr Luchetti.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that, as an interim measure, the Government will immediately increase the current grants being made to children in non-government schools to at least 50 per cent of the cost of educating children in government schools, thus enabling the nongovernment schools to continue to exist and fulfil their function of educating Australian children.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr King, Mr Lloyd and Mr Staley.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned residents of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth-
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government not to proceed with the introduction of self-government for the Australian Capital Territory until the residents of the Australian Capital Territory are consulted, by means of a referendum, on the issue.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby and 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 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 humble 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 Adermann and Mr McLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth-
That we Petition the Australian Government to stop this unrealistic attitude towards inflation, its irresponsible attitude towards the economic welfare of the people of Australia and to especially consider the plight of the housewives, our elderly citizens and the worker.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that immediate action be taken to control inflation, curb striking unions and bring about strong leadership and Government
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. byMrEnderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:
Whilst the Australian Government is granting freedom and independence to Papua and New Guinea, the once free Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are occupied by the Soviet Union and their citizens are continuously and brutally deprived of personal, civil and religious freedoms. We humbly beg to draw the attention of the House of Representatives to this fact and ask that the matter be raised in the United Nations by the Australian Government. The annexation and incorporation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union has not been recognised by any Western democracy, including Australia. We beg the House of Representatives to continue such non-recognition and to disallow any steps by Australian Government which would amount to recognition of aggression.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. byMrSnedden.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble Petition of the undersigned members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary and Mothers’Club of Lismore Demonstration School, New South Wales respectfully showeth that the free daily issue of milk to school children at the Lismore Demonstration School has been withdrawn.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government to reverse the decision which has led to the withdrawal of free daily milk for school children.
And your Petitioners, as induty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Anthony.
Post Office at Maldon, Victoria
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble Petition of the undersigned residents of the Shire of Maldon, Victoria, respectfully showeth-
That the closure or down-grading of the post office at Maldon, Victoria, will notbe in the best interests of the residents ofthe area in that:
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Government not to close or down-grade the post office at Maldon, Victoria.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. byMrBourchier.
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 world’s supply of fossil fuel is limited, and that research into alternative sources of energy is urgent.
That nuclear energy is a source of dangerous pollution, and contains inherent threats to the very existence of mankind.
That solar energy is increasingly acknowledged as a possible alternative, and deserves the type of research for which Australia’s size and climate is particularly suited.
That the problems of harnessing solar energy could well be solved if efforts comparable with our atomic energy research were applied to it.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will reduce its current spending on atomic energy research, and urgently set aside sufficient funds for meaningful research into industrial solar energy, and take whatever steps may be necessary to see that this research is begun with the shortest possible delay. by Mr Coates.
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 undersigned persons believe that some literature and films being published and shown throughout Australia are detrimental to the wellbeing of the Community.
Your Petitioners thereby humbly pray that the Government will take steps to see that the publication and availability of pornographic and other material of that nature is restricted and that the people are made aware of the dangers to the Community from such literature and films.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Garland.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled should not admit into the law of this land the principle that marriage is only temporary and the family no longer the fundamental unit of society.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hodges.
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 tend to 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 Hodges.
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 implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Australian Wool Corporation will be detrimental to the interests of the woolgrowing industry in Australia;
That the recommendations of the Report of the Australian Wool Corporation do not permit Australian woolgrowers the freedom to select the methods by which they sell their clip; and
That the cost of the operation of the scheme proposed by the Australian Wool Corporation will be burdensome and outweigh any financial advantages to woolgrowers.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House take steps to ensure that the Government rejects the recommendations.
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 the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Whilst all colonial powers except the Soviet Union have granted independence and self-determination to all their colonies and dominions, and whilst Australia is in the process of granting independence to Papua and New Guinea, and whilst all previous Australian Governments have refused to recognise the Soviet Union’s right to the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, occupied following a secret agreement between Hitler and Stalin, the present Australian Government has now extended such recognition contrary to international law and moral principles. The undersigned petitioners humbly beg Parliament to condemn such an action and to reverse the Government’s decision.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Jacobi.
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 Universal Health Scheme is essential to the well being of all Australians, in so far as it will-
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will hasten to introduce this much needed scheme so that health care services in Australia can begin to function equitably, efficiently, and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Morris.
Political Prisoners in Indonesia
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 many Australians believe that thousands of political prisoners have been detained for long periods in Indonesia, without trial, legal advice or cultural and educational activity, have been subjected to forced labour and often suffer from malnutrition.
That any such prisoners would face great difficulty in reintegrating into society on release.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Prime Minister to make known publicly to the Indonesian authorities when he visits Indonesia the concern of Australians about the plight of Indonesian political prisoners.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Peacock.
– Is it the intention of the Prime Minister to go overseas shortly at the same time as the Deputy Prime Minister will be overseas? During what dates will the Minister for Minerals and Energy be the Acting Prime Minister of Australia?
- Mr Speaker, the answer is from 3 October until 12 October, both dates inclusive.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a report of a meeting of primary producers held last weekend and sponsored by a body known as the National Action Group? Has he been able to ascertain whether this meeting called for the payment of $100m of other people’s money to farmers through such benefits as superphosphate and petrol bounties? If that is the case, is the Treasurer prepared to impose a head tax of $8 on every man, woman and child in Australia to enable the wages and salaries of other Australians to be transferred to this sectional interest?
– I am not aware of a meeting being held or even of the body that has been mentioned. But the Government’s plans certainly will be announced at 8 o ‘clock tonight.
– Does the Prime Minister recall saying in his 1972 election policy speech that a Labor Government’s first help for regional development would be to implement the Victorian decentralisation committee’s recommendation that ‘centres nominated for accelerated development be recognised for telephone charging purposes as extensions of the metropolitan area whereby rentals would be equated and calls between these places and the capital charged as for local calls’? Did he go on to say that ‘in our first term of office, a Federal Labor Government will concentrate its own initiatives and endeavours on two areas- Albury-Wodonga and Townsville’? Is it a fact that Albury-Wodonga residents, in common with all Australians, have not only not had a decrease in telephone charges since his Government came to office but have had savage increases imposed with more promised? I ask the Prime Minister whether he ever intended to implement this promise, or was it just an election gimmick?
-The honourable gentleman accurately quoted from my policy speech for the election held on 2 December 1972. One of the early actions by my Government was to set up a royal commission under the chairmanship of Sir James Vernon to inquire into the Post Office in general. One of the matters referred to the commission concerned those proposals for reduced telephone and telex charges in regional centres which had been recommended by the Victorian Decentralisation Committee in Victoria. The report of Sir James Vernon’s royal commission was promptly tabled. It is being considered by the Government. Complementary action may be required by the Victorian government. The general theme is that if there are to be concessions in regional areas they should not be borne by subscribers to the telecommunications services alone but by the taxpayers overall. The Government has promptly- it could not have more promptly- promoted the development of Albury-Wodonga. The Government was elected on 2 December. My colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria met in Albury-Wodonga on 25 January 1973. The basic legislation has now been passed by the 3 Parliaments. There is in Kings Hall at the moment an exhibition which I commend to honourable gentlemen concerning the progress of Albury-Wodonga. Similar progress has not been possible in Townsville because of the intransigence of the Queensland Government.
-My question, which is directed to the Minister for Northern Development, refers to fuel supplies for north Queensland. I believe that the ‘W. H. Leonard’ will not arrive in Cairns until 29th of this month and that it will contain only a small portion of distillate for Cairns and district. Are there any other vessels due in Cairns before or after this date? Industry in the area of Leichhardt is short of fuel, particularly distillate, to enable it to keep operating until the twenty-ninth. I refer to local authorities and the tobacco, timber, fishing and sugar industries. Can the Minister advise me and the people in the area what relief can be expected in the immediate future and what steps have been taken? I know that the Minister has been vitally concerned in this matter.
– It is a fact that in the last 2 months a series of problems has arisen in north Queensland in regard to the supply of fuel, particularly distillate.
– What about New South Wales?
– The question happens to be asked about north Queensland. If it had not been for the supply of 150,000 gallons of distillate from the naval stores in Cairns the entire sugar industry would have had to close down in the area north of Townsville. Due to the cooperation of the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Science who was Acting Minister for Defence at the time this amount of distillate was made available. It is a fact that the initial problem was caused by industrial troubles in Brisbane. This has shown that there are very serious inherent problems in regard to the supply of fuel to central and northern Queensland which should be looked at very quickly by State and Federal authorities as well as by industry. These authorities should look at the capacity of the Ampol and Amoco refineries in Brisbane, the capacity of the Queensland Railways, the capacity of only one ship, the ‘W. H. Leonard’, to supply the whole of north Queensland, and also the problem of not having sufficient storage facilities in north Queensland.
This same problem was experienced during the floods and it is experienced following cyclones. Here again the complete vulnerability of north Queensland has been demonstrated. Next Monday a ship called the ‘Texaco Bogota’ will call into Townsville with 15,000 tons of distillate. On the following day the ‘W. H. Leonard’ is scheduled to discharge approximately 3,100 tons at Townsville. On Thursday week the ‘W. H. Leonard’ is due to discharge something like 4, 100 tons in Cairns. The position is tight; there is no question about that. The oil companies and the industries concerned are looking at a system of rationalisation which could mean the rearrangenent of fuel supply for the Cairns district when the ‘Texaco Bogota’ discharges its cargo next Monday. I can assure the honourable member that the matter is well in hand. I stress that the present problems are due to 23 years of the Opposition’s refusal when in government to provide ships to serve north Queensland and its refusal to put pressure on the Queensland Government to allow the refineries in Queensland to have a greater capacity.
-The Prime Minister will know that industrial action over recent weeks and months has caused serious disruption of fuel supplies. I ask the Prime Minister whether he knows that the serious dislocation of fuel supplies still exists with the storage and distribution system now virtually exhausted. Will the Prime Minister do all he can to rectify the present position and will he consider two suggestions which might lessen the chances of such disruption occurring in the future? Firstly, will he immediately set up a committee of Ministers, comprised of such people as the Ministers for Minerals and Energy, Transport and Defence, to consult the oil industry, the unions and State authorities with a view to building some safeguards into the storage and distribution system? Secondly, will he ask the royal commission which is at present inquiring into the petroleum industry whether it will look into the matter of fuel distribution with a view to recommending measures which might reduce the prospects of similar disruption in the future?
- Mr Speaker, the right honourable gentleman has given you notice that he wishes to raise a matter of public importance in these terms. My colleagues will give him detailed replies to his questions. My colleague, the Minister for Northern Development, has touched on one of the particular difficulties there have been in the distribution of fuel supplies in Queensland. There are 2 factors. There is not sufficient production capacity in Queensland and there is an inadequate distribution system there. Ever since I became Prime Minister, I have been in correspondence with the Premier of Queensland, urging him to allow Australian Government ships to trade between ports in that State. It is a fantastic situation that there is one refinery in Queensland and one oil tanker alone which is allowed to operate.
– There are 2 refineries.
-It is a fantastic situation that the owner of one of those refineries has the single ship which distributes fuel along the coast.
-Will the Prime Minister use his good offices with all governments concerned to urge a return to constitutional rule on the island of Cyprus as it existed before fighting began on 20 July?
-Australia is a member of the Security Council, and our representative there, Sir Laurence Mclntyre is using his best endeavours to bring the contending parties together. There is some hope that the Acting President of Cyprus, Mr Clerides, and the leader of the Turkish community, Mr Denktash, have developed sufficiently good relations, one with the other, to preclude a recurrence of hostilities, and to facilitate an exchange of those who have been displaced from their homes.
-I address my question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the previous questions concerning the serious crisis facing the countryside due to the shortage of fuel, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland. Why did the Prime Minister refer only to Queensland in his previous answer and can he now tell the House what action is being taken by the Government to restore supplies to north and north-west New South Wales where many areas have a complete absence cf essential fuel, both petrol and distillate? What steps will be taken to maintain an adequate supply in the future? Can the Prime Minister give the reasons why there is inadequate fuel in the important industrial sections as well as the country areas of New South Wales?
-The honourable member’s Leader has raised this as a subject for discussion as a matter of public importance. It will be debated immediately after question time.
-Is the Minister for Transport aware of the reaction in Tasmania to the recent announcement of increased charges by the Australian National Line? Can the Minister say why the increase is necessary while the Nimmo inquiry is still continuing?
-Yes, I am aware of the problems associated with increased freight rates in Tasmania.
– When were you last down there?
– About a week or 10 days ago. I am aware of the problems associated with the increased’ charges. Yesterday afternoon and again this morning I met with some honourable members and honourable senators from Tasmania and I will be seeing them again on either Wednesday or Thursday this week. There are problems associated with the increase. Let us face the facts of life. The facts of life are that the Australian National Line has incurred substantially increased costs in its operations both in the form of labour costs -
Mr Sinclair^ You are a member of the Government which caused it, so you ought to know.
-If the honourable member wants a few facts on the matter, then I can easily give them to him. Some of the increased costs were incurred at a time when the honourable member was a member of the former Government. For example, in July 1972 the salary bill of officers of the Third Division of the Australian Public Service increased by $46,000. 1 could go on for some time elaborating on the increases that were incurred when the present Opposition was the Government in this country, but I do not want to weary honourable members.
When we were in Opposition we did not object to increases in the charges levied by ANL because we realise that its increased costs have to be passed on. In 1972-73, when the honourable member for Gippsland was partly responsible, as I was, ANL incurred a loss of $ 1.65m on its general cargo operations. It is estimated that a loss of $3. 8m will be incurred in the year 1973-74. Unless ANL’s freight rates are adjusted, the loss for 1974-75 will be about $7.4m. No honourable member can justify increased losses of this type. It is reasonable that the user should pay for the cost of the service provided. Consider what ANL’s competitors in the Tasmanian trade have done. The Union Steam Ship Co. in recent months has increased its freight rates on the Melbourne-Sydney run by 27.68 per cent and on the Sydney-Hobart run by 25.5 per cent while Associated Steamships Pty Ltd increased its charges by 33.3 per cent. So ANL’s increase of 25 per cent is quite reasonable and quite moderate. Protests are being made at the moment about the increase, but there were no similar protests when ANL’s competitors increased their freight rates.
The honourable member asked me why we did not wait until the Nimmo Committee’s report was tabled. I do not know when the
Nimmo Committee will present its report, but I can give the honourable member one small piece of information: When the Tasmanian ports committee recently decided to increase port charges, it was suggested to the committee that it might await the Nimmo Committee report and its findings. It refused to do so. I believe that indirectly port charges are the responsibility of the Tasmanian Government so there is one law for the Tasmanians and one law for the Australian Government. The Tasmanian Government is protesting very strongly about our decision to increase ANL’s freight rates by 25 per cent, but at the same time it has increased its own rail rates by between 25 per cent and 33 per cent. The road hauliers have increased their charges by an even greater amount. Others have had to increase charges.
We do not claim to have any great power to avoid the increases we have made. They were necessary and we put them through. What do they represent as individual charges? It is important that I pass this information on to honourable members. ANL has already noted examples of freight forwarders increasing the total freight charge by 25 per cent. In other words, they have been trying to pass on to consumers in Tasmania more than they should. I strongly advise manufacturers and others in Tasmania to examine the freight rate charges which are being levied against them. After all, the sea leg element of the cost represents only 40-45 per cent of the total. We have already noted numerous examples of freight forwarders in Tasmania increasing their total charge to the manufacturer by 25 per cent. The increase in ANL’s charges represents an increase of $2.40 to $2.80 per ton. Whilst the freight rate is much greater, it includes wharfage and land-based freight forwarders’ charges. The sea leg represents about 40 per cent of the freight rate.
-Does the Prime Minister recall his commitment during the 1972 election campaign that a Labor Government would publish the Treasury’s economic forecast? Can the Prime Minister say why he has failed to honour this commitment? Will he now authorise disclosure of the Treasury forecast for the year ahead, and in addition, request the Treasury to publish the Treasury’s pre-Budget White Paper which the Government has refused to release this year?
– There is a question on notice on this matter from the Leader of the Opposition. The brief answer is that up to this stage the Treasury has persuaded me, as it persuaded previous Prime Ministers and Treasurers, that such forecasts should not be published. It has not completely convinced me. Nevertheless, up to this stage I have adhered to the advice which it gave to my predecessors.
-Is the Minister for Overseas Trade aware that gross profit margins of between 200 per cent and 300 per cent are being made on clothing and footwear imported from overseas countries? Is a large part of these profits due to the tariff cuts and revaluation decisions made by the Government with the intention of reducing the prices charged to Australian consumers? In view of the excessively high retail prices of imported goods will the Minister explore the possibility of the Government imposing price control on imported clothing and footwear?
-In the last seven or eight months there has been a considerable increase in the value and volume of imports that have come into Australia. That has had quite a number of effects. One is that a far larger quantity of goods has therefore been available for Australian consumers to buy. That must have reduced the extent and effect of inflation during that seven or eight months period.
– By how much?
– Professor Swan expressed a written opinion in the ‘Australian’ newspaper last week that it would have been 10 per cent greater now if those steps had not been taken. However, I am concerned at the fact that evidence has been accumulated over the last two or three months of very excessive retail profit margins. It is true that in some cases they have been as high as 300 per cent. Many of between 140 per cent and 250 per cent have been proved to my satisfaction. It is commonly known, of course, that retail profit margins vary a great deal and that where the average is 50 per cent or 60 per cent there can sometimes be a deviation to as much as 300 per cent. That has been a very common practice over a long period of time. However, the matter is so serious and in some ways the margins have been so great that the Government considers that it is justified in attempting to see whether an effective system of price regulation may be based on the constitutional powers that the Government has in relation to imports. The matter has been under examination for some time. I had hoped that retailers would respond by fixing more reasonable margins. So far we have had no evidence of their doing so. Provided the system that I have just indicated briefly is a workable one, the Government will seriously consider its introduction.
-My question is addressed to the Minister for Transport. I ask: Have the Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, the honourable member for Wilmot, Mr Duthie, and the honourable member for Braddon, Mr Davies, been to see the Minister to explain to him the very serious downturn in the economic conditions in the State of Tasmania? Have those gentlemen explained to the Minister the very great reliance that the State of Tasmania places on shipping services from the State to the mainland and that the increases imposed by the Australian National Line on shipping freight rates is a further blow to the level of the economy in Tasmania? If they have done all those things, will he now reconsider the increases in the freight rates charged? If they have not done those things will he call upon each of them- the Minister for Defence and the honourable members for Wilmot and Braddon to make clear to him their personal experiences of the very bad situation that exists in Tasmama? Finally, will the honourable gentleman reconsider the answer that he has just given so that he can make it clear to the Tasmanian people that criticism of a State Labor Government in Tasmania is no excuse for the failure of a Commonwealth Labor Government to take the appropriate action in relation to freight rates to and from Tasmania’
-I recollect that some time about 1970-71 when the right honourable gentleman was a member of a former Government an inquiry was set up to examine freight rates to and from Tasmania and a number of other things. An increase that had just been put through then probably had as much effect on the Tasmanian economy as the present increase in freight rates will have. That inquiry, which was instituted by the Liberal and Country Party Government of that time, found that the freight rate increase was fully justified.
– An entirely different circumstance.
-Of course it was entirely different because the honourable member for New England’s mob was running the show then, and what a weird and wonderful mob it was.
-Order! Interjections will cease. I am running the show from this end.
-That is the difference-
– It sure is.
-Honourable members opposite botched it up and we have been spending time ever since fixing up what they botched up. The shortage of ships and the use of unsuitable types of ships is one of the real reasons why Tasmanian freight rates are in the position in which they are at present. We are adjusting the situation now by ordering and buying new ships to meet the requirements of the Tasmanian trade. Honourable members opposite did nothing about the situation other than increase freight rates.
-Honourable members opposite increased freight rates and they know it They set up an inquiry which disclosed that their actions were fully justified. They loaded the membership of the inquiry so that it would come up with that decision.
The Prime Minister has said that he will take steps to examine the freight rate differential and the problems associated with it. The Nimmo Committee has been appointed to investigate the matter and come up with recommendations to the Government as to what form of assistance should be given. It will not be like the assistance that was handed out by the Australian Country Party to the cockies of this country. It pulled ideas out of its head without giving real consideration to what effects their implementation were going to have. All we are trying to do is to make sure that the assistance that is given is in the interests of Tasmania. So it will be fully researched.
Let us deal with the facts. Unless an adjustment is made the loss on the Tasmania-mainland run this year will be $3.8m made up of a loss of $2. 85m on the Tasmania-Melbourne section and $0.95m on the Tasmania-Sydney section. The Government believes that it is unfortunate but nevertheless unavoidable that these increases have to be introduced. It is just a fact of life that increases will have to be introduced unless we are prepared to subsidise the service, which we are not prepared to do at this stage, even though we are providing a subsidy of $lm a year for the ‘Empress of Australia’, which is something that the former Liberal-Country Party Government was not prepared to do. That $lm subsidy is being provided in an endeavour to ensure that the ‘Empress of Australia’ is retained on the service.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I refer to the tertiary allowances scheme and in particular to the bricklaying course which is being run at Randwick Technical College. By way of preamble I state that on 30 July 1974 one of my constituents was advised that die course was an approved course under the tertiary allowances scheme but that so far he has not received one zac in payment. My question is: In view of the fact that it is within my knowledge that a decision as to whether it will be paid and when it will be paid is yet to be made by the Department of Education’s head office in Canberra, will the Minister do something to get the Department off its backside and release the decision?
-Order! Would the honourable gentleman spell ……., for Hansard, please.
– I would be surprised if a decision on an individual case were being determined in Canberra. When applications are made for tertiary allowances they are usually made in the State office. I am not going to accept automatically that the officers are at fault and that everything was perfect with the application or that the entitlement is not in dispute. There has been an enormous increase in the number of individuals receiving tertiary grants. When there was an increase this year the officers of my Department in the States and elsewhere were working overtime 3 nights a week and also all Saturday processing the applications. I will not say that the officers concerned are infallible and that all the decisions have been perfect. Sometimes appeals come through to me and sometimes the decisions are reversed.
– What about the means test?
– Yes, there is a means test. It was inherited from the previous Government and is virtually identical to that of the previous Government except that the income limit has been increased each year. The amount of money has been increased.
-Of course. That has always been the case in all the adjustments over the years. The increases have been in response to a changed purchasing power of money; I do not dispute that. If the honourable gentleman gives me the details of the case, the name of the individual, I will certainly see whether there have been unjustifiable delays and whether the man concerned is eligible.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. I understand that the Minister has presented a final draft proposal for new regulations to restrict further the advertising of therapeutic goods. Is it the Minister’s intention to invoke unilaterally that part of the regulations which relate to the air media or does he intend to await the views of the States on the uniformity of regulations affecting all the media?
– This matter was raised with the Health Ministers at their recent conference. The fact that this was done is an earnest of our intention to co-ordinate our legislative activities with those of the States to ensure that advertising is not misleading and is in the interests of the consumer of therapeutic goods. I hope that the States will honour the undertakings they gave on that occasion and will move rapidly to implement the recommendations upon which we achieved this consensus. But, of course, if there are unforeseen delays we would not feel bound to wait for the initiatives of the States as some of our predecessors did.
-I ask the Minister for Manufacturing Industry, in view of the worldwide paper shortage, whether paper can be produced from the plant kenaf. If so, is it feasible that a sufficient quantity could be grown in Australia to have an impact on the shortage of paper in this country?
-As is well known, there is and has been for some little time a worldwide shortage of paper. Resulting from that, consideration has been given from a number of sources to the supply of alternative raw materials for the manufacture of paper. Kenaf is one such material that has been studied and considered. I understand it is a tropical plant of the hibiscus family with woody stalks ranging from 6 feet to 12 feet in height and one inch to 2 inches in diameter. It is grown in some Asian countries as a substitute fibre for jute.
It has been claimed that it has the great advantage of being ready for harvesting and conversion into pulp after a growing period of only 120 days, which compares with about 20 years for the growing of timber. Limited laboratory scale tests have shown that paper can be successfully produced from kenaf but because it has not yet been grown in commercial quantities full scale commercial and industrial testing is not yet complete. My Department has some additional information and I shall make it available to the honourable member.
-My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I apologise for this question on the eve of his very important function tonight. Is the Chairman of the Union Bank of Switzerland, Dr Alfred Schaefer, known to the Treasurer or in the Treasury? Was Australia invited to the recent financial conference in London? Does the Treasurer know of reasons for a statement that there are mounting signs of a coming global financial and monetary crisis which could wreck the economy of the world? If he regards the statement as valid, does it include the socialist world?
-To the best of my knowledge I am not aware of the gentleman mentioned. I have heard of the Bank, which is a well known institution in Switzerland. The honourable gentleman, of course, is not alone in forecasting doom for the future of Western economies. Personally, I have a lot more faith in the ability of democratic governments to survive those forebodings and I hope that with a little co-operation and understanding of the basic problems those events will not overwhelm the Western world. It will be very sad for the Western world if they do. It will mean the end of the kinds of mechanisms of government that we have and on which we pride ourselves as being the best in the world.
-I ask a question of the Treasurer. Is it not a fact that when the Australian Development Bank was established the interest rate was fixed at 6 per cent? Is it not a fact that though hundreds of farmers and industrialists signed Development Bank loan contracts at an interest rate of 6 per cent those people are today being forced to pay 1 1 per cent? Why are these borrowers, whose loans were signed, sealed and confirmed prior to the interest rate increases, required now to pay the increase? Is not 1 1 per cent a completely unreal and uneconomic rate to pay for purely developmental loans? Will the Treasurer review the interest rate for Development Bank loans negotiated and fixed years before the recent increases in the rate which is now 1 1 per cent?
– It is an unfortunate circumstance that in order that money can be loaned to B it first has to be obtained somewhere else from A. In the face of continuing inflation nobody is disposed at the moment to accept low rates on money deposited with institutions. This is one of the hard facts of life, unfortunately. It does not apply only in Australia; it applies in all the countries that the previous questioner asked me about. If contracts were written firm with a particular interest rate they ought not to be varied but I think that probably, as is so often the case, borrowers do not always read the fine points of the relevant documents. Most lendings from banks contain provisions for the rate to be varied as the bank itself has to pay higher interest on its deposits. ‘. 1t
I am hopeful as are others, that gradually interest rates will come down rather than go up. But they will not come down in the face of continuing inflation. Whilst a lot of hard words are spoken about .inflation and there are a lot of attempts to suggest that if Opposition members were in government instead of us it would not exist, I point out again that the governments of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, some of which vary in political complexion from this one, have the same sort of economic problem.
-I should like to inform honourable members that all Hansards from this day are being produced by the computer typesetting system at the Government Printing Office. The initial preparation of the material for the system .entails more time than it did under the previous hot metal process, although the overall time for printing is much less. Because of this preparation requirement, tables of figures and non-read material which are incorporated in Hansard can cause production bottlenecks. It would assist greatly if Ministers and members who propose to incorporate tables or documents in their speeches will supply them well in advance, and certainly before the dinner break to the Reporting Department for prompt dispatch to the Printer.
I remind honourable members that inclusion in Hansard of unread matter by leave of the House is subject to the authority of the Presiding Officer. If the Government Printer advises that the incorporation of material will present technical problems, will be costly or will unduly delay the publication of the daily Hansard, the Presiding Officer may direct that the matter be not included. Leave given to an honourable member to incorporate certain material in his speech is subject to that qualification.
– I present .pursuant to statute the report and financial statements of the Reserve Bank of Australia for the year 1973-74 together with the Auditor-General’s reports thereon.
– I present pursuant to statute the annual reports and financial statements of the Commonwealth Banking ‘.Corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia together with the Auditor-General’s reports thereon for the year ended 30 June 1 974.
-Pursuant to Section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922-1973, 1 present for the information of honourable members the Annual .Report of the Public Service Board for the year ended 30 June 1974.
– Pursuant to section 18 (1) of the Dried Fruits Research Act 1971; I present for the information of honourable members the interim third annual report of the Dried Fruits Research Committee for the year ended 30 June 1974.
– I have the honour to present for the information of honourable members reports prepared by the Immigration Advisory Council. One is entitled ‘Committee on Community Relations: “Interim Report-August 1974” ‘. The other is entitled ‘Committee on Social Patterns: “A Study of Older Migrants, Interim Report- June 1974” ‘
-by leave-I present the report of the Australian delegation to the 113th session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council held in Geneva between 22 and 26 October 1973.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The serious disruption of the community, of industry and of Australia’s defence capacity by continuing fuel shortages.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)-
– Australia is living on the edge of a precipice as far as fuel is concerned. It is an indictment of the Government, which claims to have such close links with the unions, that the Australian community has been brought to such a state of disruption by the actions of militant unions. Australia today is 70 per cent self-sufficient in petroleum, yet the Australian motorist too often finds his service station closed, with a sign outside reading: ‘Sorry, no petrol’. Not only is the motorist’s tank empty, but also on-farm supplies are empty, the service station tanks are empty, the oil companies’ district depots are empty and the bulk storages are empty. In fact, the whole storage and distribution system is virtually empty. The trouble is that, even if full production can be maintained, and the distribution system works properly, it will be a considerable time before the situation can be brought back to normal.
There is little doubt that there is a definite policy being followed to keep Australia’s fuel reserves at the barest minimum. The objective of this policy is to ensure that when there is industrial action in the oil industry- as happens with great frequency- there is an immediate impact, an immediate bite, so that the pressure on the community is felt quickly. I may be wrong. I hope I am. But I do not think I am. It’s very hard to escape the conclusion that the stranglehold of unions on fuel supplies is seen as providing a very good starting point for a national offensive which Mr Mundey, the President of the Communist Party of Australia has promised.
There were reports recently that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) had told the Government that Australia had only one week’s supply of fuel, including defence stocks. This is a scandalous and dangerous situation. I have heard of other estimates which put our distillate reserves at as little as 2 days’ supply. This is an intolerable situation. Of course, for many people, there is no fuel at all. It is not a question of a week’s supply or 2 days’ supply for them- they simply have not been able to get fuel at all. This fuel shortage, the industrial action that has caused it, and other similar industrial actions, are major factors in a very serious amount of unrest that is growing throughout country areas of Australia.
In my own electorate of Richmond, for example, service stations in Lismore and Ballina have recently been closed for long periods. The ordinary activities and commercial life of the community have been disrupted. The sugar cane harvest has been threatened. Fishing fleets have been tied up in the ports. Sawmills have stopped. Transport services have been halted. Mail services have been disrupted because train services have been cut. Not only have local people been immobilised by fuel shortages, but so too have tourists, many of whom were stranded for days on the far north coast of New South Wales simply because there was no petrol.
In the electorate of Gwydir, for example, the wheat harvest has been threatened, and the preparation of the cotton crop- which must be planted by the first week in October at the latest -is being hindered very seriously.
-A $25m crop.
– Yes. The cotton industry could be wiped out if it cannot get fuel urgently. There has been concern for weeks in the sugar areas of Queensland about the supply of fuel for the sugar cane harvest. There is only a week’s supply of fuel in some cases and down to a day in others.
The Minister for Northern Development and Minister for the Northern Territory (Dr Patterson) apparently prevailed on the Government to release some fuel from our defence stocks for some areas, but the problem remains. But what is he doing to get at the root of the problem- the disruptive tactics of some trade unions? A tanker arrived in Mackay on Sunday with sufficient fuel for the district for about 3 weeks at the most, and it will be 3 weeks or a month before the next tanker load arrives.
The potato and onion crops in the Lockyer area are in trouble, school buses in many regions have been unable to run- and so the story of inconvenience and disruption continues. People living in Canberra and in many other places across Australia know only too well how hard it is to get heating oil or gas. In all this, despite repeated urgent appeals to the Government for help in cases where there has been a desperate need for petrol, distillate, oil or gas, there has been virtually no response whatsoever from the Government. There has been not even a slightest sign of interest or concern, let alone any effort by the Government to try to help. But this goes much further than disruption of agriculture and other industry and the disruption of the normal daily life of the community.
We now have the shocking situation in which our defence forces are virtually immobilised. Newspapers are publishing articles with headlines such as: ‘Please, no invasion today’. The attitude of this Government to the defence of Australia is well known, but the position becomes quite unacceptable when the small amount of defence capacity we do have is sabotaged by lack of fuel. At the moment the Navy is crippled, the Air Force is virtually grounded and the Army is hardly able to move at all because of the critical shortage of fuel. Apparently only one naval vessel- ‘Vendetta’- is operational, with the rest of the Navy tied up in port. Even our coastal patrol boats are operating on a restricted basis. We have had Fl 1 Is and Mirages in Darwin that could not return to their home bases because there was no fuel there for them when they got there. Maritime patrolling by the Air Force is also restricted. The Army has had to cancel a big exercise because there is no fuel to move the troops.
Why are we in this extraordinary situation, Mr Speaker? Why is a country which is so selfsufficient in petroleum- self-sufficient for the moment, let me emphasise- so hamstrung by a shortage of fuel? The answer is that continuing industrial action has rendered the whole production, storage and distribution system incapable of meeting our needs. The system normally can cope with the nation’s fuel needs, but it just cannot cope with today’s abnormal needs. It is not fair for the Government to try to blame the distribution system. The blame lies with the series of strikes, the union limitations and bans within the industry.
I shall give a quick run-down on the industrial actions that have caused the present crisis. Back in February 5,000 oil industry clerks stopped fuel deliveries. In March the oil tanker drivers in Sydney went on strike. In April drivers, storemen and packers went on strike. There were rolling strikes at the Australian Oil Refinery plant in Sydney. The Ampol and Amoco refineries in Brisbane were closed because the Australian Workers Union put a ban on deliveries of fuel from those refineries. In July ships’ engineers were on strike, and at one stage 53 oil tankers were tied up.
– How many?
-Fifty-three. Crude oil from Bass Strait was not being carried to the refineries. In August 8 unions were involved in industrial action in the oil industry in support of a $50 a week pay rise. The AWU in Victoria cut the flow of Bass Strait crude to a trickle. There was an overtime ban at the Banksmeadow terminal in Sydney, 3 Victorian oil refineries were closed, the Amoco refinery in Brisbane was closed and no crude was being delivered to the refineries. Then the Transport Workers Union called a national strike, and the fuel shortage was described as the worst since World War II.
Late in August the Australian Metal Workers Union applied bans in refineries and the Union’s secretary, Mr Halfpenny, said that this would eventually stop all fuel production. The AWU in Brisbane refused to load road tankers, except those bound for Ampol service stations. In the middle of August a tanker called the ‘W.M. Leonard’ was loaded with fuel in Brisbane for north Queensland, but the AWU refused to disconnect the oil hose and the tanker could not move. The same thing happened with a tanker that was due to sail for another load of Bass Strait crude. The AMWU put a black ban on some machinery at the Amoco refinery in Brisbane and stopped production. Late in August 3,000 oil tanker drivers and aircraft refuellers went on strike. On 25 August the Transport Workers Union applied an overtime ban on tanker drivers operating out of Brisbane. This became a major factor in the serious situation that developed in northern New South Wales. On 29 August another ban on supplies was imposed on the Amoco refinery in Brisbane. I have outlined briefly some of the industrial troubles that have plagued the oil industry this year and caused the crisis that now exists.
What are we going to do about all this, Mr Speaker? What is the Government going to do? I do not want to put all the blame on the Government for the present situation, because I know how difficult it is to deal with the industrial action of some of these unions. But I wonder just how long we must accept this continuing disruption of the life of the community. The ‘ Government appears to be quite helpless in the face of this problem, and of course this is not surprising in a world in which the power of the trade unions exceeds the power of elected governments, particularly this Government that we have at the moment. But there are some steps which the Government can and should take. Today at question time I asked the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to appoint immediately a committee of Ministers to consult with the oil industry, the unions and State authorities with a view to trying to build some safeguards in the storage and distribution system. He ignored the question. There was no satisfactory reply.
It is beyond dispute that the basic cause of the present crisis is the industrial action of the oil industry unions. The government claims to have a special relationship with the unions. I hope the Government will make use of that relationship to try to persuade the unions of the urgent need to take greater account of the needs of the nation. I wonder whether the strikes would have occurred, and the various kinds of limitations and bans that have been imposed would have occurred, or occurred to such an extent, if the rank and file members of the unions had had a say. Very serious considerations ought to be given to the introduction of compulsory secret voting in union affairs. This should certainly be the case in the strategic industries, such as fuel, power and transport. The President of the Communist Party of Australia, Mr Mundey, says the call for secret ballots is part of the current popular game of union-bashing. Mr Speaker, I do not want to bash the unions. I want to see that unionists can express their views and not be bashed for doing so. I want to remove some of the power which Mr Mundey and others like him have to bash the Australian community.
I think the Government ought to consider the possibility of establishing some kind of fuel stockpile. If the kind of disruption we are now suffering is to be the normal order of things- and there seems little prospect that it will not be- we have to find ways to protect the community. Sweden has fuel stockpiles owned and managed by the Government for emergency use. Of course there would be major problems in this concept, but at least we have to look at it. Our defence forces clearly ought to have bigger fuel reserves. I know that fuel cannot be stored indefinitely, that there must be some turnover. This means that there would need to be co-ordination of arrangements between defence forces and other users of fuel. The storage system would need to be properly integrated with the total needs of the nation.
A further suggestion I make is that the Government ask the current Royal Commission on Petroleum to examine and report on the causes and effects of fuel shortages and to recommend measures which might reduce the incidence of such shortages. I think everyone will agree, and I am sure the Government will accept, that we just cannot have this continuing interference with the flow of fuel to the community and to our defence forces. No country can tolerate this sabotage of its activities. I hope the Government will take this matter very seriously and that it will regard the fuel industry as a vital strategic industry. It might even be necessary, because of this industry’s importance, for it to be recognised in special legislation that will protect the community in times of emergency such as exists at the moment.
We cannot afford to run away from the problem. This is a serious problem affecting every section of the community. The nation is at the mercy of a few militant unions largely being led by communists who have this nation almost throttled because of their control of these strategic industries. I desperately plead for the Government to take some immediate action to relieve the hardship and disruption which has been caused to so many people across the nation.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!
– I point out that -
– . . . there are 2 Government members in the House.
-Order! I name the honourable member for Kennedy. The honourable member will apologise to the Chair.
– I apologise.
-I ask the honourable gentleman to resume his seat The honourable gentleman rose to his feet and began shouting in a most disrespectful manner. If it happens again, I will name the honourable member. It is a usual practice of the honourable member, and I will not tolerate it. I call the Minister for Minerals and Energy.
– There are only two Labor members in the House.
-Order! There are procedures that honourable members can adopt without acting like hooligans. (Quorum formed).
- Mr Deputy Speaker, it is the business of the Opposition in a case such as this when it has proposed a matter for discussion to keep the numbers in the House. I listened with a great deal of interest to the case put forward by the Leader of the Country Party. There are reasonable points in it- quite reasonable indeed. Of course, we can discount the usual union baiting and union hating that is generally associated with speeches that emanate from him and from his Party.
The hard facts are these: The royal commission to which he referred has already been asked to investigate precisely the matters that he has raised. We are far from satisfied with the distribution in Australia of every form of motor spirit and derivatives of crude oil. We have reason to be. One of the worst examples is that there are only two major refineries in Sydney. These are the Shell refinery at Clyde and the Caltex refinery at Kurnell. The product swapping which takes place would reveal to the ordinary motorist the fact that the products of oil companies are all the same despite the much vaunted advertising.
This matter does concern us greatly. One of the instructions that has been given to the counsel representing the Commonwealth at the royal commission is that he should ask that the production by refineries be shared. In the recent troubles that have occurred in Sydney we had complaints in one case that a rival refinery from Queensland which had won a contract for the supply of Transport Commission fuel requirements in New South Wales found that, because of a temporary shortage, the swapping arrangement did not operate. The refinery involved made sure that its own customers were served first. There must be sharing by refineries. There is one refinery in Sydney which is notorious for its provocative treatment of the trade union movement. We want no more of the general trouble that has existed between the management of that refinery and the trade union movement. We do not intend to have any more of it. A very good suggestion has come from the association representing service station owners. This is that the different oil companies ought to keep tanks at service stations sealed and filled.
-What with-fresh air?
– This is a common thing and it ought to be done. But the refineries want cash on the nail. In most cases, service station proprietors do not have the financial capacity to meet this requirement. It is beyond them. The refineries see to that.
– Get to the root cause of it.
– What the Opposition argues is not the root cause of it at all. It is refreshing indeed to hear from the Leader of the Country Party that in fact there are adequate fuel supplies in Australia. I have heard bis jeremiads time and again that Australia is going to run short of fuel. The position today is nothing of the sort. In Australia there is more recoverable fuel than ever before in terms of crude, oil and liquids associated with crude oil. The annual throughput of the refineries in Australia is 220 million barrels a year. Australia has at the moment reserves of 3,300 million barrels. That is the position up to date. It is quite remarkable that recently the Esso-BHP organisation estimated that it had an extra 22 per cent of reserves. So,’ I do not want to hear any more nonsense from’ ‘the Opposition about what the fuel position is. At present day consumption rates Australia has. 15 years of fuel supply in reserve. If honourable members divide 3,300 million barrels of reserves by the annual consumption of 220 million barrels, they should obtain the answer that Australia ;has 15 years in fuel reserves. Plenty of time should’ be available for us to follow the other alternatives that present themselves to us. If we want to- know the exact position with regard to fuel and- oil supplies in Australia as the question has been raised about the adequency of supplies, I have mentioned it and my colleague, the Minister for Labor and Immigration (Mr Clyde Cameron) will be dealing with the industrial aspects.
– Is this available for use?
– I would suggest that honourable gentlemen should speak in the debate in the order that they are called. ‘
-To illustrate the exact position, I quote from the head of the Esso company, the main oil company in Australia in terms of throughput. I speak of Mr Kruizenga, who pointed out: . . . Australia is not one of the countries with cause for anxiety on the energy score.
Coal reserves are more than ample for the country’s needs. It looks as though there is plenty of natural gas for the foreseeable future. Uranium supplies are available for internal use and export. The only potential problem is on the crude oil side. If you go back you will see the track record has not been too encouraging for oil exploration. The only really successful area has been in the Gippsland Basin.
But even without further major discoveries, it is feasible for Australia to be reasonably self-sufficient by coupling existing resources to new technology … In a world of expensive energy and supply difficulties that’s a pretty good position for a country to be in.
Today Australia is one of the few countries- let us forget temporary disruptions caused by industrial disputes- where one can roll up one ‘-s truck or one’s car and get fuel supplies. It is the one country, with the exception of the Arab countries, where one can buy one ‘s fuel supplies at the cheapest rate possible. We have kept the price down, and we intend to continue to do so, the propaganda of the friends of Broken Hill Proprietary notwithstanding. There again, the arch culprit is the Leader of the Country Party.
On the subject of oil prices, let this also be clearly understood: The cost of Australian crude today does not vary very much from the cost of crude from the East. The reason is that the biggest part of the cost of imported crude, which is landed today at $7.25 a barrel, consists of tax. When you deduct that tax, which is taken by the respective producing countries, you will find that the crude is just about on a par with the Aus.tralian product because we have not chosen to flog the consumer and we do not intend to do so. The farmers in Australia today can buy their fuel, their petrol and distillate, cheaper than it can be bought in any other industrialised country in the world.
On the question of LPG- and very little was said about this by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party- I quote from a report from the Hydro-Carbons Branch of my Department. It states:
The LPG from refineries is distributed mainly by road wagons or rail tank cars. The volume of storage for this product is low partly because the cost of storage tanks is high. Estimates vary from $500 to $1,000 per ton of product capacity . . .
In all States the production of LPG in refineries is less than the consumption and the shortfall is met by imports of LPG from Westernport. During 1973 the refinery and petrochemical production of LPG was 338,000 tons and the usage of Bass Strait LPG in Australia was 42,000 tons, out of over 1 million tons production.
– The whole position could be altered with a stroke of the pen.
– Do honourable members opposite want to learn, Mr Deputy Speaker, or do they just want to be the louts that they are?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The Minister Will resume his seat. The Leader of the Country Party was heard in comparative silence. The only interjections were from his own side of the House.
– Because there were only 2 Government members in the House.
-Order! I suggest that honourable members listen to the Minister for Minerals and Energy and extend him the same courtesy. I suggest that the member for the Northern Territory remain silent.
-The report continues:
LPG produced from Bass Strait at Longford is transported to Long Island Point by pipeline and there separated to propane and butane. The great bulk is shipped to Japan, but smaller quantities are shipped to New South Wales, Queensland and other States in small foreign tankers. These tankers vary in capacity from 300-900 tons: larger vessels cannot be used because of the lack of storage capacity already referred to. A particular example of this is the fact that when shipments are made to Sydney they have to be unloaded from the ship into road and rail wagons for transfer to storages. This means that the ship is held up for a much longer period than necessary, which adds to the cost of the shipment
LPG is also moved from Bass Strait by road and rail for supply to country centres in Victoria and New South Wales. There is at present no properly fitted siding for loading LPG into rail cars at Long Island Point and the procedure adopted is to carry LPG by road wagon to the siding at Bittern and transfer it there into the rail car. An additional problem for rail supply to New South Wales is the change of gauge at Albury, necessitating bogie change.
There are both physical and economic problems in supplying LPG to centres in New South Wales and Queensland from Westernport. The physical problems are the shortages of storage, snipping, and of road wagons and rail cars. The shortage sets a ceiling to the amount that can be transferred in this manner. We have been informed by several of the companies that they have road and rail wagons on order but the shortage of steel and other problems have delayed the delivery long beyond the promised date.
In regard to shipment by sea, reference has already been made to the problem of storage capacity to receive shipments, resulting in the available LPG tanker capacity being inadequate to meet the demand during the winter months . . .
The economic problem of bringing LPG from Westernport is the transport cost involved, for example the freight by coastal tanker from Westernport to Sydney is $30 per ton and the cost of carriage by road is similar. Esso quoted $30 per ton for road transport to Wagga Wagga, although the Wagga Council Gas Supply undertaking, by purchasing and operating their own road tank wagon at a cost of $60,000 claim to have reduced the cost to half of this amount. The rail freight … for transport from Bittern to Sydney is $34.55 per ton but there is also the cost of road transfer .. .
In fact, the major oil companies have been thumbing their noses at the price findings of the Prices Justification Tribunal. They sought a price of $57 a ton and were awarded a price of $42 a ton. They then said that they would prefer to burn the LPG as fuel in refineries and, alternatively, to convert it into motor spirit. You can have that at a price, and it is the responsibility of the major oil companies, who have access to the cheapest crude oil in the world today, to provide a reasonable distribution system. We intend to see that they provide it. More than that, we have referred to the Attorney-General the question of whether prosecutions should not in fact issue in respect of the flouting of the recommendations of the Prices Justification Tribunal. We believe the powers are there under section 1 8 of the Act and we intend to use them. We will also ensure that by this time next year there will be no shortage, and these people will face up to their responsibilities. They have made fantastic profits in Australia. It is their responsibility to see that LPG is provided, particularly to the country consumers.
-Mr Speaker, we know precisely what the Special Minister of State (Mr Bowen) was proposing and this man, the Minister for Minerals and Energy, who, the Prime Minister’ told us this afternoon, was going to be Acting Prime Minister of Australia for eight or nine weeks, did not have the wit to carry out the Government’s strategy on this matter. He did not think fast enough to get that in before I rose to my feet and was called. Yet this man, who so inadequately defended his Government against the very well mounted attack by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) earlier this afternoon, is to be left in charge of this country as the Acting Prime Minister to blunder round as he has in his portfolio of Minerals and Energy. He is a man who comes second only to the unions, the left-wingers and the communists as being responsible; for the situation we find ourselves in today. He is going to be left to blunder round as Acting Prime Minister of this country for 8 days. I did not actually add it up when the Prime Minister produced his diary this afternoon. What was his reply to the terms of his motion? Complete and absolute insensitivity, insensitivity in exactly the same, terms as the Prime Minister when he was questioned today at question time. He brushed off the shortages, the inconvenience, the unpreparedness in our defence forces with which we are left as a result of this action in our defence forces. What did he do? He talked about the price of petrol. He talked about the quantity of it; he talked about everything except the situation in which very large numbers of people find themselves, through not being able to get fuel. What is the use of having cheap fuel, what is the use of having plenty of fuel if nobody can get it, if people are exposed to tremendous disadvantages and discomforts over long periods as a result of union action which his Government is not prepared, to do anything about? It is intolerable to me that as a result of the current wave of industrial anarchy in Australia this Government should sit idly by while the front line of Australia’s defence, the brains and ships and planes of the Navy and the Air Force -
Mr Connor- And you would be out leading them with rifles. (Honourable members interjecting)-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The member for Barker will resume his seat. I suggest that the Minister remain silent. I ask the Leader of the Country Party to remain silent. I suggest that those people sitting behind the honourable member for Barker who are supporting this motion also remain silent during the debate.
– As I was saying, it is absolutely intolerable that, as a result of this Government’s condonation of industrial anarchy, it should sit idly by while the front lines of Australia ‘s defencesthe planes of the Air Force and the ships of the Navy- are completely immobilised over long periods. In Darwin only the week before last I saw, with my own eyes, because I went to have a look, 6 Fl 1 1 aircraft and a squadron of Mirage aircraft unable to return to their home bases in Queensland and New South Wales because of the fuel shortage.
– I rise on a point of order. My point of order is that I believe that the honourable member for Barker is deliberately misleading this house. He is untruthful.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter Wa resume his seat.
– I was -
-Order! I am on my feet. The honourable member will resume bis seat. A point of order may be taken only on matters relating to the Standing Orders of the House. Points of explanation and debating points cannot be taken as points of order. There is no point of order in what the honourable member for Hunter is saying. If the honourable member seeks to make a point in debate at another stage, that is in order.
– I was in Darwin on Friday and only 2 Mirage aircraft were there.
– Is the honourable member for Hunter saying that when I was in Darwin 2 weeks ago there were not 6 Fl 1 1 aircraft and a whole squadron of Mirage fighters there weeks after they had finished their exercises in Darwin? They were there not because they wanted to be there, not because that was the best disposition of our defence forces, but because of the utter inaction of this Government in providing them with sufficient fuel to carry out their activities. That was the case. I went there and I talked -
-Rubbish! They get their fuel from Singapore.
-I talked to the pilots and the maintenance people.
– They get their fuel from Singapore.
-Order! The Minister for Minerals and Energy will cease interjecting. (Opposition members interjecting)-
-Order! I will name someone on that side if honourable members continue to keep interjecting while I am on my feet. I am doing my best protect a speaker from their side of the House and they are acting like a lot of hooligans
– I object to that.
– Address your remarks to the Minister.
-The honourable member for the Northern Territory will resume his seat and will remain silent. I suggest to the Minister for Minerals and Energy that he remain silent during the remainder of the debate.
– I heard him -
-Order! The Minister will remain silent. It is necessary for me to keep order in this House.
– I heard him -
-Order! I will be forced to name the Minister if he keeps this up. The Minister will remain silent. I ask him to do so.
-The Minister for Minerals and Energy seems to be fairly sensitive about this problem. Not only was the front line of the Royal Australian Air Force stuck in Darwin as a result of this situation but industrial disputes also forced the withdrawal of HMAS ‘Melbourne’ from a major international exercise. We are the laughing stock of the world as a result. (Honourable members interjecting)-
-Order! I ask honourable members to remain silent. I have asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy to be silent. If the honourable member for Hume interjects again I will name him. He is continually interjecting.
– In what other country would a government withdraw from a major international exercise, demeaning the pride of that country? Australia was to be the principal in this major international exercise but because the Government is not prepared to do anything about industrial anarchy and provide adequate fuel supplies to take part in that exercise -
– We did not want to provoke a major industrial upheaval, and you did.
-Because the Government did not want a major industrial upheaval and it knew that the defence of the country was involved, the pride of the country was involved, this Minister, who is going to be the Acting Prime Minister -
– We did not want a major industrial upheaval.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Do Ministers have some special privilege which enables them constantly to flout your rulings?
-I think that if the honourable member had been in the chamber earlier he would have noticed that the Leader of the Country Party did exactly the same thing. I have asked the Minister to remain silent.
– The defence of this country was involved, the pride of this country was involved, the commitments of this country were involved, our position in the world was involved; yet this Minister who for 8 days is to be left as Acting Prime Minister of Australia says: ‘We did it because we did not want to create industrial upheaval’. That was his interjection. It will be recorded in Hansard. This Minister is going to be the Acting Prime Minister of Australia. I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), after seeing this Minister’s performance today, will have another think about his decision to leave the Minister in charge because it will be absolutely disastrous. Not only was the ‘Melbourne’ held up but the industrial situation also held up the fitting and repair of most of the Royal Australian Navy’s major ships. It brought the RAAF and RAN flying training to a standstill. Surveillance of the Australian coast by RAN patrol boats from Cairns ceased during this period yet the Government could not care less. The fact is that Indonesian fishermen are landing on our coast at the risk of foot and mouth disease to the stock of Australia. There is an inadequate number of patrol boats.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think we can get some idea of how seriously the Opposition is treating this matter when it allows not the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) to introduce it but the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony). It was not the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), not the honourable member for Wannon (Mr
Malcolm Fraser) who is a man of some substance, not the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Ellicott) who is another man of substance, and not the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who is a man of substance too, who supported its introduction but none other than the most junior person sitting on the front bench, opposite, a man who got there only by the skin of his teeth and because he happened to have, dinner at the lobby with Mr Snedden the day before he selected his front bench. He has no other virtue and no other claim to fame.
– Was he sober?
– I do not know whether he was or not.
- Mr Deputy Speaker -
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. (Honourable members interjecting)-
-Order! If honourable members do not keep quiet I will name them.
– It was a pretty terrible interjection.
– I warn the honourable member for Kooyong. Honourable members will remain silent. If honourable members want the Chair to do anything, I suggest they -give the Chair the opportunity. I suggest to the Minister that he withdraw that remark. It was not in the best interests of the Parliament.
– I withdraw it.
– I meant the Minister for Labor.
– What is it you wish me to withdraw?
-The remark that you do not know whether he was sober or not.
– I do not know. I know he had a bad back.
-I ask you to withdraw it.
– I am not going to withdraw the remark about whether I knew whether he was sober or not.
Motion (by Mr Killen) proposed:
That the Minister for Labor and Immigration be no longer heard.
– I did not put a breathalyser on him. How could I know?
Question resolved in the negative.
– I rise on a point of order. If the Standing Orders for the protection of honourable members and for the upholding of the common decency which ought to prevail in this House are to mean anything at all- with respect, Mr Deputy Speaker, you are at the moment the custodian of those Standing Orders and the decency of this House- the Minister for Labor and Immigration should withdraw that remark. He has refused to withdraw it. He repeated what he said. If there were any fairness in this Parliament the Minister for Labor and Immigration would be named. If he is not named I can only suggest, with respect, that we on this side will know precisely how the Chair will behave on every occasion.
– The Minister has had time to consider the matter. I ask the Minister whether he will withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw that I -
– Give an unqualified withdrawal.
-Just a minute. No, I will not give an unqualified withdrawal; I will give a very qualified one. The withdrawal I give is that I do not know whether he was drunk or sober. Therefore, since I do not know whether he was drunk or sober, I give him the benefit of the doubt.
– It is most unusual for a Minister of the Crown to be dealt with by the Chair, as it is for Leaders and Deputy Leaders of the Opposition. I ask the Minister whether he will withdraw the remark.
– I do not know whether some of those who are interjecting now are drunk or sober.
– I ask the Minister to withdraw it. I will give him another opportunity.
-All right, Sir, I suppose I will have to withdraw it.
– Is that really adequate, Mr Speaker?
– It is all you are going to get.
– The Minister has withdrawn. I have accepted withdrawals from the Opposition side in similar circumstances. I have always given everyone an opportunity to withdraw. The Minister has withdrawn the remark. I call the Minister for Labor and Immigration.
-The only solution we have got from the Opposition to all of the problems that we are now debating is that there ought to be compulsory secret strike ballots. Anyone would think that this was a novel or revolutionary idea that has just been dreamed up and that would have been put into the statute book years ago if the Opposition could have thought about it and presumably, if it had been accepted by the Opposition when it was in government for 23 years, it would have used that section of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to force a secret ballot.
Le me tell the House something about the Act. It appears that those who have taken part in the debate so far from the other side know little about it. For nearly 50 years now there has been a provision in the Act to permit this sort of thing to be done. For the 23 years that the Opposition was in government it did not once as a government invoke the provision of the Act that gave it the right to order a secret ballot in respect of strikes. The reason that it did not do it is that it could not do it No government can do it. The Act says that where an organisation is a party to an industrial dispute and where the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission thinks that the settlement of the dispute would be encouraged or assisted by ascertaining the views or attitude of the members of the organisation in relation to the matter, the Commission may order that a vote of those members for the purpose of ascertaining their views or attitude in relation to that matter be taken by secret ballot in accordance with the directions given by the Commission. The Commission can order the ballot to be taken by the Registrar and the Registrar can order that it be taken by the electoral officer. The powers of the Commission are exercisable only by a presidential member or by a full bench and not otherwise. That is not our section; that is the section which was put into the Act by the Opposition when it was in government The Opposition proposed that in no circumstances could the government exercise this power.
The Act then goes on to say that where the Commission orders the holding of a secret ballot, it may order and direct the organisation concerned to make arrangements for the conduct of the ballot by a person approved by the Industrial Registrar. An organisation to whom the direction has been given under this section shall comply with the direction. A person shall not, in connection with a ballot ordered by the section, obstruct the taking of the ballot, use any form of intimidation, threaten, or in any way suggest that a person might vote in a particular way or that he be forced to omit to vote or that he be forced to support or oppose a proposition or that he should promise to vote or that he should show his ballot paper to any other person than the person who is registering the vote. The penalty for anybody who commits an offence against these sections of the Act is a cool $500 or imprisonment for 6 months or both. That can be done at any time an employer chooses to make an application to the Commission.
Only the party to an award has the power to make an application, not the government. This was the decision of the present Opposition. It was the Opposition’s amendment to the Act in 1972 that made it quite clear that the Government could never in any circumstances make application. It was the Opposition’s amendment which said that only those who were parties to the award would have the right to apply. It was the Opposition’s amendment which said that the application can be heard only by a presidential member or by the full bench of the Commission. So what does the Opposition mean when it talks about secret ballots? The only occasion on which a secret ballot has ever been held under this legislation was in 1929 during the famous or the infamous, depending how one looks at it, timber workers’ strike. When the secret ballot was held more than two-thirds of the membership voted in favour of the strike continuing and, having done that, it was then found that they had to stick by the decision. I move:
That the business of the day be called on.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1 1 (1974) which I have just tabled, formally placed before Parliament, as required by law, tariff changes introduced by Gazette notice on 20 August 1794. Honourable members will recall that on 18 July when I introduced tariff proposals arising from the Tariff Board’s report on ‘Film Processing Industry; Advertising Film (Value for Duty)’ I mentioned that the changes relating to exposed and developed plates or film, other than cinematograph film, were being withheld pending the completion of international negotiations. These negotiations have been completed and a rate of 14 per cent applied to lantern slides, film strip transparencies and stereoscopic views. Other plates and film, other than cinematograph film, are now dutiable at 35 per cent.
Proposals No. 11 (1974) also corrects an anomaly in the expression of the developing countries rate applicable to certain paper and paperboard. In addition provision is being maintained in the scheme of tariff preferences for developing countries for admission until 31 December 1974 of certain men’s and boys’ overcoats at a concessional rate of 10 per cent subject to quota limitations. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Adermann) adjourned.
Bill presented by Dr Patterson, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise a nonrepayable grant of $2.56m to the Queensland Government towards the cost of constructing stage 2 of the Ross River Dam near Townsville. The Queensland Government and the Townsville City Council will together meet the balance of the cost of stage 2, at present estimated at $5. 12m. The construction of stage 2 is being advanced to ensure adequate water supplies for the fast growing population of Townsville and neighbouring areas in the Shire of Thuringowa now totalling about 80,000 persons and expected to reach 100,000 by 1980. Stage 2 of the dam construction will ensure an additional daily supply of 83.8 megalitres (18.4 million gallons) bringing the total daily supply for Townsville and its environs from all sources to about 166.4 megalitres (36.6 million gallons) for domestic, industrial and municipal purposes. It will also provide for increased domestic consumption levels which are limited by the present restrictions because supplies are often severely inadequate over drier periods.
There are other important implications for Townsville in stage 2 of the Ross River Dam project. Flood mitigation storage will be increased and Townsville will be virtually secure from flooding in the Ross River. This will enable the City Council to plan with confidence the future use of large areas of flood-prone land under its control. Further, this storage of some 417,000 megalitres (338,000 acre feet) only 30 kilometres from the centre of the largest city in northern Australia should provide valuable opportunities for relaxation and recreation. Proposals are being examined to have the storage area declared a flora and fauna reserve. The construction of stage 2 involves raising the height of the stage 1 spillway by 6.5 metres (21.5 feet) and the embankments by 4 metres (13 feet), including the placement of some 1.53 million cubic metres (2 million cubic yards) of earth, sand and rockfill. In addition, about 16 kilometres (10 miles) each of the Flinders Highway and the Great Northern Railway will need to be relocated due to the enlargement of the storage area.
Townsville is a city of considerable importance, not only to the north, but to Australia generally. Its major industries are export-orientated, based on the rich resources of its hinterland including a copper refinery to process concentrates from Mount Isa, a nickel refinery now under construction to handle the output from the Greenvale nickel deposits and 3 abattoirs, two of which process livestock mainly for export. Townsville also handles exports of sugar from the Burdekin region, one of Australia’s most important sugar districts. Townsville has been selected by the Australian Government as a possible growth centre. Indeed, its growth over recent years owes much to Australian Government decisions, such as the location of defence installations, the establishment and growth of the James Cook University and work now in progress on the Institute of Marine Science at Cape Cleveland. The prospective provision of international air traffic facilities at Townsville would provide a further stimulus to growth. In fact, it was specifically in recognition of the burden on the public utilities of Townsville created by such Australian Government initiatives that we decided to provide a grant of $ 1.5m in 1973 towards the cost of constructing stage 1 of the Ross River Dam.
The Department of Northern Development and the Department of Urban and Regional Development have worked in close consultation on this matter, examining all aspects of water supply and demand within the context of our policies in respect of northern development and regional growth centres. The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, at the request of the Department of Northern Development, reviewed the design and cost estimates of the engineering works and an interdisciplinary panel of senior State officers examined the likely environmental impact of stage 2. No adverse environmental consequences were foreshadowed. The Government believes that an adequate supply of water will be a major incentive for future growth in the Townsville area. Water consumption in the tropics is inevitably higher than in most southern cities because of harsher environmental conditions and the requirement of large quantities of water for the maintenance of municipal amenities, such as parks and gardens, recreation areas and street improvements. The provision of adequate water supplies is also an indispensable condition for the location and development of new industrial enterprises on which the longterm growth of Townsville will depend.
I commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Adermann) adjourned.
Bill presented by Dr Patterson, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to obtain approval for an agreement which has been negotiated with the Queensland Government under which the Australian Government will provide a loan of $2m during this financial year to the State towards the cost of constructing Julius Dam on the Leichhardt River at a site about 65 kilometres east of Mount Isa. Construction of the dam is to be financed by Mount Isa Mines Ltd, the Mount Isa City Council and the Queensland Government. The estimated cost of the dam is $ 10m with an estimated further cost of $ 1 5.2m to cover pumps and a pipeline supply system. The Queensland Government’s share of the total estimated cost of $25.2m is $7.3m and includes an amount of $3.9m to enable the dam to be built with spare capacity to cater for the expected growth requirements of the area. Julius Dam with a storage capacity of 123,500 megalitres, is being constructed in the Selwyn Ranges some 1,500 kilometres north-west of Brisbane. Rainfall in this region is low, averaging less than 400 millimetres a year and both monthly and annual falls are variable resulting often in severe water shortages over long periods and sometimes in serious floods. The extremely high annual evaporation of 3,230 millimetres leaves an annual deficit of 2,830 millimetres and is the major cause of low yields from water storages.
The whole area is highly mineralised and known reserves of silver, lead and copper ores have been increased as a result of recent exploration, whilst the economic feasibility of developing other mineral deposits has been proved. Mining started at Mount Isa in February 1923 in primitive conditions; transport through the Selwyn Ranges was difficult, and the only water available was from sandy pools in the bed of the Leichhardt River. During its first 50 years of development, water has been an extremely important constraint to progress at Mount Isa. The first water supply was provided by damming Rifle Creek in 1929 and this supply was supplemented by bore water. Later, supplies were further augmented by the construction of Lake Moondarra in 1955, and it is obvious that further development will rely on additional water supplies.
The population of Mount Isa at the 1971 census was 25,200, representing an increase of 8,200 since 1966 at an average annual growth rate of 8½ per cent over the census period. I am sure there is general agreement that people living in arid areas under uncomfortable climatic conditions for many months of the year should have access to assured water supplies for domestic and municipal purposes. The demand for water for mining activities is also expected to increase. Mount Isa Mines is developing a new mine at Hilton some 16 kilometres north of the present workings. Operations at the Hilton mine are expected to commence around 1977-78. Other prospective users of water, such as the phosphate mine at Lady Annie and copper mining at Kajabbi, are likely to begin operations at a later date. Julius Dam is expected to be completed by 1975 and, therefore, there will be some considerable delay between the completion of the dam and the main demand for water.
The loan to the State of Queensland is basically to enable the State to assist in the development of our valuable northern mineral resources. This loan, together with funds provided by Queensland, will ensure a supply of water in anticipation of the expected demand by mining industries. It will ensure that workers and their families will be able to enjoy some of the amenities which people in southern Australia often take for granted. I am, nevertheless, concerned at the high level of water charges which may have to be levied by the Mount Isa Council to meet its share of the dam and distribution works. An offer of a loan of $2m to the State of Queensland was made by the Australian Government in October 1972 and confirmed by this Government with improved terms to ease the burden of repayments until the expected demand for water develops. This new offer has been accepted by the Premier of Queensland under the terms set out in the schedule to this Bill.
The mining industries of northern Australia are making a noteworthy and vitally important contribution to the economy of Australia. They will continue to do so in the future and, in one way or another, we must assure that the heavy burden of costs for water, transport and other basic facilities does not act as a deterrent to those people whose personal contribution is indispensable to the success of the development of our northern resources. I commend this Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Katter) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Beazley, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides grants for universities for a number of purposes- for universities to undertake programs high in the Government’s social and educational purposes. Special grants are to be available to specified universities to increase teaching and research in special education of the handicapped, to establish courses or chairs of community practice associated with community health centres, and to increase the number of social workers in training. We believe these programs will produce sound professional staff and add to the community’s capacity to meet needs in these fields.
Secondly, funds are to be provided to the University of Newcastle to allow for the planning of a new medical school in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Medical Schools of the Universities Commission. Thirdly, the Bill provides for an Australian Government contribution towards the costs of acquiring the site of a new university at Campbelltown, New South Wales. Further assistance towards the development of this university will be provided when the Government considers the recommendations of the Universities Commission for the triennium 1976-78.
The Bill provides for administrative matters which have arisen since legislation on grants to universities was passed by the Parliament during the Autumn sittings of 1973. Monash University proposed to speed the introduction of a social work course and special assistance was provided for this purpose. Unfortunately, the University found that it was unable to achieve its objective, and the additional earmarked grant is to be repealed. In the legislation enacted during the 1973 Budget sittings provision was also made in Part IV of the First Schedule to the Act to establish a School of Management Education at the University of New South Wales. Necessary amendments in Parts II and III of the First Schedule to accord with this provision were overlooked. This Bill makes the necessary machinery amendment although this does not represent any increase in the commitment of funds beyond that already intended in the previous legislation.
When the Australian Government assumed full financial responsibility for tertiary education from January 1974 amendment was necessary for proportions of payments to be made by the State governments. In section 8 of the principal Act which is related to student residential accommodation, the word ‘one-twentfth’ was included as the States’ share but this related to total cost and not to the amounts shown in the relevant Schedule attached to the Act which represent the Australian Government contribution. It is necessary to amend the proportion from ‘onetwelfth’ to ‘one-eighth’. The State governments are aware of the need for this particular amendment to the legislation.
As I have already mentioned, the Australian Government assumed full responsibility for the financing of tertiary education from 1 January 1974 and since that time it has become evident that one of the exceptions contained in the existing definition of ‘fees’ in the principal Act relating to fees payable to student organisations requires clarification. Provision has been made in the Bill to provide for this clarification. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the existing States Grants (Universities) Act 1972-73 to make the financial provisions and the necessary machinery and administrative amendments I have mentioned. The measures included in the Bill require a financial commitment of $840,000 for capital expenditure, and $345,000 in 1974 and $563,000 in 1975 for recurrent purposes. I hope the Parliament will enable this Bill to become an Act.
Debate (on motion by Mr Ellicott) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Uren, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is designed to provide extra funds for sewerage backlog programs in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Honourable gentlemen will be familiar with the vast national sewerage program introduced by the Australian Government to tackle the backlog in Australian sewerage programs. The Government regards the removal of the sewerage backlog and the ability of State and local government authorities to keep pace with the demand for new services as a yardstick of social progress in Australia.
If we cannot provide the most basic of all services then quite clearly the structure of government in this country has failed the people it purports to serve. We have no cause for pride in the quality of services when millions of gallons of raw sewage is pumped each week into the seas off our coast, bays and inlets and into metropolitan rivers and creeks. A warning is sounded for future generations when we find that our rivers are recording a level of pollution from sewage which is alarmingly high.
The experience of other countries reinforces this message. We do not want to see our oceans and waterways converted into running cesspools in the way that the great rivers of Europe have been polluted. The tragic experience of the Mediterranean and the Rhine, Elbe and Danube Rivers is a reminder to us of what can happen to our own seas, streams and rivers which are still untainted. For these reasons we have stressed the importance of this scheme and our determination to remove the sewerage backlog over the next 8 years. In particular the national sewerage program gives expression to our concern that all new land subdivisions should be given adequate sewerage treatment facilities. We also insist that these treatment facilities should meet standards which safeguard our environment. No house now being built should have to wait for long to be connected to a complete sewerage system.
Beating the sewerage backlog breaks down into 2 parts- connection to a reticulated sewerage system, and overcoming inadequate trunk sewers and treatment standards. About one-sixth of the main urban areas of Australia were unsewered at December 1972 when this Government took office. They are the last figures available. There are many examples of the inadequacy of urban trunk sewerage mains and treatment works. I do not want to list them here. I have given details of them previously. I have touched on their existence to indicate the size of the problem and the level of capital spending that will be required to overcome them. They reinforce the point that these great problems will not be solved without heavy capital spending. Spending on sewerage works soaks up an enormous amount of capital, both for the expansion of services to meet growing populations and to chop out the backlog in services which now exists. It means that the States and local government cannot tackle the backlog and at the same time keep up with new services without strong support from the Australian Government. Without that support it is not possible, and it has not been possible in the past Unfortunately the sad thing was that previous Australian Governments would not become involved in the problems of urban areas.
Provision of sewerage is often made difficult because of the existence of hilly, rocky and swampy country in many of the new areas developed around our cities. Septic tanks can provide a substitute in sparsely settled and relatively flat areas but it is at best a poor substitute. In fact in some cases, such as on the Gold Coast, a septic tank system in times of flood may become more dangerous than a system without septic tanks. In densely settled areas which have high water tables or are rocky or swampy the septic tank is no substitute for reticulated sewerage. We concede these difficulties but we are determined to overcome them and to provide the strongest possible lead for State and local government authorities to give the Australian people proper sewerage.
It is appalling to have to record that the sewerage from 400,000 people in Brisbane is still discharged untreated into Moreton Bay at the mouth of the Brisbane River. The Melbourne Press in the past year has been studded with report of high levels of pollution from sewage on the beaches and bays of Melbourne. Quite often in Melbourne heavy rains force overflows of sewage into the city’s stormwater drainage systems. This noxious waste is then transmitted through the suburbs of Melbourne. Most metropolitan streams in Australia record levels of E.coli which are completely unacceptable to this Government. These are examples of the social evils the extra assistance given by this Bill is designed to remove from our cities and countryside.
The Sewerage Agreements Act 1973 appropriated $30m of loan funds at the long term bond rate to the States for sewerage backlog works for 1973-74. This was in this year only. In the new program which will be announced tonight will be a different arrangement which will be explained by the Treasurer (Mr Crean). I stress that this is additional to the normal allocation of loan money each year to the States for sewerage works. This program was tailored to fit the ability of the State sewerage authorities to speed up their works programs after this allocation was made. With one exception, the initial allocations to the States in 1973-74 have been spent. The total program for 1973-74 included 81 reticulation projects, 35 main, sub-main and carrier sewer projects, 6 pumping stations and 10 treatment plants. In the course of the 1973-74 financial year, it became clear that Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia needed further financial assistance. This was necessary to keep up the existing rate of progress of works throughout the whole of the year. It is important that the momentum built up by this program should be maintained so that the sewerage backlog in the main urban areas disappears in the shortest possible time. The Government’s advisers reviewed the programs and we decided on agreements with the 3 State Governments for the extra works and extra moneys. These agreements will be effective once this Bill is passed. But for the double dissolution it would have been introduced in the autumn session of Parliament.
Turning to the assistance sought by the States, Victoria asked for $3.95m, Queensland $2m, and Western Australia $3m. We have agreed to these allocations except for Queensland, where $lm will be made available. This means that the total allocation of financial assistance for sewerage backlog in 1973-74- the first year of administration of this Government- will be $37.95m. It will be distributed between the States in this way: New South Wales, $ 11.2m; Victoria, $ 13.25m; Queensland, $4.1m; South Australia, $1.6m; Western Australia, $6.8m; and Tasmania, $lm. The extra money will be made available on the same terms and conditions as in the Sewerage Agreements Act 1973. We have carefully assessed the impact of these programs on manpower and material resources. Most of the works have already been completed and therefore will involve no significant pressure on resources. Where works will not be completed for some months we have ensured that our allocations will not impose a strain on resources of both men and materials.
I turn now to the programs for each of the States. The program in Victoria is important because good progress has already been made and the extra money will enable greater inroads into the sewerage backlog to be made. I am convinced that the additional funds will accelerate the strong drive the Melbourne authorities have started against pollution in metropolitan streams and along the bay-side beaches. It is only in such a co-operative manner that we can solve the problem
In Queensland, the extra assistance will be concentrated on projects designed to remove the backlog of poor sewerage services in Brisbane. It will include the start of the Luggage Point treatment plant which will treat sewage from the main sewerage area of Brisbane to comply with Water Quality Council standards. This will bring important benefits to the environment in central Brisbane and in the outer suburbs of the city.
In Western Australia, the extra assistance will mean that existing programs will be maintained at peak level. Without this assistance, the Perth Metropolitan Water Board would have to cut back its accelerated works program, and this would mean a reduction in contract staff. With regard to longer term programs, in the Budget session the Government will announce details of the form and level of finance to be provided. We have to solve these problems together. It has to be a co-operative effort between the Australian and State governments and local authorities. We intend to set out to work together in a cooperative way in what we call a spirit of cooperative federalism to try to solve these problems. The level of financial assistance under this Bill now before the House has been taken into account in preparing the long-term program. I ask honourable members to note that the form and level of finance proposed under the longterm program cannot be anticipated from the financial arrangements under this Bill.
In summary, this Bill provides extra amounts of up to $3m to Western Australia, $3. 95m to Victoria and $lm to Queensland in the 1974-75 fiscal year as part of the program to cut out the sewerage backlog. The extra money will allow the level of activity reached under the existing accelerated program to be maintained. The funds will be provided under the same terms and conditions as in the Sewerage Agreements Act of 1973, a matter which I drew to the attention of the House earlier. This arrangement applied to that year only and a new arrangement will be announced tonight by the Treasurer. This was the first real drive of an Australian government to work together with the States and local authorities to overtake the backlog of sewerage, to protect the environment and to give every person living in an urban community the right to sewerage and better environmental conditions. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Morrison, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As this Bill and the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill 1 974 which I will be introducing subsequently are interrelated, I propose with the indulgence of the House to make a short statement covering both Bills.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Morrison, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill 1974 and the Papua New Guinea Bill 1974 is to give effect to a request by the Government of Papua New Guinea that the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly be given authority to legislate with respect to mining for petroleum and other minerals in the territorial sea and the continental shelf within the adjacent areas of Papua New Guinea as defined in the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967-1973. With the advent of self government in Papua New Guinea on 1 December 1973 authority over all functions of government passed to the control of Papua New Guinea with the exception of a small number of functions which were reserved to Australia- the most important of these being defence and foreign relations.
Authority over the function of off-shore mining passed to Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guinea had the right, consistently with self government, to legislate in regard to offshore rnining. As an interim measure, until the necessary legislation could be enacted, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is designated authority in respect of the adjacent areas of Papua New Guinea, under the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act, delegated his authority to the Papua New Guinea Minister for Mines and Energy and certain Papua New Guinea Government officials.
The Australian Government agreed to permit Papua New Guinea to enact its own legislation subject to 2 conditions. These are that:
The Papua New Guinea Chief Minister has agreed to these 2 conditions. He has also indicated that the Papua New Guinea Government shares Australia’s concern to protect the environment.
Taking these Bills in turn, the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill provides for the repeal from a date to be proclaimed of the provisions of the principal Act that extend to Papua New Guinea. This date will be the date of commencement of Papua New Guinea’s own off-shore legislation. Clause 4 amends section 7 of the principal Act by ceasing its extension to Papua New Guinea and clause 5 omits reference to the Australian Minister as the designated authority in respect of the adjacent areas of Papua New Guinea. Clause 6 repeals the section of the principal Act which deals with the payment of fees, royalties, etc., to Papua New Guinea and provides that any moneys received by Australia before the date of commencement of this Act are to be paid to Papua New Guinea. Clause 8 removes the description of the adjacent areas of Papua New Guinea from the second schedule to the principal Act.
The Papua New Guinea Bill puts beyond doubt the authority of the House of Assembly to legislate with regard to off-shoremining. Clause 3 of this Bill inserts a new section in the principal
Act to clarify the authority of the House of Assembly to legislate in the offshore area, as defined in the new section, and provides that such authority shall not be construed as limiting by implication any other power of the House of Assembly to make laws under the principal Act. I draw to the attention of honourable members the fact that Papua New Guinea’s authority to legislate with regard to off-shore mining is confined to the territorial sea and the continental shelf within the adjacent areas of Papua New Guinea and that Papua New Guinea has agreed to conform to Australia’s international obligations in regard to the law of the sea conventions.
Although the function of Papua New Guinea ‘s foreign relations is reserved to Australia, the policy of the Australian Government has been to involve fully Papua New Guinea and to exercise that function only after the fullest consultation with and advice from the Papua New Guinea Government. Consistent with this policy Australia has encouraged Papua New Guinea to take its place in the international community and one example of Papua New Guinea’s increasing involvement in this community was its participation in the recent Law of the Sea Conference in Caracas.
The Bills I am introducing are a further step in the devolution of authority to Papua New Guinea so that when independence comes there will not be one aspect of government with which Papua New Guinea will not be familiar and experienced. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.13 to 8 p.m.
Message from the Governor-General recom mending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In doing so, I present the Budget for 1 974-75.
The Government has twice in less than two years been elected to carry out programs of social reform and progress.
The Budget proposals I am announcing tonight are designed to advance our programs and to make Australia a fairer society.
Due to the interruption of the normal business of government and Parliament caused by the dissolution of both Houses, the Budget is being presented later than usual.
Furthermore, it has been framed within the context of an economy subjected to exceptional strains.
– I will say it again: An economy subjected to exceptional strains. We share with all our major trading partners problems of economic management unparalleled in modern times. Yet it must be emphasised that these problems flow from Australia’s basic strength and real prosperity. In the past year- and those honourable members who have studied the White Paper on national income can read it for themselves- gross domestic product increased in real terms by 5% per cent. Civilian employment rose by a record 218,000. Incomes rose strongly in both real and dollar terms.
Partly because of this increase in incomes, price increases have been large and widespread. Until recently, we have experienced severe shortages and delays in the supply of a wide range of goods and materials and a disturbingly high incidence of industrial disputes.
The Government acted decisively to ease the excess pressures on the economy prevalent during most of 1973-74. Firm action was taken through monetary policy to moderate excessive demands and through exchange rate adjustments and tariff reductions to increase supplies. In the event, nearly one-half of the increase in demand was satisfied by the increase in imports resulting from our external policies.
These actions have achieved their objective. Demand pressures in the private sector have abated in recent months. After strong growth in the first half of 1973-74, capital spending by business declined slightly in real terms in the second half of the year. Investment in new dwellings, which had been far outstripping the growth in building resources, is now more in line with the supplies available. Though remaining reasonably buoyant, consumer spending is now a less dominant expansionary force than it was during much of 1 973-74.
The abatement in demand pressures is evidenced also in the labour market. Unemployment has increased and overtime working has diminished.
Although demand pressures are being contained, powerful cost pressures have been unleashed which threaten further unsettling price increases. In that connection I mention that the Government is exploring a tax penalty mechanism by which wage and salary increases beyond an established norm might be excluded from assessable costs for the assessment of company income tax.
The conventional response to inflation has relied almost entirely on the creation of mass unemployment. Those who advocate such a course in present conditions are unable to say what level of unemployment would markedly reduce inflation. The Government is not prepared deliberately to create a level of 4 or 5 per cent, or perhaps even higher unemployment.
The Government is convinced that the best course is to attack the cost price spiral directly. We are pursuing this course in discussions with the State Governments arising from the recent special conference with Premiers. We have also engaged in discussions with unions and employers, particularly in the context of the Moore Conference. This form of action depends upon widespread and unusual co-operation. To rely on unemployment to reduce cost pressures would inhibit that co-operation and could destroy the Government’s right to claim it. The Government will not close off its options until the possibilities of co-operation have been given a proper test.
However, decisions taken in the Budget context remain important in this overall strategy. We must maintain control over total demand to prevent excessive demand pressures emerging again. The expansion in the public sector contained in this Budget is designed to take up the slack emerging in the private sector.
The Government’s appeal for restraint on wages and prices will, I believe, be reinforced by the decisions, particularly on the tax side, which I shall shortly announce. In making their wage claims, employees should recognise that the Government expects the principal burden of restraint to fall on upper income groups, particularly through the impact on profits of the operations of the Prices Justfication Tribunal and by the substantial redistribution of incomes which will arise from this Budget, particularly from the amendments to the income tax system and the new provisions for the taxation of property incomes and capital gains. The possibility of restraint from all sections of the community will be enhanced by the decisions I will announce designed to reduce the burdens on and increase the benefits for wage earners and particularly low and single income families.
The Government will continue to be flexible in its use of policy instruments to meet any difficulties which emerge- as illustrated by the action earlier this month to enable the Savings Banks to increase their lending for housing, and by the recently announced decision to institute a Regional Employment Development Scheme. Should the need arise, we stand ready during the year to take action on the expenditure or revenue side of the Budget to give a quick stimulus to demand and employment.
Crucial as the fight against inflation is, it cannot be made the sole objective of Government policy. This Government is committed to the program of social reform to improve the position of the less privileged groups in our society and to maintain employment opportunities. We intend to pursue those programs and objectives without significant increase in the public service which will be held to the increase in operative staff of 1 per cent previously announced.
The Government’s overriding objective is to get on with our various initiatives in the fields of education, health, social welfare and urban improvement. The relatively subdued conditions in prospect on the private sector provide the first real opportunity we have had to transfer resources to the public sector.
It is against this background that we have budgeted for substantial increases in expenditure on our major programs of reform this year.
Total Budget outlays in 1974-75 are estimated at $16,274 million an increase over actual outlays in 1973-74 of $3,980 million or 32.4 per cent.
Opposition supporters- Oh!
– -Well honourable members opposite can tell us later where they would cut it down.
– That is what you are charged to do.
-Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will remain silent.
– There is very severe provocation with that sort of stuff.
-Meanwhile, the honorable member for Kooyong and others can study the details in Statement No. 3.
I now briefly outline the Government’s expenditure proposals for 1974-75; additional information will, as appropriate, be provided by the responsible Ministers.
Education remains one of the Government’s highest priorities. Last year, Australian Government expenditure on education almost doubled. For 1974-75, total outlays on education are estimated at $ 1,535 million an increase of 78 per cent on 1973-74.
The increase is partly due to the full impact of major new programs introduced by the Government at the beginning of 1974.
– And inflation- but substance as well. These include the new programs of expenditure on primary and secondary schools being administered by the Schools Commission; the Government’s undertaking of total financial reponsibility for tertiary education throughout Australia; the abolition of fees for tertiary and technical education; and the new student assistance measures.
Our expenditure on schools will increase from $234 million in the last financial year to $555 million in 1974-75, an increase of 137 per cent. On universities and colleges of advanced education, expenditure will rise from $524 million to $818 million, a 56 per cent increase.
This Budget provides for important new measures in education to be introduced in 1974-75.
A major new initiative will be undertaken in the field of technical and further education, based on the broad program recommended by the Kangan Committee. Subject to the understanding that the States will not reduce the level of their own activities in technical education, we expect to spend $96.5 million in the States on this program in two years, and have provided $49.1 million for this purpose in 1974-75. This will cover expenditure on land and buildings, including residential faculties for students, and on equipment and minor works, assistance with general recurrent expenditure, and for specific purposes such as in-service teacher education and library development. The Minister for Education will be providing details of this program.
The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Schools Commission that extra funds should be allocated along the lines suggested in the Karmel Report to ensure that the impact of Schools Commission grants, and of grants under earlier programs for school science arid library facilities, is not eroded by cost increases. An amount of about $78 million will be available for this purpose during the remainder of the 1974 school year and in the 1975 school year; $48.5 million of this is included in the 1974-75 Budget. Previously, we had introduced procedures to supplement grants to universities and colleges of advanced education for the same purpose. Provision for these supplementary grants has been made for the first time in the 1974-75 Budget, at a cost of $39.2 million.
Changes to existing schemes of assistance to students at secondary and tertiary levels are estimated to cost an additional $7.2 million in 1974-75. These will permit rates of allowances and means tests to be adjusted to reflect movement in costs.
Details of other initiatives in education to be introduced in 1974-75 will be announced by the Minister for Education. care and education of young children
The Government has decided to proceed with its full-scale program for the care and education of young children. We propose a fully integrated approach to the needs of childhood, embracing education, health and care services. An amount of $75 million has been provided in the Budget to enable a start to be made on the program by no later than 1 January 1975, and to meet existing commitments.
A Children’s Commission will be established to assume responsibility for administering all existing commitments in this area and for developing the new program. Meanwhile, an interim Children’s Committee will be set up.
Details of the Government’s decisions on the care and education of young children will be the subject of a statement by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister.
Following consideration of the Hospitals and Health Services Commission report on Hospitals in Australia, tabled in Parliament on 10 April, the Government has decided to implement a five-year program of capital assistance for the provision, expansion and modernisation of public hospital and other health institutional facilities in the States. The amount provided for 1974-75 is $28 million. To meet urgent needs for additional hospitals, arrangements will be made to acquire a site in each of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for the construction of an Australian Government hospital.
The Government has recognised the need for assistance in the provision of medical and surgical aids and appliances. Currently, artificial limbs and, in certain cases, hearing aids are provided free of charge. It is proposed to widen the assistance given in this field by providing free of charge, to those who need them, stoma appliances and the equipment and supplies needed for home dialysis. It is intended that stoma appliances will be distributed through hospitals and stoma associations. Home dialysis requirements will be made available through hospital dialysis and transplantation centres.
The Australian Government will increase capital grants and operational subsidies for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Financial assistance for the three years commencing 1 July 1974 will comprise a capital subsidy of up to $800,000 and an operational subsidy of up to $2.1 million. The estimated cost of the additional assistance in 1974-75 is $327,000.
The Government is continuing its efforts to improve the position of patients in nursing homes. Nursing home benefits were increased from 1 August at an additional cost in 1 974-75 of $24.6 million.
In addition, it is proposed to amend the National Health Act to authorise the Minister to enter into agreements with religious, charitable and other non-profit organisations conducting nursing homes, under which the Government will meet the deficits incurred in running the homes. It is planned to introduce this arrangement in January next. The cost in 1974-75 is estimated at $ 1.8 million.
The Government has approved a special grant of $1.2 million, on a dollar- for-dollar basis, to Queensland for the erection of Stage 2 of the public nursing home complex at Wynnum. $300,000 has been provided for 1974-75.
We propose to increase, with effect from 1 October 1 974, the existing subsidy to approved organisations providing home nursing services. For organisations established before September 1956, the annual Australian Government payment for each nurse who attracts subsidy will be increased from $4,700 to $6,200. For organisations established after that date, the annual subsidy for each nurse employed will be increased from $2,350 to $3,100. As at present, the Australian Government subsidy to any organisation will not exceed that paid to the organisation by a State. The increase m the subsidy is expected to cost $6 13,000 in 1974-75.
The Government intends to continue the National Drug Education Program and for this purpose will provide $750,000 in 1974-75. Continuing support will be provided for the program during 1975-76 and 1976-77.
The Government is pressing on with its commitment to restore Australia to a position of leadership in the provision of welfare services.
Because this year’s Budget is late, all social service pensions and benefits have already been increased. The standard (or single) rate was increased by $5 a week and the combined married rate by $6 a week. The standard rate of pension represents almost 25 per cent of seasonally adjusted average weekly earnings for the June quarter 1974. Pension rates will be further reviewed in Autumn 1975.
Additional pensions and benefits payable in respect of dependent children, including student children, are to be increased by 50 cents to $5.50 a week.
The means-tested supplementary assistance and supplementary allowance payable to pensioners and beneficiaries who pay rent are to be increased by $1 to $5 a week. The amount of supplementary assistance payable is not to exceed actual rent paid.
Orphans pension which v/as introduced by this Government last year is to be increased by $1 to $11 a week.
Abolition of the Means Test
As I indicated in my statement to the House on 23 July, the Government will be proceeding with the second step in the abolition of the means test -for residentially qualified persons aged 70 to 74 years- to take effect next April.
Last year a pilot program provided assistance for 35 Regional Councils for Social Development to establish social planning structures at a regional level. Further impetus is now to be given to the program. Initiating grants will be provided in regions currently not assisted. Administration grants will be increased in the regions already receiving assistance and six more regional councils will be given access to capitation grants to assist local social welfare services.
The States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act 1969, provided $25 million for nonrepayable interest-free grants to the States over the five years terminating in 1973-74. These grants were for the construction of dwellings to be let to single persons who were receiving an age or Service pension and who were eligible for supplementary assistance. We will now provide an amount of $30 million over the three years from 1974-75, doubling the annual grant to $10 million. The scheme will be widened to embrace the construction of dwellings to be let to single invalid and Class B widow pensioners and single Service pensioners who are permanently unemployable or suffering from tuberculosis.
Home Care for the Aged
It is the Government’s intention that the rate of capital subsidy under the Aged Persons Homes Act, now $2 to $1, will be increased to $4 to $1 from 1 January 1975.
The personal care subsidy payable to organisations providing personal care services for the aged in approved hostel accommodation will be increased from $ 12 to $ 1 5 a week.
The basic rate of subsidy paid to ‘mealsonwheels’ services will be increased from 20 cents to 25 cents a meal. The increased subsidy will be payable from 1 October 1974 and will apply to meals delivered since 1 July 1974.
Assistance to the Handicapped
Handicapped children’s benefit payable to organisations is to be increased by 50 cents to $3.50 a day.
We propose to introduce a Handicapped Child’s Allowance of $10 a week. It is to be payable to parents and guardians in respect of a child under 16 years who is cared for at home and who, because of the severity of the handicap, is in need of constant care and attention.
The Government has decided to increase grants to national family planning organisations by $75,000 to $425,000 a year. We will also initiate further measures to encourage family planning and provide advisory facilities to those who have previously lacked access to family planning advice. An amount of $700,000 has been included in the Budget for the provision of facilities and for the training of medical personnel.
An amount of $ 1 1 . 8 million is provided in the Budget to assist employees displaced as a direct result of Government decisions designed to bring about significant structural changes in industry that are in the national interest. Within specified limits, income maintenance payments will be made available to individuals affected by these decisions.
We have endorsed in principle the compensation scheme contained in the Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Compensation and Rehabilitation in Australia (the Woodhouse Report) and the main enabling legislation will be introduced in the Budget sittings. The Bill will provide for a phased introduction of the scheme and, following detailed examination of the scheme by the Government and others, amendments may be made to the Act before its implementation. The only costs in 1974-75 will be for the payment of staff and consultants to plan the operation of the scheme.
There will be further substantial increases in Repatriation benefits.
The Special Rate pension, or its equivalent, will be increased by $4.00 a week to $64. 10 during the Budget sittings and will be further increased by $4.00 a week during the Autumn of 1975. The maximum General Rate war pension will be increased by $3.00 a week to $25.00 during the Budget sittings and further increased by $3.00 a week during the Autumn. There will be increases in the Domestic Allowance payable to most war widows and in most other pensions and allowances paid under Repatriation legislation. The full details will be announced by the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation.
In addition, we have decided to introduce some new benefits in the Repatriation field.
Free medical and hospital treatment for any condition will be provided for all Australian exservicemen and women who were interned as prisoners of war. All ex-service personnel, irrespective of whether they had service in a theatre of war, who suffer from malignant cancer, will be provided with any treatment necessary for that condition. These benefits will be introduced during the Budget sittings.
Further benefits will be introduced from the Autumn of 1975. The means test on service pensions will be abolished for those aged 70 to 74 years. A further 25 per cent of all war pension payments will be disregarded as income for service pension means test purposes. Ex-service personnel who had war-time service in the Defence Forces of other countries of the British Commonwealth and who are now residing in Australia, and have done so for at least ten years, will be eligible to apply for service pensions.
The Government accorded a high priority to Aboriginal affairs in its Budget allocations in 1973- 74. We propose a further substantial expansion of activity this year. The Budget provides for an increase of $64.9 million in outlays on Aboriginal advancement programs in 1974- 75, to a total of $163.6 million. This provision will ensure that initiatives taken since December 1972 will be consolidated and developed for the benefit of the Aboriginal community.
At the Premiers’ Conference in June, we agreed to advance $235 million to the States for welfare housing purposes in 1974-75. Taking into account that $25 million of the 1973-74 advances was not spent by the States last year, this would allow for an increase in expenditure this year of $67 million, or 34 per cent. Nevertheless, we stand ready to consult with the States on the provision of additional advances in the light of developments in the housing industry, the availability of resources for housing construction, and the ability of the States to put further funds for welfare housing to productive use. If circumstances warrrant, we will be proposing that an increased proportion of advances made to the States under the Housing Agreement be disbursed through the Home Builders’ Accounts to assist private home ownership for persons of low and moderate income.
The Government proposes to introduce as soon as possible legislation to establish an Australian Housing Corporation to undertake all of those housing functions for which the Australian Government has Constitutional power. This will include direct lending by the Corporation to families for housing. The sum of $25m is being provided to enable the Corporation to undertake those housing functions which are not provided for under other appropriations. Details will be announced by the Minister for Housing and Construction.
We propose to improve significantly the Defence Service Homes Scheme. Details will be announced by the Minister for Housing and Construction. The proposals include an increase in the maximum loan from $12,000 to $15,000, liberalization of eligibility conditions, and limited provisions for the transfer of a loan to another property. We have also reviewed the interest rate charged on new loans; the present rate of 3% per cent per annum will be retained on existing loans and new loans up to $12,000, but the interest rate on future loans on the amount exceeding $12,000 will be 2 per cent below the most favourable rate available from the Commonwealth Savings Bank (at present 9V4 per cent), with provision for relief for pensioners in circumstances of hardship.
The provision for Defence Service Homes will be increased to $ 1 1 5 million, or $ 1 3 million more than the amount provided last year.
Housing in the Territories
The Budget provides $65 million for housing in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in 1 974-75, $ 14 million more than expenditure last year. This provision allows for additional funds for the Northern Territory Housing Commission, whose building program for 1973-74 was seriously interrupted by the abnormal wet season in the Territory.
One of the most significant initiatives of this Government has been the major effort to improve the standards of the urban environment in our cities and regions, to establish attractive alternatives to living in the major cities, and to arrest and reverse the decay of the established areas of our cities.
This year we will be spending about $390 million on such programs. A comprehensive statement of outlays on urban and regional development is given in the document on that subject being tabled by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development with the Budget papers.
Apart from being the national capital, Canberra is one of the most rapidly expanding urban areas in Australia. In 1974-75, $38.8 million will be spent in Canberra on acquiring and servicing land for residential, business and community uses.
In partnership with the New South Wales and Victorian Governments we have, in the past year, established the Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation. This Budget provides an amount of $40 million for Albury-Wodonga, the major new growth centre initiative in South East Australia. A further $37.4 million has been provided for the establishment of other growth centres including Monarto, Geelong and Bathurst-Orange.
Last year we made a major commitment towards the establishment of Land Commissions designed to provide Australian families with land at fair prices. Subsequently, the first Land Commission was established in South Australia. The Victorian, New South Wales and Tasmanian Governments have accepted the principles of this program. For 1974-75, we are providing $54.5 million for the purchase and development of land in the States.
Pilot schemes of area improvement have been commenced in the western sectors of Sydney and Melbourne. In addition, assistance to increase the standards of services available in 11 new regions will be commenced during 1974-75. An amount of $14.1 million has been provided for this program.
An amount of $ 1 7.5 million has been spent on the purchase of 47 acres of residential land at Glebe, New South Wales, and a further $1 million has been provided to commence the rehabilitation of that area and to improve and increase its housing stock.
During 1973-74 we commenced a program of assistance to the States to eliminate the backlog of sewerage services. That program will be accelerated this year and the Budget provides an amount of $105 million.
Last year the program was confined to the major cities. This year we are expanding it to cover provincial cities in the population range 20,000 to 60,000.
PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
.The Government supports a wide range of activities in the field of environmental protection and conservation.
Among our new initiatives in this area, the Budget provides $250,000 for the first stage of a National Air Monitoring Program and for studies leading to the establishment of a Baseline Monitoring Station as part of Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Environment Program. $100,000 is being provided for a campaign to increase public environmental awareness.
This Budget provides for the consolidation of the progress made last year towards meeting a wide range of cultural and recreational needs.
Assistance for the Arts
The Budget provision for programs of the Australian Council for the Arts will be increased by $6 million of $20 million. In addition, $637,000 is provided for payments to authors and publishers under the Public Lending Right Scheme.
An amount of $2.8 million is provided for The Film and Television School, reflecting the commencement, in 1975, of the School’s full-time operation.
An amount of $98 million, or $ 16 million more than in 1973-74, has been provided for operational expenditure by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. A further $14 million has been provided for expenditure on capital equipment, mainly that required for the introduction of colour television.
International Women’s Year 1975 has been designated by the United Nations as International Women’s Year. The Government has allocated $2 million for relevant activities during 1974-75 by both Government departments and nongovernmental organisations.
The Government has agreed to the allocation of an additional $1,025,000 over the next two financial years to enable the National Library to undertake a program of extensive consultations and studies on the possible development of an Australian Library Based Information System.
There has been in the past an undue emphasis on the concept of uncontrolled development; this has left much to do in identifying, conserving and enhancing the National Estate. The Budget provides an amount of $8 million for grants to the States and to National Trusts, and for expenditure in the Territories, on the advice of an Interim Advisory Committee on the National Estate.
Provision is being made for expenditure of $381,000 to commence a National Parks and Wildlife Research Program, including the commencement of an ecological survey of Australia and of flora and fauna research and surveys. $9 million will be provided to assist the States in the acquisition of land for nature conservation purposes.
The Government will expand its program of assistance to facilitate and encourage beneficial leisure-time activities. These new measures will encourage participation in physical recreation, increase assistance for sport and assist other forms of recreation activities. Expenditure on sport, youth and recreation activities is expected to reach $2.5 million in 1974-75.
The Budget provides $4.5 million for expenditure during 1974-75 on community leisure facilities.
The Government’s initiatives in community recreation have shown the need for adequately trained recreation leaders and for recreation research. A provision of $ 1 5 5 ,000 has been made to accelerate the development of courses in community recreation at the associate and graduate diploma levels in colleges of advanced education. $250,000 has been provided in the Budget for a research program into all facets of community recreation. Provision has also been made for the support of innovatory programs in community recreation.
The amalgamation of the former Defence and Service Departments has enabled the appropriations this year for the three Armed Services to be brought together under a single Department of Defence
– By how much have you chopped that back?
-Well, we have increased it. The provision for defence outlays in 1974-75, including defence-related activities of the Department of Manufacturing Industry and other departments, is $1,498.7 million compared with actual outlays of $1,334.1 million in 1973-74. This provision for defence purposes enables the Government to continue its policy of maintaining Defence Forces which, in conformity with the present strategic outlook, sustain a proper level of defence capability and potential for future expansion.
The Government is proceeding with the four new major equipment projects for the Armed Forces announced in April this year, with a total commitment of some $330 million to be spread mainly over the next eight years. These projects are: eight Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft for the RAAF, fifty-three modern medium tanks and forty-five Fire Support Vehicles for the Army, and two new destroyers for the RAN. In addition, an extensive program for the refitting and modernisation of RAN surface ships and submarines is under way. Meanwhile, production is proceeding against the orders of previous years; this involves substantial expenditure on items such as two additional Oberon submarines and ten Westland Sea King helicopters.
New budgetary arrangements for providing financial assistance to Papua New Guinea in respect of defence are being introduced with effect from 1 December 1974. An amount of $12.5 million is being provided for defence cooperation with, and defence financial assistance to, Papua New Guinea from that date. Estimated expenditure on defence in Papua New Guinea this year, prior to 1 December, is $ 10.2 million.
Expenditure on continuing defence cooperation with a number of other friendly countries in the region of immediate strategic interest to Australia is estimated as $ 12 million.
The 1974-75 Defence Program provides for reductions in civilian support manpower additional to those achieved in 1973-74. These further reductions are made possible by the rationalisation of activities.
It is intended that legislation will be brought down later this year to enable the reorganisation of the Department of Defence to be put into full effect.
My colleague, the Minister for Defence, will be making a more detailed statement on defence matters at a later time.
I turn now to the area of economic services, including assistance to industry and the community generally.
The amount to be provided from the Budget to help finance the Post Office’s capital program is $385 million, the same as in 1973-74. This is in accordance with the Prime Minister’s announcement at the Premiers’ Conference on 7 June 1974. The remaining finance for the capital program will come from internal resources.
As the Prime Minister also announced at the Premiers’ Conference, it is proposed to increase Post Office charges substantially. This is necessary to provide additional revenue in 1974-75 and to avoid substantial losses on the provision of Post Office services. The Government therefore proposes to introduce legislation to give effect, from 1 October 1974, to increases in postal and telecommunication charges similar to those rejected by the Senate in July. However, because of the delay in introduction of the higher charges resulting from the Senate’s obstructionism, and the consequential loss of revenue, it has been necessary to review some of the increases previously proposed. The basic postage rate will rise to 10 cents, instead of the 9 cents that would have been sufficient if the Senate had permitted introduction of the higher charges from 1 August. The business telephone rental will be increased to $85 a year, instead of $75 as proposed earlier.
Further details will be announced by the PostmasterGeneral.
In accordance with the policy announced last year of recovering 80 per cent of the cost of airport and airways facilities by 1977-78, it is proposed to increase air navigation charges from 1 December 1974 by 15 per cent, the maximum permissible under the Airlines Agreement negotiated with the two major domestic airlines last October. Charges to general aviation will be increased by an additional 50 per cent, but the rebate for aircraft not based on government aerodromes will be increased from 33 Vs per cent to 50 per cent. The additional revenue in 1974-75 is estimated at $3.9 million.
The Department of Transport provides a wide variety of services to the aviation industry for which little or no charge is made. The Government sees no reason why these costs should not also be recovered. Accordingly, we propose that charges for these services should be introduced in 1974-75 and increased progressively so as to achieve full recovery by 1 976-77.
Within the framework of the cost recovery policy, the Government has decided to proceed in 1974-75 with the construction of a new international terminal costing $4.2 million at Brisbane airport for completion in 1975, a new terminal for Hobart estimated to cost $1.3 million and extensions to the Sydney international terminal at a cost of $2.7 million.
Following the expiry of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1 969, the Australian Government intends to provide $1,126 million to the States for roads purposes over the next three years. A major new initiative will be the allocation of $400 million of this to meet the full cost of approved construction works and maintenance in relation to national highways, export roads and major commercial roads. $700 million will be allocated for other road projects and a further $26 million for planning and research projects in relation to both roads and urban public transport.
It is intended that a total of $350 million will be made available in 1 974-75.
The Government recognises the importance of railways in our national transport system. Recently agreement was reached with the South Australian Government for construction of a standard gauge line between Adelaide and Crystal Brook, financed by means of grants and loans to South Australia. Expenditure this year is estimated at $900,000. Agreement has also been reached for the construction by Commonwealth Railways of a standard gauge line that will provide a secure all-weather link between Tarcoola and Alice Springs. Expenditure this year is estimated at $2 million
In recognition of the costs and problems caused by inadequate railway rolling stock, the Government will be implementing a purchase program by Commonwealth Railways for modern high-performance bogie wagons suitable for inter-system use. These wagons will be available for lease by State railway systems at an agreed rate and will, to some extent, overcome recent shortages of rolling stock experienced by the transport industry. The acquisition program provides for 500 wagons to be ordered this year and 800 next year.
At the June Premiers’ Conference the Prime Minister said that we would be looking to those of our business enterprises which are not paying their way- that is, whose losses are being imposed on the taxpayer- to lift their charges. Accordingly, some increases in Commonwealth Railways passenger fares and freight rates have been made and a thorough examination of the fare and freight rate structure is being undertaken.
As part of our program to assist in the upgrading of urban public transport, we will provide almost $28 million towards the cost of new projects in 1974-75. The States will also receive about $39 million in 1974-75 towards the costs of projects approved in 1973-74. A total of $67 million is therefore included in the Budget, out of a total of $138 million which the Government has so far agreed to provide under this program.
The States Will also be reimbursed for twothirds of their expenditure in 1973-74 on approved urban public transport research and planning projects. $1 million was recently appropriated for this purpose. The States will be eligible for further assistance for these purposes under the Transport (Planning and Research) Act 1974.
The Australian Government has made an offer to the New South Wales Government to construct and operate a railway radiating from Parramatta in the western suburbs of Sydney. The New South Wales Government has not yet accepted this offer, but provision has been made in the Budget for an amount of $3.5 million to allow the project to proceed as soon as it does so.
As announced by the Prime Minister, the Australian Government is negotiating with the New South Wales Government for the construction of a large new graving dock at Newcastle. A provision of $3.75 million is being made to cover estimated expenditure in 1974-75.
The Government’s policy to increase the share of the nation’s trade carried in Australian flag vessels entails a large capital expenditure program for the Australian National Line. A Budget provision of $54.7 million is being made this year for the ANL compared with $7 million last year.
The Australian Government provides financial assistance to the Australian Shippers’ Council, which negotiates, on behalf of national export and producer bodies, the terms and conditions of carriage in Australia ‘s outward liner trades. This year, the Government Will increase its financial assistance to a maximum of $90,000, compared with $35,000 last year, on the basis of two dollars for every dollar expended by the Council.
An amount of $75 million has been provided for advances to the Pipeline Authority for expenditure on the Moomba-Sydney natural gas pipeline and spur pipelines.
We are making a start on a program of financial assistance towards the provision of urban water supplies in Adelaide and North West Tasmania; this year the Budget provides $4.4 million to South Australia for the initial phase of a program of construction of water treatment plants in Adelaide. No payments will be required for the North West Tasmania scheme in 1974-75.
As announced recently by the Minister for Agriculture, the Government has approved the operation by the Australian Wool Corporation during the 1974-75 season of a minimum reserve price equivalent to 250 cents per kilo clean for 2 1 micron wool. The Government has indicated that it is prepared to guarantee repayment of amounts borrowed by the Corporation to finance these operations and the “pot-holing” activities the Corporation will continue to carry on when the market is above the floor.
The aim of the new arrangement is to provide firm support to the market and give greater confidence to both wool growers and overseas buyers.
The Government has provided in the Budget for an advance to the Corporation of the $13 million available in the Corporation’s Working Capital Trust Fund.
I shall also shortly introduce legislation to appropriate funds to enable me to make loans in addition to those provided for in the Budget to the Corporation as they are required.
The Budget also reflects the arrangements made for an increase in the levy on grower’s returns from sales of wool during 1974-75 to meet any losses from the operation of the floor price scheme. This additional amount, estimated at $44.7 million, will be collected and paid to the Corporation’s Market Support Fund. If no losses are incurred, the contribution will be used for building up reserves.
In accordance with the present Wheat Industry Stabilisation Scheme, and as a result of buoyant export prices, it is estimated that wheat growers will contribute an amount of $39 million to the Stabilisation Fund in 1974-75 in respect of the 1973-74 pool.
In accordance with the decision last year to phase out the bounty on butter and cheese production, an amount of $9 million is being provided for the bounty in 1974-75, compared with $18 million in 1973-74. However, increased funds are being provided for dairy industry adjustment through the broadened Marginal Dairy Farms Reconstruction Scheme. The estimated cost in 1974-75 is $11.5 million, as against $1.1 million last year.
The appropriation for the Rural Reconstruction Scheme in 1974-75 is $30 million. In addition, the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme will be extended to 31 December 1975 and a provision of $1.5 million is made for that purpose.
An amount of $2.6 million is being provided for an apple export guarantee scheme for the 1974 season. This follows agreement with the States of Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland that the Australian Government will meet half the costs of underwriting the returns on apples exported “at risk” during 1974 to the United Kingdom and Europe.
With the expiry of the Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Act on 31 December 1974 the cost of the bounty in 1974-75 will fall to an estimated $33 million, compared with expenditure of $67 million in 1973-74.
Subject to the agreement of the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, it is proposed to set up an Australian Plague Locust Commission to combat outbreaks of this pest. An amount of $250,000 is being provided in 1974-75 as the Australian Government’s proposed 50 per cent share of the costs of establishing the Commission.
The Government has decided to provide a grant of $3 million towards the cost of a weir at Clare on the Burdekin River; $300,000 will be provided in 1974-75. A grant of up to $120,000 will be provided for restoration of damaged levees along the Proserpine River.
The Government has decided to extend its assistance to the Bundaberg Irrigation Project by a grant of $4.4 million; $2 million will be provided for the project in 1 974-75.
We propose to provide financial assistance to the States for a two-year Water Quality Assessment Program costing $808,000, to complement the existing program of surface and underground water measurement. The Budget provides $332,000 for this program in 1974-75.
The Government proposes to assist the States with a long-term program of soil conservation. An interim two-year program of financial assistance will be commenced this year. Grants totalling $2.5 million will be provided, of which $500,000 will be made available in 1974-75.
The Parliament has now passed the Petroleum and Minerals Authority Act, and the Budget provides $50 million for the Authority’s proposed activities in 1974-75.
As announced last year, the petroleum search subsidy scheme expired on 30 June 1974. An amount of $6 million is provided in the Budget for payments still to be made in respect of approved exploration programs completed before that date.
The Budget provides $ 1 5 million for payments this year under the existing Industrial Research and Development Grants Scheme. As announced in last year’s Budget Speech, a review of the existing scheme is being made.
An initial provision of $10 million is being made for assistance to firms by the proposed Structural Adjustment Board under the Government’s scheme of adjustment assistance for firms affected by Government action to bring about desirable structural change.
The Government will widen the criteria under which grants may be given for the development of tourist attractions. The Budget provides $2.25 million for grants under the extended scheme.
Employment Training $17.8 million has been provided for the National Employment and Training System in 1974-75. Details will be announced later in the Budget Session by the Minister for Labor and Immigration.
The Government has decided to extend further its programs of assistance to industry and commerce to encourage a training consciousness in the private sector. $452,000 has been included for the training of training officers.
There will be an increase of $8.8 million in Government support for apprenticeship training this year. Stalls will be announced later by the Minister for Labor and Immigration.
I turn now to the area of General Public Services.
In furtherance of its policy on legal aid, the Government has established the Australian Legal Aid Office. The establishment of the Office is a major step towards the Government’s objective of ensuring that legal aid is readily and equally available to all citizens. Australian Legal Aid Offices are already operating in the capital cities and certain regional centres, and more will be opened during 1974-75. Meanwhile, the program of grants to supplement existing legal aid schemes will be continued in 1974-75. Total expenditure on legal aid in 1974-75, including for Aboriginals, is estimated at $ 12.4 million.
The Government is concerned about the plight of needy people in less developed countries overseas including, of course, Papua New Guinea for which we continue to have special responsibilities.
A total of $341.3 million has been provided for expenditure on external economic aid during the current financial year. This is $81 million or 3 1 per cent greater than the comparable figure for 1973-74. Details are set out in the white paper on External Aid issued as one of the Budget.
– The honourable member for Kooyong can read the details in the White Paper.
– There is a credibility gap.
– There are a lot of credibility gaps in Australia today.
– You are the personification of it.
– I think that they are not isolated to us.
-Order! Interjections will cease.
– Notwithstanding the adverse effects which higher oil prices are having on our own balance-of-payments position, the Government has allocated $40 million for expenditure on purposes related to the proposed United Nations Special Program of assistance to developing countries which have been seriously affected by the recent sharp increases in oil prices and related international developments. This assistance will take the form of grants and will be additional to the significant increases provided for in Australia ‘s other on-going aid activities.
$180,000 is provided in the Budget for detailed design studies of research vessels for CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and of a large stellar interferometer to complement astronomical research being undertaken in Australia.
The Government proposes to establish a scheme of advice and assistance to private inventors. The Budget provides $200,000 for this purpose.
Turning to Administrative Services, the amount and cost of office accommodation leased for Government departments continues to concern the Government. Proposals have been developed to start correcting in 1974-75 the heavy imbalance between government-leased and government-owned accommodation.
Ceiling on Staff Growth
The growth of full-time staff employed under the Public Service Act during 1974-75 has been limited to a ceiling increase of 2.6 per cent. When allowance is made for staff on various forms of leave, the increase in total operative staff for the year ending 30 June 1975 will in effect be held to 1 per cent The Government expects that these restraints will result in a critical review by departments of procedures and work priorities.
A similar approach has been adopted in relation to Government authorities whose staff are not employed under the Public Service Act. state loan council programs
In June, the Government supported an increase in the States’ Loan Council programs of 10 per cent The Government has now decided to support a further increase of 10 per cent. As a result, the States will receive an addition of $92.5 million to their programs, of which $29.7 million will be in the form of interest-free capital grants. These programs for 1974-75 will now total $1,027.4 million. local government grants
The Government has already announced its acceptance of the recommendations contained in the Grants Commission’s first report on financial assistance for local government.
These unconditional grants provide $56,3 million for 807, or 92 per cent of, local governing bodies. Their purpose is to assist individual local governing bodies to provide services which are comparable with services enjoyed by communities elsewhere in Australia. The funds are not intended to replace existing State Government grants or rates charged by Councils.
To assist in the establishment of the regional organisations which make applications for assistance to the Grants Commission, we have provided an amount of $314,000 towards administrative expenses and to encourage regional planning.
At existing rates of taxation and charges, receipts in 1974-75 are estimated to increase by $3,894 million to $15,896 million.
I deal first with those measures which will add to revenue.
The licence fees for radio communication ser vices licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act have remained unchanged since 1970. The existing licence fees of $10 per annum for Land and Fixed Stations, and $6 per annum for Receiving Stations and Mobile and Amateur Stations, will be doubled.
The fee for issuing a passport has been unchanged since 1966. The present fee of $4 is well below the cost of issuing a passport and it is proposed to increase it to $10.
– The honourable member for Kooyong is lucky that he has one.
In my Budget Speech last year I said that the question of levying a tax on liquefied petroleum gas was being put under study. An interdepartmental committee has now reported to the Government on all considerations, including environmental considerations, relevant to the taxation of liquefied petroleum gas.
-It soon will be. On the basis of that report the Government has decided to introduce a tax on liquefied petroleum gas used in propelling road vehicles, but not on gas used for other purposes. The rate of tax will be set initially at 2 cents a litre-we have even gone metric- which is about 40 per cent of the present rate of duty on motor spirit. Should there be any increase in the rate of duty on motor spirit in future, it is proposed that the tax on liquefied petroleum gas will be increased by an amount equivalent to one-half of that increase. It is not proposed to review this basis for setting the relative rate of tax on liquefied petroleum gas for at least five years and the industry can, therefore, plan on that basis.
Customs and Excise Duties on Brandy
As announced in last year’s Budget Speech, the difference between the rates of duty on brandy and on other spirits is being abolished by raising the duty on brandy in three equal annual steps. The first stage of the increase was implemented last year and there will be a further increase in duty this year equivalent to 40 cents per litre of alcohol.
Pay-roll tax in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will be increased by one-half of one per cent, to 5 per cent, on wages payable on or after 1 December 1974. This will bring the rate into line with that imposed by the States since 1 September.
The deduction allowed to life insurance companies under section 115 of the Income Tax Assessment Act will be reduced from 2 per cent of calculated liabilities to 1 per cent in respect of income year 1974-75. This is a further step towards ensuring that life insurance transactions, looked at in their totality, bear a fairer share of overall taxation.
As announced in last year’s Budget Speech, there will be a further increase in the rate of company tax on private companies to equate it with the public company rate of 47V4 per cent in relation to income of the 1 973-74 income year.
– This is old news. I announced this last year. I am sure you will be pleased to know we are not proposing to alter it.
Taxation of Income from Mining
Several amendments are proposed to the income tax law affecting enterprises engaged in prospecting and rnining other than for gold. At present both general and petroleum mining enterprises are able to defer payment of tax for long periods under provisions for the allowance of immediate or accelerated deductions for capital expenditures, including anticipated expenditures. As a result, many highly profitable companies have paid relatively little tax over an extended period.
Other provisions exempt from tax 20 per cent of income derived from production of certain minerals, including bauxite, copper, nickel and beach sands. There is no justification for this exemption and it will be withdrawn as from 1 July 1974.
Deductions will not in future be allowable for capital expenditure incurred on company formation and capital raising. Capital expenditure on the development of a mine or well, on the provision of community faculties adjacent to a mine or well, or on the purchase of rnining rights or information will be deductible henceforth over the estimated life of the mine or well. Where the estimated life is longer than 25 years the allowance will be one twenty-fifth of the undeducted capital expenditure. Capital expenditure on facilities for the transport of minerals will be deductible for income tax purposes over 20 years instead of 10 years. However, in relation to any of those expenditures to be made by 30 June 1976 under contracts already entered into, deductions will continue to be allowable under the present provisions of the law.
Exploration expenditure incurred by general mining companies in 1974-75 and subsequent income years will be allowable as immediate deductions up to the level of income derived in any year from general mining and associated activities in the same way as petroleum prospecting and mining companies are allowed immediate deductions against income from petroleum for similar expenses. Prospecting and other activities carried out by general mining companies on the continental shelf will be regarded as having been carried out in Australia, consistent with the taxation treatment of petroleum operations carried on at off-shore locations.
As I announced on 5 July 1974, the special age rebate to be allowed in calculating tax payable by aged people for 1974-75 will be set at a basic $ 130. The rebate was introduced as a transitional measure last year, as part of the package of measures associated with the commencement of phasing out of the means test. It has now served its transitional role, but it is being phased out gradually.
In practice, it has proved difficult to enforce general provisions of the income tax law on the value of some benefits given to employees in addition to their remuneration. Accordingly, amendments to ensure that certain fringe benefits are properly subject to income tax are proposed to apply as from the 1974-75 income year.
Deductions will cease to be allowable for expenditures on club dues, yachts and pleasure boats. The minimum assessable value to a taxpayer of the use of a motor vehicle provided by his employer will be determined under a formula to be prescribed in the law. The value for income tax purposes of benefits received by employees under stock option and share purchase schemes entered into after today will be ascertained as at the time of exercise of the options or the transfer of the shares.
The Australian Government’s programs involve substantial increases in direct expenditures on education and there is no longer a case for providing substantial indirect assistance through the taxation system. Accordingly, the amount deductable against 1974-75 income for education or self-education expenses will be reduced from $400 to $ 1 50 for any one student.
– You will be interested in this next one.
Surcharge on Property Income
The Government considers that income which an individual receives from property- that is, unearned income- should bear more tax than income from personal exertion. The Australian taxation system did, in fact, tax unearned income at higher rates than income from personal exertion from 1915 to 1953 and a number of other countries tax unearned income at special rates.
A surcharge will therefore be imposed on property income received by individuals in 1974-75. The surcharge will be 10 per cent of the tax on property income included in the taxable income. This tax will be calculated by applying to property income the average rate payable on total taxable income under the ordinary rate schedule.
-Order! Interjections will cease. The honourable member for Barker will remain silent. This is the last time that I will warn the honourable member.
– The surcharge will be reflected in provisional tax for 1974-75. 1 am sure that the next equitable measure will please honourable members opposite- it is called a capital gains tax.
I announced on 23 July 1974 that we would introduce a capital gains tax. Capacity to pay tax is enhanced by capital gains as well as increased income. It has therefore been unfair that income has borne full tax while capital gains have borne none. Taxpayers have also been able to manipulate their transactions so as to substitute capital gains for income and thereby avoid taxation.
-Well, the right honourable gentleman should not need any telling. He knows. The new tax will apply to capital gains realised after today. However, in relation to property already held, the tax will fall only on gains accruing after today. Today’s values will be taken as one basis of calculation of those gains, but where today’s values are below the cost of acquiring property, the new tax will not apply unless realization value exceeds that cost.
– Do you get credits for losses?
– If you listen you will hear, but I do not know whether you will understand.
– You are a bit hard to follow.
-That is why you should listen carefully.
At the taxpayer’s option, however, gains accruing after today will be the proportion of total gains that, on a time basis, is related to the period of ownership of assets after today.
Capital gains will include gains from the disposal of assets, capital sums otherwise derived from assets, foreign exchange gains, and gains from the purchase of debentures by their issuer. A disposal will be deemed to occur in cases extending beyond sales and exchanges, and will include compulsory acquisitions, losses or destruction of property, creation of a trust, gifts, transfers on death- in broad terms, any passing of property or an interest in property from one person to another will be included. Capital losses will be deductible against capital -
– What about the ordinary house?
– Yes, that is a fair question.
– Listen again.
-Order! Members of the Opposition will be provided with ample opportunity if they wish to speak on the Bill at a later stage.
– They will probably be gagged.
– I warn the honourable member for Kooyong. I have spoken to the honourable member several times. I have given him my last warning. If I have to speak to him once more I will take action.
-Capital losses will be deductible against capital gains, but not against income, and for the purpose of deductibility capital losses will be permitted unlimited carry-forward during lifetime and a three year carry-back on deemed disposal at death.
The new tax will not apply to any amount that qualifies as income for income tax purposes. Particular examples are profits from the sale of property which are subject to income tax under sections 25, 26 (a) and 26AAA of the Income Tax Assessment Act
For the benefit of the honourable member for Gippsland, gains on sale of a taxpayer’s principal residence will be exempt from the new tax and there will be other exemptions and reliefs.
Half of the capital gains realised by an individual in a year will be included in assessable income and taxed at income tax rates. That is, the rate of the capital gains tax levied on individuals will be equivalent to not more than one-half of the marginal tax rate which would have applied had the gain been taxed as income. The gains of companies will bear tax at a rate equal to half the maximum marginal rate of tax on individuals, namely 33V4 per cent.
It is proposed, however, that full income tax rates, whether for companies or individuals, should apply to one category of capital gainsnamely that part of gains realised on the sale of land which reflects actual or potential change in use. Gains of this kind accrue from community decisions and the benefits of such decisions should accrue to the community. This aspect of the capital gains tax will have a significant impact in controlling land speculation.
These are the key features. There are many complex technicalities involved and extensive anti-avoidance provisions will be required. For these reasons it will not be practicable to introduce legislation before the Autumn sittings. Meanwhile, I am circulating an explanatory paper giving a more detailed but still broad outline of what is proposed.
I come now to the Government’s proposed tax concessions.
As announced in the Policy Speech, the income tax law will be amended to enable Aus.tralian residents to claim deductions in 1974-75 and subsequent income years for the maintenance of dependants who are not residing in Australia.
Depreciation on Child Care Facilities
As also announced in the Policy Speech, the income tax law will be amended to provide specifically for depreciation deductions in 1974-75 and subsequent income years for capital expenditure by employers on the provision of child care facilities for children of their employees.
Two amendments will also be made to the estate duty law to give effect to undertakings in the Policy Speech. We shall set up a board to hear applications for release from payment of duty in cases of serious hardship, to be composed in the same way as the existing boards that consider similar matters relating to income tax and payroll tax.
The other amendment will exempt from duty, along lines indicated in the Policy Speech, an interest in a principal matrimonial home that passes to a surviving spouse. Before calculating the statutory exemption from duty the unencumbered value of such an interest up to $35,000 will be excluded from the value of the estate. Where the unencumbered value is more than $35,000 the amount excluded will be $35,000 less $7 for every $10 in excess of $35,000. The amendment will apply to dutiable estates resulting from deaths since 29 April 1974 of persons domiciled in Australia
The Government’s scheme of income tax deductions for home mortgage interest has already been outlined. The legislation Will be introduced during the present sitting of Parliament and will apply to interest payments since 1 July 1974.
I come now to the major new taxation concessions proposed by the Government. In aggregate they amount to $500 million in value in a full year
First, I announce that the Government has decided to abolish broadcast listeners’ and television viewers’ licence fees. The National Broadcasting and Television Service is a service provided to the community as a whole, and the Government believes that the cost of the service should therefore be met out of general taxation revenues rather than through a licence feewhich, being a poll tax, bears relatively more heavily on the less affluent.
Licences which become due for renewal on or after tomorrow, 18 September 1974, need not be renewed.
There will be a full-year saving to listeners and viewers of $71 million.
-No. We treat you all the same. You do not need to renew it any more.
A revised tax rate scale will apply to 1974-75 incomes of individuals. Compared with the present scale, reductions in tax will apply to taxable incomes up to nearly $10,500 with slight increases above that. The largest reduction will be about $100 a year at a taxable income of $6,000.
-$100 a year. Further details are given in a separate statement.
-What about the antiinflationary provisions?
– The honourable member should listen to the next bit
-I do not want to listen any more. It is so boring you have ruined it.
– There are so many good things that one has to tell the lot. The revised scale will be reflected in PA YE deductions as from 1 November 1974.
In addition to the reductions in tax on low incomes in general under the new rate scale, we see a particular need for tax relief to low income families. A special rebate of tax will be introduced for that purpose. If a taxpayer’s saving of tax at ordinary rates from his dependants maintenance deductions would be less than 40 per cent of the amount of those deductions, a rebate of tax will be given to bring the tax saving up to 40 per cent or up to the tax otherwise payable if that is less. In some cases the rebate will extinguish tax altogether and the savings in some cases will be as high as $5 or $6 a week. Where this does not happen, it will be greater the lower the income of the taxpayer and the larger his dependants deductions. Taxpayers who would already be saving 40 per cent or more of their dependants deductions will not benefit.
The rebate will be reflected in P A Y E deductions as from 1 November 1974. A separate statement explains it further.
The total cost to revenue of the restructuring of the rate scale and the special rebate for low income families is of the order of $430 million on a full-year basis.
The combined effect of these two measures will be to cut dramatically the tax payable by those on lower incomes with dependants. For example, a taxpayer with a dependent spouse and two dependent children and with average other deductions earning $70 a week paid $213 in tax on 1973-74 income; on 1974-75 income no tax will be payable. If he earns $90 per week the tax payable will be cut by more than half, from $389 per annum to $190. At $120 a week the gains remain significant, tax payable falling from $739 per annum to $577.
Taken together, our tax measures constitute major reforms. They will make the tax system fairer and more equitable. The great majority of wage and salary earners, and especially lowincome single-income families, will pay less tax as a result.
The cost to revenue of the restructuring of the income tax rate scale, the special rebate for low income families and the abolition of broadcast listeners’ and television viewers’ licence fees is, as I have said, about $500 million on a full-year basis. Some part of that cost will reflect itself in refunds of personal income tax in early 1 975-76.
The net cost to revenue of the general revenue measures I have announced- that is, excluding the proceeds from the proposed increase in the wool levy-is about $237 million in 1974-75. Details, including the revenue estimates for each of the separate decisions, are given in Statement No. 4.
After allowance for the decisions we have taken, it is estimated that receipts will be $ 1 5,704 million in 1974-75. This would be an increase of $3,702 million, or 30.8 per cent, over the 1973-74 level.
I now summarise the Budget aggregates.
Budget outlays are estimated to increase by $3,980 million, or 32.4 per cent, to $16,274 million in 1974-75. Budget receipts are estimated to rise by $3,702 million, or 30.8 per cent, to $15,704 million.
The estimated deficit is thus $570 million but in respect of the domestic balance there is an estimated domestic surplus of $23 million. Those estimates compare with the deficit of $293 million and the domestic surplus of $2 1 1 million in 1973-74.
The keynote of this Budget is social progress. We are looking to create a fairer and better Australia.
The year ahead will be a difficult one. The world is beset by severe economic problems.
Australia cannot insulate itself from them nor can it be saved by the bleatings of previous Treasurers.
The Budget, together with our other policies, is designed to make the best of things as they are in the world today- to maintain employment opportunities and to protect those who most need protection from the ravages of inflation. At the same time we are looking to the longerterm to the way Australia develops as a nation in the decades ahead. The problems immediately ahead have to be dealt with but in doing so this Government will remain steadfast in implementing its programs.
I commend the Budget to Honourable Members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Nixon) adjourned.